Most teenage girls lie in bed at night and dream of possibilities and what if's. I did that often too, but just as often I would lie in the dark and fight off the monster; that wedge of fear that lived deep inside of me. I was going to a rodeo with a tall, handsome Marine, but he had told me that the rodeo was being held in-land very near the hospital where I had had all of my surgery. Somewhere in that same vicinity there was a church. In my imagination it had to be a very BIG church; like those big ornate Catholic churches you see in old black and white movies. I had never actually seen the church, but it was there! The reason I was certain of this was because every day and night of my recovery in the hospital I had to listen to the bells of that church ring hour on the hour. When I was a girl the hospital only allowed us to receive visitors for 2 hours on Wednesday's and Sunday's. We were housed in large wards of up to 12 to 15 girls at a time; each of us in varying degrees of pain and inner turmoil, and aloneness. I was the quiet girl. The girl determined to stay out of the path of the fury, in whatever form it might take. I would be awakened in the middle of the night to fight the pain and loneliness and hear the bells of that church taunt me with their chiming. Have you ever known pain so strong that it ate at the center of your soul? That's what those church bells did to me night after unforgiving night. What if I went to the rodeo with Denny and I heard those church bells. Would I start shaking and crying and make a fool of myself? I really wanted to get acquainted with him. He was cute! We were going to the Coliseum. The area around the Coliseum had museums, trees, grass, and places to picnic and walkways that would be fun to explore. I was excited, but I was worried about those bells. Please God, whatever happens don't let me hear those bells and start crying. Denny was in his bed next door and I wondered if he was awake worrying about tomorrow too. If I made a fool of myself both families would know it and I would be so ashamed. I had fried some chicken and made some potato salad so we could have a picnic. I was really looking forward to seeing the rodeo. That was something I had never imagined being invited to. Denny walked across the yard the next day and picked me up. He had his uniform on. He looked so handsome! He had an old, small one seat Coupe and we laughed all the way that the poor thing wasn't going to make it that far. We even gave the car a pet name. Boy/men Marines were fun to be with! We sat up high in the Coliseum so we could see everything that was happening. It was exciting, busy, loud, and fun. Denny explained to me the what's/why's of all the events. He even went to the trouble to explain the scoring. We were having a great time. I had no idea rodeos were so much fun. Denny kept standing up and yelling for the cowboy's he wanted to win. Up and down, up and down. Then on one of his up's he leaned over the seats in front of us and talked to the man that was yelling as much as he was. Oh no! There was a great big hole in the seat of his pants. He must have caught his pants on a nail or something and it tore through the material. What the heck was I supposed to do. If I told him about the hole he would be so embarrassed, and how was I supposed to tell him, anyway. "Hey, Denny you've got a big hole in your pants and your underwear is sticking out". That would embarrass me! On the other hand we were having a great time and if he found out that there was a hole in his pants would he want to go home to change? Then our date would be over. I didn't want to embarrass him or myself and I certainly didn't want our date to be over so I decided that maybe the best way to tell him was just to leave it alone and not tell at all. After the rodeo we held hands and walked on the paths among the trees, sat on the grass and ate our picnic. While we were eating the sound of the bells tolling hit my consciousness and I started to shake, but we were sitting on the grass and I put my hands under my legs and hid them until the shaking stopped. I was having a wonderful time and I wasn't going to let that secret wedge inside my being interfere. I swallowed hard and pushed the fear down inside me again. We wandered through the museum and Denny bent over some stairs to get a look at how high up we were and his pants ripped some more. He had a really, really big hole in his pants now. I sure as sunshine couldn't tell him about it now. He'd be angry with me because I hadn't told him in the first place. A tall handsome Marine with a huge hole in the rear end of his uniform! Thank goodness we were headed back to the car. He'd be sitting down for the rest of the date and I wouldn't have to be reminded that I had let someone I really liked walk around with his butt showing all day. When we got home Denny said that he really had had a good time and he wasn't anxious to end the evening and then suggested that we go get some ice cream. Sounded good to me, but he was going to have to get out of the car and walk into the ice cream store and I was going to have to see the hole in his pants and feel guilty again. I weighed the circumstances and decided that a hole was just a hole but a great date with a Marine was something special so I said, "yes, lets go". We got our ice cream and went down to the beach and parked to watch the sun set. While I was eating my cone some of the ice cream dripped onto my dress and for some reason Denny thought that was hilarious and laughed so hard that I decided the only way to stop his cackling was to shove my ice cream cone in his face. So I did. He sputtered for a minute and then just sat there quiet as a mouse. I thought, "oh, no I've runied it. This wonderful day and I ruined the whole thing." All of a sudden he guffawed. I couldn't understand what he was laughing so hard about when he had seemed so angry just a few minutes before, but he stopped laughing long enough to gasp, "I never would have thought YOU would do such a thing. You're always such a lady. I never would have believed it!" And then he kissed me. That kiss was my first hint that there was something grand going on that I didn't fully understand. I understood everything about sex. My parents had made certain of that. But no one can tell you exactly how the feel of those electric tenacles streaking through your body from a kiss can affect you. It was time for me to go home.