I finally got to see the make-out room 40 years later, but I still didn’t get to make out. I’m not sure I remember how, anyway.

It was actually 41 or 42 years ago. My now-wife and I were in junior high, and she had a girl-boy party at her house. It was the first girl-boy party I ever went to. The only one, really, unless you count the Valentine’s dance at the school or the youth center downtown.

Up until that time, parties were generally all boys or all girls. Birthday parties, slumber parties, sleep-overs, whatever. So, it was a really big deal to get to go to a party where there would be girls and no teachers patrolling the perimeter.

I’m guessing that Jennie’s parents made her invite the entire class because I can’t imagine how my name would have gotten on the list any other way. Even more surprising was that my mom let me go.

I don’t remember much from the party except that it was in the basement of a big, older house on the south side of town, where most of the big, older houses were. There was a ping pong table, refreshments and music playing. And there was a doorway into a darkened room where the walls were painted black: The make-out room.

There was an unwritten rule that you didn’t go into the make-out room alone. You wouldn’t go in with a buddy, either, lest you be accused of making out with him. You only went in with a girl.

I had a vague but untested understanding of what “making out” entailed, and I was pretty interested in proving my hypothesis. What I didn’t have was a girlfriend. So I stayed in the main room playing ping pong and slurping down soda.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see couples entering and exiting the darkened room. I was waiting for a girl without a boy to stand by the door searching the room fervently for a boy without a girl. That’s when I would make my move — assuming my nerves would allow my legs to move at all.

My preoccupation with watching that door did not improve my ping pong skills at all. My loss record on the table was becoming a metaphor for my social life.

One of our classmates now lives in the house, so we stopped by this week to visit and take a tour. I finally got to step inside the make-out room — with a girl, no less. But the lights were up and the walls are no longer black. Like the ping pong table, the allure is gone.

I never knew what really went on inside that room four decades ago, but I eventually did marry the girl who threw the party. That’s a better prize, anyway.

© Copyright 2019 by David Porter, who can be reached at porter@ramblinman.us. At my age, “making out” has a whole new meaning — as in “Can you hand me my glasses; I’m having trouble making out the directions on this prescription bottle.”