Breaking Up With Me is Not Hard to Do: Part Two- Junior Low School

In this column, names have been changed to the names of one of my heroes and the chimpanzee she studied in the wild.

As with just about every other facet of existence, once I moved from elementary school to junior high, my love life became even more tragic. Throughout seventh and eighth grade, I spent most of my time trying to cower from bullies and shield my horrific acne from the public view to devote any time to wooing the ladies. My friend, the one whose upcoming bachelor party got me thinking about all of this 12 years later, joined me for lunch in our usual spot, right next to the fly-infested dumpster, and we discussed our insatiable, hormone-driven need for female companionship.

As we entered the now legen-wait for it-dary ninth grade, my friend and I found more time to flirt with the girls, having perfected our escape routes from the Polynesian crowd that, for whatever reason sought to destroy us. We sat in my bedroom and plotted out the future of our respective love lives. We committed to each other that we would both have a girlfriend within seven days of our pow-wow. After the paperwork was signed in blood, we sat back trying to determine which girls we could trick into going out with us.

For my part, I flipped through the previous yearbook for potential candidates. The idea was to find someone who wasn’t amongst the legions of women out of my league, the Pee Wee league if you will, and who also wasn’t a complete uggo. Unfortunately this left my options quite limited. So, I began to think who amongst the girls that I shied away from every day would have a shred of interest in me. I then thought back to a few days earlier when a girl, Jane, commented that she liked the shirt I was wearing that day. To a hormonal 14-year old like myself, she might as well have sent an invitation to attend the area between her lips and her braces.

I called Jane’s home and she answered the phone. With a voice that cracked like a floorboard in the House of Puberty, I slowly and deliberately asked to speak with her twin brother. I asked him for permission, which he first denied, but later conceded after being promised the compensation of donuts for a week at lunch. He handed the phone back to his sister and I clumsily delivered my proposal. She was hesitant, but said that if I wanted to come along with her and some friends to the Nicklecade later that night, she would let me know then. We got there and shortly after I plugged in a bucket of nickels into Rampage, she said yes, right in front of Lucky & Wild. We stood there, one blushing uncontrollably with joy that his plot actually worked and one gazing downward in a hopeless show of resignation to a pitiful suitor.We spent the greater part of our relationship in a constant struggle; me trying to prove my mettle as a boyfriend by kissing her hand and buying the most expensive jewelry that the Silver Loft and a $2.50/week allowance could buy, and her desperately trying to conceal her utter embarrassment at being seen with me. Eventually, she won. She sent her girl posse over to the dumpster and informed me that our relationship was officially dissolved. I was then handed the promise ring that I gave her; what it promised no one can be sure. I flicked it into the dumpster and once again, cracked open the yearbook to search for my next conquest.

Ninth grade was my White Album to my previous years of Meet the Beatles. I experimented with several things of which I am not very proud. I bloomed out of my shell like a creature with the head of a slug and the body of a petunia. It began with a simple game of Spin the Bottle where I was brave enough to change the rule so that the contestants would have to kiss each other on the lips as opposed to the hands or the five feet of air in front of their person. This radical institution brought about a whole variety of party games that included various degrees of spinning, kissing, sucking, and blowing. In retrospect, many of these games made no sense, unless you consider adding gasoline-soaked fuel to the fires of puberty pent up inside innocent Mormon youth sensible.

In the following year, I became better friends (in the sense that I kissed her repeatedly while blindfolded on a trampoline) with a girl named Flo. She was the first girl to ever reciprocate the constant flirting that I was dishing out on a daily basis. She lived not too far from me, and so, while walking home one day, she and her friend parted ways with my friends and I. As we walked, we discussed the merits of having a girlfriend, something all of us were at that point painfully lacking. It was there that I stopped in my tracks, turned about-face, and ran back towards the departing love of my life. In my mind, there was a yet unreleased Billy Idol love ballad playing somewhere as I ran the three-quarter mile only to meet up with Flo, covered in sweat, panting the words, while crouching over and gasping for breath, “Will…you…go…out…with…me?”

She didn’t answer, but we walked to her home together and she kissed me on the cheek before going inside. I walked to my house in a state of utter confusion that would come to feel as familiar as an old blanket over the coming years of dating. I wondered if she agreed to be my girlfriend or not. I assumed that she did, because I could not imagine any girl turning down a request as elaborate as the one that I just completed. We spent a few days in this limbo state. She ate lunch with me, but we could only hold hands under the table of the lunchroom. About three days after the non-relationship began, it non-ended.

We were at a football game at the top of the bleachers, when she informed me how she came to her decision. She reminded me that she had just gotten out of a very long-term relationship with some kid that didn’t even go to our school. Well, she and her friends sat together in her basement. One friend opened up the sacred shoebox which housed all of the artifacts collected of the activities the broken-up couple participated in. These were then passed amongst the sitters. The test was to see if Flo would cry at any of these conjured up relics. Apparently, the ticket stub to That Thing You Do was enough to open up the floodgates.

Flo explained this to me while caressing my hand on the bench, continuing on with the flirtatiousness that got us into this fine mess. In a singular moment of pride, I removed myself from her clutches and started to leave the game, convinced that if I could be dumped as a result of a teenage love séance, then there was truly no hope for me. These thoughts continued on until they eventually dissipated, along with any shred of dignity I still had, as I tripped on the last aluminum stair of the bleachers, sending me sprawling into the concrete wall that separated the now hysterically laughing crowd from the field. My head swam with the images of all of the meaningless affection that I had so wistfully strewn about and how desperately I needed any measure of real affection sent my way. Life was so much easier when the crush of a tetherball or a concrete wall was the only type of pain I could feel.


Eric said...

Nice it reminds me of all the wonderful times I had back then. It's funny how there are just a few differences in the experiences.

Kara Thacker said...

wow...literary licenses are pretty free theses days! lol...

Cameron said...

Kara, I can only assume by your comment that you feel that there are some things here that aren't true. Though you could call me out on plenty of other things I have said in previous columns, I can assure you that everything, especially in this last entry, is entirely true. Let me know what you think I am taking a particular "literary license" with and I would love to discuss, and by discussing I mean totally discrediting you and everything you say!