Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cupid vs. Wile E. Coyote

Fourteen year old boys are the most confused human beings on the planet, and my friend Paul and I were no exception. Back in 1979, we were trapped in hormonal purgatory. That is, we wanted to get involved with girls, but had absolutely no idea as to how we could make that happen.

It certainly didn't help that we were complete dorks.  How dorky, you ask? Let me put it this way. Paul and I were the sixth and seventh coolest guys in our Saturday morning bowling league. In high school, we were about mid-pack on the social food chain in the marching band. While we took shit from the tuba player, we did have enough status to pick on the guy that played clarinet.

But none of that stopped us from pursuing our goal of "making it" with the babe of our choice. At fourteen, I wasn't particularly picky. I'd have been happy with any girl who was interested and didn't have a major deformity. Paul, on the other hand, had delusions of sexual grandeur. His first target was a girl in our class named Julie Kroeger. Never mind that, although Julie was a freshman like us, she was dating Rick Mulgreavy - senior, star quarterback, guy with a mustache and a car. I'm not sure if Paul ever talked to Julie, let alone piqued her interest, but that didn't stop him from plotting his romantic strategy.

He struck out without taking the bat off his shoulder.

The closest we ever came to reaching the pubescent promised land was at the local roller skating rink. We'd hang out on Saturday nights, scouting out the local talent like starving lions patrolling the savanna. Every so often we'd spot a weakened gazelle and pounce, successfully pairing up for the traditional couples skate.

One evening, I had hooked up with an especially cute girl named Maria. We were holding hands, skating in circles, making small talk. The smell of "Babe" perfume mesmerized my senses. Mid-fantasy, Maria made what I'm sure she thought was a reasonable suggestion.

"How about if we skate backwards?"

Which would've been fine, if my skating skills were anywhere above "novice". Oh sure, I could go straight, and maybe pull off the occasional crossover turn, but that was about it. And I could only go to my left. During the "reverse direction" skate, that is, going clockwise, I had trouble making right turns without stumbling. So the idea of skating backwards left me with two options: I could beg off, miss out on the hand-holding, and look like a dork; or I could try to skate backwards, fall on my ass, and look like a dork. While I was stalling, hoping like hell that John Lennon's "Woman" would end so I could avoid public humiliation, Maria suddenly grabbed my other hand and spun me around. Without even thinking about it, we were skating backwards!

For about ten feet.

It was like that moment when Wile E. Coyote hangs in midair, defying the laws of nature. As long as he's not thinking about it, he's fine, but the second he realizes that he's not on solid ground . . . BOOM.

Maria was sweet about it. She helped me up, we took another quick lap, and the song ended. But hey, I'd held her hand for about three and a half minutes. In the traditional "first base, second base" measurement of boy-girl contact, I'd grounded out hard to short. A respectable at bat.

Of the two of us, Paul was the first to have an actual girlfriend, but there's a Barry Bondsian asterisk attached. We were fifteen or sixteen at the time, and there was a girl in our bowling league, Lorraine, who Paul had the hots for. Lorraine was cute and had a decent pair on her, by that I mean "noticeable". Paul spent a few Saturdays chatting her up, and when he finally asked her "out", she accepted. They were an actual couple, hanging out at the bowling alley, sharing soft drinks, a match made in Greenbrook Lanes, if not heaven.

Until we learned that Lorraine was twelve.

In fairness to Paul, she didn't LOOK twelve, but that didn't stop the rest of us from harassing the hell out of him. The relationship was doomed to failure. She ended up dumping him for a guy in her sixth grade math class, I believe.

About a year later, when I was sixteen, I got my first girlfriend. That relationship actually "took". I'll spare you the details, but it was pure, queasy stomach, sweaty palms romantic bliss. I was sure this was the girl I would someday marry.

And then my family moved to California.

Cupid is a bastard, ain't he?


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Anonymous said...

love your stories..
I think I may have been on that bowling league too LOL
and the Marching Band...
wonder where on the social food chain the Pom Poms were :~/

Eva Gallant said...

That was an adorable story! I love the dorkiness of it...most pre teens are dorky, so you certainly weren't alone! lol

ReformingGeek said...

How sweet! I remember roller skating. As a sophomore, I had a crush on a senior who liked this OTHER girl, also a sophomore. I thought I was cuter and smarter and could not understand why he liked her.

Isn't youth grand?

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

I never fail to be amazed by the power girls have over boys during their teens. It's so universal, that I could tell almost this exact story myself with very few variations, including not being able to eat around my first girlfriend because I felt so sick to my stomach. That problem, I got over, fortunately. Some of the others still linger to this day.

screwdestiny said...

I loved this post. You know, I didn't have any power when I was in school, up until senior year. It seems I was an ugly duckling from the age of four to seventeen, and then I suddenly became attractive? All I know is I didn't have a boyfriend until I was 17. Didn't really have any guys show interest in me until that age. I remember being nervous around my crushes, too. Luckily, that's a thing of the past. :)

Linnnn said...

Funny how we 13 -14 year old chickies had no notion that we are being lusted after by the band dorks or the math club dweebs. I'd have dated any one of them had they asked! I am finding out now, having been "found" by some of them on FB after all these many years, that many of them experienced a "swing and a miss" with me at that age. I think they thought being cool was being subtle. Maybe too subtle...

corticoWhat said...

Nice Wile E. Coyote reference.

Heff said...

That was even painfully awkward to READ !

Cheeseboy said...

Wile E. on roller skates was the perfect imagery. Nicely done.

Funny how we dorks grow up to be writers and rule the world, isn't it?

Suldog said...

"In the traditional "first base, second base" measurement of boy-girl contact, I'd grounded out hard to short."

Many of us put up 0-fers for a while before getting our first hit. Personally, I've always been the patient sort, and my first time reaching was via a base on balls. I got cocky, though, and was thrown out stealing.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

Aah, sad ending, but didn't you learn to wish they all could be California girls?
I'm here because of Nicole and Aion's blog, and this California girl is glad to follow you. Please just don't skate backwards. I could never do that either without looking like a dork.

Jeane said...

Oh...the first boy I kissed in 8th grade was while skating backwards! I am so cool! Until I admit that he was my best friend and we only did because we were feeling left out. But your backwards just made me a rockstar!

Jenn of Many Cabbages said...

A little Wile E Coyote... A little Pepe Le Pew... Your tale has it all, my friend! :)

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