"You've got to clean that G.D. FAN!" Mum stated sternly, glaring at the thin layer of dust on the ceiling fan above.
We were all sitting in the kitchen, perhaps the better (or worse, in my case) for wine; my paltry 1/4 of a glass on par with everyone else's start of their second.
"Well, let me put it simply and plainly: I just haven't gotten around to it. SO there! ," I smirked back at her, jumping right into the skin I wore as a teenager. Never mind that she's soon to be 67 and I'm 28: we still have difficulties keeping our adult pants on around one-another.
"What? What?!" bellowed my Dad, looking around innocently; his hearing aids were conveniently sitting on the dresser in the back bedroom.
"I SAID, SHE NEEDS TO CLEAN THE FAN. DAMMIT, WHY AREN'T YOUR HEARING AIDS IN?! You're doing this on purpose," my mother said dismissively, waving her hand at him.
Dad just gave her his trademark devilishly-toothy grin and stared at her with his eyes scrunched up.
He was, after all, pleased with himself for pissing her off.
J and I just looked meaningfully at each other, and completely failed at not laughing.
This is how my family works. We love each other, we pass judgement in a kindly way, and sweetly tell each other what we think someone should be doing, because that's what folks who love you do: boss you the heck around. (Hopefully J and I can change this tradition with our kiddos, but you never know....)
When I was little, my parents were amazing. They still are now, but as most everyone knows, there comes that time in a person's life, when their parents go from amazing to horrible, right in the middle. Usually it happens when a person becomes a teenager; all of a sudden, parents don't know as much as you thought they did. After all, no one tells kids or parents that there's no 'automatic knowing,' system to raising children or parenting.
I grew up in a large family. I say that, because though I don't technically have blood siblings, I still grew up with my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles, second cousins and so forth, all around me.
You know that old adage, "It takes a village to raise a child?" Well, it's completely, utterly and complicatedly true in my opinion.
Getting back to what I was saying about this droop in the early beginnings of adult-hood in parental intelligence... or so it seems....
When I was 16, I had my first date. I asked him out. He was older than me. In fact, he was almost 18, and in the land of teenagers, there are miles between ages 16 and 18. Rivers, valleys and mountains too. However, I liked him, quite a lot. He was a theatre techie and we'd worked together on sets, lights - you name it. Late nights amongst amiable company make for swift ties in the theatre.
I'd been so terribly nervous to ask him out... I didn't even have his phone number and being as we were two grades apart (he a junior and myself a freshman... I have a November birthday which put me as the eldest in my grade, and he had a December birthday, so likewise for him) that day at school, I'd agonized over how to ask him.
It's not as though we had a free band or lunch together, let alone sometime for me to get him by himself to ask him to be my date.
We'd finished rehearsal and I was waiting to get picked up. I remember it was dark outside. I'd stayed later to do my homework in the library after we'd left the theatre; my dad was working late, and he was the one who was coming to get me.
I had this boy's his e-mail, because of theatre related things. I decided to e-mail him... he was a techie, he'd approve of that. I grabbed my bag and walked over to the computer lab.
Breeeeeaaaatheeee.... I'd been holding my breath. Can I really do this? I thought to myself. What if he thinks I'm a joke or something.... what if he just laughs at me? What if I'm too forward, asking him out instead of waiting for him to ask me? What if he tells all his friends about it and I get teased for the next two years straight?
I'd asked people out twice before. Once in 7th grade (horrible, horrible mistake) and once in 8th grade (he said yes to attending dance, but then wouldn't dance with me once we got there. It ended with me basically breaking his heart and asking to be friends because, well he wore the same cologne as my grandpa, he refused to dance and we just weren't getting anywhere). So, I had a classically 50/50 success rate.
Yes, I was that girl. To be honest, I didn't really care that I was the one being assertive; let's face it, if things got left up to boys who were my age, we'd all be punching the person we liked in the arm and telling them they had cooties to get the message across.
A.B. was older and *gasp* more mature than most guys, 17 year olds included. Yes, I'd e-mail him.... I waited for the computer to boot up.
I logged in with my student ID and signed into my e-mail.
"Dear A.B.".... I began.
TAP, TAPPITY, TAP-TAP. KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK. I turned to look at whoever was annoyingly drumming on the glass of the computer lab; the end of the wall was the windowed-hallway in front of our school office-- and all the air left my lungs.
A.B. stood there grinning and waving at me, his bag slung to one shoulder.
OH. MY. GOD...! I thought to myself, having a completely girly moment and blushing from head to toe. Waving back at him I smiled sheepishly, in what I'm sure looked like an agonized manner. He's so tall. He looks so cute. He's SOOOOOO going to turn me down...
