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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adolescent Milestones: Going Steady, Scene 2

     “Like the movie?” Ken had his arm over the back of my chair as we shared the popcorn. He had taken me to a chick-flick so I was pretty sure he wasn’t enjoying it as much as I was. On the other hand, I was equally sure he enjoyed whispering in my ear, smelling the fragrance of my new shampoo which had been purchased because he liked it. Alternating holding hands and resting his arm on my seatback, leaning in close, pleased us both.

     “Yeah, I do. Do you, at least, like the music?” I whispered back but never turned my head away from the big screen. Ken’s quiet, Uh-huh, didn’t sound all that convincing but he was being a good sport.

     About halfway through the film, I felt Ken’s arm leave the seatback and wrap around my shoulder, giving my arm a gentle squeeze. Perhaps 15 minutes later, his elbow bent and his hand hung over about mid-shoulder. Hmmmm, what’s the girl supposed to do when  a boy does that, I wondered. Should I reach up and take his hand? But, how? If I moved the arm on the side where his arm was resting, he might freak and pull his arm away. I don’t want him to take it away. If I reached across to take his hand with the opposite hand, well, that seemed a bit too awkward and, I mean, how comfortable would that be to have my arm hang in the air like that for the rest of the movie? No, I’ll just ignore it and try not to move.

     Before long, Ken’s hand found the buttons on my blouse and he kind of played with one of them. I giggled a little but, honestly, wondered what in the heck…? He had never even tried to kiss me. Shouldn’t he give me a goodnight kiss before he started playing with my buttons? I didn’t know, but I did know that my mother would kill us both if we got caught in here doing something we shouldn’t be doing. I needn’t have worried.

     At exactly the same time as I twisted to whisper to Ken to move his hand, his fingers left the button. To his great surprise, the timing of these two simultaneous actions, forced his fingertips to slip between the buttons. He nearly yelped when he touched my skin. Those fingers retreated like they had hit a red-hot iron. Ken straightened up in his chair, both hands in his own lap. I wanted to laugh so badly but, instead, reached over to take his hand in mine.

     The days that followed were strange ones; something had happened in my relationship with Ken and I hadn’t a clue what was up. Our phone conversations were very short, when we had one at all. There were no weekend plans, even just to hang out at his house or something. When the weekend passed without so much as a phone call, I phoned Ken’s mother.

     “No, he hasn’t said that you did or said anything that made him mad. He has really been upset with the news of your tennis friend, though. Maybe you should ask him about that.” Ken’s mother was such a nice lady. I would try her suggestion. Maybe it would, at least, get him talking.

     “But, how do you know it wouldn’t happen to us, too?” I pleaded with Ken that not everyone who dated, held hands, or even kissed got pregnant but he wouldn’t listen. “I… I… I just can’t be as sure as you are. How do you know?”

     “Well, I wouldn’t dare! I know my mother and, believe me, it just isn’t worth having her ticked at me for life. Maybe we need to hang out at my house more so you can get an idea what that cute little lady you think has such a good sense of humor would think if you got her daughter pregnant!” I laughed but he didn’t. He was just too afraid of the hormones he had felt one night in a movie theater.

     Holding his ring in my hand, I asked him if he wanted me to take the wrapped thread off first but he just shook his head, reaching out for the ring. And, that was that. Poof! A friend I played tennis with several hours every morning all summer, gets pregnant, and my life is ruined, too. Or, that’s how it felt, at the time.

     It wasn’t ruined forever, though. There were other rings, different kinds of rings, but this one was my first. Ken was my first, official “steady boyfriend.” The ring is what made it official, in case you were wondering.

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