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.
Thursday, February 21, 1991
I know I didn’t tell you about the weekend, but I really don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say that I think Rose thinks more of her new friends than she does of me.
Anyway, I want to move on to something else. I think that I can finally say that I don’t like Danny anymore. No, I really mean it! Actually, I think that I like Justin, again. Well, the truth is I like Justin a lot. It’s hard to explain, but I know that I have feelings for him.
It’s really not that hard to explain. Justin was cute, smart, and a little shy, end of story. He teased me on the bus and we got into fights, but I got it into my head that it was some kind of demented form of flirting. You know, classic story. Guy is mean to girl, girl hates guy, but has bad self-esteem so starts liking him anyway. I developed a crush on him shortly after he got a good haircut that showed off his hazel eyes. This time, however, I decided to take action…
Teusday, Feb. 26, 1991
I did something today that I can’t believe I did. As Justin was walking off the bus (well actually he was off the bus) I threw a note at him. The thing is, in it, I wrote asking him out! I am going to be prepared for the worst tomorrow, but I’m really hoping for the best.
In case I didn’t stress it enough above, there was absolutely nothing in my interactions with Justin that indicated he might be interested in me. Therefore, I don’t know what kind of temporary madness led to my asking him. The fights we had weren’t play fights and he ran with a more popular crowd. But I guess I saw one too many John Hughes movies and wanted to take my own fate into my hands after years of having crushes that went nowhere. At least this time I wasn’t going to cop out and go the secret admirer route. Oh no, no more anonymous notes for me this time (there would be more in the future, though, don’t worry). Nope, this time I decided the best course of action was to throw a piece of folded up paper at my crush from a moving vehicle. That’s me, keeping romance alive.
Was it the wisest thing to do at the time?… (Let’s pretend we don’t all know the answer to that one.)
May 15th, 1990
Sometimes when I have a lot on my mind, I write a letter and it usually makes me feel better, so here goes:
Lately I have been thinking a lot about us. I thought about our dating, then our break-up and you going out with Emily.
I know that hating you for breaking-up with me was the wrong thing to do and so was trying to break you and Rose up. I did the wrong thing and I admit it.
The only reason I felt so angry was because I felt that you used me and when you got bored you’d just go on to another girl (which in this case was Carmella Louise, even though she said no when you asked her out.).
I know that we didn’t take any trips to the alter or anything and I’m not even sure we were going steady, you tell me if we were.
I think that during the last few months (and this may sound corny) I have learned and matured quite a lot, because only know am I ready to admit that we really broke-up and I finally except it.
We are going to be graduating very soon and I don’t want us to part being enemies (or whatever we were), so if you just want to be friends than we’ll just be friends.
Next year we’ll be at different schools, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep up a friendship.
One more thing, if you got the impression that I hate or resent you, I don’t. Please don’t show this to anyone because this is how I really feel and I don’t want anyone to read it.
Let’s see here… Writing “except” instead of “accept” showed some Freudian slippage in retrospect. And the “trips to the altar” line seems falsely flippant and self-conscious. There’s also the fact that I never actually apologize for trying to break up him and Rose, just admit it was wrong. And okay, okay, I realize how phony and ridiculous it was to try to suggest a friendship after graduation when we never really had one to begin with. Still, I was aiming for closure and resolution on my end, and I like to think I managed to attain it.
Even though I never sent that letter to Mitch, at the very least this shows a nice departure from my evil conniving ways and maybe even a bit (a teeny tiny bit?) of personal growth.
In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, I was fond of the show Doogie Howser, M.D. in which a young Neil Patrick Harris played a prodigy whose impressive memory and passion for medicine helped him become a doctor at 14. On top of dealing with the stresses of being a practitioner, Doogie had to navigate the everyday pressures and dramas of puberty. Keeping a journal helped him make sense of it all, only he didn’t use paper, he used a computer (twenty years ago, this was pretty damn revolutionary). At the end of every episode, he would type away his insights. As the white words scrolled along the blue screen, many a night I felt like I learned something from his experiences too.
