MY FIRST DATE
It was all about the lead-up, folks...
- •In elementary school I dated Dan Cappellaro and then Tom Delaney (Dan moved away, I wasn't a tweenage two-timer) and my best friend Susannah dated Mike Romano.None of those dates feel like they count, though, because we mostly went to lunch and the girls talked to the girls and the guys the guys.
- •In seventh grade, my elementary school (Chatsworth Avenue)'s graduating class joined three other elementary school's graduates at The Hommocks middle school.Yes, we always called it "The Hommocks." People in college thought this was very weird, still not totally sure why.
- •Clearly there was going to be a problem - four elementary schools with four top cliques of girls come together - who will maintain superiority?The first few weeks of seventh grade were a kind of detente: we were too busy getting our bearings - which way is the G wing and why is it called G wing if the other wings are North and South - to focus on social warfare. But then October came.
- •Victoria - one of the girls from the Murray Avenue clique - announced she was throwing a Halloween party at her house.The popular kids from each elementary school were invited; we agonized for days about what to wear. I decided to go as a flapper, Susannah was a movie star, and Kristy and Lauren...I don't remember what Kristy and Lauren were because, let's be honest, they were the Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried of our foursome. YMMV on which of us - Susannah or I - was La Lohan and which was Rachel McAdams.
- •Susannah's mom drops us off at Victoria's on Halloween night, and I immediately feel exposed in my leotard and short fringed skirt.No matter what, I always end up being just a hair wrong. Like the clothes that fit perfectly in my bedroom suddenly don't look right when surrounded by a group of other tweens. Not that I'd let anyone know that, of course.
- •The party is awkward at first the way co-ed events at that age always are, but soon people are dancing and giggling."Let's play Spin the Bottle!" says Victoria. No one wants to be the one to pussy out on this, especially not me. I am a mature seventh grader and totally not scared about kissing a boy in front of all of these sort-of-friends. (What if I do it wrong?!?)
- •Jason, a freckle-faced kid from Mamaroneck Avenue Elementary, spins first.It lands on me. Fuck.
- •He leans in. I lean in. His tongue is smushy. Then it's done.Everyone seems kind of shocked that we went through with it. The game dissolves into whispers and giggles.
- •My face burns. How come I was the only one who had to kiss someone? Is everyone talking about me now? Do they think I'm a slut?I will myself not to cry as Susannah drags me to the hall bathroom, Kristy and Lauren right behind.
- •They ask me a thousand questions and it's all a blur because I just had my first French kiss what does it mean?I don't even know that Jason guy! You can't kiss someone you don't know! (I thought, then...)
- •When we come out of the bathroom, Victoria and her minions are ready to pounce. Victoria grabs my arm conspiratorially, and Susannah buddies up to her other side, terrified of being left out."Jason likes you," she says. "He's gonna ask you out." This is exciting! Susannah and I look at each other, thinking the same thing: we are SO the coolest clique at The Hommocks now. The idea of whether or not I wanted to date a virtual stranger didn't even cross my mind.
- •He asks me out, awkwardly. I say yes, exuberantly.The Chatsworth Avenue girls and I are sure that this cements our place in the junior high clique firmament.
- •Wednesday afternoon, we walk from The Hommocks to Nicky's Pizza.On the ten minute walk, he notes that I'm wearing (what I thought was THE COOLEST THING at the time) a Universal Studios jacket. "So...is Florida your favorite state?"
- •I look at him blankly. He's asking what my favorite state is?"No..." I say. "So..." he tries, "what's your favorite state?" He IS asking what my favorite state is.
- •I think I said New York.I know Susannah, Victoria, and I made fun of him for weeks after and it was how the Chatsworth-Murray coalition - an alliance that lasted through high school graduation - was born.
- •Jason was collateral damage of a popularity offensive. In high school, he was kind of a crunchy pothead who I saw at keg parties from time to time.We might be Facebook friends? Not sure. I hope he's happy. I'm sorry I used what should be a special romantic moment and turned it into a chance for a strategic political alliance.
- •But not that sorry.