Rochester, NY

"What's It Like To Have Blue Eyes?": A '70s Summer Memory

Herbie J Pilato

In the late 1970s, my family and I moved from our red-brick house in the inner-city of Rochester, New York to a rented townhouse in a surrounding suburb. This particular townhouse rental community had a pool and a tennis court, and was close to the beach, as well as the area's best hamburger restaurant and the original Abbott's Ice Cream parlor.

During our first summer at our new home, the summer of 1978, my then teenage self met "Delia," who can only be described now as an ideal cross between Farrah Fawcett and Christie Brinkley.

Though it took some time for me to meet her. I noticed her at the pool, but after an hour or so of trying to figure out how I was going to meet her, and what I was going to say, she started to gather her towel to leave.

I was like, "Oh, great! Now what?"

Then Delia began walking by the pool lifeguards to the exit, and paced over to the lawn, between the pool and the tennis courts. So, I had to make my move - and do it quickly.

I got up off my towel and ran over to the black rail fence that now stood between us, she on the outside of the pool, and me on the inside - and I called out to her, saying, "Excuse me - but what's it like to have blue eyes?"

She stopped, turned, and smiled, and said, "I dunno. What's it like to have brown eyes?"

We both laughed and talked a little more and then she left.

I'm not sure how many other times I saw her again. But somehow, a few days later, I was dancing for her in her family's townhouse.

We never dated. We never went up the street to the beach, to get a hamburger or an ice cream. I don't think we ever even sat at the pool together again or played tennis. And we certainly never kissed or even embraced.

But somehow, in that simpler, happy summer of 1978, Delia made me smile - and I made her smile a little bit, too.

I went on to college the following fall and never saw or heard from her again.

That is, until about ten years ago...when I received a message from her, "out of the blue," on Facebook.

She remembered how I asked about her blue eyes, and she reminded me of how I gifted her with a plaque with spiritual words upon it that defined true friendship. We messaged one another a few more times, back and forth - and she expressed so many kind thoughts about how I made an impression on her that impression that I thought only I remembered.

But in fact, I finally realized what it's "like to have blue eyes"...and how Delia and I had really "kissed" after all - on that first moment we met.

For I "kissed" her blue eyes with by my words...words from the past that somehow spoke back to me in the present with a loving-kind vision of an immortal moment in time.

Thank you, Delia, for the unsurpassed '70s summer memory.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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