"Thank God he doesn't know what I'm doing," I said aloud through my smiling teeth. A.B. winked at me and mouthed "See you Monday," on the other side of the glass before turning and continuing out.
I let the air escape from my lungs. I'd been holding it again. Well, it's my birthday and he knows that, so maybe he won't shut me down on my birthday.
I finished the e-mail and pressed "send."
Well, it was done. There's no "unsend," button, so now it was a wait and see sort of thing. Besides, tomorrow I was having some friends over for my birthday. A bunch of high-school girls eating ice-cream and chocolate would help me forget that I'd just asked an upperclassman out.
For the dance. A big one. A formal. Called: The Crystal Ball.
I didn't much care for the name, but you know, nothing wrong with puns...
RIIIIING, RIIIIIIING, RIIIIING!!!
"H! PHONE! It's a BOY!" My dad shouted up the stairs. Giggling ensued madly.
"SHUT UP! He doesn't know you're all over here. NO LAUGHING! QUIET!" I screeched as I made my way over to the phone upstairs in my dad's office. I could barely reach the receiver as I was surrounded by my friends and they were all hysterical that I'd a) Asked A.B. out, b) Given him my phone number to receive his response, and c) That he was calling the night they were all here to bear-witness and able to console or celebrate with me after the verdict was stated.
"Hello?" I said, trying not to sound as though my heart was going to beat out of my chest.
"H? It's A.B." he said smoothly. His voice was so deep.
"Well, I figured." I said giggling in spite of myself. It's not like many boys call this number... ooh, did that sound snotty? CRAP!!!!!
"I got your e-mail..." he said. I detected a hint of a smile in his voice. Ok. Don't sound eager....
"Yeah? I hope it was okay that I sent it to you...." I said quietly. A giggle threatened to escape from several of the girls squeezed against me and the receiver.
"H, I'd love go to the dance with you," he said. OH HOLY HELL! He emphasized the word "love," he'd LOVE to go with me! YESSSSS!!!
Placing my hand over the receiver, I realized that all my girlfriends were staring at me bug-eyed with lolling expressions, hopping from one foot to the other; like true friends, they were just as excited as I was to find out whether he shot me down or not.
He said YES! I mouthed to them. It was too much. SQUEALS ensued. WOOHOOO's erupted from the girls, and despite my hand over the receiver, I KNEW he'd heard the symphony of whooping in the background.
"A.B.?," I could hear him chuckling. Well, if he'd thought he had no audience, now he knew.
"Yes. You have friends over don't you? Birthday right?"
"Yeah. So-- hold on---," I paused.
OK EVERYONE! Go downstairs and start the movie, I'll be down in a minute.
"Sorry about that," I murmured, "Um...."
"Well, since the dance is in February, and it's November now... we should hang out before then, huh?" he crooned.
"Sure!" I said brightly.
"We should also probably talk about the age difference between us. What do you think about it?" he asked seriously.
"I don't think it's an issue at all. If people don't like it, well, it's not their problem really, is it?" I countered.
"I feel the same way. It's no big deal," he said warmly.
"Great," I breathed back at him. God, I was turning into such a girly-girl. Ugh.
"Well, why don't we hang out tomorrow night? I've got to cover a SLAM poetry gathering in Burlington, would you like to come with me?" he offered.
"Yeah, that sounds great," I said.
"Super. It's a date then. Have a fun night," he said... there was that smile I could hear in his words again...
"Ok. Bye A.B. Thanks for calling," I said softly.
"Thanks for asking," he purred back. We hung up and I steeled myself to go downstairs and meet the girls.
OH MY GOD, I HAD MY FIRST DATE EVER!!
That was the beginning with A.B. We dated for 2 ish years and I wouldn't change anything about it. At multiple times in my adult life, he's been there for me, and I for him. Through other relationships, tragedies, more relationships, job internships, tours, job offers and more - we've sought each other's advice and support.
I attended his wedding last year to an amazing, wonderful girl named C and they have begun a fantastic life together, and I hope to have them for a visit soon.
A.B. remains to this day, one of my dearest friends; he'll stay so for as long as we both have breath.
It's funny... when my folks first met my fiancee, they said he reminded them of A.B. I consider that to be a HUGE compliment, and a great honor. ;-)
I'm sure A.B. will pop up more in here... there are too many funny stories, like our first date, that simply shouldn't be left out.
But now, I've got to go make chocolate cherry cake, because my mum is telling me "You PROMISED and I DON'T SEE IT in the OVEN!"