Saturday, February 18, 2012

It Smells Like Adolescence In Here - You Know, Faintly Goat Like

Back in the last years of elementary school and all of junior high, I was not a cute kid. I hit my awkward stage very early - glasses and braces in the 4th grade - a stage made even more awkward by my early development and painfully-obvious-from-the-start large chest.

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 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.

And then...

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.


Jo said...

There are some things in the past that we may not understand and this is one of those, but believe with all you have there WAS a reason. For some reason you don't and may never know, you did what you did to become who you are. Let it go. It isn't who you are, it's just one of a ton of things that brought you here.
And here is a good thing! ♥

spux said...

I would slobber on you in a public hallway, braces and all. ;-)
Solid gold muthafuckin' Jane.

danneromero said...

Ah, to be young. A time when things should be carefree and simply fun. But it's not. Those young years are trying times. Not always fun. Lessons learned you wish you could forget. Nice write, Jane.

Mojo Writin said...

A very honest piece, Jane. Sometimes difficult to read too, because it brings back memories I'd rather not remember... but hey, it's a part of who we are, like it or not, right :o)

Gaelyn said...

Jane that is a sad and probably way too often true story for a lot of young girls. We are taught to guard our hearts from these types of experiences and it takes maturity to slightly understand it all.

Similar story for me at 12, but I didn't know how to say no. Twenty years later I forgave myself, and him vicariously.

You obviously have many people in your life who accept you for who you are Now. I'm glad Noodle came into your life. And I think Spux is a keeper too.

Hope you are healing.

Unknown said...

I have always been told everything happens for a reason...good or bad. All things that come before bring you to where you are now. You had to go through it to learn something valuable about yourself even if the knowledge was years in the making. We all go through awkward stuff like this that we just wish we could erase or do over. They just make you human. Great post.


Anonymous said...

I read the comments above and agree with the sweet sentiments. I have one thing to add: teenage boys sure can be assholes.

You however, are anything but.

Masked Mom said...

Teenage boys can indeed be assholes. And letting go of our mistakes/regrets can be easier said than done. I think sharing this story with us is a good step in that direction.

Laine Griffin said...

Oh, to go back to being 14 knowing what I do now. That we do not need to be validated sexually by boys. I could go on, but I won't.
Thank you for sharing this story. I can really relate.

Lucy said...

Oh, if I could only have some 'Do Overs'!

Unknown said...

Wow-- what a strong post. We were just too young to know better, and self-esteem was years in the making. We know better now than to give anyone that kind of power over us.

Jenn and Casey said...

Oh man. This was such a well written and HONESTTOTHECORE post. Thanks for sharing. <3 to you and teenage you.

alienbody said...

I was painfully shy as a kid. HOrribly so. I would hide from people I was supposed to meet, I couldn't help it. It was awful. Boys (a few, not lots) were interested, but I was so shy and made talking to me so difficult, they just gave up. If only I could go back and change that, then MY 'older man' story (that lasted 5 years - him almost 11 years older than my teenage self) would never have happened. That's what I tell myself. We have much in common, it would seem!