Her name was Mary, of course. She was a blue-eyed, smiling, long-legged, cool -looking girl–a trifle naive. A girl with class, he thought when he first saw her, but young. A bus seems an awful place for things to start, but there was she on a bus going to church and planning to have a chocolate ice cream cone with sprinkelettes. He was going to church too, but she sat in back of him and that was that.
Naturally one afternoon there was a baseball game in which all the boys and girls (in those places they’re all boys and girls even if the boys and girls have big boys and girls of their own) were to participate. Well this particular boy and girl were antisocial or mutually social. They sat out the ball game on a raft. Long afterward he learned her reason why she was there but being a romantic still doesn’t believe it.
They talked about prosaic things–families and schools; after all he was a shy young man. She wasn’t. Maybe that is why he was sure it happened then. That’s the trouble with shy young men: they are not used to openhearted friendliness. He never knew what she saw in him, but for the rest of the week they were summer friends. He struggled a little bit–an inherent male instinct. Why one rainy afternoon they went to a Bing Crosby movie in separate groups. They had only a week, not even a full one.
However, this time it did happen on a bus. They had made some sort of plan to ride back to New York on the same bus. He from the summer resort, she from Albany where she was visiting. He was positive. She says it couldn’t haven happened then–that soon.
He didn’t know the proper method of courting a girl, not a beautiful one like her. Oh he was quite proper. The movies he took her to were always approved for adults and children. A baseball game, a few football games, a little bowling–that was about all. He didn’t have much time, altogether three months. He then went away as did twelve million other men young and old. Oh yes, he finally kissed her once. He was very proper and very shy and afraid she would say no.
He did have a secret weapon. His job had been writing letters under constricting rules. He now could write letters without rules. She claims it was all platonic yet her first letter to him was a sixteen-page affair. Looking back he is smiling at the strategy of the salutation of his letter. First it was a proper Dear Mary–it’s possible to write the same two words so they are less proper but more warm. She should have realized what his plans were right from the very beginning. The first thing he did was change her name,, he first name that is. How could he ever have written letters beginning Dear Marie.