Rings Rings

Romantic Dating Stories

Lonely Boy

by Bill Quinn

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Mandy was a senior at the university. She had majored in Elementary Education and was considering teaching school upon graduation. There was a certain amount of excitement, of course, in anticipating graduation, but over all she usually felt sad and lonely. She had never had a steady boyfriend during these college years, Oh, yes, she'd had dates, a few times even four or five with the same guy. But for some reason the guys seemed to...well, drift away, leaving Mandy alone again.

Several times she was attracted to a guy in one of her classes. She tried to be casually friendly, but it rarely ended up in a date.

What Mandy really wanted was to find a steady boyfriend. How she missed holding hands, being hugged, and being kissed. But it wasn't just dates she was hoping for. It was to be a real couple, doing many routine things together--just to be together every chance they got. And maybe...falling in love.

Why wouldn't it happen for her? Was there something wrong with her figure? No, she believed she had a fairly nice figure. Was she just not very pretty? Well, she knew she wasn't Venus de Milo, but still she thought most guys found her at least sort of cute. What about her personality? She tried to project a nice, outgoing personality that guys could enjoy. So what could be the problem? Why couldn't she find a steady boyfriend?

But one thing helped pass the lonely nights--Mandy loved rock-n-roll music--the classic era from 1955 to 1969. Of course, that was long before she was born, but she bought DVDs of the greatest hits of many of those early artists and groups. She also faithfully listened to the oldies radio station that played this music. To her, many of those songs represented some of the greatest love poetry ever written.

Just last month the University Center put on a concert by a group that specialized in performing oldies. Mandy was so excited! She really hoped that a boy who knew her would ask her to go to the concert. But it didn't happen. She went alone. She enjoyed listening to the songs, but it wasn't what it could have been had she been there with a boy, maybe holding hands and then later kissing goodnight. After the concert, the tears came as she remembered the song "She Cried" by Jay and the Americans. But the next morning another song by Jay and the Americans came to her: "Walkin' In the Rain." It was a remake of an earlier hit by Ronnie and the Ronettes. She liked Ronnie's version better because it was sung by a girl, and Mandy could really identify with the lyrics:

I want him, and I need him,
And someday someway I'll meet him.
He'll be kind of shy, and real good lookin' too.
And I'll be certain he's my guy by the things he'll like to do--
Like walking in the rain
And wishing on the stars up above
And being so in love.

When he's near me, I'll kiss him...

She felt encouraged--much encouraged. She wanted him and needed him, and someday soon she would meet him. Mandy believed that deep done in her heart.

Several weeks later a new movie, With This Ring, opened at the Skylight Theater near the campus. It had been highly acclaimed as the best romantic movie of the year. Mandy watched previews of it online, and yeah, this was really going to be a sweet, romantic story with a "lived happily ever after" ending. If some guy she liked asked her for a date to see this movie, there would be real potential here!

In fact, there was a boy in one of her classes that Mandy was attracted to, a fellow named Jim. On Wednesday Mandy made sure she was right behind him as everyone filed out of the classroom.

"Hey, Jim, how'd you do on that paper Dr. Hayes handed back today?"

He turned to see who was talking to him.

"Oh, hi, Mandy." With sort of a sheepish look on his face, he answered, "Well, not that great--a B-. How about you?"

Mandy laughed. "Not much better. Just a B. Can't seem to ever get an A in this class--it's one of the hardest classes I've taken." She paused. Then, "Say, have you heard about that new movie, 'With This Ring'?"

"Isn't that the movie that just opened at the Skylight Theater?"

"Yeah! From everything I've read about it, it's going to be a really nice movie--really romantic!" She said that with just the right tone to let him know that she thought it was just the right kind of movie for a really romantic date. Well...at least that's what Mandy hoped. Sometimes guys just don't seem to catch on to a girl's drift!

Now was the time. But what could she say that would get him thinking in the right direction without coming right out and saying she wanted him to take her for a date to see that movie? Suddenly what she had planned to say didn't seem so great. She'd have to ad lib.

