Thursday, December 30, 2010

In which I have my first kiss and discover love is fleeting

My dad was in the air force, so we moved a lot. Both my mom and dad are from a small town in Wisconsin (they met at the bar at the bowling alley, which is not as sordid as it sounds as this is a very very small town where everyone knew who everyone was, even if they didn't know each other personally). Between moves, we kids would spend a lot of the summer in Dorchester, playing with our cousins and other kids in town.

The summer I was 12, we spent some time in Dorchester.

The main thing my brother, sister and I did to kill time after walking to the small grocery store to buy Frosty Cream Soda, which was not, as far as we knew, available in Lubbock, Texas, and which was a great complement to the Cap'n Crunch that my grandmother, on her small fixed retired dairy farmer income, bought for us (sugared cereals and soda being unavailable chez nous) was go to the swimming pond in the park.

The park was four blocks away, across the train tracks where the wild raspberries grew. There was a lifeguard, a pool house, and a raft in the middle of the pond. It cost a quarter to get in and my grandmother would give us the money to go. My siblings, my cousins and I would spend hours there. Then my cousin Angie, who is only nine days older than I am and my best cousin (out of 26 first cousins), would wash our hair in the pool house with Suave Strawberry Essence shampoo, which I suppose is not an important detail except even now, the smell of strawberry shampoo reminds me of summer.

Sadly, the pond has since been filled in. The town must have decided they couldn't afford the liability of a potential drowning.

But when I was 12 and when the pond was still open, there was a guy.

Stan M.

He lived on the farm right next to the cemetery, on the south side of town, across from the lumberyard.

Stan was hot.

Not that I used the word "hot" when I was 12. He was cuuuute!

He was as cute as a 12 year old farm boy can be. Tanned with dark curly hair and a bit muscular because farm boys at that time were expected to help with baling hay.

I didn't think anyone could be any cuter.

He would come to the swimming hole and flirt with me, as much as a 12 year old boy can flirt, which usually consists of splashing water on the object of desire, pushing her head under, and many other ways of expressing affection that are probably illegal on playgrounds today. I know the doubleknit polyester navy blue two-piece swimsuit with the anchor applique on the high-necked halter top that my mom had made for me was probably driving him wild. Nothing like a very modest bathing suit on an underdeveloped, plump seventh grader to inflame the passions.

I don't know how we made the transition from splashing each other to kissing, but one day, we walked back to his house together. We got as far as the creek on the north side of the cemetery. He wanted to kiss me, but I didn't want anyone to see because I don't know why. Which was stupid because we were on a gravel road by a cemetery on the outskirts of a town that didn't - still doesn't - even have a stoplight, so it's not like there was a lot of - or any - traffic.

I insisted we walk off the road and down to the creek. Not like anyone would see us there, standing next to the tiny bridge that crossed the tiny stream.

He stepped toward me. I stepped back into the cattails, then stopped. How could he kiss me if I was moving?

He stepped toward me again, kissed me and I thought,

Is this it? Is that all? Is that what a kiss feels like?

I had recently embarked on an ambitious project to read every trash romance novel ever written, including all the Harlequin romances and Sweet Savage Love, which has the typical plot of a defenseless woman forced to fend for herself because of being orphaned or sold to settle her father's debts, who encounters an alpha male - cowboy, cop, firefighter - who despises her upon first sight as much as she despises him. Yet they are thrown together by circumstances beyond their control. Their mutual attraction overwhelms them and they sleep together, but then come to their senses and vow that will never happen again, by golly.

In the meantime, they fall in love with each other but neither wants to admit that love because each is sure the other still despises him/her. Fortunately, Something Happens and They Admit Their Love and Live Happily Ever After.

There are usually some sex scenes, which interested me a lot when I was a teenager but now I skip because I am married to hottie Primo and can have wxyz whenever I want and sex scenes never advance the plot. Zey are boring to me now.

So before Stan kissed me, I had very high expectations for kissing, which is an argument for not teaching kids to read because imagine how much less disappointment in the world there would be if nobody had ever had her expectations raised from reading Sweet Savage Love. (Ha. Imagine what my first time of wxyz was like if I thought the earth would move with a mere kiss!)

Disappointed, I stepped back again, this time into the creek, which was OK because I was wearing flip flops but still was not the sophisticated exit I had wanted to make. I mumbled something about needing to get back to my granma's for supper and fled.

The prince turned into a frog. With one kiss, all the romance was gone. All the cuteness was gone. How could it all vanish so quickly?

We left a few days later, so I didn't have to avoid him for very long. I saw him again the next summer and wondered what had happened. He had been so cute! And now he was so short! What had I been thinking?

I would like to say I learned an important lesson with that kiss, but if you have read any of the other stories on this blog, you know that's a big fat lie. All I learned was you have to kiss a lot before you find someone who rocks your world. And even that is not enough.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In which I stalk a boy in high school and reject another

Chickadees, I have not been writing much lately. Fortunately, the Sly and Doris drama has diminished and I hence have less material than usual.

So I am forced once again to reach way back into a past that I really don't remember that well and tell you some pretty much true stories, a skeleton of facts embellished with what may or may not be true details to make things more interesting.

1. In which I stalk a boy

I was on the swim team in high school. Ha. Don't get the wrong idea. All you had to do to be on the team was to show up to practice. We didn't have a lot of competition, as we were the only American high school within 50 miles. We swam against the American high school on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, against the American junior high school, and against Canal Zone Junior College. Or maybe just the other high school. I can't remember. It's been a long time. But we had more than one swim meet a year, so we must have gone against the junior high and the junior college.

