Monday, August 23, 1993
My summer has not been that boring. The thing I have been doing the most is writing. I just started one day and now I have 64 pages and seven chapters completed. That is the most I have ever written. I hope to have at least 80 pages done before school starts. School. Ugh. I have to go back in less than three weeks.
It will be great seeing my friends again. And Leon (he’s my friend too but I have to put him in a separate category because I am going to write about him). Thus summer, I have kept in touch with him more than I have with Didi. I think we have become really good friends. In one of my letters I told him that even though we might not see each other on the bus a lot, I wanted to stay good friends and not lose touch. He said he agreed in his next letter.
Also, one night I couldn’t fall asleep and I got this really crazy idea in my head. I thought I should ask Leon out! I wasn’t even sure I liked him but I thought since we had so much in common (movies, books, MUSIC) it would make sense. Plus, I rationalized that we would not see each other a lot anyway so this way we could. And if it didn’t work out, or if he turned me down, I wouldn’t see him much. Then I realized it would be a mistake, especially since I was not sure how I felt.
What I did decide was to invite him to lunch before we went in to get our schedules. I couldn’t ask over the phone so I wrote him a 6-page letter and asked him at the very end if he wanted to have lunch, just as friends. He got it the day he had to leave for Paris and called me a couple of hours before. Before we hung up he said he would call me when he got back so we could get together and have lunch. That made my day.
A couple of days ago I had a dream that made me think about things. It took place right across the street from Hunter and is this area of steps, benches and plants that is attached to this huge building next to it. Leon and I were both there and we were standing face to face. Then we… we kissed. It was strange. The kiss was alright, I guess, but afterwards everything was very uncomfortable. I don’t know, it’s weird.
It’s stating the obvious, but maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me there was no real chemistry with Leon, and that we should stay friends. Of course, I would never take such sensible advice from my subconscious. What would be the fun in that?
Granted, I did not have the most auspicious record of asking boys out. One disaster was followed by a second blow to my ego. Both left traces of embarrassment and disappointment, but obviously not enough that I wasn’t ready to attempt a rejection trifecta–albeit, one in which I lose every race.
Leon was different, though. He wasn’t some boy I developed a crush on because of good looks. He was someone whose personality engaged me, someone who I wanted to have a crush on in a way, because he was someone actually worth liking. Except that there was still something not quite there in terms of romantic potential. In theory, I should have been head over heels, but in practice I…wasn’t. Nor was I used to being so friendly with a boy on a platonic level, which was all kinds of confusing to a self-professed “guyaholic.” So for once, I was going to try to be a bit more cautious and sensible, boring qualities it was becoming necessary to cultivate.
Regardless of this romantic ambivalence and machination, considering the fact that Leon and I are friends today, I must have done something right.
Saturday, June 12, 1993
Today was my date with Mark.
This morning after 7:00AM I had all these terrible nightmares, one where he doesn’t show up and the other where he hates me. I was so nervous.
I was afraid that he would be late but he was on time. My parents just said be home by nine.
First we went to a diner and had bagels. Then we went to Rockaway beach and it was really nice. There weren’t many people there and the sand was almost white. We sat down and talked for a while. He lied down a lot and I was sitting Indian-style. I liked him a lot and was hoping he would kiss me. At one time he was on his knees and kind of leaned toward me and I thought he would but he didn’t. Then he started trying to tickle me a little and I kept brushing his hands away. He also played with my hair, tugging at it and looking up at it.
Then I lied down on the sand and he started taking my hand and stroking it and putting it between his hands. He kept teasing me that my hair color wasn’t real. And then he was on his elbow (but over me) and telling me that it was a wig. His face was very close to mine and that’s the last thing I remember before he kissed me.
I felt like I was in another world. He’s a very good kisser (I hate to admit it but it was the first time I ever french-kissed. It wasn’t gross like I expected it). There we were, on the beach making-out. It was like something out of a movie. Hell, it was better than that, it was real!
