Yesterday I registered my son for High School. Aside from a persistent voice in my head that kept repeating "holy crap...I almost have a kid in High School," it also brought back my own memories of starting High School, which seems like yesterday.
I entered High School at the ripe old age of 13. To make matters worse, my parents had the notion that instead of attending the public High School with all my Jr. High buddies, I should get a "good education" and go to Catholic School - where I knew absolutely no one. The good news was that my 8th grade Olivia Newton-John "Let's Get Physical" haircut had grown out over the summer, so I no longer looked like a pre-pubescent Kirk Cameron. I was also allowed to dye my hair platinum blonde and had a part time job cashiering at my dad's Nursery. My over-the-top salary of $2.37 per hour was sure to keep me decked out in a Contempo Casual wardrobe for eternity. So, decked out in my acid washed purple jeans and over-processed, newly-blonde hair, I ventured out of my suburban shell and started private school in the big city.
Despite my shyness, I eventually made friends with a few girls, including "Erika" who lived mid-town with her lawyer/stoner dad. I was in awe of Erika because she had a long braided tail (a'la Adam Ant) and a magenta-colored stripe in her hair. She slept on a futon mattress on her bedroom floor, had MTV on her color tv 24/7 and actually knew how to use a tampon. Even more fascinating: she used Public Transportation (i.e. the Sun Tran bus) on a regular basis. Up until that point, as a sheltered upper-middle class suburban girl, I'm pretty sure I thought it was illegal to raise children in the mean streets of midtown Tucson, let alone allow them to ride on a bus with drunk old men who, at best, had 4 teeth in their mouth. She was so worldly, she might as well have been Brooke Shields. And while I eventually made a lot of girl friends, I was definitely not what you'd call "popular" - and had never had a boyfriend. So I was shocked when one day I heard through the grapevine that a guy by the name of Matt Benson liked me.
Matt Benson was a popular Senior who played football and wore a Letterman's Jacket. He was good looking (aside from a really bad shiny Albert Brooks-like Afro) and a drove a Mazda Rx-7 - your basic poor-man's Ferrari. While many girls would have been flattered or excited to hear that a senior liked them, I was mortified. First of all, Matt was 18, which in my book might as well have been 36. I was a shy, insecure 14 year old, and he was a full-grown Teen-Man. Clearly this would never work out. I did my best to avoid him in the halls, but couldn't avoid him one night after a football game when he cornered me at a Pizza Parlor and told me a harrowing story about how a few years back he watched his best friend die in his arms. While I think he was trying to impress me, I most likely reacted with a not-so-sensitive roll of my eyes or a sarcastic remark. Shortly thereafter the School Directory came out. Now I was really screwed because Matt Benson had my phone number.
The first time he called me, I was terrified. Worse still, he asked me out on a date to see (wait for it....) the Kevin Bacon blockbuster "Footloose." This is the first time I'd ever been asked out by a boy (let alone a TEEN-MAN). I panicked and agreed to go. Matt said he'd call me Friday after school to get directions to my house. Oh if only Chris Hanson of Dateline's "To Catch A Predator" could have traveled back in a Lamborgheni time machine and saved me. I had a horrifying vision of Matt pulling up in his shiny RX7 and my dad opening the front door, giving him the once-over and flipping the bird (or worse: inviting him in, offering him a Pall Mall and sharing stock market tips).
Once more I avoided Matt Besnon in the halls, because everyone knows that if you ignore a problem it will just go away. I knew that there was no way in hell I was going on this date, so I invited a girlfriend over for moral support the night of the "phantom date." I had my own phone line, but this was way before caller ID or voice mail, and my parents weren't about to buy me my one of those expensive, suitcase-sized, cassette tape playing answering machines. So when the phone rang, I couldn't be sure who it was, but I had a sinking suspicion that it was none other than Matt Benson, calling in to claim his Footloose date. I distinctly remembering my girlfriend and I horrified (but in a "Ha Ha" kind of way) every time the phone rang. "Screw this," I said and my mom drove my friend and I to the mall where we bought two tickets to Footloose... sans Matt Benson.
I never heard from Matt Benson again. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure he thought I was a stuck up bitch who liked to play mind games. But the truth was that I wasn't ready to date a Teen-Man. Besides, I've never had a thing for older guys.