"I'll bet it would make a really romantic date for a lot of couples. What do you think? I know it would for me."

As soon as that last sentence was out, Mandy regretted it. That was hardly what you'd call subtle. She might as well ask him out! But she just didn't believe in doing that. A girl wants to be asked out on a date! But she had said it, and it was too late now. And anyway, she rationalized, maybe Jim needed a little push in the right direction.

He turned and looked at Mandy. "Yeah, it probably would for a lot of girls. Has someone asked you out yet?"

Wow! Maybe he actually did get her drift! Maybe he was checking to see whether he had any competition.

"No...not yet," Mandy added with a slight anticipatory upbeat. Could this be it? Was he going to ask her?

As they approached a lecture hall, Jim said, "Well, here's my next class. I hope you get that date. See ya, Mandy." He turned away and started into the lecture hall.

Her expression changed from bright-eyed to puzzled, to disappointed, and then to sad. Mandy stood in the hall and watched him go down the stairs. But then she grabbed onto a thought that flashed through her mind. Maybe he was a little shy like the guy Ronnie described in "Walkin' In the Rain." Maybe he needed time to think about it--or maybe to work up the courage to ask her! She tried to make herself optimistic. But it wasn't easy.

Everyone who lived in the dormitories was in the campus phone book. But Wednesday and Thursday both went by without a call from Jim. Or anyone else, for that matter. On Friday in Dr. Hayes' class, he didn't even speak to her. Now the sadness and loneliness had completely replaced her hope for a date on Saturday night.

Since dates for her tended to be rare, every Friday night Mandy listened to Mike Iver's "Friday Night Hall of Fame." For three hours from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M. he played rock-n-roll oldies from the fifties and sixties. Sometimes he'd give some information about the song or about the artist or group who made it famous. This Friday was going to be a sad night. But at least the romantic music might create new dreams in her mind.

Mandy turned the radio on and laid down on the bed to listen to the program.

She had been listening for about an hour, and one of her favorite songs was just ending--"Do You Believe in Magic" by the Lovin' Spoonful. Mandy always smiled when she heard that song. The opening line is actually, "Do you believe in magic in a young girl's heart..." Yeah, she believed in that magic, the magic of rock-n-roll in a young girl's heart. The trouble was...oh, well, why dwell on that? Try to be happy.

Mike introduced the next song.

"Now this next song is by one of my favorite rock-n-roll stars, Paul Anka. His career really started in 1957 with his hit "Diana," which skyrocketed to number 2 on Billboard magazine's "Top 100." But the song I'm going to play for you tonight was released in 1959 and was his first song to top Billboard's new chart, the "Hot 100." I'm sure many guys can identify with this song. Here is "Lonely Boy" by the legendary Paul Anka."

I'm just a lonely boy, lonely and blue
I'm all alone with nothin' to do
I've got everything you could think of
But all I want is someone to love

Someone, yes, someone to love, someone to kiss
Someone to hold at a moment like this
I'd like to hear somebody say
"I'll give you my love each night and day"

I'm just a lonely boy, lonely and blue
I'm all alone with nothin' to do
I've got everything you could think of
But all I want is someone to love

Somebody, somebody, somebody, please send her to me
I'll make her happy, just wait and see
I prayed so hard to the heavens above
That I might find someone to love

I'm just a lonely boy, lonely and blue
I'm all alone with nothin' to do
I've got everything you could think of
But all I want is someone to love...

Mandy had never heard this song before, and she was captivated by it. She knew what loneliness was like in the areas dating and romance.

When the song was over, Mike Ivers came back on with a comment that absolutely stunned Mandy.

"There you have it, folks. And for all you guys out there who are lonely boys, I've got the solution for you: find a lonely girl."

"A lonely girl." Yeah, that's what she was. Why couldn't she meet a lonely boy?

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Lyle was an electrical engineer. He had graduated from the university the previous year and found an entry-level job at an engineering firm in this relatively small university town. He and Rachel had gone steady during their junior year at the university, but she seemed to lose interest in him during their senior year. By their final semester she was dating someone else. Lyle had heard from a mutual friend that she had gotten engaged and was going to marry during the summer after graduation. After the wedding, they planned to relocate where her fiancé had been offered a job.