Around the time the show aired, my parents got me a computer. It cost about $3,000 (!) and I used it to write a handful of term papers and play hundreds of hours of Tetris. For a couple of months, I also used it to keep an electronic journal. I thought it would be fun to experiment with a new format and figured it would provide a safe place to keep my private thoughts private (how things change). Tucked into the back pages of the composition book journal are several printed out pages (dot matrix style) from my “Doogie diary.” This is the first entry:
April 2, 1990
Today in Music (class) we saw the tape of some of the talent show and during my act Mrs. Angelo said to me and Elaine
“Look at Mitchell (Also known as: two-timing sleaze-ball), he’s blushing!”
So we turn sideways and he was all red!
I wonder what that means…maybe he kind of misses me after all…
Well since we’re on the topic of sleaze-ball, and sleaze-ball is going out with Rose I’ll tell you what’s up with her.
First of all, I had a fight with her, so we’re not really on speaking terms. Also, some of Sam P’s friends are having a surprise birthday party for him and I’m invited to it. I kind of have a crush on Sam, and I know that he just likes me as a friend, but after the surprise party, who knows what could happen!
Also, Passover is coming soon and I am going to my cousin Anna’s house on April 10 and sleep over. I just can’t wait until Spring\Passover\Easter vacation!
For the talent show, I sang what was at the time my favorite song: “Foolish Beat” by Debbie Gibson. I don’t know whether my sentimental musical rendition had anything to do with Mitchell blushing, or what the fight with Rose was over, but there was tension between the three of us. None of us could communicate it in any real way, so instead the awkwardness grew.
Meanwhile, I plotted my revenge…
Today I went to a park with Rose and Rose’s friend Lauren and we had a really great time.
But the really good part was that I saw a really cute guy!
Then I found out that his name is Donald but I call him Donnie (like Donnie from New Kids on the Block!).
Anyway, I also found out that he likes me!!!
I gave him my telephone number and he might call me to ask me out!!!!!!!!!!
He is so adorable!!!!!!!!!!
Eat Your Heart out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Donald/Donnie never called. Maybe because he didn’t appreciate having a nickname foisted on him like that, especially one that recalled one of the most mocked boy bands of the last 25 years. Or maybe he didn’t call because of my dubious music taste.
Once again, I’m a bit baffled that I thought nothing of continuing a friendship with the girl who agreed to go out with the boy who broke my heart. It’s as if I separated the deed from the people involved, or just took all the bad feelings and projected them at Mitch, since he was the one who took actions to make me feel so terrible. Maybe I saw Rose blameless in all of this because I could see why she’d want to go out with him, I had once been charmed by the gelled hair, pale blue eyes, and rosy cheeks myself.
One thing I’m glad I don’t remember is anything about the encounter with “Donnie.” The very idea of what my 12-year-old self on the rebound must have been like makes me cringe.
Mitchell R is such a two-timing sleaze-ball!!!!! I hate that f#$%ed-up @#$hole!!!
He asked Rose out and she said “Yes!” At first I was furios but then I realized that it was Rose who was getting the raw end of the deal! He’ll just go out with her for a few months (maybe even less!) dump her, and then find some other girl to chase after!!!
She’s going to learn her lesson the hard way!!!
That’s what she said.
I was learning some lessons, too, about how unfortunate it is to date in such close quarters. While I may have made a mistake in assuming things with Mitch were more than they were, working his way through my female friends like that before my body was even cold was pretty tacky.
Oddly enough, at the time I think I was angrier at Mitchell than Rose, which makes less sense to me today. Mitch had already proven himself to be a jerk, but Rose was allegedly a good friend. And yet she blindly agreed to go on a date with Mitch without even asking if it would upset me (which we can see it did, in the most melodramatic way). Either she didn’t realize how utterly heartbroken I was or didn’t care or both.
Oh well. At least I had a good nickname for the boy-who-done-me-wrong. Never mind the fact that it’s up for debate whether he really two-timed me or that our dates. This type of anger and heartache defies all logic.
Luckily, I was about to hatch a plan, one I was sure would bring me vindication against my transgressors…
Today started out as a perfectly normal day but it ended up one of the worst days of my life.
