“Going” together: The Early Years


The other day I had a conversation about writing, in which I said the funniest things come from scars. I have no idea why I said this, because that’s not how I write. But I figure I’ll give it as hot. So here we go: my first “girlfriend.” Not really a girlfriend. Kids called it “going.” I don’t know if that phrase was a Morgantown thing, but you’d be at recess and hear, “Oh yeah, Janna and Adrian are going,” and then you’d look over, and Janna would be chasing Adrian around the swing set.

I don’t know how these relationships formed. I remember I wrote a note in the computer lab of seventh grade shop class. “Hey, will you go with me?” Apparently she said yes. This meant, we would talk on the phone for twenty minutes every other night, and then avoid each other in school. I don’t know that we liked each other, but we were “going.”

Seventh grade was a bad year. It was Junior High, so seventh graders are the youngest in the school. The kids were mean, the teachers were mean, the halls were mean, the principles were mean. Bees would fly in the school and sting you – nothing was easy. The principles would come out at lunch, and walk between the tables like Nazis, waiting until every kid was perfectly silent (an impossible feat), before dismissing the quiet tables for the lunch line.

After lunch was recess, because a good time to exercise, is immediately after you eat. The recess options were two-fold: you could go to the basketball court, or the library. No out door options, no escaping the school. Of course, only nerds and goths went to the library, but in retrospect it was clearly the better option. I’d always end up on the bleachers of the gym, watching the basketball. There were two hoops to play half court, and the games were dominated by 8th and 9th graders.

The gym teachers watched over the games. These were also the Junior High basketball coaches, so they were scouting talent, too. I bet they already knew who they would pick before try-outs. I didn’t get picked, despite going 9 for 10 from the free-throw line.

Any kid who could jump and touch the rim was a hero. If they had that skill, they would do it often, and for no reason. The rim touchers would also get the girls. A lot of guys wore those jump training shoes, in an attempt to build calf muscles. They’d walk from class to class, uncomfortably, with a dream of getting rim. I bet the world would be a better place, if recess revolved around scrabble.

So I’ve avoided my “girlfriend” for one week, and it’s time for the first date. We walked downtown (four blocks) to see the movie, “Reality Bites.” At 13, I was under the unfortunate impression that movies, are where you go to make out. Not where you could make out, but where you are supposed to make out. Of course, movies are the worst place – you just paid … to see a movie. The seats are facing forward, and there were old school wooden arm rests between the seats. There are people sitting all around us, and to top things off, it was the afternoon. Bad location, bad timing.

Meanwhle, thirteen year old me thought, “If I don’t make a move, she’ll think you’re a pansy.” I’ve always had the mentality of, “Well, it’s better to try and fail, then not try at all.” So that’s a positive quality, but also a quality that leads to a lot of failing.

After heavy brainstorming during the first 45 minutes of Reality Bites, I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t just go for it, because that might shock her. I decided it would be smart to inquire. This tactic was probably aided by 7th grade B.A.S.E. class, which was part of the West Virginia curriculum very briefly (one year I heard). I don’t remember what B.A.S.E stood for, but it was like health meets sex-ed meets common-sense meets geography.

Mrs. Vandergrift taught us that anything without consent, is rape. She played a video, that showed how a boy should interact with a girl, in the bedroom:
Boy: May I touch your breast?
Girl: (philanthropic tone) Yes.
He touches her breast. They smile.
Boy: May I take your shirt off?
Girl: No.
(Video ends with freeze frame high five, rainbow in the background)

Mrs. Vandergrift: Okay, does everyone understand why consent is important?
Class: (asleep)
Mrs. Vandergrift: Jeremy, why is consent important?
Jeremy: Because if she doesn’t say yes… you go to jail?
Mrs. Vandergrift: Correct Jeremy, you go to jail.

So B.A.S.E. was a class, that taught abstinence, by training boys to have terrible game.

Back to the movie – failure doesn’t cross my mind, for three reasons:
1) We were “going,” so she’s already admitted she likes me, or is at least pretending to like me
2) We’re at a movie, which is where people make out.
3) I was going to ask, “Do you mind if I kiss you?” which sounded pretty sweet. No way anyone would say no to that. Not at the movies.

Turn toward girl, ribs into wooden arm rest, interrupting movie:
“Do you mind if I kiss you?”
“That would be weird.”
Back to watching “Reality Bites.” Permanent scar.

There was still an hour of movie, and then a long walk home. Using humor as an early defense mechanism, I picked berries from a bush and threw them at her. We “broke up” by not talking to each other for a while.

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2 Responses to ““Going” together: The Early Years”

  1. Nice try I say… The asking to kiss move is way underrated IMO

  2. At least you went to see a decent movie. I think the first movie I took a girl to was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2! Yes, the one with Vanilla Ice. Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!

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