In middle school we played a game called "zap" and the point of the game was someone would write a name on your hand and then you had to ask that person to "go out" with you. Yep, we invented a game with that much strategy, skill level, and entertainment value! The way it usually went down, someone would write the name of someone on your hand and you'd ask them out, and then your friends would burst into laughter like it was the funniest thing ever, while you blushed, screamed, and ran away regardless of what your zappee's response had been.
I was sitting in class when another girl wrote Evan's name on my hand. At twelve I still had yet to have any sort of real romantic feeling for a boy, so I didn't give a shit.
I said, "Hey Evan, wanna go out?"
Blushing and looking down he mumbled, "Are you asking for reals or is this a zap?"
Slightly surprised by this answer I responded, "Why? Would the answer differ if it was a serious request?"
My friends watching behind me were stalled by my answer. No one had ever considered this. I was changing up the game. Evan's friends behind him stared at me.
"What?" he asked.
"It was a zap," I said.
"Then no," Evan said.
"If it wasn't a zap... would you say yes?" I asked.
"I don't know."
"Hey, Evan, wanna go out? Not a zap."
"Um, can I think about it? I'll call you tonight."
I laughed and shrugged. It was fine with me either way, I was just curious, observing the situation almost more as a social scientific experiment than something that would affect my life in any way.
Evan and I dated for about eight months, which is considered married in 7th grade. We didn't really talk to each other or ever hang out or make eye contact. One day he emailed me, "Hey, is this your email? I love you! Evan." I was like, oh maybe I should like say hi to him at school now. It was the first time anyone had told they loved me and I for the first but not the last time, decided to never say a word back, but internally obsess until it turned my insides into an acidic river of bile.
Evan was an oboist in band and I remember thinking that "I don't think I could EVER be with someone who didn't understand how important band is." As I grew up I would think the same thing about dating boys in track, journalism, political science, writers, and comedy writers.
One day we both happened to sit next to each other in the cafeteria. We were surrounded by our friends and under bright white fluorescent lights sitting at long white lunch tables. I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and diet cherry coke without looking up at my "boyfriend."
"So what was your first kiss like?" our friend Rebecca asked.
"Hasn't happened yet," Evan grunted. I grinned silently and manically because I didn't know what else to do.
"You guys have been going out for months! You better kiss or something!" Meggy exclaimed.
"Yeah right, gross," I said, laughing at the absurdity of the idea of me touching a boy.
Evan, however, had a different idea. He mechanically turned to face me, grabbed the back of my head and stuck out his tongue. Terrified I sat there awaiting my impending doom like Han waiting to be devoured by the Sarlacc. With both hands he secured my face in place like he was holding it steady to aim. He leaned in, tongue first, and crammed it into my mouth. Once we were locked in to the tractor beam, he opened his mouth as wide as possible, shoving his fat tongue all the way into my mouth and just letting it floppily sit in there. His mouth was opened much wider than mine, which meant that his lips were on the outside and spit and drool quickly seeped around my mouth. He had just been eating pepperoni pizza and I could taste it in his mouth. As a young sensitive vegetarian, I almost threw up at the taste of meat. Despite the utter disgusting pig taste, I started bouncing up and down with excitement. I am doing it! I am kissing! I thought. This is kissing, right? It's slobberier than I imagined but that's cool.
Evan was the first boy that I wrote erotica/porn about. This was still before the time that I had any idea what a vagina was, so I didn't know what sex was either. (What about me doesn't say late bloomer?) In the stories I wrote, the two of us would go into the practice closet in the band room and get naked and rub our 12 year old bodies on one another. Then we would come out and accidentally have switched socks with one another and everyone would know that we had sex!
When Evan broke up with me, I didn't really care, and I certainly didn't cry. I found out later that he had been playing videogames at a friend's house and then he said, "Hmm, I guess I'll break up with Barbara." and put down the controller and called me. He had done it matter of factly with the same matter of fact tone as if to say, guess it's time to feed the cat. The next day I didn't worry about wearing a cute shirt or putting on chapstick or wearing my hair down. I wore my hair in pigtails and my most comfortable baggy overalls, almost defiantly. I hadn't realized how trapped and uncomfortably chained down I had felt. I ecstatically rejoiced in being free to be myself. I sighed with relief as though I had been unshackled from a ball and chain and reveled in my new-found freedom.