Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Romance In The 80s: Glass Jars and Playgrounds

My dating style in the 80s was a bit primitive. For me, it was the era of girls dying to wear bras and boys doing stupid things to get the attention of the objects of their affection.

That meant running for cover from flying glass jars in my neighborhood.

My first kiss, Frank, had a strange way of showing he was diggin' on me. In the late 80s Frank and I were kind of two peas in a pod in the neighborhood. We were always playing Freeze Tag, Nintendo video games (remember when you were so psyched to get to the princess in Super Mario Brothers?) and otherwise up to no good. Mother Nature cursed us both with this awful, white-kid-afro hair that was reminiscent of something you'd see used to make a Brillo pad.

Anyway, Frank and I were pretty tight, at least as friendships go between girls and guys who are smack dab in the middle of all of the garbage that goes with puberty.

So, the year was probably 1989 and I was on foot, hoofin' it from my house to one of my many neighborhood babysitting jobs. I was passing Frank's house when I saw him running down the hill that made up his front yard. He was all, "Hey Kate!" smiling and stuff when he threw a Mason jar at me. Not the little ones used for jam, but the big ass ones used to keep your grandma's green beans when she's canning.

I remember I was wearing khaki shorts, a red and white Esprit top and I think some white, woven leather sandals. I was rad, if I say so myself. I was kind of freaked out by the whole glass jar episode, but my mom warned me that sometimes guys do mean things to the girls they like because they don't know how to otherwise show their feelings.

How gay is that?

The flipside to my dating (can I call it dating? I guess it's more just crushes) back in the 80s was the Playground Chase. I was big on this archaic technique in the early 80s, back when I was in 1st and 2nd grades. There was this one boy I really liked. He was blonde, very cute and our moms were good friends through the Junior League. Whitney was his name (it's a Southern, family name) and all the little girls liked him. For some reason, I always thought if I chased him and ran fast enough, Whitney would be mine. Who knows what I planned on doing once I got him, all I knew was I thought chasing after him would be enough to snag him.

I've since learned this is the least successful of all my dating strategies.

20 years later, I find myself caught up in both scenarios. For some reason I am stuck on a guy who continues to do anything but criticize and otherwise treat me with unkindness. You would think Ground Chuck's critical remarks and obstinant attitude would be enough for me to hit the highway, but no, a dumb heart is the slowest learner. I continue to make concessions and excuses for the guy, just hoping we'll turn a corner and he'll stop being the Man of Mystery he prides himself on being. Sometimes I catch myself considering having flowers sent to myself at work to keep him on his toes. It's amazing how jealousy can inspire action, isn't it.

At the same time, I have somehow reverted to my Playground days. I just won't give up on Ground Chuck, and continue to call him on occasion or make attempts to spur conversation with him. My heart just doesn't get it: It's not worth it, and there's plenty of other meat in the market to be had. Like I said, my heart is a slow learner. Hopefully I'll get it one of these days.

I've got to say one thing though: The minute Ground Chuck throws a glass jar at me, I'll deck him.

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