None of these details matter. What matters is that there was this guy, Ray, who was also on the swim team and who lived a few blocks from me.

I thought he was a hot hot hottie.

This was before the Swim Team Boyfriend Who Turned Out to Be Gay showed up.

But until STBWTOTBG made his entrance, Ray was it for me.

I lusted after him on the school bus. I lusted after him in the halls. I lusted after him at swim practice.

He had no interest - zip, zero, nada - in me.

That didn't stop me.

I was liberated. I was cool. I called him and asked him to the movies.

He was so surprised he didn't know how to say no.

I was so excited that I probably put on makeup, although looking back on my high school photos, tenth grade was a decent year and I was looking pretty good as long as I wasn't wearing my glasses, which had that brown so cool tint on the top that actually didn't look cool at all but made me look very very tired.

My skin was so nice when I was in high school (yeah, those days are gone) that a few teachers actually stopped me in the hall to tell me how gorgeous my complexion was. They did the same for my hair, which was artificially blonde and shiny from all the chlorine and sun.

Yet I did not appreciate having lovely skin and hair at the time, just as I did not appreciate having a smooth neck and eyes that did not get puffy after just two pickles. I did not appreciate being able to walk in high heels without pain.

OK, the high heels came later because in high school, I could not walk in high heels at all. My mom got heels for me for my high school graduation, which I attended under duress and still wish I hadn't attended because we moved before my senior year of high school and I was one of two new seniors in a class of 648. Can you say crummy crummy senior year?

I had to practice walking in those shoes, which had heels of perhaps 1.5", to do it right. I later moved to 3" heels when I was working and never had a problem. But now? I had to surrender my almost new BCBG black slingbacks that I found at the Junior League consignment shop for just $20 after Primo and I went to a play downtown and I was hobbling after two blocks. After the play, Primo went to get the car so I wouldn't have to walk. Primo is an angel.

I did not appreciate any of the aspects of my body's youth. How I wish I had those aspects back.

I had my cool green jumpsuit that I had made myself from the crinkle cloth I found at the BX for $2.95 a yard and with a D-ring fastener on the green crinkle cloth fabric belt.

Or maybe I wore my Sears overalls that I ordered from the catalogue and paid for with my babysitting money as my mother refused to subsidize a clothing item that she used to have to wear to work in the barn when she was a kid.

Or maybe it was the white painter pants with the cool hammer holder running from the pocket to the seam because you never knew as a 10th grader when you might meet an errant nail.

Oh yes. Looking good.

Ray came to my house because my house was on the way to the movie theater. It didn't make sense for me to go to his house and then double back. Plus in retrospect he probably didn't want his parents to know what was going on.

We walked to the movies but I noticed he didn't seem very excited. My big clue was that I was walking on the sidewalk and he was walking on the grass. Almost on the curb. Almost in the street. As in, he wanted to be as far from me as possible.

He used the same seating strategy: leaning far far away from me. At least he didn't leave an empty seat between the two of us, as so many of the young GIs were wont to go lest their sexuality be questioned. Plus the seats were kind of small and young GIs like to sprawl, so alternating seats gave them more leg room.

I got the hint. I did not ask him out again and he did not ask me out. He later went to Oral Roberts U, which made me realize that we had no future together anyhow as the beliefs of the kids who go to ORU don't really mesh with the beliefs of the kids who go to CCD.

2. In which I reject a boy and I am mean about it and I am still sorry

Drew N. was in my chemistry class. He was a little bit obnoxious, although I realize now that most high school boys are a little bit obnoxious. My friend Sue (name changed to protect the guilty, the guilty now having three boys of her own and the guilty probably thinking she would punch any girl who treated her boys meanly) and I were chemistry lab partners.

We were also partners in mocking the classmates we didn't like. This category of course included Drew because he was obnoxious. Our favorite thing to do was to sing our lyrics to the song, "Close to You," under our breath whenever Drew bugged us. Our lyrics went something like,

Why do worms suddenly appear?
Every time you are near?
Could it be
They want to be
Close to you?

There were undoubtedly more outrageously clever and cutting lyrics but I can't remember them now.

Point is, I never did anything to Drew to indicate that I might be interested in him. I didn't talk to him unless I had to. I sure didn't flirt with him. I didn't know how to flirt. I went straight for the jugular: "Hey Swim Team Hottie who has shown no interest in me. Do you want to go to the movies on Saturday?" Finesse was not my style. Blunt force. That's where it's at with me.

Yet one day as we were walking from the lab back to the classroom, Drew cornered me alone in the hall.

"Do you want to go to the ROTC ball with me?" he asked.

What? Where was this coming from? NO I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO THAT DANCE WITH HIM!*

I stammered and hemmed and hawed and said something dumb like I really didn't get into all that military stuff which was a BIG FAT LIE because HELLO! My father was IN THE AIR FORCE! And I lived on an AIR FORCE BASE!

Sue walked up. She had overheard. She started to laugh, which is a reaction I can completely understand because we thought Drew was the most obnoxious loser in the world, but still. We weren't ever mean to his face. Just behind his back, which is the right way to be mean.

"You think she would go to a dance with YOU?" Sue asked.

Drew, humiliated, scurried away.

He never asked me out again. Sue and I continued to sing about him. And 32 years later, I still think about that and think we could have been a little nicer to him.

* This one event gives lie to my frequent assertion that I was not asked to a single high school dance. Technically, I was asked to one. One dance. By someone I did not want to dance with.