Then we left (I really had to go to the bathroom) and drove around some more. We stopped on this quiet block where we kissed some more (he kissed my lips, chin, neck and even ears. It was really cool being kissed on the ear.) and other stuff (I wouldn’t let him get carried away. No further than second).
After that I saw my lip was swollen (it was very passionate) and was a little worried. He drove me home, told me to give him a call, and I kissed him good-bye.
My parents were pretty pissed about the lip (“What is he, an animal?”) and my mom wants him to apologize next time I see him and my dad wants to have one of those “man-to-man” talks with him. Oh boy. At first my mom told me I couldn’t see him anymore but I can on those two conditions. Also she doesn’t want me acting so slutty with him anymore (not exactly her words).
Except for when I got home, I had a really great time. Mark is really nice and very cute. He has brown hair but he thinks his eyes are brown and they are more hazel-green (gorgeous!). Also he has these long, long eyelashes and dimples! *sigh*
Well I better go study my social and science. I hope I have a great relationship with him. Gotta go!
The thing I remember most about my first make-out session isn’t the boy or the beach or the anticipation and excitement of it all. Oh no. What I remember most clearly was really, really needing to pee in the middle of all the kissing. Having such a romantic set-up and beautiful setting for the event, I wanted it to last and last, so I held it in for as long as I possibly could. I mean, how many city kids get to have their first “real” kiss take place on a deserted beach?
Did I say the set-up was romantic? I thought so then, but in hindsight, my mind goes back to Mark’s behavior in the diner. We each had these paper place mats that listed cocktails with accompanying illustrations. There were familiar ones like the Martini and Pina Colada, but Mark kept pointing out and laughing about the “Sex on the Beach.” If he mentioned it only the one time, it would probably not have stayed with me, but he said it a few times, and any discomfort I felt as a result, I brushed away. However now I can’t wonder whether he was trying to plant some kind of subliminal signal. One that wasn’t successful due to my caution, inexperience, and unrelenting bladder.
When I finally couldn’t hold it in any more and asked to find a restroom, the nearest one we could find was at Sizzler, a low rent eating establishment known for its salad bar and buffet which wasn’t quite as cinematic as Rockaway Beach.
Oh, and I had those swollen lips for days. A friend of mine joked,
“That’s not love, that’s assault and battery!”
It turned out to be neither.
Wednesday, June 9, 1993
A lot has happened lately. Saturday, Eddie didn’t call (his strict mom was in town or something and he had to go somewhere with her) but Mark called me three times that weekend. That last time we talked for over an hour and a half! He is so easy to talk to, funny, he’s really nice and I like him a lot. Also, I’m going to see him Saturday! AAAHHH!!!
[Woah, bait and switch much? Was my 15-year-old self going to blindly accept Eddie not calling and let myself be pawned off on Mark like that? Well… We all know the answer to that, so let’s let the blind teenage jubilance continue its flow.]
I am nervous about seeing him because he doesn’t know what I look like. Yet I feel like I know him so well, because we talk so much. In the past 2 days I have talked to him four times. That is more than I talk with Didi and she is my best friend. I really hope that things work out between Mark and me. I would love to have a boyfriend this summer and he isn’t going anywhere. Sure he lives in Long Island but he drives so it’s not a problem. Yes he drives. He is older than me by about 2 years. He’ll be 18 March 2. In the fall he is going to Columbia (an Ivy League school!). The only little thing is he smokes but everything else makes up for that.
[Hello, what about the fact that I didn’t know what he looked like either? I remembered hot guy Eddie, but not his less mature, non-nondescript friend Mark. Why the sudden enthusiasm? Two reasons. 1. His humor and charm was winning me over, and it seemed like he really grew up in the last couple of years. If he wasn’t great looking face to face, his personality would go a long way in making up for it. 2. It had been three-and-a-half years since my last date. For someone as boy-crazy as I was, this was a dry spell of epic proportions.]
