you can find me in st louie...another teaser from the memoir that probably no one will read

6:17 PM

11.2.2017



I decided that in addition to my fresh start, I wanted to learn a new language and really pursue this new direction full time and with all my energy. Spanish would have been the most useful, and eventually lucrative choice, but I opted for French because I’m a hopeless romantic. French class led me to the first love of my life. He was athletic, wore puka shells and solidified (literally) his hair with Elmer’s glue. The cherry though? He drove a red, Pontiac Sunfire and he was considered hot and popular something I knew I’d never be, let alone thought I could get. One of the three friends I had in high school, Melissa, somehow convinced me to take him to Morp because she had already asked his best friend. Prom backward, and it was my choice to find a date. That also meant I had to pay and do all the leg-work, but why not, I’d never been on a real date before. The peer pressure got to me and I made one phone call to the boy in my French class and left a message on his family’s answering machine. Luckily, someone relayed that message and at 9:47 on a Thursday night, immediately after getting home from an aggressive ballet class, my phone rang with his number on my caller ID. I know this because I had written it on a post-it and placed it next to my phone so that if it displayed on the screen at any time, I knew it was him. I almost didn’t answer because I didn’t want to appear desperate, but obviously, I was. I waited, casually, until the third ring and then picked up, mostly so I caught it before my dad Rayce yelled at me for getting a call so late.

We talked, it was short, I'm sure his mom told him to be nice to me, and just like that...I had a fucking date.

The day of the dance had finally arrived and the entire morning I was taking shots of Pepto Bismol secretly in the bathroom to calm my nerves. It seemed a lot safer than vodka and no one would really question me by doing this so mentally it got me up the guts to actually follow through with the date and not pretend I’d fallen ill because I was too nervous to go. Social anxiety hadn’t completely paralyzed me yet but this may have been a precursor to all the future moments I’d have being nervous about things like this. I’d went shopping in the morning with my step-mom as a sort of distraction, and purchased a brown, semi-frilly peasant shirt at Wet Seal that I was confident fit the cowboy requirement (it didn’t). Not even five minutes after I’d gotten home from the mall, a Suburban showed up in my driveway with three girlfriends, all ready to pick up our dates.

***

We spent the remaining hour and a half dancing to a lot of Garth Brooks songs and with each reference to beer or heartbreak, I fell even more deeply in love. My date and I didn’t waste too much time talking, but we slow danced as if we were more than two strangers that met in French class.

Farmington was a relatively religious community, as was my high school. Dancing was allowed (this wasn’t Footloose), but there was a common idea that you didn’t get too close with your date. The rule of thumb is that enough distance should be kept so that a Book of Mormon could fit between the two people in question. I suppose it’s assumed that it should be able to fit lengthwise but we clearly tested the theory of even widthwise, so much that someone in our group mentioned that the Book of Mormon on a disc wouldn’t even fit between our two bodies. This was rather risque for our community, but neither one of us apparently cared.

The dance came to a close and the group said goodnight, but a few of us had that rebellious itch. We all wanted to go back to Melissa’s and watch a movie. Harmless enough, right, and also it’s on the approved “rebellion” list? Well sure, until her date remembered he had a pressing church engagement the following morning and had to go home immediately. I think Melissa knew how important it was for me to sit on a couch with my date and continue to not speak to him, so she still offered up her basement and opted to be the third wheel. The three of us returned to her house, crept downstairs (because of course, she didn’t ask her parents first which was completely against the rules) and continued with our country theme by selecting the ultimate hick-town chick flick of Hope Floats. We all gathered on her couch, my date and I sharing a blanket and attempted to hold all four of our hands together (I could never really explain to Melissa how this worked, but I assure you all, it did).

To me, this was magical and all I’d ever wanted. To him, this was third base. Halfway through the movie, Melissa had fallen asleep so he and I crept back upstairs and he drove me home. Then, like a gentleman, he walked me to the back door, we shared a three-minute hug and I watched his car pull out of my driveway, blasting Nelly, before going inside to elaborately replay every detail in my mind before falling asleep. I was so elated that I didn’t even freak out that he hadn’t kissed me, I had enough. We were now a couple, or so I thought.

But, I was the only one that had that thought. This is why you don’t assume because that’s what I did. I assumed that a magical dance, being held close and a few stolen hand touches under a blanket during Hope Floats meant you were a couple. Imagine my surprise when the following Monday all I got was a casual “hey” when I walked into French class. No phone calls, no more dates, and eventually he kind of disappeared despite my efforts to engage in conversation. I held out all of that undying affection for the rest of the year just hoping he’d come around and surprise me, listening to many Dixie Chicks and Garth Brooks songs on repeat, until the last day of school. I marched up to this boy confidently and asked him to sign my yearbook as if we were really good friends. He did because he was still polite, and I think his mom’s voice was in his ear reminding him to always be nice to the rambly girl who means well. Either way, we didn’t last, the yearbook signature was our last real encounter. I never got to go to prom with him or have spiky-haired, puka shell wearing children and truthfully I don’t think I expected to, but it was a lost dream nonetheless.

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