It all started when Chen-chi told me that she knows something about Mitchell that will upset me and she wasn’t supposed to tell me but I dragged it out of her and she told me that Mitchell asked Carmella Louise out but she said “no.” Well I was really upset and disappointed but I made it through lunch and I was talking to my friends on the stairs how I’m going to dump him when we went to the next landing and guess who was at the top? That’s right Mitchell. He probably heard everything. When I got back to the class Sam P gives me a note from Mitchell saying:
I didn’t really give a damn (I was mad enough already!) but he gave me another note saying some shit about liking me but wanting to see other girls and what really pissed me off is at the end it said:
But we could still be friends!!!!!
I’m having mixed feelings about this: part of me is just furious, another part of me is really upset and a small part of me even wants him back! But I guess that is just the way the cookie crumbles.
Now he’s just another name in my book of memories.
Oh, the drama! The race to make that preemptive strike, to be the one who dumps, not gets dumped. The nerve of him for asking another girl out before letting me know where he stand. And what extra nerve to use the biggest cliché in the break-up book by saying we could still be friends! How could he?
In hindsight, I of course realize he lacked the maturity and emotional sophistication to be honest with me, or at least bit more tactful in ending what was a tenuous relationship at best. Let’s review: two months, two dates and zero kisses. Really? Come on, there are Amish kids who probably have steamier relationships than that.
A day or two after the break-up, I took the bracelet Mitch gave me and wrapped it in a note that said: you are a two-timing sleaze-ball! I snuck into the coat room during class and hid the bundle in his jacket. At the end of the day, he tried to give me back the bracelet, but I was a girl of principle and refused to take it.I don’t remember what happened to the stuffed puppy he gave me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it met with an equally dramatic fate.
While I was able to maintain a brave face in school, when I got home I cried and cried and cried. Then I cried some more.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and guess what happened? Mitchell gave me a bracelet! It’s so beautiful! I’m wearing it now. It has a thin gold chain with a heart on it studded with diamonds. I absolutely love it.
I remember being in class that day, and wondering whether Mitch would acknowledge it in any way. I don’t know elementary school dating conventions in this day and age, but 20 years ago, going on two dates in the sixth grade practically meant you were going steady. At least, that’s what it meant to my possibly-deluded 12-year-old self. Even so, I didn’t want to get my hopes up that Mitch would do anything romantic, because he seemed generally shy of showing any public displays of affection (considering that 99% of the time we spent together was in public, I should have seen this as a potential problem).
The school day finished uneventfully, and I resigned myself to the fact that my Valentine’s Day would be nothing special.
I was on my way home, just passing the school yard, when someone came running up behind me.
He probably said something like “I got this for you” when he gave me the bracelet. I probably thanked him.
I held it tightly in my hand until I came home and then put it on. The heart shifted around my skinny wrist when I wore it, so I frequently adjusted the chain until I could see the “diamonds” glimmer in the light. Sometimes I put the bracelet around the neck of the puppy Mitch had given me, so that it looked like the stuffed animal had a fancy collar. But mostly I wore the hell out of it, pleased to have received jewelry on Valentine’s Day, which seemed a terribly romantic and grown-up gesture.
No, they weren’t real diamonds, nor did I believe they were, but I had never been given such a beautiful gift from a boy before in my entire life (unless you count that Tiffany tape, which I don’t).
That day, I felt like Molly Ringwald at the end of a John Hughes movie, triumphing in a happy ending after so many disappointments. It wouldn’t last (it rarely does), but I had that moment of surprise and joy, and that was enough to carry me for a little while.
I’m kind of worried about me and Mitchell. I can’t really put my feelings into words but I think it’s love. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in love or am now but I know that I have very strong feelings about Mitchell. I’m afraid of us breaking up. I might have grown too atached to him or something else but all I know is that I’m going through a big jumble of feelings and that right now I’m feeling pretty confused.
Yesterday Mitchell gave me a gift! It was a little stuffed puppy! It’s so cute!
Today was our play and I think we did pretty well.
