In the Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX series, our favorite sexagenarians describe, in sometimes hilarious and sometimes scandalous detail, their slow motion coming of age in the Midwest in the early sixties. From their clumsy first date to the first time they go “all the way” (on the second try), you’ll gasp at Elmer’s inexperience, smile at Tilly’s (real or faked?) innocence, and perhaps shed a tear of recognition at the blundering beauty of their first time.
In Book 3, Punch Drunk on Love, Tilly and Elmer fall hopelessly in love. They were now officially a couple, and that meant lots of new experiences, like meeting each other’s relatives, buying presents for each other, talking on the phone for hours, going to parties together as a couple, and getting a little drunk together for the first time. Naturally, some of the new experiences were delightful, others were not.
“Tilly had been anticipating in detail, since sixth grade, what being in love would feel like, but she had always expected it to be something she could control, the maiden on the pedestal, summoning and dismissing her admirers and granting her favors to the handsomest and most dashing at her leisure. Now her feelings were not even slightly under her control. Elmer was above average in most respects, but he wasn’t the smartest, most handsome, or best athlete in the neighborhood. Before the kiss, Tilly could have described in practical terms Elmer’s strengths and shortcomings as a potential boyfriend; now, he suddenly seemed like the most perfect and lovable boy west of the Mississippi. She imagined caring for their children, giving him a kiss in the late afternoon when he came home from work, sitting on the porch with him after dinner, throwing card parties for their friends, and, maybe, every couple of weeks, having a romantic romp between the sheets before drifting off to sleep in his arms.
If Tilly was surprised at the intensity and unanticipated direction of her feelings, Elmer was blindsided by the whole experience. He had spent no time at all imagining himself in love, wondering what it would feel like, or how he would bring it about. He expected that he’d probably have to profess his love for someone to entice her into bed with him, but the idea that he might, himself, actually fall in love had never occurred to him. In fact the whole concept of falling in love was quite vague in his mind.”