At some point during sixth grade my dad came around with some news.
“Family meeting, family meeting …”
No, I actually have no idea how he announced this. It’s funny, I don’t remember one single time when my dad or mom announced to the family that we’d be moving. It seems like there should be some sort of psychological conclusion there, maybe that I blocked them out because the announcements always impacted me more than I realized but … nope! Pure coincidence!
Anyhow. We were going to be moving. Kansas to New York.
The interesting thing about Kansas was that we lived off post.
This had its ups and downs. I was exposed to new things (really, there is a difference between living on post and living off post).
One of my closest friends, when I told him I would be moving, said, “so you come and you suck the friendship right out of us! And then you leave?!” This was in sixth grade. Talk about your funny. This guy always killed me (if you’re reading this Jimmy – hello!).
When I moved I would usually tell my close friends because, after all, they were the people who would need to know this. Living on post, you kind of expect that at the start of the next school year you won’t see a few faces, but you’ll see a few new faces. It was a nice rotating yearbook.
Before moving from Kansas, my ‘cool’ friend got me invited to an end of the year party.
We made it through sixth grade! Life is good! Let’s go hang out in someone’s basement and listen to the Spice Girls! YEAH!
When I got to this party I knew most of the people … I just generally never spoke to them. As a rule, I try very hard to clam up and become nervous and … if possible … look even more gangly than usual.
I stood around nervously and chatted a bit.
After a little bit we played … You’ve gotta be kidding me … What am I on a bad teenage TV show? Am I Doug Funny? Am I Cory Matthews? Are we seriously about to play this!?
Spin the bottle.
I had not kissed a girl yet. This was panic inducing. Luckily I still did not have acne (though for all I know my face instantly became riddled with zits as soon as I heard the phrase, ‘spin the bottle!!’).
When it was my turn I spun the bottle. Round and round and … Hey … It pointed toward a girl I actually really liked! She was … smarts-wise … not my style. But looks-wise, yes please!
Based on her reaction, she did not feel the same way.
How do you say … ouch.
I did a terrible Italian accent and pretended to kiss her on both cheeks.
I included this side story because it’s somewhat funny and a milestone moment (my first and only game of spin the bottle!) and because DANG! Cool thinking under pressure, huh? I mean really! I was in sixth grade, I just found out this girl I liked did not like me one bit, and I came up with that joke. Not too shabby, 6th grade self.
The highlight of the night for me came later.
A slow dance song came on and a girl I’d known since third grade (when I moved there) said let’s dance. I painfully (I was so embarrassed!) admitted that I had never slow-danced and did not know how.
She said I’ll teach you. She said it like it was no big deal.
Sincerely, this blew my mind. I fully expected to be laughed at and made fun of. Isn’t this where the lights dim and random attractive figures appear and point at me while they laugh?
She and I danced. Her hands on my shoulders. My hands around her waist. The standard foot to three feet distance between us.
It was magical.
We slowly pivoted, turning in very slow circles. We chatted a bit.
At some point I realized –
“I feel like a penguin.”
Of course! All I have to do is be funny! This joke totally worked! And the way we were dancing, we probably looked like penguins too!
I danced with a few other girls and I made the same joke to each one of them (I am so cool, huh?).
One girl said I was funny and that she wished we had hung out more at school this past year. That was an awesome compliment for me. I was invited to hang out over the course of the summer and to of course hang out next year at school! We’ll all be best friends!
“Oh actually … I’m moving.”
NEW YORK! WHEN!?!!??
“Umm … like a few days.”
I had told my good friends about my move. And that was it. Apparently this was a mistake – was I supposed to have taken out a school flier?
Really, it was a good night for me.
I pretended to kiss a girl.
I danced with a girl.
To this day I can clam up about dancing. Luckily, I enjoy alcohol and alcohol enjoys making me do the robot.