April 13, 2007

THE RIGHT BOYS

I got my first kiss while I was wearing a tuxedo.

It was a friend's 13th birthday party, which was the same night as the Morton Pumpkin Festival. (Yeah, that's not a joke. I love the Midwest.) We would attend the party for a while, and then my friend and I would rush to the festival where we were performing a lip sync of "The Chapel of Love." (This story didn't feel that ridiculous until I started writing it down.) Anyway, I was the groom in this dance number, so halfway through the birthday party, I went off to change into my tux. I came back to say goodbye, and my darling boyfriend took me over by the window and gave me my first kiss under the moonlight.

I was reminded of how wonderful that moment was when I read this paragraph in a long letter to surly teenage boys:

Look all people in the eye, even the haggard mother-types. Women like me, the ones who buy baby wipes and supersize tampons and organic milk and a guilty 24-inch Slim Jim and Us Weekly? We remember you. We remember you well. Not you in particular, but we remember how those of your age and species treated us at an early and difficult age, and it mattered. It mattered more than you knew at the time, more than we knew at the time. What you do now, how you treat the young women in your life after your shift at Big Y? I am here to tell you that it matters very much.

I am a lucky woman. I am lucky because I somehow managed to associate with boys who treated me well at the age when it mattered.

This boy from the birthday party, he was a dream. He still is. He is still one of the nicest men I have ever met, and I try to remind his parents of it every time I see them. He was a hopeless romantic, constantly writing me love letters and bringing me potted violets to the school dance. He was adorable and thoughtful and wonderful, and when I went to my high school reunion, my husband jokingly reminded me not to go home with this guy when it was over. He is the exact perfect first boyfriend anyone could ever want for her daughter. I was so lucky.

The second boyfriend was also a perfect gentleman. He was darling and nice and sweet and we could kiss until the cows came home. Oh, how we kissed. I can't tell you how many movies I was supposed to have seen in 1991 that I completely missed because I could sit lip-locked with this boy for hours on end. It makes me giggle to think about how naive and sweet we were together, just holding hands and kissing endlessly. And he too has turned into a wonderful adult. He's a C-17 pilot, and in fact I saw him a few weeks ago as he passed through town after shuttling soldiers to Iraq.

My third boyfriend never got the chance to turn into a wonderful adult. He was killed in a car accident when we were 16, so in my mind he'll always be the eccentric 8th grader who was really into Canned Heat and The Doors at a time when everyone else was out buying Vanilla Ice. I told him I loved him after we watched Pink Floyd's The Wall, and he broke his nose trying to sneak over to my house in the middle of the night. He's been gone for half my life, and I still miss him and wish I could've seen him grow up.

I had other boyfriends in my life, and some were better choices than others. But no one -- save my husband -- can top these three, the three who perfectly capture how teenage boys should treat girls. During middle school, when so many kids have a rough time, I met some of the best men I've ever known. I love these boys and always will. If I have a daughter, she will know these stories; if I have a son, he will have big shoes to fill.

I remember exactly how I was treated at 13. I was blessed.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:37 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 I loved this. Beautiful.

Posted by: Jenn at April 13, 2007 04:11 AM (PqtRG)

2 Very sweet. I admire your openess. It is very refreshing. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Wendy at April 13, 2007 10:11 AM (CfMHF)

3 I went and read the whole thing--and will be printing it out for future sharing with my son (he's 11). It was brilliant! You are very lucky indeed, to have such memories.

Posted by: MargeinMI at April 13, 2007 11:54 PM (sjz/9)

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