Milestones of Life
In every person’s life, there are milestones. My first milestone was the age of 13. This was when I could wear a little bit of makeup (think French whore) and I could get my ears pierced. The next milestone was the pinnacle for me. Sweet 16. This was the ideal age to be.
It was a magical age that was filled with promises of lollipops and rainbows. I could finally be a part of the conversation, instead of the person looking in through a window. I waited my *whole* life to get to this age. I waited 16 years! Why? Because this was the age at which my daddy said I could date!
Going Steady and Dating is Not the Same
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gone steady with a boy. I was going steady with a boy when the boy didn’t even know we were going steady. I have also been asked to be someone’s girlfriend by another friend who handed me a note, from the boy, which had “check yes or no if you want to be my girlfriend” written on it.
Before 16, the boyfriend scenario was limited to the halls of my school where I would *gasp* wear his necklace or his jacket. We would secretly hold hands underneath the lunchroom table or even better…the library. We would sit together in the lunchroom and eat off each other’s trays.
The Greatest Thing about Going Steady
The greatest thing was sharing his gum. That meant forever because our spit was forever intertwined. The first time I was REALLY kissed was at a middle school dance. Billy Rich. I wore a powder blue polyester dress. I was sporting matching eye shadow and as an added party favor…my mom put baby’s breath in my hair.
I didn’t kiss my “date”, I kissed my secret love. Well, he kissed me…I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror because I thought there was moss growing on my tongue. I couldn’t figure out, for the life of me, why someone would stick their tongue down another person’s throat.
Rules of Engagement
I lived at home until I was 20 years old. In that time, my limitations never varied. I was not allowed to call boys, there were never phone calls past 9:00 pm, and my curfew was 11:00 pm. I never went anywhere, so the curfew problem was never an issue. I had no friends, so the phone calls after 9:00 pm were not an issue. There was, however, an issue with the no-call boys rule.
How am I supposed to maintain my girlfriend status if I can’t talk on the phone with my boyfriend? So, phone calls were done in secret. I would grab the ginormous black receiver (still attached to the kitchen wall), dial the number of my boyfriend, run to my room, hide in the closet, and whisper “hey, call me back so we can talk.”
I would run back to the kitchen, hang up the phone and then run to my room and pretend to be reading or cleaning. When the phone rang, I let my mother answer. This was to protect my covert operation. I was so stealthy and an expert dialer. I did all of this while my dad was sleeping and my mom was taking her one bathroom break for the day. I, simply, was a rockstar in the secret boy calling the department.
The Pinnacle of All Things
Now that I have turned 16, I still couldn’t call boys because that was inappropriate but the world became my oyster. That oyster had a name…its name was “The Mall.” Oh. My. Goodness. We could go to the mall and hold hands and kiss while standing in the appliance aisle of Sears.
There was another oyster…its name was “The Park.” Only the coolest kids cruised the park and that is where you went to be noticed and for people to revel in your newest relationship status. We could go to the movies and sit close to each other. It was the greatest age in the entire world. I was so excited. I finally had a purpose. I had status. I was going to catch a guy and I was going to go to the mall with him. You cannot get much great than that!
Rules of Dating
I remember, distinctly, knowing the rules of dating. You have to be 16 and when that special someone comes to pick you up, that person has to come to the door and meet my parents.
Meeting the parents for some kids was no big deal. In my house, however, that meant someone meeting my dad. My dad was a police officer and he was extremely protective of his children. He also had a gun on him or near him and he was never famous for using his words. The thought of a boy meeting him sent a shiver down my spine.
I had it played out in my mind. I would somehow arrange for the “meet and greet” portion of my date to happen when I knew my dad was sleeping or when he left for work (he worked midnights). I could totally avoid him altogether and as long as my mom met this person, I was off the hook. My mom was a piece of cake. She loved everybody. Her goal in life was to hug and feed people. She has always been a person who never meets a stranger.
