FRIENDS AND FIRST LOVES part one
When it comes to friends I am sure that I have some of the best in the world. People who actually know what the meaning of friendship is.
Growing up I was not one of those “social butterfly’s” or what was considered “popular”. I was the geeky girl who was kind of shy, yet wanted desperately to belong. I think a big part of my not fitting in was that I had been raised around adults all my life. I had older parents and much older brothers and that meant that everyone that entered my life was much older than me as well. So I kind of learned early how to interact with adults more than kids my own age.
I don’t see this as a problem, but it did in hindsight limit my ability to relate to people my own age for most of my growing years. By the time I entered Middle School and popularity became an issue for most of my peers, I found myself seeking out kids who appeared to be less interested in dances, footballs games and the opposite sex and more interested in those who could hold a conversation on a bigger level. This greatly diminished the number of friends I would make so I ended up being that girl who sat alone most of the time in the lunch room.
I found it really hard to make friends with other girls as well. I didn’t know anything about make-up, fashion or boys, other than they were loud and rough and usually only were interested in girls as a means to get kissed. lol ok i see you rolling your eyes with that one thinking it was not just kissing they wanted, but really…be honest…this was the 70’s and while everyone was always talking about who they had slept with, most of the girls and boys alike were still virgins and would have wet their pants had the opportunity actually arose to do more than kissing and light petting. Girls were mean back then and that made it even harder to find friends if you were like me. I wasn’t the perfect 110 pounds of cheerleading, giggling, fluff. I was told almost daily I was “to fat” at 135 lbs to have a boyfriend, so the best I could hope for was “buddies” who wanted me to set them up with some I knew, and I settled for that. I did have a few girlfriends but they too were the ones that didn’t fit the standards. The quiet girl, the one who came from a poor family and wore the same jeans two or three days in a row, the other “fat girl”, and the weirdo who always seemed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. These were my friends and we defended each other with gusto.
In the 8th grade I discovered a boy. His name was Mark and he was about as cute as cute could be. He had moved from another state and was put back a grade so that meant he was older than most of us. At 16 he had long hair, a fast smile and seemed to find most of the other girls boring. The day he sat down at the “geek table” in the lunchroom I thought I would die. It was like a switch turned on somewhere in my head and I found myself for the first time wondering what it would be like to kiss a boy. Not that I thought that would ever happen mind you, let alone with this boy but lord….it was great to think about it.
I quickly discovered that Mark and I had a lot in common. We talked a lot about books and music and what teachers we hated. He was the first real male friend I had and that meant a lot to me. We spent hours on the phone after school and every day he waited for my bus so we could walk to class together. He always made me feel normal without saying a word and that was more than I could ever hope for.
The other girls that were my friends kept telling me that he “liked” me but I didn’t believe them and to be honest was a bit afraid to think that was even possible, but by the end of the year with the final Spring Dance approaching I found myself wanting him to ask me to go with him. Silly as that was since he had never approached me as anything more than just a “friend” I had hope.
Two weeks before the dance, most of my girlfriends had dates now even if they were the less than “hot” varieties, so as Mark and I were walking down the hallway from lunch, talking as we always did, Mark stopped in front of my locker instead of heading for his own. Out of the blue he grabbed my hand and with all the seriousness the moment required, looked me straight in the eye and said….”will you go to the dance with me'”? The clock stopped, my heart stopped and I stood there like an idiot wanting to say yes, but scared to death to do so, so I laughed and said…”funny Mark, you don’t dance you said so”. The look on his face was unlike anything I had ever seen. Now that I understand it, I can tell you it was one of fear, hurt and relief. But he didn’t give up, he asked again and waited. I am not sure how long it took me to understand he was serious but I finally managed a squeaky “yes” which brought that smile to his face, and then for the second time in a matter of minutes I got the shock of a life time when he leaned in and kissed me. Just a quick peck on the lips but enough to send us both reeling. Without another word he backed up and walked off. I floated through the rest of the day.
That evening I was burning up the phone lines with my girlfriends. Dresses, makeup and boys were the topics for the first time ever. We made plans to all meet at the dance so just in case any of us got stood up we wouldn’t look so much like “losers”.
That weekend my Mom took the group of us dress shopping. With none of us having any kind of fashion sense, not to mention having to wear the “bigger sizes” like a size 8, it was an exercise in disaster but we pulled it off. I had a pink gown with a burgundy jacket that my friends assured me looked great. It was a bit low-cut my mother said but she would fix that for me. Being already gifted in the boob department meant that if I tied the jacket shut I had cleavage that would attract attention.
The evening of the dance, dressed in my gown, my Dad told me I was beautiful and I felt that way. He drove me and my best friend to the school and there waiting outside was everyone except Mark. Ten minutes before the dance started he still was a no-show. All I wanted to do was call my Dad and tell him to come get me. I was crushed and didn’t want any of my friends to see me cry. My brain kept telling me that I “knew” this was going to happen but my heart didn’t want to believe it. When the door opened my friends drug me inside telling me that it didn’t matter that I had been stood up.
The “geek troop” made their entrance and the night went on. I didn’t dance but I did have fun much to my surprise thanks to my friends. They made me laugh and forget I was the “loser” of the night and that cemented our friendships for a life time. By the end of the night I was glad I had stayed and that I had these people as friends.
Oh and as for Mark…well he didn’t come back to school and it wasn’t until years later that I actually found out that his father had been arrested and him and his sister were taken to a foster family the week before the dance.
It really doesn’t matter because if it hadn’t been for that I don’t think I would have learned what “real friends” were, so in the end I look back on this with great memories because it was the moment in my life when I felt less like a “geek” and more like just a “normal” kid and to this day I still have those friends. We don’t talk often but the moment the phone rings the years disappear and in a matter of moments we are all caught up again.
LIFE LESSON: Real friends never disappear, they just move to new zip codes.
Copyright 2010 Theresa Allen