First College Date
by Joan Leotta

My seventeenth September
saw me packing up,
leaving childhood,
for my freshman year at Ohio U.
Two weeks into my
new adulthood, standing
in a long line, I met a
real live boy from Cleveland,
fellow freshman who said,
“My friend and his girl are
going to Court Street (the bars!)
and then to a movie on Friday.
Would you like to come with me?”
My first college date!
That Friday night my roommate
helped me select a
matching skirt and sweater
ensemble — camel color
to show off my long dark hair.
From down the hall another girl
Colored my lips with the perfect shade
“to offset your too
much-studying pallor.”
(They already knew me so well!)
My date and his friends
picked me up at seven.
We walked to Court Street
chatting about dorm food,
whether we would stay to dance
at Steve’s College Inn,
or take in a movie after a beer.
We fell into line along the sidewalk —
lines to enter bars on weekend nights
de rigueur in Athens, Ohio, 1965.
One by one each duet and quartet
arrived at door for an ID check.
After minute of hesitation
over my out-of-state credentials
Mr. Doorman pointed at me and
bounced us all!
“You can’t come in — she’s 17!”
My protest resounded down the line.
“But I don’t even like 3.2 beer
I want to order a soft drink.”
He was adamant. Implacable. Obstinate.
All of those words.
We walked to the movie theatre
down the street and joined that line.
My date mumbled as he paid my ticket,
“Too young for the bar,
too old for child’s price.”
Don’t recall the film, only the
quick walk back to my dorm afterwards.
I wanted to assert, “I’ll be 18 in January,”
but I just said, “Good night.”
Never heard from that boy again.
After that night, I decided
seventeen at college needed an upgrade.
For my next date, I borrowed an ID
from a months-older friend so I could
get in to order my coke
while others suffered through
watered beer, returning to my
own identity only when the calendar
agreed with my self-assessment
of new adulthood, even at seventeen.

PHOTO:  Joan Leotta and her Dad — taken in her backyard in Pittsburgh, when she was 21 and could legally drink anything, not just 3.2 beer in Ohio.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood.  She is a writer and story performer. When she is not chained to her computer, you can find her on the beach or traveling. You can reach her at and on  Facebook. Her first poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, will be released by Finishing Line Press in March 2017.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken in May 2016 in Spain by my daughter — I am about to eat a pastry, which partly accounts for the difference in my width from that youthful 1970-ish photo and the 2016 version of me.