Mike physically resembled square-jawed actor Dana Andrews. Throughout the 40s and 50s Dana gave vivid and memorable performances in films such as The Ox-Bow Incident, Laura, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Where the Sidewalk Ends. Scores of women viewed him as a handsome, level-headed matinee idol back in the olden days.
Mike was tall, good-looking, not-too-bright, and lowly enough to take advantage of me every time he had a chance. I reckon the week he worked for me he goofed off someplace most of the time. Usually he disappeared after I entered a house and he showed up around quitting time without a sale.
The first day from a stairway, out of sight, I listened to him give his sales pitch. It ended with, "I plan on going to Ha Vid Colledge."
Perhaps his mispronunciation of 'Harvard College' motivated a woman to ask, "What's your I.Q.?"
Mike replied, "Twenty-twenty!"
As I stood halfway up the next flight of steps I heard Mike say his dad was killed in Korea and this job helps support his disabled mom. A woman asked Mike what was his mom's disability. He responded with, "She takes athletic fits."
One day close to quitting time I met Diane, a blonde head turner, in front of her house. I gave her my sales pitch and chatted with her for awhile. Mike appeared out of nowhere and overheard Diane agreeing to go to a movie with me Saturday night.
While we drove back to the office Mike begged me to ask if she had a friend for him. She did, Portly Pearl, a 17-year-old girl a year younger than the three of us. We all went parking Sunday night after a stroll through Roger Williams Park. Mike showed no interest in Pearl. They sat on my front seat watching Diane and me make out in the back of my '65 Chevy.
After an hour of necking, I attempted to slide Diane’s dungarees down. No resistance except for tight Levi's and Chivalrous Mike.
“Take her home,” the self-appointed bird dog commanded as he grabbed my shoulder.
I pushed his arm aside. "Do don't disturb!"
Diane said, "Where did you pick up that drifty bastard?"
I replied, "Ignore him," then returned to smooching. The blockhead wouldn't leave us alone. Every time I lowered her blue jeans an inch or two, rather than cheering me on or just booing, Mike grasped my arm. Then, way beyond a no, no warning, he roared, "Take her home!"
Diane said, "Take us home. I had enough of him."
I tried to bring her to reason, but went down pleading. Regrettably, I took her home that Sunday night and slipped-up by not contacting her during the week - a major oversight mostly due to working on the second shift.
Devious Mike arranged another date for the four of us without speaking to me until that Saturday. We parked at the same location, but this time Mike toted a pint of cheap whiskey without any ginger ale to help make it fit to drink. He claimed a friend sold it to him for five bucks.
I tasted it. Yuck! I bet Mike ten bucks he couldn't drink that pint of yucky firewater in five minutes. I didn't think he would ever take that bet, but he did and won. Instead of passing out or being interested in his date, Pearl, he turned into a yakking whacky that caught Diane's attention.
She slipped away from my passionate French kisses and embrace after she heard Mike say, "After I'm married, I'm not gonna have sex with my wife. I'm gonna respect her."
Diane ignored me completely as she sat up and leaned closer to Mike. "Sex isn't dirty. It's part of a loving relationship."
"An important piece," I added, smiling. "Pun intended."
Diane turned, gave me that 'shut-the-f***-up' look, then back to Mike, lecturing him on love and marriage.
The plastered one shook his head and repeated, "I'm gonna respect her. I'm gonna respect her."
I think, as he intended, his malarkey impressed those two girls. That Judas turncoat dastard wanted Diane. He looked her in the eye and asked her to marry him. Diane didn't respond with words or head movement. Since Diane didn't accept his marriage proposal he turned to Pearl and asked her to marry him. Then he proposed to me, too. It might be that Mike asked me since neither girl accepted during a minute of complete silence; just to ease the pain of rejection.
The drive home that night took a long time. After he yelled 'I'm superman' as he jumped out of a car window, I had to drive slowly. He wasn't hurt, and I didn't try to run over him. If I knew he would be asking Diane out on a date while I was at work, I might have considered it. To make matters worse for me, I worked the following weekend, both nights, without calling Dianne prior to going to her house on a Saturday night.
I don't recall how I ended up confronting Mike on the stairway to Diane's mom's third floor apartment - but I did. He and his cousin, Bill - my comrade, stood above me. We exchanged a few unfriendly words prior to Mike threatening me.
"How about now - outside?" I called out, extremely angry.
"I'm bigger than you," the betrayer blurted out. "Ya wanna commit Harry, Harry?"
"I'll take my chances. And it's hara-kiri, you moron."
Bill got across to him the foolishness of fighting at his girl's house. During that time I calmed down and accepted the fact that Diane had no interest in me. Hurt and depressed - I moved on - not seeing Diane until their wedding reception a few months later. Ignoring the invite came to mind, but Bill persuaded me to attend. Their marriage didn't last six months. After the divorce, Bill convinced Mike to join the marines.