I was very cool in seventh grade. I had a group of neighborhood friends, we played football in the big field behind a row of townhouses. I was doing well in school, cheating helped. I had Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow.
But it was impossible to maintain this height of social success without a girlfriend. Everyone else was in committed romantic relationships, they would kiss and go to the movies together. We called this “going out” at the time, I have no idea what the kids call it these days. Probably “hooking up” or “whatever” or “true love.”
So I asked a female classmate. To protect the innocent, let’s call her Lavender Brown. Just like that, we were going out. I told people that we weren’t actually going anywhere, we were 12 and couldn’t drive. We walked to class together, exchanged yearbook photos, ate lunch together, talked during recess, and tried to talk on the phone. Remember, this was 2001, we didn’t have cell phones. One time, she called the house and said she wanted to ask me about that day’s homework assignment. My mother answered the phone and saw through the ruse. She handed me the phone and said I could only talk while she sat three feet away. I wasn’t foolish enough to try anything other than tell Lavender what the math homework was. The next day she asked what was wrong with me, I told her my mom was right there and we couldn’t talk on the phone anymore.
I hugged her once, that was genuinely as far as anything went. We were in the cafeteria with the rest of the seventh grade and they told us something happened in New York and Washington DC, so school would end early. Lavender was distraught because her father worked in DC. I didn’t know what to tell her, so I hugged her. She pulled away, wiped her eyes, and walked back to her friends.
Another classmate would tell Lavender that I didn’t love her (lets call him Michael Corner). I knew I needed to have a girlfriend to be cool, so I told him to stop. But he was bigger than me, so he said whatever he wanted to say.
I don’t know what I did wrong, but I didn’t do anything right either. I eventually realized that we were both unhappy and thought I’d cut my losses. It was too bright and sunny on the recess blacktop for such a fateful day. We stood alone near the middle of the tarmac, everyone else stood in their cliques along the edge. A few kids played basketball at one end.
“You know what Michael keeps saying? That I don’t love you?” I asked.
“Yeah…” Lavender replied and looked confused.
I walked away. She cried.
I was a boor and a cad. I was a scoundrel and an ass. Casting Lavender Brown aside in such a heartless manner is the worst thing I have done.