The end of sixth grade was coming fast, and with it, a move. This time I’d be going from Leavenworth, Kansas to West Point, New York.
School would finish, I’d go to Arizona to see family on summer break, and then on to NY. Life was going to roll on by pretty quick for a while – but not before an important life event.
My first girlfriend.
At school with about a week of school left I was stopped by a girl.
Would I want to go out with her best friend?!
I did some quick thinking. The obvious answer was: no.
I didn’t want to go out with anybody.
I’d found girls pretty, or at least appealing since I was young. I’d just never wanted to date a girl. Really, I didn’t mind not talking to them. I liked it a lot if they found me funny, and I liked to imagine dating girls – but reality is much harder to control than my imagination, so I stuck with that.
I had no confidence. I was a romantic conspiracy theorist. Why did that girl just smile at me? Oh, it’s a joke! That’s so mean! Any thing that should’ve been perceived as a girl having a crush on me I saw as some attempt for me to lower my guard, only to then be made fun of.
But if this girl wanted to date me until I moved, whatever floats her boat.
Thus began my romantic life!
You’d think – with me ‘going steady’ (that’s just funny to me), that my life would change a lot.
I’d have to sit with the girl at lunch, or nearby her at class, or walk with her in the hallways – but no, none of this happened. Looking back, I probably was supposed to do these things.
I assumed our relationship was just in title, not in deed. So she could say, “yeah, that’s my boyfriend over there … He’s so … Oh … Don’t look at him, he’s trying to figure out how much of his peanut butter sandwich he can fit in his mouth at once. Gross.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t know until then that middle school girls love the telephone.
“Hello … may I ask who’s calling? … Oh! … One second! … BRAD!”
Who would call me? I thought, Why is my mom grinning?
What? First, who calls me? Second, a girl?!
I came to realize it was the “girlfriend.” And her friend who had asked me out.
I got the cordless and headed to my room. Once I was in my room I was sure a family member (possibly several, led by my mother) would creep up and eavesdrop. Fuel for making fun of me.
I didn’t want to be talking on the phone – it cut into my video game time. Or TV time. Or playing with my dog. Or anything-but-talking-on-the-phone time.
One day the two called and they sang me a song. Yes, they sang to me. At the conclusion of the phone call I applied my best charm to say, “Yeah … well … it stinks about my going to New York, huh?”
“Ya know, New York …”
“You’re going on a trip to New York!!”
“Ha, no! I’m moving … there …”
Uh oh. Had I forgotten …
I had forgotten to tell everyone but my closest friends that I was moving. And my closest friends didn’t include a single female. I hadn’t thought much of it but this was especially bad because we lived off-Post in Kansas so my friends didn’t up and move like clockwork. What a weird concept!
My budding love came to a screeching halt. All blame, of course, goes to the U.S. Army.
How dare you, wrecker of love!