September 11, 2016

Homecoming date

Ah, high school.  Remember those years?  Some memories might be easier to forget than others.  Since Laddie just graduated from high school in May, and Eddie just started his sophomore year, my high school memories are constantly being jogged.

This year the school's homecoming dance is scheduled to take place in two weeks, which is earlier than normal.  While so much has changed since I attended a Catholic High School in the late 80's, I have noticed that history has a tendency to repeat itself.

Today's students text one another in order to communicate.  They also tend to go to great lengths to invite a potential date to a dance.  On the other hand, awkward moments still prevail and teenagers still act first and think later.

The approaching dance (that Eddie will most likely attend with a group of buddies vs. a date) has caused me to reflect back on an incredibly embarrassing situation that I endured as a junior in high school.  In order to explain the dynamics of the situation, I must describe the setup of my unique school environment.

My school was an all girls' school, but the same building housed a Catholic high school for boys.  Because of the gender division that the school was structured around - girl students didn't encounter boys during the academic classes.

Our shared lunch room was a social experience where girls with big hair, outgoing personalities, and rolled-up-in-order-to-shorten uniform skirts felt comfortable mingling with the opposite sex.  Self conscious of my over-sized glasses, my short hair fashioned with mom's straight edge raiser, and my lack of over-all 'cool' demeanor, I cowered at my all girls table and managed to avoid contact with my male counterparts.  I'm sure after my flattering description you find it hard to believe that the guy students weren't begging for a seat at our table, but alas my friends and I managed to steer clear of most coed encounters. 

Early in the school year, I was invited to assist in running a retreat for 8th grade students from the surrounding area.  A few other junior girl students were selected along with a few senior boy students.  We were given an outline and the guidance of a few teachers who worked with us to plan the upcoming retreats.  There were several schools that planned to visit our Catholic high school, and the teachers chose a female and male student pair to lead each of the scheduled retreats. 

For the retreat, I was expected to prepare a speech about friendship, choose music to accompany my talk, and present it to the potential future students.  In preparation for the big day, I met with the committee a few times and we brainstormed our ideas and practiced our speeches.  Eventually the adult leaders assigned two students to each of the retreats.

I just so happened to be chosen to lead a retreat with John Throb-heart.  OK, that wasn't his real name, but his first name was John.  Trust me when I say that his real surname was a compound word and one of the words was indeed 'heart'.  While the other word was not 'throb', it was a word that literally made his name match his status as a good looking, kind, all around great guy.  Lucky me.

Seriously, I felt fortunate.  There were guys who may have been well suited to run a retreat, but who were a bit full of themselves.  Some of the candidates made it less than appealing to work with them.  There were cool guys, egotistical guys, and nerdy guys.  Being paired with John Throb-heart was a gift.

Some of the only conversations I engaged in with teenage guys to this point included phrases like, 'Would you like fries with that?' or 'Is that for here or to go?'  Imagine my hesitation in responding to the thought provoking topics that we discussed while organizing the retreat.  Thankfully, I realized early on that John was not the judgmental type and that he didn't struggle to be open and honest.

Prior to the retreat, I had seen him at school and had heard his name.  His reputation as a great guy preceded him.  Once the task of leading this one day religious event for the 8th graders ended, John and I congratulated ourselves on a successful result and returned to our regular school schedule on opposite sides of the building.

Our interaction should have ended there, but it didn't.  Oh, how I dread revisiting what happened next, but I believe you will find it entertaining.  Let me know if you can relate.   
(To read the end of the story, click here.)

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