There’s nothing like a gift to soothe lack-of-a-relationship anxiety.
At this point, Mitchell and I were still “officially” boyfriend and girlfriend and still had no liplock. Could you blame a girl for being tense about the situation? Oh well, at least I had some sort of token that showed he was still interested.
I’m surprised I didn’t mention anything about the play in my diary sooner, because Mitch and I had the two lead roles. Not only that, we played a married couple, which I undoubtedly saw as a sign from the universe that we were meant to be together and not the coincidence that it was in actuality. The play itself was about a town with no name and all of the dialog was made up of rhyming couplets. In the play, Mitch’s character and my own took opposing views on whether our town should be given a name or left as is. I don’t recall which side I was on, but since I was supposed to play a grown-up married woman, I decided to convey my character’s maturity by wearing a shawl. Because shawl=adult, right?
Back to this stuffed puppy. It was white and I kept it on my desk at home and probably mooned over it during the day and slept with it at night. I was never a fan of stuffed toys, but a stuffed toy from the boy you had a crush on was a different animal (that’s right, I went there, to the bad pun place). And this wouldn’t be the last gift I received from Mitchell, oh no…
About a week ago we had a notetaking class and Mitchell sat behind me and kept fluffing and sort of tugging lightly on my hair.
At the end of class I turned around and say “What? Why were you pulling my hair and he answers “I don’t know it just felt good.” I was floating on air!
Then just friday we were in line to go to science class and I feel someone fluff my hair. I turn around and guess who I see? Yup! Mitchell! He waves and I smile back.* I hope that he will ask me out tomorrow.
The good news is, Mitchell did ask me out, though oddly there was no diary entry summing up the second date. We went to the movies again, though this time we had the good sense to keep it a secret from our classmates.
The bad news is, the movie we chose was terrible: Loose Cannons. Remember that cinematic offering starring Gene Hackman as a weary cop, Dan Aykroyd as his unconventional partner who has a split personality disorder, and Dom DeLuis as some portly dude thrown in for extra so-called comic relief? No? Well consider yourself very very lucky. I considered it the worst movies I ever saw until the day I saw Johnny Mnemonic.
Mitchell and I pretended we liked the movie, and our strained conversation afterwards had us scraping for good things to say about it, like praising Aykroyd’s “zany” multiple personality-filled acting.
Mitch walked me home just like last time and the other bad news is he did not kiss me (just like last time). No hair fluffing, nothing. Maybe the horrendous movie killed the mood?
I was not floating on air after this date.
[*The other good news is that I got better about not mixing up my tenses.]
We are on the bus back.
Yesterday we had square dancing and I danced with Mitch and we held hands for the first time. His hands are really warm.
I also had a dream with Mitchell. I usually dream about a boy I like if I really like him.
Well anyway this was the dream and what I think everything stands for.
First I’m in this store buying an apple (not to eat but we have these kinds that are pins that we have to wear to school).
Then all of the sudden I’m at this small party. I guess Rose was the one that threw it. Well anyway we were all drinking seltzer (yuck!) and there was a song playing. It was New Kids on the Block “Please Don’t Go Girl.” Well Mitchell was just standing there. Then Rose comes up to me drags me over to a corner and says
“He’s really tough isn’t he?” and then the teacher wakes us up. Weird Huh?
Alert David Lynch, because he obviously has some strong competition for strange dream sequences.
For some reason, despite pronouncing myself an expert dream interpreter, I didn’t actually bother to interpret the dream in the diary entry. Twenty years later I can make a cursory guess at what it stands for. I rarely had any privacy with Mitch–or “Mitchell” (it made me feel more mature to call him that for whatever reason). I felt frustrated that our courtship was being stunted by the crowd of our classmates and developing an intimacy was proving difficult. Nevermind the fact that we had only been out on one date.
Either that or I loved my “cool” New Kids on the Block jeans so much, my subconscious brain was paying the price.
Tomorrow I am going to Elaine’s birthday party.
I want to try something new.
Well since the new year is coming, and the new decade, I want to write down my new years resolutions.
