Today, I’m going to tell you a story. This is mostly because I have nothing to write about (outside of Professor McGregor’s poor texting habits, which have me strung the hell out, kittens), but also because I’ve done some reflecting. A lot of people seem totally bemused/horrified by my inability to just let things roll in love. Nervousness is understandable, but relationships give me the sort of paranoid anxiety typically found in psych wards or Spanish soap operas. Luckily, I have done a psych rotation already! So, I analyzed brain-Grace a bit and came up with one possible root of my crazy:
Teenage boys are shitheads.
The end. Oh, you were expecting something more involved and eloquent than that? Okay, neat. Let’s talk about my first boyfriend in embarrassing and uncomfortably personal detail, shall we? This should be fun.
In the fall of 1999, two important things happened: I entered high school and became popular. I would like to say that my newfound status was due to my charming personality and excellent social skills, but that would be a lie. I was suddenly popular because I was blonde, had breasts, and possessed friends with strong social-climbing instincts. That I was in all gifted classes and spouted “fun” science tidbits were facts begrudgingly overlooked by the social elite. Because, you know, breasts.
Those self-same breasts attracted the notice of Chris Walters (name changed to protect the asshats). Chris was the coolest, dreamiest boy to ever walk the halls of Gizzard Junior High, the other feeder school, and I was blessed to be considered “pretty hot” by such a specimen. Or so I was told by my friend Ashley—whose name I’m not changing because everyone our age is named Ashley or Sarah or Megan—who’d briefly attended Gizzard and considered herself the social doyenne of our group. It was decreed that I should date him.
So, I did. Because that is what you do, when a cute boy says he likes you the first week of high school. I wasn’t a total social misfit. What I was, it turned out, was crazy fucking awkward. Just so you know, historical romance novels do not prepare you for actual dating. High-school boys don’t understand Regency fan language, at all. Anyway, it was a disaster. Besides being cute, Chris was really into: gangster rap, drinking beer, and not doing well in school. Meanwhile, wee-Grace liked: N*Sync, not drinking beer, and being the first one to finish tests.
Our conversations went thusly:
Chris: Dude, that NASCAR race was so badass! Buddy and I laughed so hard when that car exploded.
Chris: Don’t you think that new Methtastic Donkey Spittle song is awesome?
Grace: Uh…who? Wait, I mean, totally.
Chris: Mrs. Minchin is such a bitch. She gave me an F on that paper!
Grace: You said that Atticus Finch shot the dog, because he wanted to see how far the blood would splatter.
Chris: Yeah. Homie was tight.
We were like Romeo & Juliet, without all the dying or being passionately in love. How did this not work out? Well, I eventually figured out that Chris wasn’t cute enough to make up for how awful he was. We were at Ashley’s house, laying in the back of her stepdad’s pick-up—like you do in Texas—looking at stars, when this realization hit. It went like this:
Grace: Wow, it’s really pretty.
Chris (trying to put his hand near wee-Grace’s magical breasts): Uh huh.
Grace: Someday, I want to go up there.
Note: You should know that I had just seen Armageddon and was still basking in a Ben Affleck-induced bout of romanticism. I did not actually want to go into space, because I don’t really like heights or Tang or death by fiery explosion, but it seemed really grown up and impressive to want to go into space.
Chris: In that tree?
Grace: No, you moron snookums. Space.
Chris: Ha! Yeah, right. You can’t be an astronaut.
Grace (who, I will remind you, didn’t actually want to space travel): What!? You don’t think I could be an astronaut? I’m in pre-AP Bio! And TAG Geometry! I could totally be an astronaut.
Chris: You’re too blonde to be an astronaut, baby.
Later that night, I broke up with poor, dumbshit Chris on AOL Instant Messenger. Nobody tells wee-Grace she can’t be an astronaut! Also, in reality, he was getting less cute by the day. As it turns out, beer at fourteen isn’t so good for one’s weight or complexion. I was free! And I got out of my first real teenage relationship relatively unscathed, right?
Wrong. Because then some shit happened that ensured that moron got his revenge. Ashley, that lovely friend of mine, called the next afternoon in a breathless tizzy.
Ashley: Grace, I just heard the most awful thing ever!!! !! !! !
Grace: Lance Bass is gay?
Ashley (gasps): Not that bad. Omg, can you imagine? I would cry so hard. No, it’s about Chris. And you. I’m only telling you this, because you’re my best friend and we don’t keep secrets from each other, right?
Ashley: Apparently, he only went out with you, because he had a bet with Greg that you’d give him a blow job.
Grace: He’s probably just pissed I broke up with him.
Ashley: No way. Chelsea said Greg told her this last week, when y’all were still dating! I am so sorry, Grace. You must be sooo embarrassed. Tell me how embarrassed you are!
Y’all, I was sooo embarrassed. It was bad enough when the boy doubted my space-worthiness, but the whole time I’d been imagining romantic asteroid sequences, he’d just been trying to win a bet with his douchecanoe friend. It had been okay when I’d thought he’d liked me and I’d nobly realized the error of our match, but he’d never liked me at all? Seriously? Holy shit. If such a moron didn’t even like me, a smart NASA-appreciating guy never would. I was so screwed.
So, that’s a thing that happened. Combined with some other high school shenanigans (Highlights: You’re going to date my best friend, right after we break up?!, You asked me to Homecoming, but only because Courtney already had a date?, and Of course, I believe you, when you tell me you’re not gay!) and my college boyfriend’s secret love affair with cocaine, it’s a wonder I’m not sitting in a padded room somewhere, mumbling about Ben Affleck. I have a hard time trusting that guys want to date me and not: just receive blow jobs (which I don’t give, for an entirely unrelated reason), date my best (gay) friend, or want to do drugs instead. Professor McGregor is really lucky I didn’t quiz him on gender politics in space, now that I think about it.
Incidentally, Ashley and I quickly went our separate ways in high school. She has all the same friends she did our senior year, including Chris Walters, whom she recently accompanied on a cruise to Mexico. Meanwhile, I am a really good person and didn’t wish the Norovirus upon their boat. I just passive aggressively wrote about them on this anonymous blog! Sainthood, here I come.