in the Duke Hall auditorium during Freshmen Orientation at Lincoln Memorial University. After dictating his campus rules and dress code, the Dean of Students shuffled his notes to view his next agenda item.
Suddenly…out of the corner of my right eye…I saw movement and I glimpsed the fluttering of delicate, wispy wings and instantly my head swiveled toward them. Lo and behold, I saw that Cupid was hovering near-by but, in that beautiful moment, the Dean spoke again.
“Two LMU cheerleaders will now teach you freshmen the school alma mater and game cheers.”
On cue… two petite, cute and bubbly cheerleaders
ran onto stage, and, after staring at both, I began to swoon over one. As I did, my heart began to thump wildly. “Is she the one for me,” I wondered?
Suddenly, I again glimpsed movement to my right and I turned to see that Cupid was now much closer…and, I could actually see his face. In one swift motion, and without a word of warning, Cupid smiled…drew an arrow from its quiver…and drew back his bow. Zing…. An arrow was soaring toward me.
I froze…unable to react…and Cupid’s arrow pierced my heart with a slight thud. But, all I felt was “love”.
My eyes were fixed on the dark haired cheerleader and I was totally mesmerized by her smile…her perky demeanor…and, her apparent zest for life. So… unconscious of others around me…I began whispering, “She will soon be mine… forever.”
Days…weeks…agonizing months passed as I timidly tried to meet her. I passed her often on campus but she was always with a male upperclassman and I
was too shy to approach her while she was with some one else. But…I attended every basketball game with my eyes transfixed on her every movement while she led cheers. When the game’s final buzzer sounded, I would hustle to the gym floor with a burning desire to speak to her but invariably another guy would beat me to her side and I would shy away at the last moment. So…My freshman year ended and I still had not met her but I had learned that her name was Shirley Jean Garrett, from Kingsport, Tennessee.
I meekly pursued the girl of my dreams for over a year, but finally luck, or destiny, intervened my sophomore year. I had a class with one of Shirley’s closest friends. Nancy Dooley, from Carterton, Virginia, and she took pity on a shy boy from West Virginia and befriended me. I seized the first opportunity to ask her to play matchmaker.
“Please introduce me to Shirley”, I pleaded.
Nancy did so in late September and I could quickly tell that Shirley wasn’t too excited about dating me, but Nancy explained that Shirley was leery of dating
anyone because of a recent split with another guy. My love didn’t falter though
but, try as we might, neither Nancy nor I could gain Shirley’s consent
On our first date, I escorted Shirley to the annual Delta Sorority “Gypsy Violins” formal dance in the old gym at LMU. As I held her lightly in my arms during our first waltz, I thought, “This is the lady for me.”
As she settled in bed that night, Shirley wrote that day’s entry in her diary which was thick with many pages on which she had religiously recorded her impression of all her previous dates with other boys. Many were quite lengthy….
“Had first date with Kenny Fields…Had a really great time….”
That short entry was the first and last one Shirley ever wrote about me, but it also was the final entry in her diary ---forever. There was no need to…no other boys to write about…and after one long, agonizing year and a few more dates, I was finally, “going steady with Shirley.”
I have an inkling about the exact moment when Shirley started loving me. I personally think that she knew in her heart as she made her last diary entry
that I would be the love of her life. But, she won’t admit that…
As for me, I’m 100 per cent sure that my love started that very moment when Cupid pierced my heart with his arrow, and I have never, ever, considered pulling it out. I love Shirley even more now, if that is possible, and Cupid’s arrow is still in my heart…48 years later.