Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by
25
(35 Stories)

Prompted By First Dates

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My first date with my first girlfriend didn’t even start as a date.  Rather, my brother  Tom — two years older than I and then a high school senior —  and I had gone over to the home of some brilliant friends of ours on a Friday night in the spring of 1965 to play bridge with Jon (Tom’s classmate) and his younger brother (by one year) David, as we wonkish sorts were wont to do.  Jon was going to Harvard, as was David the next year — and, over the course of time, they convinced me it was my manifest academic destiny to do so as well. Their younger sister Rachel, who was away on some field trip at the time, later went to Radcliffe.  Equally brilliant parents.  Yeah; that kind of family.

Just a great slow dance song, so who was I to complain?  Blessedly, Susan seemed happy to dance it with me, slowly and closely.  And the touch and sweet smell of her still slightly damp hair as she rested her head on my shoulder were intoxicating. I pondered the song's title question as we danced, as well as thinking of another, totally incongruous song title, "I Could Have Danced All Night."

At some point early on in our bridge playing, Jon got a call inviting him and Tom off to some party of their classmates that evening.  Well, we couldn’t blame them for exercising that senior (literally) prerogative and taking off.  David then had the brilliant –that word again — idea of calling Susie, a classmate of Rachel’s whom he had a slight crush on, to see if she wanted to come over, as he knew she also played bridge.  By one of those coincidences that only happen in rom-coms and real life, Susie was having a sleepover at her classmate’s Susan house. (In a rom-com, they would not have had such similar names, but such is real life.)   Susan was also a bridge player, so David called Susie at Susan’s and, though they had just washed their hair and were about to do whatever teenage girls did at sleepovers back then, he convinced them that getting dressed and playing bridge with us would be a good idea.  (I told you he was brilliant.)

So we drove over to Susan’s — David had his license — and picked up S & S and brought them back to Chez David.  I should note that Susan and I had a brief frenemy-esque “history.”  Our mothers knew each other from local Democratic politics, though Susan’s mother was far more successful — she was then a state senator and would eventually become the Connecticut Secretary of State.  More to the point, Susan and I had met the year before when we were chosen by the faculty to give speeches on behalf of our respective classes at the opening of our new junior high school. Neither one of us was shy or falsely humble, so we kidded one another about our own speech being better than the other’s. (In all honesty, Susan’s was better; I was going a bit too much for the cheap laugh.)

In any event, back at David’s, while plying S & S with drinks — probably Tab and Fresca — we chatted away.  I knew that Susan was smart, but I hadn’t realized just how smart — or how, witty, opinionated and outspoken she was.  Plus she played tennis (screw bridge).  I was my usual charming self, and we really hit it off.  I think we then played a few hands of bridge — Susan was my partner or, more to the point, Susie was David’s  —  when David suggested that maybe we should just play some records and dance instead.  (I told you he was brilliant.)

So dance we did, to the usual assortment of rock and roll 45’s.  But the one that David kept playing was the Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”  Just a great slow dance song, so who was I to complain?  Blessedly, Susan seemed happy to dance it with me, slowly and closely.  And the touch and sweet smell of her still slightly damp hair as she rested her head on my shoulder were intoxicating.  I pondered the song’s title question as we danced, as well as thinking of another, totally incongruous song title, “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

Well, we couldn’t dance all night; we had to get S & S back to Susan’s at a respectable hour.  But, as David drove us back there, Susan and I sat in the back seat holding hands — never had I been happier not to have my driver’s license yet.  And, as we pulled into the driveway, I summoned up my courage and gave Susan what I hoped was a sweet and gentle kiss and, mirabile dictu, she reciprocated very much in kind.

I was pretty sure I had the answer to the Shirelles’ question.

 

By way of epilogue, Susan and I started dating and went together for most of my remaining two years in high school — which, in teenage years, is essentially a lifetime marriage. And, whenever I hear that song again — most often as sung by its composer Carol King — I think of our dancing to it.

 

(The photo above is from my class yearbook.  It is from a school dance that Susan and I went to. I may look stoned, but this is simply my usual squinty, goofy pose and the yearbook editor, a good pal of mine, couldn’t resist putting in the picture and its ironic headline.  Susan, by contrast, really did look — and, indeed, was —  very cool.)

 

Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin


Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Great descriptors in this story, John. The smell of her hair, the touch of her hand. That feeling of first love. I LOVE that photo (just clicked on it to get a really good look, Mr Cool). The two of you are very sweet together and how wonderful that first date worked out and you two went out for the rest of high school, which, as you aptly describe, was a lifetime in high school parlance. It is also so telling that the song brings you right back to that special first night. Isn’t that always the way for us; songs define us in time and space and take us back to a certain moment.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, Betsy. Of course, we had a few hiccups in our “lifetime” romance, but that is hardly surprising — at any age. And, yeah, songs do so bring us back to certain moments. That’s why I think “oldies” deserve more respect than they sometimes get.

  2. Just positively flat out great, John. What an experience and what a story!

  3. Suzy says:

    John, this is one of the sweetest stories I have ever read! So many things to love about it. Making a connection over playing bridge, followed by some slow dancing. And what great writing – “coincidences that only happen in rom-coms and real life,” the “sweet smell of her still slightly damp hair” which was “intoxicating” – perfect!

    I’m not surprised that the two girls were Susie and Susan, although, as you say, only in real life, not in a rom-com. Susan was one of the most popular girl’s names of our era. As I wrote in another story, it was the second most common name in my college class (17 of us out of 300 women), and your Susan must have been my year, since I know her classmate Rachel was.

    Fabulous yearbook photo too! And I’m happy that you used a song for your title! Two thumbs up, as Siskel and Ebert used to say.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, Suzy. Yes, there certainly were a lot of Susans in our era — and we both knew a good number among our classmates. And, for that matter, among song titles (I loved “Susan” rhyming with “losin'” in one of them by the Buckinghams).

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Great details that capture young love back in the day. Tab and Fresca, the Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (I love that song), holding hands in the backseat, a sweet kiss. Your young romance with Susan in high school captures the essence of dating back then. And I love the picture from your high school yearbook.

  5. Marian says:

    I can almost feel the tickle of the Tab and Fresca bubbles and smell Susie’s hair, John. What a wonderful story and description of how we interacted back then. There were Susans upon Susies upon Suzy’s in my class, too!

  6. Jeff Gerken says:

    This really reminded me of dancing with my high school girlfriend at sock hops and homecoming dances. I lived on a farm, far enough away from town that I couldn’t just pop over to someone’s house, so I missed that part of the teen experience. Well done!

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