1) Go steady with Mitchell.
2) lose seven pounds.
3) kick my knuckle cracking and nail biting habits.
4) learn how to ride a bike. (I know that I won’t keep that one, but who really cares.)
5) talk my mom into letting me get second holes in my ears.
Well I geuss that does it. I hope I have a good year and decade.
Ah, resolutions. I don’t know where I got the idea to make this list, but it was probably inspired by something I saw on television (did the girls in The Facts of Life ever make resolutions? I’m thinking a strong maybe on that). This exercise sparked what would become a lifelong fondness for making lists, though I no longer make resolutions. Why should the calendar dictate personal self-improvement?
Back in the late 80′s (how sad it will be to usher in the 90′s. Can we have an acid washed moment of silence?) I think I misunderstood the idea of making resolutions with making a wish list. In the spirit of hindsight, I’d like to revise that list for my 12-year-old self. This is what is should have looked like:
1) Realize that being in a relationship is not always something one can control.
3) Now that the nails are safe, kick the cuticle-biting habit (it’s pretty gross).
4) Learn to drive (I probably won’t keep that one, either).
5) Thank mom for not letting me get that second pair of holes in my ears, because accessorizing with one pair is challenging enough.
Dear Journal, My birthday party was rad! It was so cool. I got a bunch of neat stuff.
Vito C asked me out and I said, “no.” When I told Mitch he said “pretty good” and I wanted to know what that was supposed to mean but he just said “forget it.” Mitch wanted to take me out yesterday but he has the flu so he will take me out next Saturday.
I really think that Mitchell wants to go steady with me. I don’t know, but it’s so easy being with him. I feel so comfortable and not nervouse.
I have heard some bad things about Mitch but I will believe when I see it! If I see it! I can’t wait until our date!
I hope he kisses me! I have to admit that I think I’m falling in love. You never can tell can you?
So here I was, twelve years old, feeling unexpectedly sophisticated and popular, and navigating new dating waters. I don’t remember what the negative gossip surrounding Mitch was, but I do know I didn’t bother to get details or ask Mitch about his bad reputation directly. Why bother with common sense when I could let my emotions rule? What’s the worst that could happen. As for Vito, while telling Mitch about him have been smart in that it made me seem desired by other guys, I wonder whether it also made me a little too available and eager to commit after one date because I was so quick to say no to another prospect. I wouldn’t have gone out with Vito regardless, but this may have shifted the balance of power a little more in Mitch’s favor.
I’m still not sure exactly what Mitch meant when he said “pretty good.” Was he complimenting my feminine wiles at being able to lure two suitors in a short space of time? Was he impressed that it was Vito? Was he pleased that I confided in him and showed him such loyalty early on? You never can tell…
Today I went out with Mitch and we had a lot of fun.
We saw Jason, Charles, Yanmei (the bitch!), Rose, Penny and Elaine at the movies.
What a coincidence! Really! But it was really fun anyway. And I think that me and Mitch will have something going. Also at the movies (we saw “back to the future II”) I found out that Charles wants to go with (make-out with) Rose but I know that Charles is just desperate (someone told me.) so he asked Rose and they will probably go out. He might like Rose but I still know that he’s desperate. Elaine is really upset because she really likes Charles and thought that he kind of liked her too, so now she’s depressed because she wanted Charles to ask her out. Oh well. I hope things work out between them because if they don’t things can get messy between Elaine and Rose.
Between these type of diary entries and watching old episodes of Dynasty via Netflix (if you’ve never seen a catfight between Krystle and Alexis you are missing out, my friend), I have about all the 80′s drama I can stand.
There’s nothing like going on a date only to find out that you’re being stalked by half a dozen of your classmates. That sort of thing only happens when you’re a kid or a character in a movie filled with wacky misadventures. As annoying as it was to have the group sitting a few rows behind us at the movie, I found it even more irksome that the entire crowd also followed us on the seven-block walk back to my apartment building. It gave us something to laugh about, but made the date more awkward by a factor of ten. The only real privacy Mitch and I had was the elevator ride up to the fifth floor and the three foot walk to my apartment door. There was no kiss and I don’t think we even held hands, so I’m not sure what made me believe that the two of us might “have something going.” But at least I was completely over my crush on Charles and could be a mere bystander in the unfolding love triangle surrounding him.
