I’m repurposing this post from 2011. I was thinking about it recently and knew I’d written something about it before.
Picture it: winter, 1990. I am 17 and boyfriendless. To me, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I haven’t dated regularly (no specific dating age has been set by my parents, but I have gone to see a movie here or there with a boy) and the boys I do talk to only want to talk about sex. They want to know what’s gonna happen after the movie. In my mind, they all have VD so I am better off alone. Still a virgin, I am in no way interested in changing that. I pay attention in health class. Do you know there’s such a thing called pediculosis pubis? Now buy me some popcorn, get your hand out of my lap, and take me straight home when the credits start to roll.
A good friend suggests I meet a friend of her boyfriend’s. Um, no thanks. I’m not into the blind date stuff. Turns out she’s already talked to him about me, though, even showed him a picture. He is apparently “eager” to meet me. This makes me raise my eyebrows even more. The picture is at least two years old. Does he want to date a clearly 15-year-old? I decline again, but I am intrigued. He is a 22-year-old fireman. He has an apartment and a car. Ooooh. He is perfect in my never-ending yet unintentional quest to make my mother think I am humping every boy who breathes. My friend tells me I need to get out, have experiences, stop being so closed off to fun.
A few weeks later when she mentions the guy again, I agree to meet him. I am gonna get out, have an experience, and be open to the fun that until now has been so elusive. We speak on the phone a few times to firm up plans. The conversations are funny and easy and I am genuinely excited. He picks me up from home on Friday. We plan to spare no expense, dine extravagantly a la Pizza Hut. Since he has to be at work early Saturday morning, the plan is to take me home right after dinner.
Friday arrives and he pulls up in a beautifully shiny, clearly new, Toyota Camry. I am excited to finally see what he looks like. When I get in he smiles and says “You’re cute, but much skinnier than in the picture. I like thick girls.” Still, I am determined to make the most of the evening. Even though he looks like Mr. Magoo and I would not have been interested had we met under other circumstances. Getting out more – CHECK!
When he says we need to stop at his house to let his roommate in (the roommate apparently always forgets his keys inside the apartment), I say OK. A real life experience of being in a man’s apartment – CHECK! (Pausing here for the full level of my naiveté to seep into your brain)*.
When he says he wants to see what time the game comes on, then proceeds to go to his bedroom, turn on the TV, sit on his bed, then lie down and pat the spot next to him…I stand a little straighter, still in the living room. I wonder if this is the being open to fun part? Because I’m seeing a big red flag flash on and off over his head, not a check mark indicating fun.
I have been beguiled into being in this apartment. No, I am STUPID for being in this apartment. I ask him to take me home. He says he will — later. “Stop playing hard to get. I know what you need.” And he walks over to me and grabs me in an awkward I wanna kiss you rub you let me love you down embrace. I wriggle free and bump my shin against some stupidly shaped furniture monstrosity that I assume is supposed to be a coffee table. I wasn’t expecting it to be behind me, so I jumped, and then I fell over it, hitting my elbow against it.
He looks at me, jumping up from the floor, as though he is disgusted that I would 1) not want his advances, and 2) try to break his table with my body. He walks back to his room, lies down with his back toward me. I am still standing, dumbfounded. This fool begins to snore. How long am I supposed to stand here? The roommate sidles in, looks at his sleeping friend, shakes his head. “You might as well just sit down.” He goes into his room and closes the door. I don’t have enough cash for a cab. It is after 8:00 and dark, no subway within walking distance. I use the phone to call a friend for a ride but get no answer. I am certainly not going to “just sit down,” so I decide to ramp up the “real life experience” button a notch. The only way I am getting out of here is to drive myself home.
Um, I don’t know how to drive.
Yes, at 17; stop interrupting! I am sure I can teach myself to drive well enough to get home without injuring or killing myself or anyone else. How hard can it be? So I pick up his keys and walk out. The roommate sticks his head out of the door and asks if I drove there. “Nope, but I’m driving home.” Once outside, I put the car in reverse and do a pretty good job except — maybe a little too fast and oops! I lightly tap (read: bang hard enough to dent the bumper) the car behind me. As I put the car in drive I see him run out of the building. Well, I’m driving myself home now, stupid; I don’t need you.
He’s running alongside the car, barefoot, yelling for me to stop. OK it’s not really my car, I have no right to damage his car (further), so I stop and let him get in. Oh, wait, am I supposed to put the car in park? He’s standing outside of the car putting on his shoes and the car is moving. I’m in the passenger seat. He runs to jump in just as we reach a slight decline. He struggles to step on the brake. His open door hits the back of a parked car. It’s a bad crunch-like sound. He stares at me unbelieving. “What is your problem?” he screams. And very ladylike, I reply, “You.”
He drives me home in silence. When he turns on my street he says, “I really thought we were going to have a good time tonight.”
“Check a public bathroom stall for a person to call for a good time. My name’s not there.”
I’m halfway up the stairs to my house when he yells, “I will be calling you, though, about the cost of the damage to my car.” I wonder if he’s high. I tell him he should seek a woman equally as mentally incapacitated and socially challenged as he (Yes, this is really what I said). I never hear from him again. But he tells my friend that I am unattractively bony and stuck up.
Days later when she tries to set me up again, I show her the bruise on my shin.
*As I remember this story, I can only think of girls in similar situations but with horribly different outcomes. I think of my own girls and resolve to talk to them about how one bad choice can turn into a disaster. Communication is key. I should have known not to go into that apartment. My mother should have talked to me before I went out with him to realize I didn’t know him. Safety should be a necessity, not a choice.