He was hurt and really missed Rachel, but toward the end of that final semester he had dated several new girls. But none grew into any sort of relationship, and those girls also moved away after graduation.

Lyle had now been employed for several months and during those months had dated two secretaries, Linda and Michelle--but each only once. Despite making friends with several engineers at the firm, he was becoming increasingly lonely...well, for a girlfriend. Then he read about the romantic movie soon to start at the Skylight Theater. He knew guys in general had a reputation of not being very romantic. Maybe his problem was that most of the girls he met found him rather unromantic. Maybe this new movie could help, maybe give him some pointers.

Trouble was that he was pretty sure he usually didn't appear very romantic. But he knew in his heart that he was romantic...sort of. And he tried to be romantic on dates. Maybe now was his chance. He believed that most girls would be attracted to a romantic movie, so maybe taking a girl to see this movie on a date would convince her that he also liked romantic things and was a real romantic guy!

Yeah, he really wanted to take a girl to see this movie.

Lyle asked both Linda and Michelle for a date to see the movie, but both said they had other plans. They didn't say what those plans were. With his discouragement increasing, he decided to ask one more secretary, a very pretty girl whom he had also dated once before and whom he thought seemed to like him. So at work on Thursday morning he asked her about seeing the movie with him.

"Hi, Kathy. You look really pretty today--a new dress?"

Kathy smiled brightly. "Why thank you Lyle. That was really sweet of you. As a matter of fact, it is a new dress. Cost a bundle too. I'm really glad somebody noticed!"

"Well, I sure noticed! Say, Kathy, I read in the paper about a really great movie opening at the theater here. It's described as a very romantic movie." Lyle thought it was good strategy to emphasize the kind of movie it was and that he wanted to see it. "Would you like to go with me to see the movie?"

Kathy reached out and touched his arm. "Oh, Lyle, that would be fun, but I've got other plans. I'm so sorry. Maybe some other time."

Lyle hoped his disappointment was not visible. "Sure, I understand. You have fun. Maybe we can get together another time."

"Yeah, Lyle. That'd be nice."

He wondered how nice Kathy really thought another date with him would be.

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Mandy was determined to see this movie, even if she had to see it alone. When it came time on Saturday evening to dress for the occasion, her first inclination was to go just as she was, in the clothes she had been wearing all day. But then she thought, no--I'm going to at least have the fun of dressing for a date...or, correcting herself, pretending that she had a date. Was this being silly? Maybe, but there was that wonderful, but sad, song, "The Great Pretender." The Platters made it a huge hit in 1955, but Mandy loved the girl's version sung by Kathy Young in 1961. She remembered a few lines--

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender,
Pretending that I'm doing well.
My need is such I pretend too much,
I'm lonely but no one can tell.

...

Too real is this feeling of make believe,
Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal.

Mandy's eyes began to tear. "Too real" was the fact that she felt so much like the girl in the song.

Oh, well, a little more pretending tonight won't hurt. Mandy decided to wear her pretty red and black pleated plaid skirt with knee socks, a combination many girls wore in the sixties. Yeah, black knee socks would go nicely with her black sweater with three-quarter-length sleeves.

When ready to leave, Mandy looked at herself in the full-length mirror. But then the sadness struck again. She was pretending, but how she wished that she really had a boyfriend who might tell her how pretty she looked in this outfit. Her eyes were misty again as she left the dorm.

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Lyle didn't find a date for Saturday evening, and he was lonely--and sad--with no girlfriend to do things with or just enjoy being together. He didn't want to stay in his apartment and watch television. What about going to see the movie by himself? After asking three girls for a date to see it, going by himself would no doubt be quite dispiriting, but he decided it probably would be better than staying at home alone.

But an amazing surprise occurred that brightened his mood considerably. In the theater parking lot, Lyle saw Kathy walking toward the door of the theater, and she was alone. The idea flashed through his mind that maybe her plans had fallen through and now she too was going to see the movie all alone like he was. What a wonderful break! Maybe she'd want to get together and see the movie with him after all.

