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When I was 16, I had two girlfriends. A regular girlfriend and a summer girlfriend. Summer girlfriends were substitutes for when your regular girlfriend went to overnight camp. In Northeast Philly, it was a thing 

I met my summer girl at a mixer. I was meeting better girls those days because I was in a fraternity. Yes, there were high school fraternities. Although ours was just a bunch of guys who played basketball together. We called it a fraternity. It sounded cooler.  

Her name was Linda Steiner. She was a natural blonde and very pretty. She was from Huntingdon Valley. You have to understand: Huntingdon Valley was the Main Line of the Northeast. The families in Huntingdon Valley lived in single houses, houses that had two-car garages and professional gardens and winding driveways. To those of us who lived in row homes, they were pure mansions.  

The people in Huntingdon Valley were above my station in life. (My station was Bridge Street.) Their fathers, unlike our fathers, wore suits and ties and white dress shirts to work. Her father was a CPA who owned his own firm. No one in my neighborhood was a CPA. No one used a CPA. Most of them didn’t know what a CPA was.  

There was only one condition to this date. “Do you have a friend for my sister, Carol?” Linda asked. 

“Maybe,” I said. “What’s your sister look like?” 

“She looks like me. Exactly like me.” 

They were identical twins. Just like in the Doublemint commercials. Double your pleasure, double your fun. I thought long, and I thought hard. Barney Belsky! I’ll ask Barney Belsky.  

Now, Barney wasn’t the best looking guy. But you never want to set a girl up with a guy who’s better looking than you. And Barney wasn’t the sharpest chip in the bag. But Barney had one important feature that I did not – a 1958 Chevy Impala convertible. I just couldn’t pick up a Huntingdon Valley girl in my ’53 Dodge. Especially when my father was driving it that night.  

Top down, we decided to take the girls bowling. Bowling was a good first date. If you made it to a second date, you would take them to a movie. Because it was dark there. 

We went to Cottman Lanes. It was the newest of lanes and better than Bowlero on Frankford Avenue, where we usually went. Nothing but the best for these rich girls.  

I bowled a 177, and Barney got a 144. The girls never broke 70. This night was going perfectly. In between games, Barney announced he had to use the bathroom. And that’s when the evil in us came out.  

“Let’s pull a switch,” Carol said, “and see if he even notices anything.”  

And so we did. And no, he didn’t. They were wearing identical outfits. White Peter Pan blouse, denim skirt. Now, I could easily tell the difference between the two girls. Linda’s nose was more rounded at the tip. And there was a freckle on her left earlobe. But Barney never said a word. 

“What do you guys keep giggling at?” he asked. He never got an answer. 

After bowling, we drove to Robin Hood, a restaurant with great burgers and thick shakes. We got the cheeseburger special. That meant it came with cole slaw and fries. We spared no expense for these girls. 

About 20 minutes in, the girls went to the ladies’ room together, as girls always do. They came back giggling. And, when they sat back down, they switched again. Barney never noticed a thing.  

When it was over, we drove them back to Shangri-la. We each got out and walked our dates to the door. It was pretty dark. 

Barney and I went back to the car. “Hey,” he said, “thanks for the hook-up. I’ll tell you one thing, though. Now, don’t get mad. But my date was prettier than yours. And I got to kiss her.” 

“Yep,” I said. “So did I.”

October 2018
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