The following story is true. The details are a little exaggerated, but that's just for comedy's sake. The actual event, participants and overall flow of the evening are all as true as my memory allows.
You might find this hard to believe, but I was a bit of dork when I was in school. Actually, calling me a bit of a dork is like saying the U.S.A. has a slight deficit. I was a total goober - and the peak of my gooberishness was my 7th grade year.
Barely five feet tall, weighed less than your average chihuahua, I was able to be somewhat socially redeemed by the obnoxious aviator-style windshield-sized glasses that I wore, which complimented my braces and acne quite nicely. I was lucky that mirrors reflected me, I was such a mess. I was so dorky that blind people would scream when I passed by.
In short, to my memory (and because it's funnier), I was a complete loser.
But I was nice. I was always a polite child, and I treated everyone with the respect and gentility the South is known for (it wasn't until I became an angry, angst-ridden high school student that I became a sarcastic jerk). And, in the 7th grade, nice goes a long way. In case you've forgotten what 7th grade was like, let me illustrate the average pick-up line:
Girl is sitting in her seat, minding her own business.
Boy runs up, sits down beside her, punches her dead in the arm.
Girl winces in pain, rubs arm where assaulted.
Boy: You're retarded.
Girl: You're stupid.
They make out.
Anyway, the only reason that I stood out was my sensitivity and kindheartedness, and the fact that girls so badly scared the bejeezus out of me that I was too afraid to act macho around them. As in all good stories, the time came when fate smiled upon me, and this young woman - a vision of radiance and beauty - somehow became gravely mentally ill and decided that she found me attractive. Her name was Ali. I'll leave it at that. And, if by some chance Ali actually reads this, may I apologize for the Nth time for my behavior?
Back to the story: the phone call comes in from Ali's friend, Lisa. "Ali thinks you're cute and sweet."
I'm stunned. Can't breathe. Might have slightly wet my pants. A girl has called me to tell me I'm cute? I look out the window to see if the Apocalypse has begun - nope. This is really happening. What do I say? How do I respond? Should I be cool? What's the right thing to do here? Naturally, being as suave as I am, I respond with a, "Huh-huh."
Long story short, we end up "going out." Which is sort of like being engaged, only there's more drama. Notes are exchanged, names are written on folders, people come up to you with M.A.S.H. games to play, there's the whole awkward first-hand hold, just lots of stuff, you know? Most 7th graders who go out actually never go anywhere - they just sort of hang out a lot at school, and if they're particularly chatty, they talk a lot on the phone. Actually, their friends talk to one another a lot on the phone; most going out seemed to occur third party.
Ali and I were actually good friends. She was funny, and pretty, and very nice. I was just happy to be noticed. After our second day anniversary (and if you remember 7th grade, that's a long term relationship), empowered by confidence and blinded by stupidity, I asked Ali to go to the movies with me.
A date. An honest-to-gosh, real, live, in public date.
And she said, "Yes."
One of the more historic "Yes"es I've received in my life - it was truly life changing. I was going on a date. Other kids had been on dates before - the good looking, popular, well-liked kids that I knew simply because we were in Boy Scouts together. I began to scout for advice.
"Wear jeans, 'cause that's rad."
"Dude, be sure and wear you're best button-up white shirt. You'll look like Crockett."
"If you want to get kissed, Bass shoes with the curly-que laces. Girls can't resist."
In case you haven't figured it out, this was way back in the 80's. Deal.
Anyway, the big night came and my mother graciously agreed to drive not only me and my date, but my friend Davin and his long-time girlfriend Jennifer to the movies. Ali was cool with the double-date, and I needed it to happen so I could watch Davin and know what to do. So there I am, standing in my room, outfit all laid out for my first date. Jeans. White button-up. Bass shoes with curly-que laces. I'm ready. I'm primed. I get dressed, and I can feel the surge of masculinity within me. My dork days are about to be over.
That's when my mother opened the door and said, "You're not wearing that. It's too hot out."
