Maybe I'm giving away my age here, but everything I learned about dating was through Sweet Valley High books and watching my peers make clumsy attempts at relationships. I'd had a few crushes here and there, but I had never been on an actual date before. Until I met him, Oblivious Otto.
I was 16 and he was 24. Yeah, that disparity is pretty creepy to me now. He was 6'4, had a crooked front tooth and straight blond hair. And he liked me. That's all I needed to know. The lead singer of a popular local punk band, he was loud, funny, and charismatic. I'd see him at shows and when our eyes would meet, he'd stop whatever he was doing, walk over to me, and wind his arm around my waist. My heart pounded so hard, my chest hurt. Then, he'd lean in and whisper in my ear, "You look beautiful tonight." This was the first time a guy had ever paid attention to me like this; it was intoxicating.
I'd listen to his 7-inch records on repeat, imagining that he was singing about me. He wore a leather jacket and Chuck Taylors; I picked out our babies' names. When he called to ask me out on a date one Saturday, I tried to harness my excitement while I said yes. After I hung up the receiver, I jumped up and down.
I was so nervous on the date that I could barely speak. We went record shopping and it was thrilling to flip past his band's record in the bin. "I'm on a date with this guy RIGHT NOW!" I exclaimed in my head. It felt like I was flying.
Then, he took me to where all punks like to go; the mall. We saw Billy Madison in the Cineplex. He tried to kiss me during the movie but I was too nervous to do it. What can I say? I was a squirrelly teen! I pushed away his advances and he pouted. Like, a lot. After the movie, he huffed off and didn't say one word to me on the drive home.
And--call the wambulance--he never asked me out again, all because I didn't smooch him in the movie theater. The phone not ringing was the worst sound I'd ever heard. I felt terrible. It felt even worse when he ignored me the next time I saw him at a show. My heart deflated. A few weeks later, I heard that he started dating some short girl and they hooked up outside of Denny's. Sigh. I took the news pretty hard. Let's just say that I went through both boxes of Kleenex and pints of Ben & Jerry's. It's like I was wearing a "What Would Cathy Do?" bracelet.
Oh, Otto, if you could see me now, you'd know that I totally make out on the first date! It was your loss and blah blah blah who cares. So, kids, that's the one and only time I ever tried to date a tall blond guy. Any questions?
I almost forgot the best part--the epilogue! I ran into Otto a few years ago. I was going through this Charlie's Angels phase where I was curling my hair, all bouncy and '70s-style (it looked good, trust me). I saw him at my favorite dive bar. As soon as he caught sight of me, he came over, slid his arm around my waist and whispered into my ear, "You look like a starlet." I blushed, thanked him for the compliment then walked away. 16 year old me would've been so proud!