Part 1: Elementary Lovers

Whatever you call them (men, boys, dudes…), guys are peculiar creatures. Just now I had to put my morning routine on pause so I could sit down and write: I was smelling my coffee brewing in the kitchen, brushing my hair, and thinking about how interesting it’s going to be to meet up with an old friend from my first high school in the near future, when I was struck with an idea for a new anecdote. This led into other things. Somewhere in between thinking of my first high school life and the confusion I currently feel over my crush, I started to think about the interactions of guys and girls as young people. Not high schoolers–that has been covered extensively–but younger.

Back in 1995, a boy named Matt came to my sixth grade class about half-way through the first semester. He was a sort of outsider; not a trouble-maker, but he definitely had an attitude. Matt came from a broken home. Matt, come to think of it, was a pretty standard guy –sassy, if you can call a boy that. Sarcastic. Insolent. Or he would have been standard if he was about eight years older. My best friend at the time (we’ll call her Mary) was instantly intrigued. She was always looking for people outside the cookie cutter–but not the poor, trashy, weird ones. Matt smoked pot, watched “The Simpsons,” and lived with his divorced mother; Mary wanted to be a rebel (you can’t blame her; she had a rough home life). Matt lived just down the street from Mary, and for months they’d hang out together after school in that time between getting off the bus and their parents coming home. I can’t remember if he was new to town or just new to our district, but he didn’t have many friends. Mary was it for a while.  She started to develop a serious crush on him, and, she said, he on her, but as far as any of us knew, nothing ever happened between them. In sixth grade speak, this meant hand-holding or lip-smooshing. One day, between the summer of sixth and seventh grades, Matt stopped talking to Mary completely. Matt didn’t acknowledge any of us if we passed on our bikes or in the aisles of Fred Meyer. He wound up going to a different middle school than us. Then, we heard, he got a girlfriend.

We were only eleven years old, but the Matt and Mary situation seemed to set me up for the peculiarity of boys at a very young age. Not only did I have plenty of ideas of what romance should be (thank you “Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”!), but according to the trashy books I read, those things should have been happening to me…now. At eleven years old, I had completely inaccurate ideas of what relationships actually looked like. I’m sure everyone did. But the difference is that I had a template of what almost every dating situation I or most of my closest friends would encounter up until our late-twenties (where I am today): Matt and Mary.

If only we had known…

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