The Happy Teen in Middle-Aged George Crawley


The Happy Teen in Middle-Aged George Crawley


     George Crawley was happier than he had ever been in his life as he walked arm-in-arm with Christine Palmetto along a side street in New York City. He knew others would think it a bit strange for him to be taking her out to dinner on a Saturday night—he being 60 and she being only 19—but he didn’t care. He had fallen in love with Christine, and he wanted to enjoy every second that he had with her.                                                                                                                

     He opened the door of the Magnolia Restaurant and signaled her to go in first. They were promptly seated, and after studying their menus and giving the waiter their orders, he told Christine how much she looked like Sally Struthers.  

     She pointed out, “You already told me that. She was the daughter in a TV show about a crazy family. And you remind me of the grandfather I never had.”    

     George smiled politely.    

     “By the way,” she said, “I want to do four more portraits of you for my final project, not just                                                                                                

 two more, but instead of using just oils, I’m going to use watercolor, charcoal and pastels. I’ll then select the best ones to show my art professor, so he’ll know that I can handle a variety of mediums.”

     “Has he said anything about the portraits you’ve already painted of me?”

     “He hasn’t looked at them yet.” Then she asked, “You really found my ad for doing portraits of elderly people on your computer? Because it was a difficult website to navigate through.”

     “Well,” he admitted, “my niece was with me at the time. You know I never asked you, when are you graduating?”

     “In two years.”

     “And then you’re going to open your own studio?”

     “With a classmate. So, George, what do you do again in your supermarket?”

     “I’m an assistant manager.”

     “And you never married?”

     “It’s a long story. Abusive parents, everyone said I was ugly. I mean, my nose and teeth are crooked, my head is tilted.”

      Christine said sympathetically, “You don’t look so bad,” but George brushed that off. “I think I asked every girl out in high school who didn’t have a boyfriend, they all said no, so after a while, I never asked any more girls out. I mean, why bother? Anyway, how about you? Do you have a boyfriend?”    

     She sneered, “They’re all so immature in this college.” Then she became excited. “You know that new movie about those two-headed aliens?”

     He shook his head.                                                                                           

    She said hopefully, “Would you like to see it with me?”

     His face brightened. “Oh I’d love to!”  

     Suddenly she looked angry and complained, “I hate my English professor. He’s too strict. We have to give him notes for everything—for absences, for being late, and I don’t like that. I mean, what if I want to skip a class? Like what’s the big deal? And my history professor, who I like, might get fired because some students are talking about going to the department chair because he sometimes gives us the wrong lessons. Let me ask you, could the college fire him for that?”

      But George merely shrugged. “I don’t know.” And although he continued listening politely to every comment she made about her professors, he would have preferred talking about his future Medicare and Social Security benefits instead. 

     When their dinner was served, they ate quietly, but when dessert was served, he held a brownie up to her face. She leaned forward, and as he put it into her mouth, he heard in his mind

the wedding song, “. . . Now the groom feeds the bride, the groom feeds the bride . . .”

     Thinking of the wedding he never had depressed him, but he didn’t say anything. 

     After their dinner he drove her back to the entrance of her dormitory, where a group of students were standing and talking. “I’ll get out here,” she said, opening the door. “I know most of them. Sometimes we go for a late-night drink. George, I’ll call you next week.”

     He nodded, and as she joined them, he drove off.

     All he could think about on his way home were the future portrait sessions he would be having with her, and, hopefully, of seeing that movie with her as well—which meant actually sitting next to her in the theater!                                                                                     

     Plus maybe even having dinner with her again.

     Never in his life had he been so happy!


Frank Kowal


Frank Kowal received his bachelor's and master's degrees in education and English from the Brooklyn Center of Long Island University. Now, after 46 years of teaching in NYC's public schools and colleges, he has started what he hopes is a new career in writing. He has had a short story published in Academy of the Heart and Mind, and essays published in Adelaide and Literary Yard.  

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