It’s difficult to believe it was 50 years ago that I roamed the hallowed halls of Mansfield High School and Wheaton College. No, I didn’t attend Wheaton. You see, back then Wheaton was an all-girls school. No men allowed, except in the library where my friends and I spent many an evening hunkered down behind a huge pile of textbooks, studying. Of course we were studying the young ladies, but studying is studying, right? Why the pile of books? We hid behind them and peeked out as the girls walked by; kind of passive-aggressive stalking, I guess. Yuh, I know. That’s pretty pathetic, but boys will be boys. At least that’s the only defense I can muster at the moment.
This Wheaton Library road trip is a long-standing tradition amongst the Mansfield boys; a rite of passage. Kind of like being hazed as a freshman on the football team, but without the Icy Hot in your jock strap.
The way it worked, was that several times a month a bunch of us would get together on a weeknight and make our hormone-induced pilgrimage to the Wheaton Library for the sole purpose of scoping out the college girls. That was a really big deal for us. There was a certain mystique to it. After all, these were older women; sophisticates. And we were pubescent bundles of raging testosterone in tight Levis, pretending we had a shot at even talking to one of these goddesses.
Some of the girls hung out in their pajamas. I mean to say, some of the girls wore pajamas while they were at the library; they were hanging out in their pajamas, not hanging out of their pajamas. But even though they weren’t hanging out of their pajamas just seeing them in their PJ’s was pretty exhilarating stuff for a 17-year old boy back in those days. Hey, a guy can fantasize can’t he?
All things considered, it was a fairly benign exercise. Looking back on it, I like to think of it as having been a way to develop my rather vivid imagination, something that has served me well as a writer. And when you really think about it, what better place to indulge ones love for fiction than in a library?
Of course, there was one guy in the group who just couldn’t help himself from taking our harmless little foray into the land of pseudo-voyeurism to another level altogether; a level few of us could ever imagine possible.
A bunch of us had gotten together at Frates Dairy one evening, something we did regularly before making the short drive to the Wheaton campus to check out the young ladies at the library. For those of you who are either too young to remember, or weren’t in the area back then, Frates was next to the Norton Reservoir where Tsang’s Chinese Restaurant is now located. They had great pizza, fried seafood and ice cream. You could take a date there and get a large pizza and two cokes for $1.50, so it was a very popular spot for teenagers with limited budgets.
It was also a great spot to ‘park’ or watch the ‘submarine races’ in the reservoir. I know that some of you have no clue what that means and for now, I’m going to leave it that way. Hunt down someone in their 50s or 60s and ask them about it. They’ll know!
So, as I had started to tell you, a bunch of us met at Frates, had a pizza and then, as was our custom, jumped into two cars to make the trip to Wheaton, leaving a couple of cars sitting in the parking lot, as taking just two cars made it much easier to find parking on campus.
On this particular night, our friend, Lenny (not his real name), told us he wanted to drive on his own because he had to get home early. So, our three car caravan pulled out of Frates’ parking lot and made its way down Route 140 toward our destination. A few minutes later, we swung into the parking area just outside the library, jumped out of our cars and went inside.
We had struck pay dirt! The library was crawling with chicks! After walking in and out of the long aisles of books for a while, we spread out and grabbed seats wherever we could find them.
It was a great night! It was the week of finals, just prior to summer break. So there were more girls at the library than usual, as they were all studying for their exams.
After about an hour or so, Lenny said he had to get going. We tried to get him to stay, telling him he was going to miss out on a great evening of girl-watching, but he insisted he had promised to be home early to keep an eye on his little brother. After taking his fair share of razzing, Lenny flipped us ‘the bird’ and disappeared through the exit doors that led to the parking lot.
The rest of us hung out for about another hour, ogling every young lady in sight before reluctantly making our way out to our cars. We headed back up Route 140 to Frates and grabbed a soda before heading back home to Mansfield, happily sharing our thoughts about the various girls we had checked out; another conquest completed.
The next morning as I was walking down the corridor at school, one of the guys who’d been with us at Wheaton the night before came running up behind me, grabbed me by the arm and pulled me over against the lockers that ran the length of the hallway.
“Did you hear about Lenny?” he gasped.
“No,” I replied, “What’s up?”
“The Wheaton cops found him up in a tree outside one of the girl’s dorms looking into the windows,” he snickered. “He got arrested!”
“No way!” I hollered, nearly unable to stand up because I was laughing so hard. “Is he in school?”
“Nope,” my friend replied, “He has to go back to the campus with his parents this afternoon. His dad is going to kill him!”
Lenny would never give us the details about what happened that day. He never talked about how he’d been busted or what the punishment was. I guess he was probably too embarrassed. I’m not sure if he had to go to court or if something was just worked out between Wheaton and his parents, but I know his dad, and I’m sure no matter what the police or the legal system had in store, it paled in comparison to the punishment his dad laid on him.
Lenny took a lot of teasing for the remainder of the school year. Fortunately for him, there were only a few weeks of school left before summer vacation, and by the time school started up again in the fall, most of the needling had tailed off.
To this day, whenever I think of Lenny, that story inevitably pops into my head. My friend Lenny, the Peeping Tom; the guy who didn’t know that in New England, in the month of May, the leaves are still pretty sparse on the trees.
Make it a great weekend!
Bob Havey is an author and freelance writer. Bob’s book, BE NOT DISMAYED: A STORY OF SPIRITUAL TRIUMPH; the story of his daughter, Erin’s 22-month long battle with leukemia, is available on Amazon.com. For a personalized copy, contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Bob’s website at http://www.bobhavey.net.