"Hey, Kathy, wait up!"

She turned around to see who had called her, and seeing it was Lyle, waited for him to catch up. But there didn't seem to be a welcoming smile on her face.

"Oh, hello, Lyle. You decided to see the movie stag, huh?"

"Yeah, it was better than just sitting sit in my apartment and looking at television. But, boy, am I glad you decided to see the movie!"

They walked side-by-side and entered the theater.

"Would you like to sit with me? The theater looks a little crowded, but I think we can find two seats together. Looks like maybe we can have our date after all."

"Oh, Lyle, I'm really sorry, but what I told you on Thursday is still true. I do have other plans--I'm meeting Linda and Michelle. The three of us decided to see the movie together. I think they're bringing a couple of their friends too."

At first Lyle's dejection began to overwhelm him. But then he thought that if Kathy sat at the end of those girls already there, maybe the seat on the other side of her would be empty. But that was not the case. With Lyle still walking next to Kathy down the aisle, she suddenly squeezed into an empty seat in the middle of six other girls that had obviously been saved for her.

Kathy immediately started talking to Michelle on her left, ignoring Lyle in the aisle on the right. He knew guys aren't supposed to cry, but he felt close to that as he started walking further down the aisle.

Yeah, the theater was pretty crowded. Where would he find a seat? Then he came to a row that had one remaining seat near the middle. He eased his way to the empty seat over two couples. The girl on the other side of the seat was evidently alone because another couple was sitting in the two seats next to her.

The movie started shortly after Lyle sat down. For about a half hour--or was it maybe closer to an hour?--he watched the movie but felt more and more discouraged and lonely as a really sweet romantic story unfolded before him.

------------------------------

Mandy glanced at the guy squeezing his way to the empty seat next to her. She wondered what would possess a guy to come to a romance movie all by himself. She thought it strange enough that she came--but a guy? Guys are generally attracted to adventure movies, or westerns, or spy movies. Oh well, guys were enough of a mystery to her without wondering about how they pick their movies.

------------------------------

Out of the corner of his eye, Lyle had made a few quick glances at the girl sitting next to him. She was cute, but she was there alone--like he was. And this movie! It had a lot of humor in it, but it also was a beautiful, romantic story. But he was all alone and very discouraged. On an impulse he turned and looked at her.

------------------------------

"I'm really lonely. Could we hold hands?"

Mandy turned to look at him in astonishment. He was looking at her, and his expression seemed to be...sad...or was it pleading? She felt sudden--and conflicting--emotions. Bewilderment was certainly among those emotions. When guys want to introduce themselves to a new girl, their opening line isn't "Could we hold hands." How should she respond to this question from a perfect stranger? But somewhere down deep she felt, well, a tiny sense of excitement. Holding hands? A girl does that with her boyfriend. Finally, caution prevailed.

"I don't even know you," Mandy whispered with a puzzled look on her face.

But the look that came over his face when she said that changed everything. She saw deep sadness. No doubt about it. He blinked a few times, and his eyes seemed to get misty. He looked into her eyes and nodded, acknowledging the truth of her comment and then slowly turned away.

Suddenly, Paul Anka's song, "Lonely Boy" flashed through Mandy's mind. Her expression softened, and she reached out and touched his arm.

"But...I know the feeling. I'm a lonely girl, and I'd love to hold hands with you."

More thoughts flashed through her brain. "I'm a lonely girl"??? What had made her say that? But she was a lonely girl, and she remembered what Mike Ivers had said. Here was a lonely boy who had just met a lonely girl. And when this "lonely boy" turned to look at her again, all her doubts were swept away. His bright smile seemed to radiate happiness.

Mandy opened her hand and held it out for him to take.

He took her hand, intertwining his fingers with hers, and then reached over with his other hand and gently caressed hers for a few seconds.

Shock waves seemed to be coursing through Mandy. What a tender, romantic thing he had just done! There was no mistaking the excitement that was building in her. She had so much wanted someone to ask her for a date to see this wonderful, romantic movie. When no one did, she resolved to go alone, although there were tears in her eyes as she left the dormitory.

