I was fifteen. It was my birthday and I was going on a “real” dinner date.
It was also the first time I ate at a restaurant where the person behind the counter didn’t ask if I wanted fries along with with the main course.
I’d spent hours getting ready.
My eyes were sexily ringed like Cleopatra’s. My lips were heavily coated in peppermint pink for maximum kissability. My dress was maroon with an empire waist and mini skirt. My shoes were clogs with big silver buckles. I’d poured “My Sin” by Lanvin over my pulse points every time I couldn’t smell myself. And my long ironed hair hung down past my shoulders, like Morticia’s from the Adam’s family. Except, in my mind, it was swinging from side to side like Cher’s did when she strutted onstage.
Only “he” was 15 minutes late. Which cause me to overcomb and flatten the top part of the hair I’d teased to perfection. My stomach was in knots.
But, I had only to smell his English Leather cologne that filled my parents front room and see his sporty, Madras plaid jacket to forget his breach. It was a wonderful start to an evening I expected to get better.
I wasn’t disappointed.
“He” took me to the M&M, a restaurant with early American maple tables, waitresses with red checked aprons and paper napkins. I’d never before had shrimp and saw the listing of breaded popcorn shrimp on the menu as proof I was in a top-rated place. Molded jello desserts on the buffet table were further evidence of sophistication.
“He” gave me a necklace with a single pearl for my birthday and his class ring.
I had a boyfriend.
With a ring to wear on a chain conspiciously around my neck or to cover with mohair and brush with a toothbrush in study hall, I was no longer an “unwanted”. I had a name to write over and over across my notebooks. And a “him” with wonderfully cute bad habits to complain about to those nearest and dearest.
I will never forget that birthday. The M&M has been long gone. But, I do have a recipe that accurately replicates the cucumber mousse served on The M&M’s buffet.
It was and is still a favorite side dish.
1 package lime-flavored gelatin 3/4 c hot water 1/4 c lemon juice 1 T grated onion 1 c sour cream 1 cup cucumber, pared, seeded, lightly salted and chopped
Dissolve gelatin in water. Add lemon juice and onion. Chill until almost set. Stir in sour cream and cucumbers. Fill a wet mold with mixture and chill thoroughly. When set, invert onto a platter and garnish.