I suspect that growing up in a home with only brothers helps to reinforce the idea that girls are weird. You don’t get a lot of exposure to the feminine side of the equation when you’re always around your brothers and their friends. Even though some of those friends have sisters, what they tell you about them just reinforces the point. Girls are best avoided if at all possible.
Being reminded that your mother is a girl and she’s OK to be around doesn’t really help. Sure mom used to be a girl, but that was a really long time ago. And besides, that’s different – she’s a mom.
Then one day your world suddenly changes.
For Tucker it happened in the sixth grade, on the day a new girl started coming to his school. He noticed her immediately. She was AWESOME! He was so excited when Karen picked him up from school that day that he could barely wait to tell her about it. As he related the events of his magical day, it became clear that Tuck hadn’t actually talked to the girl, but he had been able to find out her name. At least her first name. Karen asked about her last name, wondering if maybe we knew the family, but Tuck told her he didn’t know.
Why? Is that important?
The mechanisms of middle school romance are complex and ever-changing. One does not just walk up to a girl and tell her that you like her. First, this would involve actually talking to her, which was a ridiculous idea. It would also violate all sorts of unwritten rules about how these things are done, leaving the violator at risk of public embarrassment. The better course was to use “the system”.
The next day when Karen picked up Tucker he revealed that he had successfully navigated the system and now had a girlfriend.
“Well mom, I made an offer on the girl.”
“You did what?”
“I made an offer on the girl.”
“Tucker, you make her sound like a used car!”
“Oh mom, she is so much more than a used car!”
Doing her best to stifle a laugh Karen asked how this had all happened, so Tucker walked her through the process. First he told his friend, Tanner, that he really liked the girl. Tanner passed the word to a friend of his, who forwarded it to another friend, and eventually the word got to the girl herself. She apparently approved of the arrangement and passed it back through her chain of confidants and friends until it reached Tucker.
Though they had never spoken a word to each other, they were now “going out”.
This phrase was a new one on us. Back when Karen and I were going through school we called it “going steady” or “going together”. For us, “going out” meant you were actually going somewhere with the other person, like on a date. That seemed a little advanced for Tuck’s age, so until we got the terminology clarified we were a little concerned about what this all meant. As it turned out there wasn’t much reason for us to worry.
Within 48 hours of their mutual declaration, the new girl left for a band trip and then sent word back through the system that she was no longer his girlfriend. It was unclear whether she’d received a better offer or if she had just grown tired of being associated with Tuck. Either way, the relationship was over. Tuck seemed OK with it, though. In fact he seemed somewhat relieved.
“Well, I’ve had a girlfriend.”
He had checked that block and was ready to move on to the next thing.
I’m not sure he ever found out what her last name was…
originally published 1/5/12| next post Hobbies