Romance has blossomed, as it does every summer, beside the blue, chlorine-sented waters of the Bowie pool. Susan Rickels, the beautiful blond honey-skinned statistician for the Bowie High School wrestling team, has come together with Scott Clift, a dark-haired, dark-eyed varsity linebacker who can bench press 300 pounds. No one at the pool finds it especially remarkable that just four months ago Susan was with Scott's younger brother, Lance. Susan and Lance, after all, had problems ("We really didn't talk that much . . . ").
Susan's best friend, Suzanna Hastings, dated a 20-year-old Columbia Plaza groundsman named Gary from June 3 to 4:04 p.m. on July 24, when he broke up with her. Suzanna, a 17-year-old salesgirl at Marianne's, knows the end came at 4:04 because has an awesome memory for dates and exact times.
She felt sad, but bounced back the next afternoon, when she went to the pool and met Mario Vittone, a 16-year-old drummer with a rock band, who winters in Florida and summers in Bowie. Mario had broken up two weeks before with Lisa, his girl of one month, because he discovered she was going out with someone else. Suzanna and Mario have been together ever since, and Suzanna describes their feeling for each other as "semi-serious."
Steve Hinch, 14 years old, 5-foot 3 1/2-inches, known around the Bowie pool for his half-gainers and his way with girls ("I had my first girlfriend when I was nine.") has, as usual, been playing the field. He has gone out with five differente girls but, with the arrival of August, even the Bowie charmer is beginning to feel fatigued.
"Now that it's getting toward the end of summer I want to get tied down with one girl. like Noelle. She has a cute face and good body. Her friend says she likes me a lot. I think she likes me . . . " And Noelle, Steve confides admiringly, has the kind of high morals that some would find old-fashioned today. Noelle, alas, has another boyfriend at the moment.
There is summer romance, sweet and fleeting, and there is the feeling between Lynn Boyer and Bob Gunther. Lynn and Bob, as everyone at the Belair Swim and Racquet Clut in Bowie knows are in love. Lynn is 17, a self-described "total prep" in Izod T-shirts and an aspiring X-ray technician.
Bob is 18, a former Bowie High School football star who is studying business management at Prince George's Community College and has a job, this summer, as head lifeguard at another pool in Bowie. They have been together since last September, and they say they will marry next year, or the year after. That Lynn and Bob are serious can be seen in their position at the pool. They sit, not with their friends, but with Lynn's parents.
The other teen-aged couples demonstrate their alliances by holding hands as they promenade around the pool. They lie on lounge chairs next to each other, deepening their tans, telling jokes and secrets with equal ease. They share frozen Three Musketeers, purchased for 30 cents at the snack bar. They play on the same volleyball team.
Suzanna and Susan, best friends, look through Seventeen and Cosmopolitian and Mademoiselle and Glamour together and talk about the clothes they want for fall. Susan has already bought a gray blazer. In August, it is hard to imagine Susan, of the lavendar bikini and the long blonde hair bleached narly white in the sun, in a gray blazer.
On these steamy August afternoons, the kids at the Bowie pool reminisce about first meetings and past romances, the past being, in some cases, as recent as two weeks ago. Suzanna, known around the pool for her vast collection of bathing suits -- she has 12 suits: five bikinis, seven one-piece -- and for her brilliant imitation of Tattoo the dwarf on the TV show Fantasy Island, remembers how well she and Gary got along in their 51 days together. "We had a lot in common. We both know a lot of TV trivia -- Little Rascals, Three Stooges. On our first date, we sat in the driveway talkig till 1 a.m."
The highlight of their romance came when they went to Ocean City in Gary's 1980 green Camaro with black interior and stero sound. Suzanna says her mother let her go on one condition -- that she and Gary get separate rooms. She says the desk clerk at the Monticello Motel, across from the Suntan Inn, seemed shocked when they asked for separate rooms. "He said, 'You want separate rooms?' It was one of those places with hourly rates." The cleark, once over his shock, gave the young couple from Bowie separate rooms.
Suzanna, as practical about romance as she is precise with dates and times, was not surprised when things ended. Her 51 days with Gary were, in fact, something of personal record. "I usually go with most guys for two weeks. It gets too routine. Ou get bored easy."
There is always the next day at the pool, another boy or girl, a new romance. So much happens, and so quickly, that Suzanna's boyfriend of 13 days, Mario the durmmer, worries about what he will miss during his upcoming four-day trip to Pennsylvania: "You miss a day at the pool and you're gone."
The kids spend their days at the pool, where a family membership costs $175 for the summer. At night, they go to the water slide in Crofton, to the movies ("Stripes" is their favorite movie this summer), to McDonald's. Or they might all crowd into Suzanna's 1967 maroon Ford Galaxy 500 and drive to Hilltop Mall, where they park four rows back from the 7-Eleven, turn the radio on (Susan nearly swoons every time the deejay plays "Endless Love"), and sit on the hood and talk.A couple times a week, there is a party at someone's house.
In this, Susan Rickels' 16th summer, few things are as wonderful as walking into a party with Scott Clift, 6-foot 2-inches, 185 pounds and known among Bowie girls as "a real fox." She says, "You walk into a party draped on his arm and everyone says 'Wow! There's Scott and Rickels.' It gives us a high."
She remembers the first day she noticed Scott, at the pool last summer. He was wearing his red trunks. "I looked at his body and went aaaaaieo! He was gorgeous!"
Susan was wearing her black Jordache one-piece with the red-and-blue stripes. Scott said, "I've seen you around. We'll have to get together sometime." But Susan and Lance were a couple then, and it took until May for Susan to break up with Lance. Susan says Lance has recovered. "He's found other things to keep him occupied." She still keeps his picture in her wallet, along with Scott's.
Susan is crazy about 16-year-old Scott. "He's considerate. He takes me out to dinner. He has a great sense of humor. We talk about everything."
Susan, who dreas of becoming a model or maybe a foreign correspondent, is already looking ahead, beyond the summer. "I'm going to go to all of Scott's football games." She turns 16 on Tuesday, and there is a good chance that her present from Scott will be a ring. This, she says, with a toss of the hair that is the envy of all the brunetts at the Bowie pool, is not just another summer romance. This, she says, could turn into love.