Bob Winston was an awkward boy. ‘Specially around the girls – ‘specially one on one. He was a good student but he tended towards the quiet, seldom speaking out or engaging in conversation. He liked Regina Applegate though; he sensed a kindred spirit in her. They had been in the same class since third grade and had probably not spoken a dozen words to one another in all that time. Bob was pretty shy.
At home, in his room, Bob used to pretend that he and Regina were friends. She was the only girl in school with such a regal name. He had looked it up when he was in the fifth grade and found out it meant ‘Queen’ in Latin. He thought it was fitting for her. She had long jet black hair, straight teeth, and a crooked smile. Her eyes were as deep and as blue as the sea. He loved her eyes and longed to speak with her but every time he tried his tongue would knot up, his stomach would knot up and he often had to run for the bathroom.
It was the Autumn of her Junior year at Madison High when Regina made up her mind. She decided that she needed to start living and stop merely existing. She wanted to make more friends. She wanted a social life. She wanted a boyfriend. She knew she wouldn’t have trouble finding a boyfriend. She just had to find one who was available and that she liked. Boys were weird and they found the oddest things to be funny. Last year she had been walking home from school when the bus with the football team drove past. All the players were whooping and cheering and every window of the bus was filled with the bare naked ass of a football player. She could hear them laughing and cheering all the way to the traffic light on Edgemere Avenue. That wasn’t the kind of boyfriend she wanted.
Regina wanted a serious boyfriend. Of course he should have a sense of humor but he needn’t be a dolt like the entire football team. She made a list. She listed every boy she had ever known and could remember. Then she began evaluating the names on her list. Quite a few of them were either too old or too young and she crossed their names out straight away. The football players were the next ones to go. In fact most of the jocks were eliminated in short order except for one of the tennis players named Ralph Cortina. He was somehow different than the other lettermen. She realized that this process would take some time.
As it was his Junior year, Bob was eligible for the Chess Team. When he applied he was selected because he already knew and played with a bunch of the Seniors who were on the team. Usually, he could beat them. He was active with the FFA and a member of the Honor Society. He recognized that he lacked the social skills to run for Student Council so he never tried. He thought about it once and immediately considered that possibility of having to wear T shirts that said “Vote for Bob” instead of “Vote for Pedro” and that pretty much killed off that idea.
Mostly though he thought about Regina and what it would be like to stare into her eyes for all eternity.
It took almost a week to narrow her list down to three boys. She had:
- Ralph Cortina, the tennis player.
- Bob Winston, a boy she had known since second or third grade but never spoke to, much. He was pretty shy.
- Russell Spires, a really dreamy boy who was in her Algebra class, but he was going steady with Linda Bustamante.
Bob asked his mom what kind of medicine he should take for nausea and a stomach ache. He had made up his mind that he was going to talk to Regina. He figured he could be proactive with the right medicine and stave of any urge to vomit that he knew would come when he made a fool of himself in front of her. His mom, of course, thought he was sick and wanted to dose him with Immodium and keep him home from school. He told her no, it was more like car sickness. He and Jimmy were going to go to a chess tournament in Watsonville and the road was pretty twisty and mountainous. Jimmy would be driving and he was just curious. Mom recommended Dramamine.
Bob went to the pharmacy and bought a box of Dramamine in preparation for his approach to Regina. He planned to try and talk to her on Tuesday and if he didn’t puke he was going to invite her to the dance on Friday night.
Sunday night and Regina studied the three remaining names on her list. She crossed off Russell Spires because Linda had never done anything to her. It would be pretty shallow to just steal her boyfriend. Besides, she wasn’t sure if she could lure him away from Linda anyway. There were rumors going around school that those two were already sleeping together.
That left Bob Winston and Ralph Cortina. She chewed on the pencil eraser and thought about these two boys. They were both polite. They were both cute enough. What if she fell in love with one of them and they got married? Her eyes widened and she immediately scratched the tennis player off her list. If they got married she would be Regina Cortina and that would never do.
Bob Winston it was then. She needed to make some preparations tomorrow after school and be ready by Tuesday.
It was Monday and Bob had his box of Dramamine but hadn’t taken any yet. He was getting really nervous about approaching Regina. At lunch, she actually smiled at him in the cafeteria. He barely made it out of the room to barf in a trash can in the hall.
He wasn’t sure he could do this and thought he might just call the whole thing off. That evening he suffered with terrible stomach cramps and explosive diarrhea. He decided he couldn’t do this and finally fell asleep about 4:30 am.
It was Tuesday morning and Regina had gotten everything ready the evening before. When she got to school she looked for Bob. He wasn’t in any of his usual places but she eventually found him sitting on a bench outside the gym. He looked tired.
Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself, threw her shoulders back, determinedly walked over to where he was sitting, and sat down next to him. Not too close, she didn’t want to scare him.
Bob and Regina
When he looked at her he turned pale and began to squirm in his seat. Fumbling in his shirt pocket he pulled out a small pill and swallowed it.
“What’re you taking,” she asked.
“Just a vitamin,” he said.
“Oh,” she extended her hand and offered him the pink balloon she had bought the night before.
Reflexively he took it, “What’s this?”
“It’s a balloon,” she told him. “I got it for you last night and, I got you a pink one because pink is my favorite colour.”
Bob thought he might throw up again; this wasn’t what he had planned even before he had decided he wasn’t brave enough and had cancelled his plans.
“Thanks, I guess,” he said. Then he continued, “I don’t have anything for you.”
“Would you like to go to the dance with me on Friday night? I mean, if you don’t already have a date. I can probably get my mom’s car. I mean if you’re not busy that night, huh?”
“I’d love to,” she said. “But it’s customary to give a girl a little token when you ask her out on a first date.”
“I have a balloon,” Bob said. “A pink balloon; I, uhm, I heard that pink is your favorite colour.”
She smiled broadly and took the proffered token. She told him that she would see him Friday night at 7:30. Then she stood up and skipped off to homeroom.