But now this! A boy had sat down next to her and half way through the movie asked to hold her hand! And just like in the song, "Walkin' In the Rain," he was kind of shy, and real good lookin' too.. Her heart was certainly beating fast, and not because of the movie. What would come of this? Well, if anything could bring a boy and a girl together, it was this movie. Apparently it already had. There they were, watching it together holding hands.

After about ten minutes of watching the movie together, Mandy again turned to look at him.

"Um, since this is now sort of like a date, you think maybe I should know your name?"

"I guess I was too excited to think straight," he said softly, looking a little embarrassed. "Sure, my name is Lyle, Lyle Reese."

"And I'm Mandy, Mandy Vanek."

He gently squeezed her hand and said, "Hello, Mandy."

Mandy smiled and then turned back to the movie.

As the movie was coming to an end, they were still holding hands. Lyle whispered, "This was a great, romantic movie. But I don''t think I could have stayed through to the end without you. It would have been too heartbreaking to be here alone."

Mandy reached over and touched his arm. "That was really sweet, Lyle--and I was having the same trouble."

"Say, Mandy, you want to go to the DQ, maybe, and get a malt and hot dog?" His voice was filled with enthusiasm.

"Sounds great!"

The Dairy Queen was within walking distance from the Skylight Theater. They walked down the street hand-in hand, their arms swaying gently as they walked.

Lyle turned to look at her. "You know, Mandy, you look really pretty in that outfit."

What a shock! She had not been expecting anything like this. But Mandy did feel that special thrill flow through her that a girl gets when her boyfriend tells her that she's pretty. And Lyle wasn't even her boyfriend...or was he?

"Oh, Lyle, what a wonderful thing to say." She paused briefly. Should she tell him that when she put it on, she had wished so much that she had a boyfriend to tell her that? Well, maybe not now. She simply added, "You've made me very happy."

"Are you a student at the university?" Lyle asked.

"Yeah, I'm a senior, an El-Ed major. I'm thinking of maybe going into teaching. How about you?"

"I graduated last year in double-E and found a beginning engineering position right here in town."

While eating hot dogs and ice cream in the Dairy Queen, they talked mostly about their home towns and their years at the university. When they left the DQ, they started back toward campus. Mandy again wondered where this might lead. Was Lyle looking for a steady girlfriend? They weren't holding hands now, but...

Her thoughts were interrupted when Lyle spoke.

"Would you like to go to the lagoon? It's a beautiful, starry night."

The lagoon was on campus and surrounded by a lot of benches. It was a favorite place for couples to go on dates--and everybody knew that.

Mandy turned to look a him. "Yeah, Lyle, I'd really like that," she answered with a soft glow in her eyes.

As they turned in the direction of the lagoon, Lyle put his arm around Mandy's shoulder. There was a momentary sense of surprise but she briefly closed her eyes as she felt a warm feeling of pleasure flow through her. Mandy moved a little closer to him and put her arm around his waste. If he had wondered whether she liked his arm around her, that should make her feelings very clear.

It had been awhile since she had a boy's arm around her, and she had missed that sweet tenderness so much. This was turning out to be incredibly wonderful--a dream date when it really hadn't been a date at all!

They walked over to one of the benches like a couple who had been going steady for a long time.

After sitting down, Mandy turned to him and asked, "Lyle, what brought you to the theater tonight to see that movie?"

Lyle didn't answer right away and looked down at the ground with what seemed to be a little sadness in his expression. Mandy wondered whether she should have asked him that, but his eyes then met hers, and he began answering the question.

"I haven't had a steady girlfriend since my senior year. That last semester was pretty lonely. I had been going steady with a girl, but during that semester Rachel met someone else and well...started dating him. They got engaged, and after graduation I heard they got married. After getting this job at Southern Engineering, I was hoping to meet someone new and get off to a fresh start. I had a couple of dates with three different secretaries, but none of them seemed interested in a serious relationship. I was lonely and was getting more and more discouraged. But it seemed like Kathy was at least a little more interested in me than the other two, so when this moving opened at the theater, I asked her out to see the movie. It had gotten pretty good reviews as a romantic movie, and girls are supposed to like romantic movies, so I thought it might get her thinking...well, get her more interested in me."

