Forty-nine years ago; actually, it was October 4, 1969, my husband Arnee and I went on our first date. We both still remember what he said to “break the ice” when we got into his father’s car, which he had borrowed. With an endearing smile he looked over at me as he asked, “So, how’s school?”
Giving no real answer but rather more of a simple nod, with zeal, I turned the conversation over to him and inquired what I thought would be a much more interesting topic, “How’s college?!” I had just started 11th grade but he had begun his freshman year at Rutgers in New Brunswick. Coming home for weekends, he lived on campus all week and I was over the top, dating a college guy.
All these years later, we had a good laugh when I read Social Q’s by Philip Galanes in the January 27, 2019, SundayStyles-The New York Times. The question asked by a 16-year-old about how to respond when someone asks her, “How’s school?” caught my eye. Galanes suggested that “‘How’s school going?’ is a wildly inventive and child-friendly variation on the empty greeting ‘How are you?’ It’s just filler.”
I was 16 when Arnee asked me “So, how’s school?” as we sat in his dad’s 1961 red, 3-speed floor shift, Dodge Lancer (not quite as spiffy looking as the one off the internet shown in the above picture). Like the old car getting us to the drive-in movie theater on Route 22 in Union, the initial question Arnee asked has gotten us through nearly 50 years of wear and tear thus far. It’s all a matter of interpretation, I suppose.
His concern was appreciated. So much so, that it gave me the opening to send love letters to him, which I wrote while sitting in class during the next two years of high school. After all, he did say that he wanted to know how school was—in hindsight with all the time I spent writing those letters instead of paying attention in class, it’s amazing that I graduated.
Someday, I’ll scout out those written memories, which are still holed up in a shoebox in our attic and write another book. Stay tuned for my firsthand detailed account of high school in Elizabeth, New Jersey, from back in the fall of 1969 through the spring of 1971.