Sixties. A small provincial town in Russia. Nineteen-year-old Valera Vazhenin lives with her mother and grandmother. Mama Valery works as a senior standard-setting laborer at the plant. The father left the family when the son was six or seven years old, and lives with his new wife Shura. He is a writer, writes reprises for the circus, they say that he even writes a novel. The father visits the old family, gives the mother money. Valera himself works at the plant, where very “serious things” are being made, “either missiles, or spacesuits – in general, something cosmic.” Valera and his friend Tolik Bozhko make boxes for these important things.
Every day after work, under the supervision of my mother and grandmother, Valera prepares to enter the Pedagogical
One evening, Tolik comes for Valera, and they go for a walk. On the sports ground near the school they see a crowd of young people who train to jump with a parachute. Tolia pretends to be a skydiver, like everyone does exercises on a horizontal bar, the instructor records his name. Valeré, who was too shy to do the same, Tolik says that they will necessarily jump, that the instructor “the more people, the better.” The gathering of paratroopers is scheduled for three o’clock in the morning on the boulevard.
Valera and Tolik come to the park. There they get acquainted with two girls and invite them to dance. But the money for tickets from the guys there, Tolik manages to get two tickets – he “pushed a privateer”
In the police Valera meets a girl Tanya, who works as a hairdresser and, according to her, got to the police “for easy behavior” – “with a little boy alone kissing on the bench.” In the end, Valery and Tanya are released. Valera sees her home. Until the morning at the entrance she teaches Valera to kiss.
On the way back Valera meets Tolia. They go to the boulevard, where paratroopers gather, and go with them to the airfield. But the instructor does not allow them to jump, as they “are not on the lists”. At the airport, Valera meets his old school friend Slavka Perkov, who is studying in an aero club and is going to enter the flight school. Slavka takes Valera with him on a training flight.
Tolya refuses to fly with them.
After the flight Valera is full of impressions and wants to tell about them to Tolik, but he does not listen to him.
After the flight with Slavka Valera always dreams of flying. He puts the documents in the flight school, but his mother takes them from there, saying that “he will never be calm” if Valera will fly.
Tolik advises Valera to “fill up” the exams in the institute, go to the army, and from there to the flying school. With this thought Valera also comes to the opening essay. Instead of writing about the topic, Valera describes her flight with Slavka. But the teacher, who checks the composition, likes it, and she puts Valera “five”. In the literature exam she also puts Valera “five”, saying that “he believes that he knows everything.” But the exam in a foreign language Valera still manages to “fill up”, because instead of the English, which he taught at school, Valera is going to take German.
Soon, Valera and Tolia receive summons to the army.
Valera goes to visit her father. He, having learned that the son is leaving for the army, gives him his gold watch. Shura believes that this should not be done, arranges scandal, mocks the writer’s abilities of her husband and is going to leave the house. Valera quietly leaves her watch and bids farewell to her father, goes to the hairdresser’s haircut “to zero.” There he meets with Tanya, she shears him, and after work they agree to go for a walk. On the way, Tanya pretty much bothers Valera with her chatter. In the park, Valer and Tanya are greeted by Tolik, there is also a skirmish between Valera and Vitka Kozub, an old acquaintance of Valera and Tolik. The guys always disliked Kozuba, and now, when he starts to molest Tatiana, Valera stands up for her protection.
Tolik and Tanya quickly find a common language, and Valera whispers to Tolik that he can “take it for himself.” Late in the evening, after spending Tanya at home, the boys return to their homes. On the way, they meet Kozub with his cronies. They beat Valera and make Tolik also hit him “in a friendly way.” At first Tolya refuses, but then, frightened for himself, beats Valera with great zeal. After Tolik asks Valera for forgiveness, but Valera can not forgive him for betrayal.
Mother and grandmother escort Valera to the army. A year later, Valera manages to get directions to the flight school. Before leaving there Valera unexpectedly meets Tolia. He says that he serves as an orderly at the general and writes poetry ever since Valera read “Anchar” to him.
Tolik recalls the case of Valera’s beating and says that it’s even better for him that it happened, otherwise he would be “beaten harder”. Valera and Tolik leave, and Tolik asks comrade not to forget him.