I have no memory of the year Phyllis Ray came to the Baptist Home or how long she lived there. My first memory of her began in Monticello, Arkansas in Mrs. Belts, seventh grade class. She sat near the teacher's desk and I sat behind and to her right. Although there were other times and places or activities when I remember her being around such as the time she asked me to go with her but my infatuation began in that early classroom.
Phyllis was a small girl with a slim figure whose head sit atop a long slim neck. Her facial features were thin with a nose that seemed too large for her face. It was not really that big it's just that she was a small girl. Also she usually wore a pair of faded blue denim pants that fit her rather tight with a sleeveless blouse hanging on the outside. Those times that she wore shoes they were slipped on over her bare feet. I mention that because it was not uncommon for the boys to go barefooted and most likely the girls did too.
As twelve year kids, she and I shared a common music teacher for a year. However Phyllis studied with Mrs. Dean much longer than I She became so accomplished at the piano she once entered a talent contest and won. She sure did, and the finals were held on TV.
When it was announced that she had won, the audience erupted into whistles and yells of “you showed ‘em girl!" Then during a thunderous applause, they requested an encore. Phyllis was not prepared for an encore and had not prepared a second piece. Such a thing had not entered into her mind. Therefore, Phyllis apologized by explaining that she had time to prepare only the one piece of music then played the same piece again.
Phyllis was a young girl about fifteen at the time. She could have played any one of a hundred songs from memory but none to the level of the one that won for her and she didn't want to disappoint the audience.
The audience again applauded their approval and requested another encore to which Phyllis played the piece for the third time and stepped down.
Now, the part about her asking me to go with her happened much later when we were about sixteen or seventeen. I remember us standing outside between the concrete slab and the fishpond (filled in by this time) when I came up to her. I think she had requested another person to ask me to meet her there. Anyway, she asked me to go with her. When I turned her down for, she asked me why. I don't remember the reason, only that it happened.
Phyllis Ray was the first girl I really took a liking to while in the Home. She was twelve or thirteen at the time and I'm sure she didn't realize that there was this crazy boy watching her every move. If she ever reads this story Phyllis will surely kill me or, at the least be shocked that anyone would write such a tale.
She sat in the front row (seventh grade) by the teacher's desk while I sat just behind and to her right. I could see everything she did. Young Love’ was a big hit back in those days, and she doodled a lot on her paper while the teacher was talking. In the margins of her notebook paper, she wrote famous artists’ names and the popular songs of the day in the margins of her notebook paper and did it in such a neat way. The writing had such smooth curves, at various angles with different fonts, upside down and all over the blank spaces on her paper.
I don't know what attracted me to her, other than she was a very pretty girl. But, as each day passed as she doodled and I watched, I became more and more attracted to her.
The sugar and spice routine continued for some time until one day she picked her nose. Just like a boy, she found a `booger’ rolled it around between her thumb and middle finger then brushed it off her finger to ultimately let it down to the floor below.
There I sat, dumbfounded. All my life I had thought girls were different and only boys were snails, nails and puppy dog tails.
I recovered from the shock however, and for some time remained her secret boy friend and to this day I make a capital `P’ with a large sweeping curve just like she did back when we were in Mrs. Belts seventh grade class.
Benjamin J Cox is an author, novelist, poet, speaker, writer and humorist. He has written a book, Insider Dreams, a 911 Novel. He was born on a dirt street in a Waldron, Arkansas, in 1943. He graduated from the University of Tulsa with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He is married with three children, five grandchildren. He is the President of Mayes County Writers Club, the Treasurer of Pryor Creek Investment Club and a member of Will Rogers Toastmasters Club. He is retired and lives with his wife in Pryor, Oklahoma. He like to run, enjoys big band dancing, Speaking before groups, and writes every day.