Monday, February 14, 2011
My first sort of real boyfriend asked me to "go with" him at Sunday School. In an epic move that would foretell of my forever deficit in mack'n skills, I replied, "Go where?" I mean, really?! Aside from being oblivious to preschool dating terminology, I had a crush on him, and we were at church, so why didn't I just say yes, no matter where he wanted to go? Typical Mandy; neurotic control freak from day one.
In kindergarten, I was involved in my first love triangle when two cousins scuffled on the playground for my affection. Keep in mind that I was raised on soap operas. After eating my alphabet soup with one ice cube in it, my Mommy and I snuggled and watched Sesame Street followed by the last half hour of "The Young and the Restless" and "Days of Our Lives". And she wonders why I'm so theatrical and "feelings" oriented. Please, woman!
Preceding the big playground fight, those cousins found a plastic heart shaped ring on the playground and gave it to me. See, even in the days before Beyonce, they liked it so they put a ring on it; a cheap ass ring they found in the gravel at recess, and I was over the moon.
In addition to D.O.O.L., I blame both Disney and John Hughes for any poorly executed love overtures and the disenchantment that followed. After weeks of pining over a boy in my art class who looked like Alladin, my girlfriends and I carefully scripted and rehearsed an ice breaker. For the first time ever, I was going to make the first move. We were using watercolors that day, and the plan was to fill my water cup at the sink in the front of the classroom when he did. I was so nervous, I almost bailed, but as Alladin's doppleganger went to get more water, my friends stuffed the paper cup in my hand and pushed me forward. "Uhm..h-h-hey...uhm..h-h-e-y, did you know that our brothers played in a band together once?" He smiled and replied just as I'd hoped, beginning an all too brief conversation about rock music, our common denominator. I'm not sure how long the conversation carried on, or how long it took me to discover that as I was talking, I was slowing pouring water out of my cup and onto to my favorite navy flats in a steady trickling stream. I'd actually worn my favorite flower print dress that day, for no apparent reason, except that my waist looked so tiny in it, and my sleeves were extra poofy. Thankfully, my B.F.F. in the back of the room called the folly to my attention as well as the rest of the class' as she yelled, "Oh my God, Mandy! You're spilling water all over yourself!" And so the ice was broken... and melted, and when he asked me to "go with" him, this time I knew what it meant. I don't suppose he thought I was peeing myself, although that's certainly what it sounded like and looked like from the knees down. It was a brief romance consisting solely of phone calls, but we reunited, "for realsies" in the ninth grade UNTIL I discovered that the necklace he gave me for my 14th birthday was actually one he had given to (and retrieved from) his ex-girlfriend! What's worse, it was made up of my two least favorite qualities in jewelry: yellow gold and hearts. Gag. I took him back a few months later, only to be dumped for a girl who, well, you know.
My junior year, a very sweet boy and I met while taking a nature walk for an extra curricular biology project. We talked a little on the walk, and by the time I got home that day, he had left two messages on the answering machine to call him! Unfortunately, this was B.C.I.D.; before caller ID, and he had failed to leave his phone number. He was a cutie, so I was super bummed that I couldn't find his number in the phone book. That's when my mother, the one who was all the while watching those soap operas alongside me, concocted a highly romantic notion to place a note on his car at the fast food joint where he worked. I could hear Peter Gabriel singing as I wrote my note. Then I raced to the restaurant and placed it swiftly and securely behind the car's windshield wipers so as not to be seen. Wow! That was exhilarating, and it worked! He called me the next day, and he didn't seem to mind that I had accidentally put the note on his manager's car instead of his. Look people, I don't know cars beyond size and color. Her car was white and long. His car was white and long. Cut me some slack.
Oh, there are plenty of follies and heartbreaks in between, but I'll save that for the book and leave you with my most recent incident in closing. We were probably on our forth or fifth date, and this guy was moving slooooooooow. I was 29, divorced, and had gone through quite a selection of duds with no manners, so this sweet "country" guy really had me puzzled. Why hadn't he made a move? We'd gone out to dinner several times, and even a movie, but only a few goodnight pecks here and there. Well, something had to give because we were about to drift into the friend zone of no return. And so, I poured the wine. We were sitting on the back porch late one night. On glass three, with candles lit, after several rounds of Gin Rummy, I put on my best Kathleen Turner voice. Now, here's a word of advice: Like hair color, your sexy girl voice should never go beyond two levels of what is natural to you. If, for example, you were born with a Minnie Mouse- first grade teacher- voice like me, you should go for, say, a Marilyn Monroe voice instead of a Kat Turner, so as not to frighten your date, or inspire him to go fetch antibiotics out of his medicine cabinet for the bronchitis that you most obviously have contracted. So I said to him, in my bronchitis voice, "I have an idea. Let's play a game. You can ask me five questions- ANY five questions, and I HAVE to answer them. Go ahead." I was expecting something at least a little randy when he hits me instead with a job interview question: "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" Can't you hear the record screeching? WHAT?! Well, that shocked the saucy voice right out of me, and I answered truthfully, for reasons still unknown to me. I guess I figured it was time to know or go, so I told him I hoped I was married with children in ten years. I figured it would scare him off, so I specified that since I was in grad school and working, it certainly wasn't anything I wanted right now, but to be honest, that's where I saw myself in ten years. Here's the worst, most uncomfortable part. He replied with, "I know. You'll find someone." So, for me, that was the end of that brief affair as I explained to my friend Heather the next day. Heather wasn't so sure, though, and encouraged me to go out with him again. "Maybe he just didn't want to sound presumptuous, Mandy!" she said, always a cockeyed optimist in love. I took her advice, and now, when I remind him; Dan, that it is, my husband of almost three years, of this disastrous love folly on both our parts, he proves that Heather was right saying, "Well, I didn't think you wanted that with ME, but I was hoping!" So even true love can evolve beautifully, follies and all, if you keep an open mind and an open heart. Here's to you, Dan. Happy Valentine's Day! Thank you for everything that you are, and especially for allowing me to air our 'funny' laundry so that friends who need it can have a good laugh. And here's to you, my friends, on Valentine's Day. May your follies be fruitful!