I do not remember my brother dating. He married young and was out of the house by the time I was 10 years old. I do not know if the standards were different because he was a guy. The only real memory I have, of my oldest sister dating, was a prom where she looked like a Farrah Fawcett rainbow child. Her dress was made of tulle and the colors were powder blue with rainbow stripes. It was very risqué because it was off the shoulders. The dude had some kind of 1980s bouffant hairdo that looked a bit like a bird’s nest. This was the beginning of the mullet hair….business in the front and party in the back. The business part was also a feathered Farrah Fawcett hairdo. She was extremely popular and her hair was the bomb!
I have memories of my other sister when she started dating. She had “boyfriends” and then there was “the” boyfriend….the one that would last. She was giddy and annoying. He was preppy and fun to be around. We would sit around the table and play Rook and lick the cheese off of Doritos. They held hands, she would sit on the floor and put her chin on his knee. The looks of love would flit in between them. I remember thinking “when I get my boyfriend, and he comes over to visit, I’m going to offer him the chair and I’m going to sit on the floor next to him because that is what girlfriends and boyfriends do.”
My Big Day
When my big day arrived and the thrill of the knowledge that it was “my time” to date was almost unbearable. I felt a bit like the chick in “The Scarlet Letter.” I felt like when I walked into that school, that there was a giant red “D” on my chest and that, of course, stood for DATEABLE. My vision was that I would enter through the giant double doors and there would be a wind machine in the common area.
That wind machine would be blowing my massively large permed hair. The giant red bow, holding back my locks, would flap in the wind. My baby blue eye shadow, which was applied with a spackle knife, would radiate my big, brilliant, brown eyes. My mustard yellow pants, perfectly pegged at my ankles would highlight my brown Robin Hood shoes which perfectly matched my deep, purple shirt. I was hot AND I was 16 AND I was officially dateable. Who would not want all of that?
What I Envisioned
I envisioned the boys standing in line…waiting to get the first shot at me as I walked through the doors….were not so much standing around. They were flitting back and forth between classes, lockers, and the bathroom. There was not one, single, solitary person who knew it was my BIG birthday. What. A. Letdown. My scarlet letter “D” had fallen off my shirt and I stood there thinking “Seriously, people, I am 16. Ask. Me. Out!”
I was devastated. To offset my devastating, I went to the bathroom, fixed my hair, reapplied more baby blue eye shadow, reapplied my “D” and headed out to the halls to casually announce that I was 16 and I was on the market. Fresh meat. Excited to be alive and ready to say YES!
Doodling for Attention
As I sat in class, I would doodle “today is my birthday and 16” all over my paper. I doodled and doodled and doodled. There was not one person, male or female, that noticed what I was doodling. Dangit. The next step…tell people. I would get a half-smile or some people would actually say the words “happy birthday” but other than that, no one was excited.
I went home, full of sadness. I looked in the mirror and thought “you look hot, you look 16, you look like you are ‘of age’ to date, the outfit is rockin’…what the heck is the problem?” I vowed to try again tomorrow. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted that boyfriend. I wanted the title of girlfriend. I had no idea what it meant other than kissing freely, holding hands, and being able to ride in the car with them.
What to Expect When You are Dating
I talked to daddy about what to expect in the dating world. I needed to be prepared. Daddy just looked at me and gruffly said “go out with boys for free food and movies.” Alrighty, then. That is your great sage advice. He also would tell me “when all other boys go to the barn, I will still be there for you.” Now, that piece of advice was sweet. The other…not so much.
My mom, I never talked much to her about dating. I never talked to anyone about dating. I was one of those kids that didn’t have a lot of friends because I didn’t fit in with any crowd. There was not one person, at my school, that did not know who my daddy was and what he did for a living. I was never told where any parties were because my dad was the one to bust the parties. When your daddy is a cop….it limits who you hang out with to nobody.
In the end, I never dated one single person at my school but I did marry a hottie from college 🙂