A Date at Eight by
25
(41 Stories)

Prompted By First Dates

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When I was eight years old, I had a crush on the rabbi’s son. Everyone called him Chip. Chip Diamont. Yes, that was his name.

I’m sure we thought we were terribly grown up, going on a date and all. Did my mother make me wear gloves? She may have.

He was a real dreamboat: picture a very young James Darren–black hair, piercing eyes, come-hither (who even knows what that means when you’re eight years old?) smile…and that was Chip.

I guess this wasn’t a very secret crush because our two moms consented to the two of us going on a (well-chaperoned, which was totally unnecessary because we were eight) movie and lunch date. I remember the details quite clearly: his mother picked me up, and the four of us (including Chip’s younger brother) went to Berkeley. We dined at the Mel’s diner on Shattuck Avenue–ordering non-kosher cheeseburgers and milkshakes–and then walked (or skipped) to the movie theater.

Before answering this prompt, I tried to pinpoint the year my date with Chip occurred. I was pretty sure I was eight, and my clear recollection of the  movie confirms this, since it was released in 1959.

What movie did we see, the two eight year-olds and a little brother? We saw Our Man in Havana. If I’m not mistaken, those of us under the age of ten fell asleep somewhere in the middle, after the burgers and milkshakes kicked in. What, I have to wonder, was Chip’s mother thinking? Was this just her way of getting to see a movie she already wanted to see without having to pay a sitter? I mean, it was so far over our heads it might have been airborne. Ernie Kovacs was in that movie, for crying out loud. Alec Guinness and Noel Coward. British accents! How could two little kids possibly grasp the plot of a film based on a Graham Greene spy novel? Now, if any of the Mouseketeers had been in the cast, we might have been a little more engaged. To this day, I could not tell you what the hell that film is about.

I’m sure we thought we were terribly grown up, going on a date and all. Did my mother make me wear gloves? She may have. They would’ve been a bother, what with the burger and fries we probably ate at lunch.

Chip’s father the rabbi had a rather short tenure at the small Jewish Community Center in Richmond, California, where Chip and I first laid eyes on each other. Rabbi Diamont was a serious man, as I recall, with black hair and a round face. After he and his family moved on, I never saw Chip again. I’ve often wondered if he grew up to look like James Darren.

I never did learn his real name.



Characterizations: well written

Comments

  1. Laurie Levy says:

    Risa, what a poignant and funny memoir of your first date — at age 8 no less. I love the touch about the white gloves. My mother made me wear them for any special occasion. And that awful movie choice for a bunch of kids. Clearly his mother wasn’t into your date. Have you ever tried to find “Chip” via some Internet research? You must be curious about the person be became.

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thanks, Laurie. I have not tried to find him, but now that you mention it…I wonder if he remembers anything about that oh-so-special afternoon! Until just recently, I assumed that his name was Diamond, not Diamont. That changes everything! Stay tuned…and thanks again for your comments.

  2. Risa,
    Glad to see someone else got an early start. I can certainly identify with the feeling of “grownup”. Ish. It’s interesting how vivid these memories can be, isn’t it? And maybe Chip was his real name.

  3. Suzy says:

    Risa, I just read the plot synopsis of Our Man in Havana, and I had to laugh at the idea that 8-year-olds could possibly understand or enjoy that movie. I think your theory is correct, that Chip’s mother wanted to see it, and it was easier to take you all along than to get a sitter. Although at that time, before multiplexes, there weren’t a lot of movies playing at any one time, so maybe that was the only option for the day that the two moms had picked for the date. Anyway, it makes a great story, so thanks for sharing it. And I hope you can find Chip online!

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    How very sweet, Risa. But you’re right, what were your mothers thinking with that movie choice? I was into Cinderella at that age. Like, Laurie, I love the white glove detail. I always wore mine to temple. Eating a cheeseburger is quite another thing. I still have a box full of them in a drawer…little open-work ones, kid ones my aunt brought me from Italy that fit just so…white, black, navy blue. One always wore them to temple. And my mother wore some sort of hat or a little netting attached to a brim. We were so proper in those days.
    This is a lovely memory.

    • Risa Nye says:

      Yes, hats and gloves…same with me and my sister! And my mother made hats for many years, so if there’s ever a prompt about millinery memories, I’m ready! Thanks for your comments!

  5. Marian says:

    Risa, this is great. Does seem like the mom wanted to see that movie. We had to wear white gloves to the Broadway theaters in New York. While really traditional, the pearl button(s) on the wrist were pretty.

  6. Good one, Risa! I also look back in puzzlement on certain movies my parents took my brothers and me to see… I remember James Darren being a big deal when I was in sixth grade. I think he appeared on “The Donna Reed Show” where he introduced a song which became an instant hit single.

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