I had always been boy crazy. I remember the first boy I ever had a crush on. I was in third grade, Mr. Napello’s class. I must have been 8 years old. He was always in trouble. The boy whose desk was always out of place from the rest of the classroom. I don’t remember ever seeing him do anything wrong yet there he was, off to the side by himself. He rode his bicycle to my house once. I was so afraid my father was going to find out. My father had instilled a fear in me. I feared he would embarrass the hell out of me. I feared he would do to the boys I liked what he did to my brother in his room. Throwing him from one side of the room to the other. I feared for everyone’s safety.
In fourth grade, I felt noticed for the first time. I don’t remember how it came about but I was invited to a birthday party which turned out to be a triple date. We went roller skating and after was the first time a boy tried to kiss me. I told him if he tried that again I was going to punch him. I’m not sure why I reacted that way. I know when it came to me and boys, then me and men – fear played an integral part in how I related to them. I was always nervous around boys. I was so nervous I would literally tremble.
I went to my neighbor’s bar mitzvah. I thought his cousin was the cutest boy I’d ever seen. Somehow we ended up on the dance floor and for the life of me I could not control my nerves. I shivered as if I was naked in Alaska. With every sway back and forth my legs trembled. I don’t think I would have been as nervous as I was if my father hadn’t been in the room.
Fifth through eighth grade was absolutely ridiculous when it came to having a boyfriend. The fun part was writing and reading notes then passing them to each other in the hallway. More communication was made by writing than had ever been spoken. School dances were exciting yet very scary at the thought of the public kiss. It’s bad enough to dance with the rigid arms on shoulders feet swaying side by side. Birthday parties were even more nerve wracking. Spin the bottle, 7 minutes in heaven…who knows who you might end up with. At least if you had a boyfriend you could sit on the couch next to each other and hold hands.
In one year’s time I went from stiff to slut. In high school, I allowed a senior to sweep me off my feet. Oh how I wish I had an ounce of self-esteem back then. I wish my parents had taught me to value myself, my body. That I was more than just a pretty face. Somewhere along the way I learned to value what other people thought of me.
He sat with me on the bus one day. Just random, sporadically sat in the same seat I was sitting in. It was a three seater and I was by the window. He sat as close to the edge as he could get. I thought maybe there were no other seats. It turned out, he actually wanted to go out with me. I was flattered, I felt special. I was giddy. I felt important. As a freshman, still 13 – a senior 17 years old wanted to go out with me.
When I say, “go out” I really mean go steady. He did not have his driver’s license. He had lost it due to a car accident prior to getting his license. I wish someone would have told me to beware of seniors who take the bus. I did try to fend him off for several weeks. I had a boyfriend at the time who I felt comfortable around. I explained that my father would never approve of me dating someone so much older than me and I wasn’t allowed in cars anyway. I don’t know what is was. I guess it was his persistence. He even had a friend of his write me a note as a character reference. I think that is what did it. I respected that friend. It seems so silly today. The effort put forth, ultimately, just to get laid. Boys are bad.
I broke up with that boy and the next day the senior asked me if I would be his girlfriend. I said I would. He kissed me. What was most memorable about that first kiss was the way he put his finger under my chin. I did get some flack for breaking up with one boy to go out with another the very next day but I did not cheat on him. I was on cloud 9. I never understood that phrase until right now. My mother let me spend time at his house. Often. I could walk home from his house but she picked me up on her way home from work. I was nervous. I was too scared to have dinner with his family so we ate downstairs in his bedroom. I was too nervous to use the bathroom because the door didn’t lock. I never felt so awkward in my life than I did was I was 14 and going out with a senior.