A few words on Back to the Future Part II. I remember enjoying the movie but feeling cheated that the it ended with a cliffhanger which reduced the film to a trailer for the third installment (the first movie did that too, but still felt more complete). I did love all the special effects, including the hoverboards, flying cars, and holographic theaters, and managed to suspend all disbelief regarding the time travel logic, so that I could enjoy the movie for entertainment’s sake. It’s something I wish I could do more often today.
I just (well a few hours ago.) saw the movie “beaches” again and it was really sad at the end. It’s about this friendship that these two girls have and one of them dies at the end (that’s why it’s so sad). It got me thinking about friendship and how I would feel if one of my good (or even best!) friends died. I would be so depressed and miserable, I don’t know what I would do.
Well let’s move on to a happier subject. Like my date with Mitch (which is tomorrow by the way.) I hope it goes all right.
Also my birthday is coming up and my party is going to have a horror theme. We are going to see a horror movie then tell ghost stories, have some food then play with my Ouija board.
In case it’s still not clear, it’s sad because of the death in the movie. Of the friend. At the end.
Ah, Beaches. For those not up on their chick flicks, Bette Midler plays a bold and brassy gal (I know, so very unlike her other characters) who forges a lifelong friendship with a sensible and cautious gal (Barbara Hershey). What could they possibly have in common, you ask? Well, not a whole lot, but you know what they say about opposites (“they,” in the late 80′s, being Paula Abdul and a cartoon cat). There’s fighting, singing, crying, dying, and more crying. All to the tune of a soundtrack sung by the Diving Miss M herself, who made us take stock and ask who the wind beneath our wings might be. Despite its somber conclusion, the film has moments of levity, plus plenty of shoulder pads, big hair, and a musical sequence about the invention of the bra (you owe it to yourself to hear “Otto Titsling” at least once in your life if you never have).
To me, Beaches is a scary movie because it shows the fragility of friendship and of life itself. However, others out there might consider it to be a horror movie because of its abundance of female emotion and sentimentality. Either way, it was not part of my impending birthday’s theme.
As I previously mentioned, my parents let me immerse myself in all kinds of media related to paranormal phenomena, but they didn’t let me watch scary movies. Nothing with Freddy or Jason or Michael Myers or anything of that ilk. Initially they forbade horror movies until I was 13, but decided to loosen up and end the moratorium a year early. Clearly, I decided to really run with the theme.
What better way to celebrate the anniversary of your birth than seeing a bunch of people die onscreen, tell stories about dead people, and then try to actually talk to dead people using a toy/instrument of the occult? Sounds like my idea of a good time!
Our glee club will have our concert soon.
Also, I feel very different around Mitch. As if I have to watch my every move. I feel uncomfortable but maybe I’m just feeling the tension before a date. Oh well, I hope the feeling goes away.
One of my favorite things about elementary school was singing in the glee club. Mrs. Angelo was no ordinary music teacher. She had permed hair teased into a giant halo around her head and three-inch nails that miraculously did not impede her ability to accompany us on the piano. She was also inventive when determining the musical programs. One concert included a Neil Diamond medley, and to this day I have a soft spot for that crooner, from his immigration anthem “America” to his east coast/west coast struggle in “I Am I Said.”
Mrs. Angelo had us put on concerts for our entire school just for entertainment’s sake, like the showcase of Broadway tunes we did (I sang “Memory” from Cats solo). For the holiday concert, she even had an original Hanukkah song that she composed, “How Many Nights” (so catchy that I can still hum the chorus, decades later). She devised elaborate harmonies for us and made us rehearse often, but shared music with such enthusiasm and love, we didn’t mind.
