What Paul Anka Taught Me

When I was a teenager growing up in Kewanee, Illinois, the favorite dating places were the Wanee Theatre, the Bowlmore Bowling Alley, and the A & W Drive-In. Therefore, it would have been unusual for a fifteen year old’s very first date to take place at a sidewalk café on the Champs-Elysees, in Paris, France. But, it happened to me. (told in a story posted January 8th.)

My date was a seventeen year old from Houston, Texas, named Diana. She was touring Europe with her parents; and I with mine. We became friends somewhere around Zurich, Switzerland. Later, I remember waiting with Diana on the tour bus playing magnetic chess while our parents toured the Domitilla Catacomb in Rome. We weren’t interested in seeing a bunch of ancient skulls and skeletons in an underground cemetery. Yuck.

That was the summer of 1956. The following summer, my parents took me on a trip to Mexico. (That’s another story I posted, on October 9th.) We drove to Houston from Kewanee, and stayed overnight at the home of Diana’s parents. We left our car at their house and took a bus to Mexico, returning by air a week later. The amount of time we spent in Houston en route to and from Mexico was brief; there was no time for a second date. And, seemingly, little interest on Diana’s part. After, all I was still just a kid to her. Although I’d held an adolescent crush on Diana for a year, I began to realize that this “older woman” wasn’t interested so much in me, other than as a friend. After all, she was on the doorstep of college and I still had a year to go in high school. At that age, a two-year difference was huge.

As we were driving away from Houston, on our way back to Paul AnkaKewanee, I was quietly sitting in the back seat of our ’53 Buick Roadmaster, contemplating how much more comfortable the car was than the Mexican bus, when my stepfather, Frank, turned on the car radio to a local am station. The first record the station played was a song I had never heard before. It turned out to be one of the biggest hits ever, and one I later would play on the radio many times, years later, as an “oldie.” It was Paul Anka’s “Diana,” to which the opening lyric is, “…I’m so young and you’re so old…

I get it, Paul. She was way too old for me. Thanks.

Related Stories:
Unusual Place for a First Date  (1/8)
Trains, Boats, and. . .  (10/9)

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