The unpopular girl’s guide to dating
My first boyfriend was a pale, sickly looking kid, with white blond hair and milky blue eyes. He was almost a full head smaller than me, but I was grateful that there was no metal in his mouth and that someone would actually give me the time of day in the first place. Beggars can’t be choosers, I figured. He sent me a love letter via his best friend, painstakingly written in large biro font on green stationary with pictures of dinosaurs running along the margin. The magic words (Will you go out with me? Love, Mark) sent a rush of excited shivers down my spine. But I played it cool. I was no geek, but I wasn’t exactly popular either. Mark, on the other hand hung out with the «in crowd» occasionally and had recently gone out with a seriously popular chick (Dawn Jaya, a name forever etched into my memory). I reasoned that a) I would get a boyfriend, despite being a skinny, boobless 12-year old late bloomer and b) if I played my cards right, I would climb a rung or two on the popularity ladder — a major preoccupation of every kid at my international school.
We met by the water fountain at lunch, both of us accompanied by our best friends for moral support. I popped a huge pink bubble with my gum and haughtily let him know that I would think about going out with him. We talked about history class for a couple of minutes and just before making my way back to homeroom, I informed him that my mind was made up and the answer was yes. His tiny Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed in relief — the boy could not afford the humiliation of being turned down by someone with as little market value as myself either — and just like that, we were officially a couple.
During the initial phase of our romance (that would be day one) my jelous girlfriend convinced his friend to ask her out as well. He resisted, but she was a feisty German creature who wouldn’t take no for an answer. The poor kid finally conceded and we both squealed in delight knowing that the awkward obligation of «going out» would be made less so, as it appeared that double dates would abound. The romance lasted a week or two, during which we would meet after school and talk behind the gym. At one point the boys tried to teach us how to skateboard and Mark protectively took my hand to ensure I wouldn’t fall. The following day the whole school was abuzz: Poulette and Mark were holding hands! Poulette and Mark were holding hands! I shrugged the comments off disinterestedly (what’s a little hand holding for a girl as experienced in matters of love as myself?) and feigned boredom at the whole affair (really people, why all the hoopla?). In reality I was worried sick. Sure the hand holding was exciting, but suppose we would have to move on from there? Suppose he wants to stick his tongue in my mouth and discovers I haven’t a clue as to what to do with mine? Suppose he even wants to put his hand down my shirt (something I’d been warned about in my Judy Blume novels) and — horror of horrors — discovers that my chest is just about the same general shape and size as his own? There was but one answer to my dilemma: break up pronto. It would be a shame to loose a boyfriend, sure, but I was additionally egged on by my German friend, who felt that she was loosing her grasp on her own man and was craftily suggesting a double dumping. If you don’t dump him, she warned, he might dump you and think of the consequences on your popularity! I was convinced. The event took place just before the last period, history. I’m dumping you, I said. Fine by me, he retorted. But rumour later had it the bravado was just a front and that he’d cried over the end of our little affair after school. Not nearly as much as when Dawn Jaya dismissed him, though…
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