The Day I Became Vinnie Barbarino

It was 1979. Captain and Tennile were hot, my cousin sang Michael Jackson’s Rock With You in our elementary school talent show (he actually did a good job) and my older cousin got caught making out to Smokey Robinson’s Cruisin’ on the sofa when he thought my grandmother was at a mother’s board meeting at the church. And me, I was falling in love with the girl next door.

Desiree and I always had a crush on one another but on this particular day, she decided to call me. My grandmother answered the phone. I was surprised when she said it was for me. Normally, the only calls I received were from friends telling me that a football game was about to go down in the field.

I picked up the phone and heard the sexiest voice that a 4th grade girl could pull off. We talked for several minutes and she invited me over for a drink. I’m sure it was probably Orange Crush, but hey, I was in. I decided at that moment I needed to get dressed. I pulled out my church clothes and decided on a pair of cream-colored polyester pants and a cream-colored silk shirt. I buttoned the shirt half way leaving my chest exposed. I had no hair at the time but that’s the way Vinnie Barbarino dressed on Welcome Back Kotter and the girls loved him.

Thirty minutes later I ran out the door with my grandmother laughing at me. We lived on the corner with a huge front yard. So I had to walk out of the yard and run around the corner to get to Desiree’s house. I could cut through the gangway from the alley but her grandfather had two large Doberman Pinschers so I didn’t take a chance.

When I got to the front gate, Desiree’s brother, Brian, was sitting on the front porch. Brian died of cancer in high school. I’ll blog about that later. Anyway, their house was a two-flat (an apartment upstairs and one downstairs.) Desiree lived downstairs. I walked towards the stairs. I looked through the picture window and to my amazement, Keith P. was in the house and they were kissing. Now, we called Keith pissclyde because he always smelled like piss.

I was devastated. There I was looking dapper and fly and she was kissing a kid that reeked of piss. I knocked on the door anyway. She came to the door and walked out with me. We started playing as if nothing happened. I’m not sure what happened to Keith. He probably went out the back door.

After about an hour of playing, her mother called her to come into the house. We were only several houses away but we couldn’t run because between her house and us was Champ. A black Shepard that chased anything and everybody that passed the house. We crossed the street by the church. When we were out of site of her mother, Desiree leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. At that point, she was forgiven for he adultery.

When we passed Champ’s house we crossed the street again. Her mother complimented me on my attire and told Desiree to go in the house. I smiled and her mother then complimented me on my dimple. I was flying high and my shirt was flying open. The Vinnie Barbarino looked had worked its charm for me. I walked in the house and my grandmother told me to take off my church clothes. Surprisingly, she didn’t get mad at the fact that there were grass stains on the pants. I guess she knew that her young Vinnie Bobarino had found love.

Note for the youngens: Vinnie Barbarino is John Trevolta's character.


13 Responses to The Day I Became Vinnie Barbarino

  1. Jaimie Says:
    I didn't know who Vinnie was-so thank you.

    That's a sweet story. Young love is really nice.
  2. Cynthia Says:
    This is such a cute story. Do you ever wonder what happened to Desiree? My first love was a guy named Willie D.....

    Ah, the memories...
  3. James Manning Says:
    By the time we got to high school she didn't pay much attention to me. But she was out there for a while. I know her brother and mother have passed. I still know a lot of her family so it wouldn't be that hard finding out how she is doing.
  4. Mr. Grey Ghost Says:
    I used to love "Welcome Back Kotter" except that I could never really buy Horshack actually being part of a gang.

    Good story!
  5. James Manning Says:
    Yeah, Grey, Horshack was a oddball sort of guy. But they did have a rainbow coalition going.
  6. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    11 16 05

    James, when will your book come out? I will be the first customer, after your girlfriend:) YOur stories really hit home. I recall one of my first loves in high school. He was a red head. We are still friends to this day:) You are too much!!!
  7. James Manning Says:
    Mahn, I might thnk about writing a book about my life. I have a ton of stuff to talk about.
  8. NewYorkMoments Says:
    I LOVED Welcome Back Carter.

    Oh my God--Jaimie's comment makes me feel ancient. *chokes back sob*

    So, she was already 2-timing guys in 4th grade? My heroine.
  9. James Manning Says:
    LOL, @ NewYork - yeah, I didn't look at it like that.
  10. NewYorkMoments Says:
    Did I actually write "Welcom Back CARTER???" Oh my God! It was before I had my morning coffee. I meant "Welcome Back Kotter."

    Holy cow, I'm losing it.
  11. sonyared Says: touching..and thumbs down to piss smeely boy! well atleast u can probably contact her.

    P.S thanks for the instructions for Avatar...I have to fool around with it because I still can't get it onto my blog :-( TX! :-)
  12. kerri Says:
    ah welcome back cotter... i remember watching re-runs on nick at night! :) seriously, very sweet story.. and you even forgave her for kissing another guy! you have a big heart.
  13. Deb S. Says:
    Ah, the gentle side of James Manning. (sigh)
    Put me down for an autographed copy of your book when it comes off the presses.