Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Kit Thomas Affair

Before our first class at St. John's, we sat in a stairwell of a private apartment building near school and communed about this or that and maybe shared from a small waxed paper bag of deep fried banana chips. It was a private time between us. This was in Puerto Rico, in the mid 50's.

Once, at my house in Cupey Alto (in the country), she leaned over and, to my great surprise, kissed me although I can't remember where she planted it. However, I do remember it was a very special, gentle moment. Even today, I can see us sitting on that tree trunk. I was probably 12 or 13 at the time. I think she was too.

Her name was Kit Thomas and she was my girl friend. We never had sex. I don't think we even petted – just look at the picture; there wasn't that much to pet, anyway -- but our bond was tight. It was very serious even though she was about a head taller than I was.

I don't know how long our 'affair' lasted but I think it was a long while but at that time of life, days were long (unlike how short they seem when you get older) so maybe our relationship lasted only for a few weeks or months, instead of years.

Anyway, Kit's dad had been temporarily transferred from -- was it White Plains? -- to organize the a Boy Scouts of America chapter in Puerto Rico and he had an office in Old San Juan, the very quaint, cobble stoned, 500 year old city which is the capital of Puerto Rico. Sometimes we'd go into Old San Juan just to wander about and to visit Mr. Thomas which, ultimately, gave us the idea.

You see, at the end of 9th grade, I was leaving for a summer school-camp in Vermont to prepare for my transfer into a rather fancy Pennsylvania prep school the following academic year.

By this time, Kit and I had sworn our love to each other, proclaimed our joint fidelity while apart and to formalize that promise, we each removed our exchanged rings which we wore around our necks (a public demonstration of our commitment to one another) and placed them into two little envelopes and onto the bottom shelf of Mr. Thomas' big black safe with the gold writing on it, behind his office desk. It was a solemn ceremony and Mr. Thomas looked on, quietly, respecting the moment.

For me there was a slight let down after that as I liked 'belonging' to Kit but I knew everything would be okay; somehow it would work out. Who understood or even thought about the future in those days.

Then I went off to camp.

There I got 'prepared' for prep school, was taught speed reading, played with an old, four door, black Mercury and learned about "Jew shoes" but that's an altogether different story.

At the beginning of the summer, I was able to communicate with Kit by the single public telephone that lived in a cramped booth in the main building.

I 'paid' for these calls by providing my grandfather's telephone number in New York to the long distance operator (nobody asked him if he could or would accept those charges) but finally, one day, I was informed that Kit had  left Puerto Rico to spend the summer with friends in her hometown.

I had no further contact with her until summer's end. Strangely, I don't remember how I felt about that loss but, with current introspection, it probably gnawed at me as that's my personality.

Finally, by summer's end, I reconnected with Kit only to discover that our little world had been invaded by another male; not by the home town hero, the high school president, the homecoming king, the varsity baseball, basketball player or quarterback, but by a lowly soda jerk who worked at the local hangout.

There was no going back.

So much for that romance which I still remember fondly.