My parents are actually letting me see him (though I’m not sure if they know about the age & car situation) but they just want to meet him first. I hope he really likes me. I hope I really like him! Actually I already do but I hope when we meet face to face sparks fly (I’m sorry I’m being so corny).
[And I’m sorry you had to read about me being so corny I was all these years later. At least I had the good sense to be apologetic about it then, too.]
There are only 5 more days of school. Yay! Then, July 11, my mom and I are going on another cruise! Major Yay! I really hope this will be a summer to remember, in the best possible way.
I don’t know about you, but “Major Yay” makes me think of an extremely flamboyant military officer in a pink bedazzled uniform who only makes you drop and give him 20 if you’re not fabulous enough. I’m sure it’s just me.
Moving on. How about this Eddie/Mark situation? I was skeptical at first, but then the naive romantic in me as I thought about the unexpected twisty ways love can find you. It was strange enough to go looking for Eddie all of these years, but then to end up connecting with Mark instead was an even bigger surprise. Who knew, maybe something would come of it. Maybe my life could be a John Hughes movie after all. And hopefully I wouldn’t be Brian, Anthony Michael Hall’s brainy-but-lovable geek, stuck writing the detention essay alone, while everyone else paired off. Time would tell.
I did it. I gave Hahn a note to give to Archie. She told me that he laughed and said, “Damiella wants to go out with me?” Well I’m taking that as a “no.” I’m telling myself it doesn’t matter because I’ll forget it ever happened. It doesn’t matter. It’s too bad, though. I was hoping it would be different this time. Sigh. Oh well. I’ll live. No big deal. See ya!
Of all the reactions you can get when asking someone out, laughter is not high up there. It’s kind of like that movie cliché where a guy calls a hoity-toity restaurant for a table that night and the maître d’laughs in derision to emphasize the restaurant’s popularity. That’s exactly how I took Archie’s laugh.
Even though I tried to hide my disappointment in my journal, it was still an ego blow and a letdown. Sure, I set myself up by asking out a guy I knew was out of my league. Back then I wanted to think it would have been possible for someone like him to go out with someone like me. I was fed a steady diet of romantically improbable fiction and cinema, and really and truly believed life could mimic a John Hughes movie. At least, I wanted it to.
The Hughes films that made up my adolescent core were Weird Science, the Molly Ringwald Trilogy (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club) and Some Kind of Wonderful. All of those movies showed that no matter how quirky, different, nerdy or unpopular you are, you can still get the hot guy or gal that will see you for who you are. In Hughes’ world, the pendulum can swing either way. Popular kids can turn out to be down-to-earth, sweet, and willing to date outside their caste (Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful) and unpopular kids can show hidden talents and blossom and turn out to be rad and hot-in-their-own-special-way (Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful), or at the very least get a makeover from Molly Ringwald that makes them generic and pretty enough to catch the eye of the dopey jock, (The Breakfast Club).
In the real world? Not so much. At least not in a school like Hunter, where you were stuck with the same 200 or so kids for six straight years. I saw a few cases of extreme talent/beauty being accepted into the fold of the popular kids, or “survivors” as they were known. However, things weren’t shaping up for me to be one of those exceptions, and the sooner I accepted that the better.
He laughed. I laughed. Then our eyes met. He glanced away. My gaze lingered. I never thought I felt this way about Archie. Even at orientation I felt this little attraction. I think it was that moment in art class that I decided considering asking him out.
It is only the first day of school, so I have plenty of time to decide.
When I read over these diary entries, I find some many of them worthy of mockery. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cringe, but this one makes me react in a different way. It’s more akin to watching a horror movie and wanting to shout at some dimwit not to go up the stairs where the killer awaits. Or wanting to scream “WATCH OUT!” to an ignorant pedestrian stepping off a curb into the path of an oncoming truck. In this case, I want to travel back in time and tell my thirteen-year-old self,
“Don’t do it! Please, for the love of all that’s holy, decide to NOT consider asking him out. Just think of all the 80’s teen movies you’ve ever seen and understand that real life will kick your ass if you think they’re indicative of what adolescent life is really like. DO. NOT. DO. THIS!”
