Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Dating Game

My son is talking dating. He's not exactly of marriageable age or anything, but this talking just takes me down memory lane, to my own misspent youth and related misadventures in dating.

My first "official" boyfriend, J.Z. (Those are his initials. Not Jay-Z, just to be clear) happened in 3rd or 4th grade. I believe we had been in the same class since Kindergarten, so the relationship was inevitable. He was also my BFF's boyfriend--he liked both of us, we both liked him, why make things messy? I believe she and I worked out a timeshare agreement ahead of time where we would, on alternating days, ignore him on the playground and blush furiously at the mention of his name. Also, once he gave us a broken Breyer horse statue to share. It was like a dream.

My first kiss with him was decided by coin toss--well, really by pencil flip, wherein if the pencil landed this way, it would be cheek; the other direction, mouth (spoiler alert: it landed on mouth). A second flip determined open or closed. Eyes. Open or closed eyes! Don't be gross. I don't remember what happened to the relationship after this pinnacle, but clearly it did not endure.

After that, grade school featured the guy I totally crushed on who liked me, too--but that all came to an end when I beat him in a race on the playground. I wasn't about to dumb it down. Then came the cute neighbor boy who was my true love until he broke up with me because I wouldn't walk in the park with my arm around him. What he took as a lack of devotion was really just an arm cramp.

Then came high school (after those awkward middle school years; not going to talk about those), the hormones and higher stakes. My first actual, real boyfriend happened. We were a real couple and went on dates and everything. He was a great kisser and we shared a love of music. This really was the tone of all my teenage affairs--kissing, music, not much talking, lots of unrequited feelings. Aah, the 80s.

I couldn't help but think back on my high school years watching teenage relationships portrayed in the media. From Andie & Blaine* to Dawson & Joey** to Rory & Dean***, these teen relationships did not represent my reality. I was more Angela Chase & Jordan Catalano**** or Julie & Randy*****--all angsty and clumsy.

So as I'm freaking out over my kid & his love life & talk to my friends about their experiences and seek out reality-based input, I found out that in real life? There's way more of the clumsy, angsty, not talking kind of relationship. I mean seriously, the first guy I was actually myself around asked me to marry him. What 12 year old American child is ready for that kind of pressure?

I have no regrets.

Name that teen couple! Did you recognize the names dropped in this post? If not, I assign you some remedial watching. To wit:
* Pretty in Pink
** Dawson's Creek
*** Gilmore Girls
**** My So-Called Life
***** Valley Girl

Bonus playlist: songs about love & such.

Dating Game by Mari Farthing on Grooveshark


  1. Fun trip down memory lane- did you leave out the awkward braces-kissing stories or did you manage to muddle through dating with straight teeth?

  2. I had more of a Winnie and Kevin* thing going on in grade school - the cute boys worth crushing over were a head shorter and somewhat slighter than me. I thought I was HUGE until everybody else caught up to me in the 5th grade.

    *The Wonder Years

  3. I think I blushed reading this because it brings back all those embarrassing memories of crushes and awkwardness.

  4. I was homeschooled, so I did not have crushes on any of my classmates, and we also hopped from church to church for a little while. I did think a couple of boys here and there were cute, but not badly enough to want to do anything about it, and from taking the time to observe them from a distance anyways, I determined that they wouldn't know what to do with an independent minded girl/woman.

    So long story short, I ended up marrying the first/only boyfriend I ever had, lol. Sometimes I think he didn't really know what he was getting into, though. I see this glazed look in his eyes sometimes when I go through life like a whirling dervish, and I'm pretty sure he's silently thinking "What did I get myself into? How do mesh with this?"

  5. Love it! My first kiss sounded similar to yours. Although I remember some older girls (possibly 5th graders...who seemed 25 at the time) held the boy down while I worked up the nerve to give him a peck on the cheek. It was scandalous.

    1. Held him down?? You are SO bad, Stephanie!