Living in your childhood home with your parents as an adult has a few benefits. Most people know the basics. You get to live rent-free. You get to eat home-cooked meals. You get to not worry about someone stealing your laundry (unless you have siblings, of course). There is one other benefit that exists, however, but is rarely recognized: The potential to vindicate your teenage self.
Maybe you’re a sane person who went through high school with a healthy amount of self-esteem and graduated with at least one sexual experience under your belt (ha). If so, maybe stop reading because you will probably find this story ridiculous, if not concerning for my mental health. (Don’t worry, I’m going to therapy to work on my high school-related trauma!)
When I was a teenager, I was socially awkward to the point that I’d blush when a teacher called on me in class. I had a difficult time speaking to anyone who wasn’t in my small, immediate group. I’d stand in the shower giving myself lines to practice saying to people who could potentially be my friend, but it always backfired and I’d be left in a puddle of my own word scramble. Obviously, my high level of social anxiety also greatly contributed to my lack of a romantic relationship in high school.
But I wanted a girlfriend so badly! It consumed my thoughts on a daily basis. Was I ugly? Was I too much of a prude? Was I boring? Several girls confirmed each of these theories at different points in my teenage years, and of course, I believed them. Never mind the fact that they were all terrible, insecure people themselves. They were the only participants in my focus group, so what choice did I have but to accept their opinions as fact?
And, like every insecure teenage guy, I both idolized and envied the popular guys in my class. The way they talked to girls was a psychological miracle in my eyes. I didn’t understand how, beyond their elevated social status, they were able to get the girls. The popular girls at my high school seemed to be at a celebrity-like level. If they picked you out of a crowd, you were special! You were cool! You were funny, interesting, hot, etc., etc.! I craved that female validation so badly, but I knew I would never get it.
Until, five years after graduating high school, I got my shot. I matched with a girl on Tinder who a) was one of the most popular girls at my high school and b) was the older sister of a guy who relentlessly bullied me in elementary school. Oh my god, I thought, I’m going to screw my bully’s sister and fulfill my teenage dating ambitions!
We exchanged a few, bland “getting to know you” messages (“You like HIMYM? I love Game of HIMYM! You like Chai? I love Chai!”) and it became clear to me that she had no clue who I was. I think she put together that we lived in the same area and went to the same high school, but beyond that, I don’t think she had an inkling of who I was pre-2016.
After a few days of answering questions about basic likes/dislikes and giving two-dimensional descriptions of our days, we decided to go get South Indian at an overpriced Udipi restaurant a few minutes away from our respective homes. She picked me up the car that she’s had since high school (!) and off we went.
It’s an interesting experience to be in a car with someone knowing that your teenage-self would be absolutely freaking out if they could see you now. I would like to clarify that by this time in my adult life, I had shed most of the insecurities of my former years. I no longer believed I was ugly, stupid, boring, etc., but I did feel like I still owed something to the guy who hated himself. I couldn’t go back in time, but maybe I could prove something to him in the present.
Overall, she was a decent girl. She let me rant about my terrible then-boss, she wanted to know all about my travels in Japan (I left out the part about my Japanese ex) and she seemed genuinely interested in most of the things I had to say. On her part, she was exactly what I imagined a grown-up high school chick would be. She’s mortgage broker who wanted to be a cop for a little while. She lives with her best friend from high school whose parents bought her a house in the same neighborhood they grew up in. She paries a lot and plays on a cricket team.
Eventually, the topic of high school came up. I admitted I knew her brother. She laughed in a good-natured way and said she wasn’t surprised that he picked on me as a kid. She asked about my high school friends, and I wasn’t surprised when she said he didn’t recognize any of the names I gave her. I explained how shy I was back then, and she said she thought it was cool that I grew out of it. I have to admit, it was a weirdly cathartic experience.
I was a few margaritas in at this point, and I started to wonder what she’d be like in bed. My hopeless romantic brain started going into hyperdrive and thought about how cute it would be if we did end up together. I imagined the story I’d craft for my friends and family: “She was a chick in high school and I was just a shy little nerd, but five years later we ended up finding each other!” So adorable.
She paid (“You need a new job, so it’s on me!”) and we headed back to her beat-up car. She dropped me off and awkwardly hugged me goodbye. But, because I have no regard for standard dating rules, I texted her immediately afterward and apologized for not knowing what to do at the end of dates. She responded by telling me to come over. Perfect!
When I arrived at her suburban-home-turned-frat-house, she immediately ushered me into her bedroom. Here we go! We watch a few episodes of The Office (what else do you expect a straight, bored woman to put on?) and started making out ten minutes in.
After we were done swapping saliva, I wondered to myself what we had left to talk about. She turned to me, unprompted, and asked if I had any LGBTQ friends.
“Um yeah! I have a few. Why do you ask?”
“I was just curious because I don’t think I know anyone who’s gay.”
“Oh, you probably do. They just might not have told you yet.”
“I don’t know. All the guys I hang out with have only dated girls.”
“Well, I mean you never know they could be bisexual.”
“Are bisexual girls a thing?”
“…Yeah they’re definitely a thing.”
I’m aware this is pretty minor on the scale of problematic things girls could potentially say to me, but still. After I left, I decided not to see her again after that night. Maybe my teenage-self hadn’t missed out on anything after all.
Next blog will be out soon.
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