Don't Stand So Close To Me, (She said…)

And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware what they’re going through. – David Bowie.

Ah, the ongoing angst of adolescence. Many of us have inadvertently romanticized the memories in a contrived desire to relive our past. I don’t want to go all “John Hughes –y,” but, if you examine them closer, or at least try to corroborate the events with your friends, you may discover that you were actually a total loser. Things didn’t always occur exactly as you remember. Take dating, for instance. Coming of age when you live in a small town brings its own set of dynamics. Through various degrees of separation, you kinda know everyone. Therefore, the news that your failed experiment challenging the theory “beer to liquor – never sicker” that resulted in your passing out in your own vomit with your pants around your ankles at a house party travelled around town faster than Skeeba cycling to a track meet. Now adorned with the teenage equivalent of the scarlet letter on your Benetton rugger, you have instantly dropped in the social hierarchy. Your aspirations of prom royalty have now reduced you to prom committee. While all the cool kids are Time Warping in the dark, you are busy stamping hands and collecting mimeographed tickets, all the while providing a guesstimate head count of attendees to the faculty chaperones for fire safety compliance.
This is why I employed a battle-tested decree passed down from our founding fathers – Don’t shit where you eat. I never dated a girl that attended the same school as me. Dating outside my school offered a layer of protection against inevitable scorns, and girls refuting my clumsy advances. Learning the ropes and which base was what, didn’t immediately make the morning announcements over the school public address system. (Christ, he thought my bra was a Rubik’s Cube!) Now, my plan wasn’t without fault. Displaying a lack of interest in the locals reduced me to “the friend.” A bad label, indeed. I was non-threatening, therefore I could casually chat up the fairer sex and make them laugh and feel comfortable until they would one by one excuse themselves to cavort inappropriately with my friends. I was invariably anointed the” lookout,” whose task it was to keep an eye for parents who might aimlessly wander downstairs to switch the laundry and inadvertently spoil the make out party. I would then, of course, whistle a sea shanty to alert the others. Now maybe my bachelordom was a little of my own doing. Attempts to project indifference and playing coolly dismissive actually defended against those girls who occasionally did show interest. I also recall being doused in enough Drakkar and Final Net to pose the risk of spontaneous combustion. Intimacy proves difficult when she has to wear a Hazmat suit. Furthermore, my trademark Walkman (OK, it was a Sanyo) acted as the security blanket insulating me from the world in a failed attempt to exhibit confidence and intrigue. If they only knew I wasn’t listening to Thelonious Monk, it was actually a loop of Bananarama’s “Venus.” Maybe they would have fallen in love with my vulnerable feminine side? Naaah. Furthermore, proven Casanovas always had a solid opening line – I didn’t. (Pull my finger?)
So, in conclusion, my life lesson was to continue to date girls from other circles. First other schools, eventually other counties and so on until I met my wife. Pre-internet, this was the only way to edit yourself down to only what you wanted presented. No embarrassing back-story and maybe just a bit of creative license. I wasn’t merely on the football team, I was the captain. I didn’t just attend school, I was the valedictorian. What’s the difference, she’ll never find out the truth. It’s not as if any of my friends speak Russian…

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