I've written about my popularity challenges and limited dating experiences before. At 40, I feel nearly as inexperienced and all elbows and left feet as I did at 14. Luckily, Noodle likes all my elbows and left feet. But that's not why I'm here tonight.
Tonight I'm going to tell you a secret.
My generation - or, at least, the generation I knew growing up in Wyoming - was particularly promiscuous at a very early age. My peers began readily losing their virginity at the age of 12. Kids were coupling up - angsty balls of raging hormones and tween spirit - before we'd graduated to junior high. One of my old elementary school friends - TB - was dating a senior in high school before she became a teenager herself. I remember listening in fascination and horror as she detailed the events surrounding her de-flowering and how humiliated she was...how much she hated it. Thinking back on it, while I understand her thrill of catching the attention of an older "man", her willingness to sacrifice that part of herself in order to keep him, what he did to her borders on pedophilia. I feel sick over it.
But this isn't about her either.
As I said, all the kids, it seemed, were coupling up, attending boy/girl parties - parties to which my invitations have yet to arrive, kissing by the gym, holding hands, dancing awkwardly - doing their best at the hug and shuffle - at every junior high school dance. Rites of passage from which I was, and would continue to be, excluded. I was so very desperate for attention and affection - shyly waiting for it, convinced it would never come.
I met CP.
CP was the best friend of the older brother of MY best friend. He was older - he had a driver's license and a 1964 electric blue Chevy Impala - he was 16. I was 14. It wasn't exactly squicky. But he had a girlfriend...a girlfriend I not only knew but a girl who counted me as one of her closest friends.
CP and I began our clandestine liaisons soon after we met. It started in the back row of the Beverly Twin movie house as we "watched" Pee Wee's Big Adventure. He would kiss me - my first kisses - a lot. Our make out sessions would continue weekly or as often as we could make them happen and usually before Wednesday night youth group meetings. One afternoon, I arrived at his house and he'd been eating sour cream and onion Pringles. To this day, those chips taste like salty shame to me.
One day, after months of these secret passion-filled afternoons, he pulled me into his parents' laundry room and told me we should "do it" on top of the dryer. I was 14 and terrified. I told him "no". Repeatedly. He would eventually respect my answer - but only after numerous attempts to convince me otherwise.
Soon after, he would break up with his girlfriend and I...I foolishly thought it was because he wanted ME to be his girlfriend...
Until he announced he was seeing someone else and abruptly cut off all contact with me.
And I knew...I was his secret. His dirty, shameful secret. A concept I was familiar with. A concept I would continue to manifest again and again...and again.
At the time though, I didn't understand why he would have taken up with me if he didn't actually like me. I was heartbroken. I was ashamed. I didn't believe I deserved any better.
It wasn't until years later, after I'd had enough distance and experience, I'd recall how CP was first introduced to me, and I would begin to understand. I had spent the night at my best friend's house and was in her room applying my new-to-makeup, inexperienced heavy hand when her older brother, SB, came into her room talking on the phone to CP. SB continued to talk on the phone as he watched me paint my face and, at one point, declared my makeup application the art of a "super slut".
Taken out of context - from CP's end of the conversation - he heard, "super slut". He thought I was easy. The mating call of every over-sexed, hormonally-over driven teenage boy alive. And the rest is (my) history.
A history that was doomed to repeat itself - several times - over many years. A history that continues to haunt me...continues to send chills up my spine when there is even a hint of secrecy to any relationship I engage.
While I would love to say I have no regrets, while I would love to say everything that's happened in my life has brought me to the place I am now - a particularly awesome place to be (and it is), if I could have a do over, it would start there. 14-year-old me would have just a little self-confidence and a little self-esteem. 14-year-old me would have told him, "Hey! You want to fool around with me? You'd better be free to do it AND you'd better act like I'm worth solid gold. Because I am solid gold. Otherwise, you won't come near me without a warrant."
Written in response to the GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience 2) prompt: Do Over.