Goodbye Danni and hello California

My relationship with Danni soon moved into a second stage.  Our first stage was pretty platonic.  We enjoyed traveling, and just being with each other with no actual sexual overtones. As she became more proficient in English, she and I were becoming closer and I realized my attraction to her began to change from platonic into something a little closer to love.  I hesitate to use the word love in this context so soon after the departure of Virginia, but that’s the closest word in either language.

One evening as the four of us sat around the table sipping our after dinner wine, Otto lit his pipe and happened to mention that my old room was available tonight if I wished to stay for the evening.  Herta glanced between Otto and I, and rolled her eyes towards Danni, who blushed and looked at her plate.  I didn’t stammer any more when presented with a potentially embarrassing situation so I put my hand on Danni’s, turned to Otto and told him that I would like to stay the night, but I would like to be alone for a while right now.  He nodded and told me to take my time, the room would be there all evening.

I lifted my wine in salute to Danni and went into the small lobby where I sat down and faced the fire.  I began to weigh my feelings.  I still carried a lot of love for Virginia even though she had giver hers to another guy.  Danni, on the other hand was here, and not in Italy.  My circular argument with myself whirled on in my head until a hand dropped softly on my shoulder.  Danni had come to join me.

I held her hand as she rounded the chair and sat down on the footstool in front of me.  We both faced the fire as I dropped my hands to her shoulders.  We didn’t say a word, not one word, but I stood up, set down my glass, and lifted her to her feet.  She turned around and kissed me tenderly, and we walked hand in hand up the stairs to my room.

I tried my best not to compare Danni with Virginia but the effort became difficult at times.  Danni had a lust for life that spilled over into her lovemaking.  Nothing seemed to bother or embarrass her at all.  Over a few visits she taught me quite a few more ways to please a woman.  I also found that there are many more ways too, for them to please a man.  We began expanding our knowledge by simple experimentation.  Each new thing I learned was filed away mentally for future use.  She and I had a wonderful time together.  She knew that my time was going to be short as my dad’s three years was almost up but that didn’t appear to bother her.  Maybe it was me that loved too heartily and heavily.  Maybe she had the right idea after all – love the one you’re with because there may not be another.

My dad had told us a month before that we were going to California, but not, exactly when.  One day he said that we had just six weeks left.  I went downtown and told Otto, Herta and Danni the news.  We were a bit sad, but I wasn’t as torn up as I had been when Virginia left.  Danni’s English was pretty good now but she reverted to “you are sad feeling for me, yes?”  I hugged her to me and told her “yes, I have sad feeling for you Danni”. That evening we made love for the last time and I never saw her again.  We both wanted it that way.  I hope she married and did well for herself over the years.

This time we were flying over the Atlantic instead of on a pokey ship.  Since jets hadn’t been put into transatlantic use as of yet (in MATS – Military Air Transport Service), we drew a four-engine C-118 for our travels.  This thing was really slow despite the four roaring propellers on the wings.  We didn’t have much range either as we had to stop at Shannon, Ireland and Gander, Newfoundland, on the way to McGuire AFB, New Jersey.  Still, fifteen hours beats two weeks any time.

Following the obligatory visiting of the relatives as we crossed the U.S., we hit our new home in Northern California just a week before the first day of school in our town.  I knew I was in trouble the moment I entered the general population.  My European attitude towards most anything grated on everyone’s nerves and I became a pariah almost from the beginning.  It started by me opening my big mouth in German class (which I was lucky to get into) and began to rattle off my greetings to the teacher.  She had hardly understood a word I said.  She haughtily informed me that she spoke ‘high’ German and my language was guttural to her finely tuned ear since I had learned mine ‘down south’.  Well, holy cow, please excuse me.  This entire conversation, having been in German, went right over the heads of my classmates.

Not getting her point, I pressed onwards trying to draw the class into the conversation.  This was a huge mistake because they didn’t understand at all – much less want to converse with Mr. Know-it-all.  I finally sputtered to a stop, uttered an apology – in German – and shut up; totally embarrassed.

This performance was broadcast around the school in nanoseconds.  I was greeted with mock-German gibberish as well as other more common epithets known to teens everywhere (brown nose, nerd, and the ever popular dickhead).  I struggled to fit in, but just didn’t make it at all.

Insult was added to injury when I was informed that I had to take driver education before I could get my driver’s license in California.  It was the law.  Now, I had been driving for almost a whole year while in Germany and had even taken a road trip over into Belgium, Holland, and The Netherlands the previous summer.  Hell, I even brought my car (a Volkswagen convertible) back with me.  It hadn’t arrived yet, but it could come any day now.  Now I was being told I couldn’t drive?  What stupidity was this?  I enrolled in the class and endured sheer terror as fledgling drivers careered around corners, burnt rubber (starting and stopping – remember stick shift cars?), and generally made you feel you should kiss ground after every lesson.  After my first turn at the wheel, the teacher told me I couldn’t drive any more because I didn’t need it; then added that I would still have to endure the three weeks of the class.  No getting away from it.

Finally, the class ended, I went for my test, passed it, and put away my International Drivers License so I could use my new California one.  In what I thought was only several centuries, the little car finally arrived.  The fact that it had to go through the Panama Canal to get here from Europe explained why it took so long.

The very first day I arrived in the student’s parking lot in my strange little car everyone clustered around to take a look.  When I opened the hood to take out my books, the first thing they noticed was that I didn’t have an engine.  This was a cause of great concern because every car had to have an engine.  I pointed to the back and told them the engine was in the rear.  When I got out and lifted the lid, hoots of derision resounded from the male side of the gallery.  “You call that an engine?” was the most common comment.  “How do you wind it up?” was another favorite.  I was much more interested in the female onlookers, whose comments were in the order of “What a cute car!” and “Let’s go for a ride!”  I was often seen after school with as many as seven giggling girls stuffed into the front bucket seat and the small back seat as we headed to the soda shop.  The guys were not impressed.  What did impress them was that I never seemed to have to stop for gas.  Even at twenty-seven cents a gallon, it rarely cost me more than three dollars to fill it up.



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