Dating in High School is a right of passage, I suppose. Romcoms set in high school set this image in your head as to how your young dating years are supposed to look. You meet at some wild “parents are out of town” kind of party. You have some witty conversation. Maybe have some weird singing and dance number. You either go to the same college or you break up and date his best friend because for some reason the dating pool is always so small in these high school romcoms.
When I was 15, a guy I vaguely knew from school reached out to me on Facebook and we talked frequently about music, politics, and Europe. Not quite meeting at a party or having the wittiest of conversations. I thought we were just friends and when he asked to meet, my naïve self was convinced we were just seeing a movie as two people who both really wanted to get our minds blown by the movie Inception. We were both leaving for our home countries in a few weeks so there was no way he was into me. No sane person signs up for long distance for a full month right off the bat. Then again, I was 15. What did I know about boys and relationships? By the end of the date we were holding hands. Again, no expert here, but that’s definitely not something that friends do. We left our hormone filled budding romance behind in the States with him, let’s call him Andrew, going to England and me going to the Netherlands. We talked often while being separated by a small sea. We agreed to buy each other gifts since both of our birthdays were in the summer. Pretty serious stuff for two people who only went on two dates and did nothing but hold hands and kiss cheeks.
When we returned from our trips abroad, my mother asked me to bring him to an Aerosmith concert in Atlantic City. I was originally only supposed to go with my mom, but she told me it’d be a great date that I’d never forget. So my mom bought a third ticket since neither one of us were able to drive quite yet. Thankfully her seat would be several rows away from us. Andrew said yes and we were off.
The opening band was a marvel to behold, a one of a kind band who had a cheap beach-themed stage (it looked like a 5-year-old's pool party decorated by the Party City tiki themed aisle) and graced us with an unforgettable performance. The lyrics were so full of such emotional depth. The introduction to each of the songs was always the same and it was given in a slurred tone, “I wrote this song about a girl I saw on a beach in Santa Monica.” This Margaritaville nightmare would occasionally take a break to have bikini clad women serve the lead singer a drink. He even smacked the one girls butt mid show. The whole thing was incredibly tasteful. Pretty much a band of washed up dad’s who probably all sport some tattoo with a wave and “Life’s a beach” written underneath. Despite not knowing their name, it’s probably one of my top five favorite bands to see live. Ten out of ten would recommend.
Once Aerosmith finally came on, people in their seats started dancing in the aisles. One woman in a “Can I speak to your manager?” haircut started pulling men into the aisle, jumping on their back, and literally humping them. Andrew grew nervous that she would pull him into the aisle and make him her next victim. She worked her way down grabbing a new man with every song. As if luck or some deity was on our side, Andrew was spared when the guy just before us seemed to be really into that horrible highlighted pixie cut combo. They danced together for the rest of the concert and disturbed families throughout the immediate area.
When the concert was over, we walked out of the venue and quickly found my mom. She strolled behind us as we walked along the boardwalk towards the car. He reached for my hand and it started to feel like we were alone, like we were this mature couple that went to shows together. Until we saw a burst of light coming from behind us. And then another burst of light. Andrew looks at me, “Is your mom taking pictures of us?” I turn my head slightly and low and behold, there she was: phone in hand snapping shot after shot and saying, “So cute” from behind us.
When we finally get to the car, my mom turns to us and says, “I don’t feel very good and my stomach hurts.” Odd, but okay. Fair enough. My mom starts to blast Meat Loaf and we began our 2-hour long commute back to our small suburban town just outside of Philadelphia.
Suddenly the car ride is interrupted by the loudest, smelliest fart. My mom turns slightly and mutters a “Sorry.” I am mortified. I am laughing nervously, but red cheeks were giving away my complete and utter embarrassment. This boy will never talk to me again. He’ll tell the whole school. People will come up with some embarrassing name like Suezie Farterson, loving daughter of Mrs. Farterson. He grabs my hand and says, “It’s okay.”
“Paradise by the dashboard light.”
Another loud fart escapes my mom and fills the air. She starts to roll down the window while muttering yet another, “Sorry.”
I start nervously laughing again as I look back at Andrew. “It’s not okay.”
My mom looks back at us and explains yet again that she has a really bad stomachache. Stomachache or not, this is the kind of situation that makes a girl change schools. The rest of the hour and a half long car ride was a constant loop of farts and apologies.
Finally we arrived at Andrew’s place. I get out to walk him to his door as he remembers we have to exchange gifts. He runs inside to go get his gift for me. Bored, I look back at the car only to see my mom slowly go in reverse and then turn her whole body just to stare in my general direction. Andrew comes right back outside, not noticing that the car moved and my mom’s eyes were on us.
You know that moment when you know you’re about to be kissed? When everything is suddenly quiet and you’re both staring at each other? That’s precisely what happened and maybe it’s biology because there’s no verbal communication that you’re about to put your face on someone else’s. You just know. Andrew begins to close his eyes and lean forward. I couldn’t believe I was about to get my first kiss with my mom watching. I mean, I’ve kissed other boys, but those were all dares and the only people who count dares are guys who are way too invested in seven minutes in heaven and often go by douchebag names such as “Brad” or “Chad.”
I panicked. I gave Andrew the fastest kiss to the point that it barely even felt like our lips touched. For the briefest of seconds both of our acne-clad puberty faces touched in the least romantic kiss I ever had in my life. It was the kind of kiss you embarrassingly give your mom when you know you’re too old to give family members a kiss on the lips. The kind of kiss you wanted to end as soon as it started. The kind of kiss women with fresh lipstick give their boyfriends when they don’t want their make up ruined. I turned and booked it towards the car. I ran faster than I ever did in any of those Department of Education mandated miles you had to run once a year.
The next day I awoke to a message from Andrew asking what he did wrong to make me run away. I embarrassingly told him how my mom was watching and then, to my surprise, he quickly asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend. It was in that same conversation that I found out he always hated Aerosmith and considered them to be “glam rock.” He could have shared that earlier to save me both the money and the embarrassment, but I suppose my mom was right in that it was a date I’d never forget. At least we didn’t have any god awful singing and dancing moment. Little did I know that this was the start of the never ending nightmare that is the dating world.