Mitch was in glee club, too, so we were frequently in the same room together, though we didn’t speak. I guess we were saving up actual socializing for our date, and besides, we’d be scrutinized by our classmates if we talked to each other in front of them. As for the pre-date jitters, I think there was a part of me that worried Mike might find the reason to call off the date before it happened. To make sure that didn’t happen, I tried to keep my distance until then, and focused on singing instead.
Mitchell asked me out! I’m going to the movies with him on Saturday. I’m so happy. I know that I still like J.D. but I don’t think it will work out with him. Gotta go!
So much for J.D. and all of Anna’s “work.”
This is the same Mitch who, back in September I said, “got a new hairstyle and looks cool” and weeks later decided was full-on cute. Behold the power of a good hair. The right cut can make any preteen drop her schemes of making a far away older boy fall in love with her and decide to keep her heart local.
While personality and smarts were important, I’ll be honest: When I was young I was all about the pretty boys with “cool hair.” I particularly like spiked hair, heavily moussed/gelled hair, or bleached/dyed hair. (Exhibit A: Corey Haim) A few snips and a boy could go from being invisible to the top of my crush list or go from being my main heartthrob to mayor of WhatWasIThinkingVille. Superficial? You bet. But the heart wants what it wants and mine wanted a cute face with a hip coif.
While I would learn to look beyond the surface as the years went on, as a kid I had better things to do that wonder whether Mitchell had a good heart or if he was funny or kind. I was too busy planning an outfit for our date and figuring out what I was going to do with my hair (spoiler alert: it involved lots of Aqua Net, mousse, and teasing my permed tresses into something birds could have lived in).
J.D. likes me!!!!!!!!!! Really! My cousin asked him if he wanted to go out with me and he said, “yeah-no” because he thinks I’m a little too young for him but Anna is going to work on him.
I hope things work out.
Also I’m going camping again this year and I am going to bring this journal with me and keep track of everything exciting and worthwhile that happens. I hope nobody reads it because it has my deepest and darkest secrets.
Also I am taking the test for Mark Twain tomorrow and I hope I do well.
I will be so nervous tomorrow!!
Mark Twain was an accelerated middle school that required testing for admission. I would have been fine attending Seth Low, my local junior high school, but I was seen as one of the brighter students in school (permed hair notwithstanding), so I was encouraged to apply to the more smartypants schools like Mark Twain and Hunter College High School. I find it amusing that I wasn’t nervous at the time of writing the diary entry, yet felt that I could accurately prophesize my emotional state for the following day.
Let’s not even talk about the continued abuse of exclamation marks.
As for J.D. I don’t know why his ambivalence stirred such enthusiasm in me. The age difference was a real concern, as was the distance, (when you are a kid, the miles between Brooklyn and Staten Island are like New York-to-London grown-up miles). Regardless of the “work” Anna did on him, and J.D.’s lukewarm reaction to messengered confession of “like,” my dating life was about to take a surprising turn…
Francis asked me out!
One of his friends is coming but I don’t mind.
We are going to the movies and they will pick me up.
I’m going tomorrow. I can’t wait.
[Addendum, no date] The date was great
I was so thrilled to be asked out on a date by a boy I liked that I didn’t question the fact that he brought a friend along.
For some reason my parents did not find it dubious either, and let me see a Saturday matinee of Batman with these two.
I wore what I thought was a terribly cool outfit: a neon green t-shirt and matching short pants with a pattern of abstract tribesmen across the hem and pant cuffs. Crimped hair and big plastic earrings were undoubtedly involved. Possibly some bangle bracelets, too.
I don’t remember anything about Francis’ friend or what the three of us talked about on the walk to the theater. At the movies, I was so nervous, I said yes to everything the boys asked. Did I want a soda? Popcorn? A hotdog? Yes, yes, and yes (it was the first and only time I ate a hotdog at the movies).
I was blown away by Tim Burton’s vision of Batman, and went to see it a second time with my parents. Later on I got a Batman t-shirt and listened to the soundtrack by Prince ad nauseam. A local video store had a Batman pinball machine and I spent many hours hunched over it that summer, playing badly.
As for the rest of the date, after the movie, the boys walked me home and I never saw either of them again. I always wondered if it was because I said yes to that hotdog.