How did I emerge unscathed?
In my pre-adult days... How many times did I put myself (unknowingly) into potentially dangerous situations. Unfortunately, more times than I care to remember. Except one particular incident came to mind this morning, and I’ve been trying to forget it ever since, quite unsuccessfully. When I was 14 going on 15, I became enamoured with an older guy, an 18 year old. Looking back, I wonder what in the world a, for all intents and purposes, man saw in a newly minted teenager, but it’s best not to overthink that.
It was 1995. The summer loomed before me, brimming with countless possibilities. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d be moving to a different town, several hours away, in the fall. I encountered him, “John” at a teenage dance. He asked me to dance to a slow song. I had a crush on him so I was thrilled. The next thing I knew, we were kissing in the middle of the dance door like there was no tomorrow. To my recollection, he was the second guy I’d ever really kissed so I totally fell into the inexperienced category. I wasn’t even sure if he was sober or knew exactly who I was. He may not have been sober, but he did know my name. I checked several times. That was good enough for me.
Throughout the summer, we’d meet around town and drive off to go make out in his truck. My friends told me he was bad news, but I didn’t care. I liked him. The river was a favorite spot to park. It had secluded going for it and a romantic atmosphere. My adult self screams, “what were you thinking parking with a guy, with probably only one thing on his mind, in such a secluded area?” to my 14 year old self. Young me was just over the moon to have this cool guy paying me any attention. Like I said, I was terribly innocent. And, to his credit, he didn’t really try anything with me. One night, he slipped his hand in my shorts, but the minute he reached the short and curlies, I pulled away in complete shock.
Then, I found out he was taking another girl parking on the same nights as me AFTER he brought me home. I confronted him and that was that. Except for one night, a few months later, when I had a moment of weakness, and we made out at a dance. He was a good kisser, and I really liked kissing.
If I hadn’t been such a prude set on protecting my virtue... oh the trouble I might’ve found in those days. Luckily, the few other dicey situations I landed in didn’t end badly either.
But it made me think about how my view of the world has changed since I was the innocent 14 year old. And, really, why kids take such risks with their lives. Lying down in the middle of the road to play chicken. Joyriding in the back of a pickup truck. Leaving the bar late at night to catch a cab alone. Not that I ever did any of those things.
Examining human nature becomes second nature to a writer. We’re always asking questions about what we observe around us. Why do people do the things they do? I postulate. And it doesn’t always make sense. Not by a long shot. But what would be the fun in that?