After the disaster of asking Justin out, I don’t know why I thought things would go any better with Archie. Especially considering that Archie was one of the most popular kids in our grade and I was… well I was going through a phase where I wore a lot of Blossom-esque hats.
I took a random moment with a cute boy, exaggerated it into something it wasn’t, and was about to do something regrettable. This could only have a happy ending on Planet John-Hughes-Movie. The problem was, I had yet to learn that I was no Molly Ringwald…
(And when I wrote “I have plenty of time to decide,” I think we all know this is going to play out real soon, right?)
Monday, June 17, 1991
School is over. Earlier than the other schools. Justin asked out Gina, and she said Yes. I was very upset untill I found out that she changed her mind and then said no. (Sound familiar?) I guess Tony figured out (the hard way) “what comes around goes around.” I think I’m over him.
I have some good news. At the end of July, for 2 or 3 weeks I’m probably going to go to Israel without my parents! I would be going with my cousin Anna who is 15 and I like a lot, and her mother. I hope I go. I can’t wait! I can’t believe that my parents actually let me go. I think they are becoming a lot less over-protective.
For a 13-year-old who was fond of complaining how unfair life was, this was a pretty sweet moment. Perhaps it was a coincidence that Justin faced the same romantic reversal of fortune that he caused me, but that’s now how I saw it back then (or even today). I took it as confirmation from the universe that doing a crummy thing would lead to payback.
Vindication aside, what the hell was wrong with Justin and Gina? Who says yes when someone asks you out only to double back and reject them? Was it some kind of passive-aggressive cowardice or further evidence that while Hunter College High School housed the “gifted and talented” it also housed the socially retarded? I vote yes on both counts.
As for Israel, the prospect of the trip was exciting for several obvious, and one less obvious reasons. Clearly I was ready to spend some time away from my well-meaning but overprotective parents and cut loose. I was craving adventure and travelling thousands of miles for it sounded like a great idea to me. And even though I’ve never been a fan of hot weather, Israel in the summertime sounded like the Best Idea Ever as soon as Anna told me how cute the boys over there were. The Promised Land indeed.
Saturday, March 2, 1991
I have some news, but before I go on, I have to backtrack and tell you what happened the day after I threw Justin The Note.
In the morning, Justin got on the bus, and he did not say one word about the note, so I wrote him another one that said: “Justin, did you get my other note? If so, do you have an answer for me?” I gave this note to Hanh to give to Justin in class.
In the afternoon, for practically the whole bus ride, Justin didn’t mention the note. Then when we were about to reach his spot, Justin took out the note and said “Is this a joke?”
I said “No” and he said “Well then O.K.” And the rest is history.
I got his phone number and we talked about going out. He said that lunch period is too little time to go out. Then he took my phone number. Nothing has happened yet, but I’m sure something will.
Something really funny happened on the bus yesterday. Luke turns to Justin and asks “Do you know who Damiella likes?”
Hanh, Linda, Justin, and me started cracking up hysterically! It was so obvious!
What should have been even more obvious, to me at least, was that Justin was a non-starter.
The fact that I had to write a follow-up note to get an answer from him should have been the first clue. The fact that he thought lunch period was not enough time to go out should have been my next clue. We got a full hour for lunch, which offered ample time to go to a diner, deli, or pizzeria. At the time I took it as a sign that he wanted to spend more time with me than we were allotted during school hours, that 60 minutes would not be enough time to begin to get to know me. Now I can look back and understand his excuse was a way to cover up his discomfort/disinterest. But back then, I didn’t let any of that register.
Instead, I accepted Justin’s reluctance as shyness and spent weeks waiting for him to call and set up a proper date with me. Every time the phone rang, I would hoped it was Justin. Every time the phone rang, it was someone else.