Lyle paused. He looked away briefly, and when he looked back at Mandy she thought she saw sadness in his eyes again. She was also a little surprised that he was sharing all this...personal detail with her.

But he continued...

"So I asked her out for tonight, but she said she had other plans. I'm not sure why, but I decided to go see the movie by myself. But when I got to the theater, I saw Kathy going in, and she was alone. I thought her other plans had fallen through, so I caught up with her and asked if we could have our date after all. But her plans hadn't fallen through. She met about five or six other girls and sat down right in the middle of them. It really hurt me, but I wasn't going to walk out. I walked a little further down the aisle and saw the one empty seat next to you."

He paused again. But as he continued looking at Mandy, a small smile appeared.

"During the first part of the movie I stole a couple of glances at you and could tell you were also there alone. But seeing that romantic story unfold in the movie and not having a...well, you know, being alone for so long, I was getting more and more discouraged...and...well, you know what happened then. I'm really embarrassed, though. I guy just doesn't introduce himself to a girl by asking to hold her hand!"

Lyle reached out and rested his hand gently, though briefly, on Mandy's shoulder. "But I'm so glad I did and that it worked out. I was so happy holding your hand."

Mandy smiled. "I was too, Lyle. My story's not that much different from yours. I've had dates here at the college, but no steady boyfriend. A girl doesn't do the asking, but the results are pretty much the same when she doesn't get asked. When this movie came along, I wanted to see it so bad--I mean on a date. I tried to drop some hints with a fellow in one of my classes...but nothing. But I came alone too--and I was lonely, just like you. Have been for most of my time here at the university."

They were silent for at least a minute.

"Lyle, do you remember, or have you every heard the old rock-n-roll song by Paul Anke called "Lonely Boy"?

"Yeah, I do. I have a CD with Paul Anke's greatest hits. I'm a big fan. And yeah, I listen to that song more than the others. It sort of gave me...well, it gave me hope."

"It gave me hope too. I heard it played on the oldies radio station a couple of weeks ago, and when the song finished, the DJ, Mike Ivers, said that he had the solution for a lonely boy--the solution was to meet a lonely girl..." She paused, then added softly, "That's what you did tonight."

They looked deeply into each other's eyes. Lyle reached out and put his arm around Mandy, and she slid a little closer to him.

"There's another song by Paul Anke..." Lyle began.

"I know that one too," Mandy said, and she slid down a little and rested her head on his shoulder, his arm still around her. She felt so wonderful, like a dream come true.

They were holding hands again as they walked back to her dorm. On the long veranda along the front of the dormitory, Lyle asked, "Mandy, did you notice all the stars that are out tonight? Romantic, isn't it?"

She lifted her head and looked at the stars. "Yeah, really romantic."

"And I'm still thinking of Paul Anka's 'Lonely Boy.' "

Lyle reached out and softly touched Mandy's face with his hand and then ran his fingers gently through her hair. What a tender, sweet thing to do! Her heart began beating faster as she wondered if he was going to kiss her.

"You know, Mandy, there are two other lines that are running through my head right now--"

Someone to kiss,
Someone to hold at a moment like this"

"I was hoping you remembered those lines," she said, almost in a whisper.

"You really were?" Lyle asked with a hint of uncertainty and maybe a little shy.

"Yeah, I really was."

Lyle stepped closer, and Mandy moved into his arms as she reached up and hugged his neck and shoulders. She closed her eyes as their lips met.

That thrilling feeling of being held in his arms and kissed--she felt warm and protected, a romantic emotion she had often dreamed about.

It was a soft, tender kiss.

As they separated, Lyle gently cupped his hands around her face, looking deeply into her eyes. "Mandy, you're not going to be a lonely girl anymore."

She took both of his hands in hers. "And you're not going to be a lonely boy anymore."

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