I would like to say that a discussion followed, but that would be a lie. I was an obedient kid; if mom said no, then no it was. I was in her hands. She opened my dresser and rummaged for a moment, then produced an outfit so heinous, so indescribably awful, that I actually defied my mother.
"I'm not wearing that," I bellowed.
"You will, or you won't go on this date," she replied.
Descisions. Some change your life, you know? I pondered not going on the date and salvaging my dignity - I could pretend that I had caught a cold, or been diagnosed with a rare tropical disease, and that Ali and I would have to wait until the temperature was below 65 degrees before we went to the movies. But in the end, the dork couldn't resist the pull of being seen in public with a real, live, good looking girl. I acquiesced.
I agreed to my mother's costume design, and ended up wearing a matching shirt and shorts combo. But not just any combo, this one was powder blue tye-dyed, and had a large frowning face on the shirt with the words, "Worry - don't be happy." The same graphic was on the right leg of my shorts. Mom also pulled out knee-high socks with matching powder blue rings, and my best pair of Chuck Taylor low-cuts, white with powder blue laces. Don't ask about the powder blue thing, it was just an "In" color at the time.
Fast forward an hour - we've picked up Davin, Jennifer and Ali (all of whom are wearing white button-up shirts, jeans and Bass shoes) and we've arrived at the movie theater, where we were set to take in Jim Belushi's stunning masterpiece, "K-9." Ever the gentleman, I approach the window to pay for mine and Ali's tickets. The cashier, who was about 16, snickered when I approached, and then told me, "That'll be $10 dollars." I screamed out, "Ten dollars! That's outrageous! I can't believe you're ripping people off like that!"
Just a tip for you guys out there: griping about prices while on a first date does not do much to improve your date's impression of you.
Anyway, after turning into an old man at the ticket window, I then proceed inside, where I bought myself a large Coke, some popcorn, Milk Duds, some JuJuBees, a small nacho, an Icee and the family-sized bottle of Maalox.
I didn't offer to buy Ali anything. Just walked into the theater to find some good make-out seats.
We got into the theater, and I had scouted out the perfect row - middle of the theater, left hand side, not beneath any sort of lighting. There were four chairs to the row, so no one else would bother us during the movie, and when the rest of the crew showed up we filed in: Davin, then Jennifer, then Ali, then me.
The girls immediately begin talking, paying absolutely no attention to Davin and I whatsoever. Just as the theater lights start dimming, I casually turn around to scout out the rest of the theater, and lo and behold, there is my mom - with my little brother and cousin in tow. She waved at me. My brother shot me the bird.
Once the movie started, I was consumed with dread - do I try and kiss her? Will she try and kiss me? What do I do? I turn to say something and she completely ignores me, continuing her conversation with Jennifer. I lean back and try to grab Davin's attention. He finally looks my way and mouths, "What's up?"
I mouth back, "What do I do?"
He mouths back, "Nothing, you look like a moron."
I slump into my chair. First date, going down in flames, and suddenly Davin leans forward and holds up a box of candy for me to see:
The rest of the movie is a blur. By the time we're done, Ali hasn't spoken three words to me, my brother has launched a semi-melted Milk Dud at my head, and we have trudged to the car and on to Davin and Jennifer's houses in complete silence.
When my mom pulls into Ali's driveway, my heart begins racing. This is it. I'll walk her to the door, and I'll get my first kiss. It's all working out!
I get out of the mini-van and escort Ali to her front door. An awkward, silent eternity passes and she finally opens the door to go inside. I close my eyes, pucker up, and lean towards her.
And get a big mouthful of air.
She'd already gone inside. She simply said, "Thanks for the movie. It was funny." The next day or the next week, I'm not entirely sure because I started abusing Pixie Stix pretty hard after that night, Ali broke up with me. She never said it was because of the movies, but I'm pretty sure it was. That, and I think I called her a nasty word in an attempt to be macho. Whatever.
So, that's my first date story. I'd like to tell you I got better at it, but my first date with Rachel, my wife, was equally as bad. But I did get to wear what I wanted, so that was a step up. If you're into public humiliation, by all means, leave a comment and share your first date.
Just be prepared to get laughed at.