It’s really too easy to pick on high school kids. I know, because I was picked on in high school a lot, and if I’d had my way, every humiliation would have been punished with some creative use of electricity. What I really mean is it’s too easy to pick on teenagers, because teenagers are stupid. Really. I was one. I was stupid. Here are some of the problems with being a middle class teenager: You think things are important. You think you will remember how you feel forever. You think your love is more important than any other love in the universe. You think you are as emotionally capable as an adult, nay, even more capable. You have not yet realized you will have to get a job and later die, and that will be followed by what you would think of as an alarmingly small funeral. You don’t properly fear getting someone pregnant, which is really the only game ender you have to deal with. You think minute interactions with the opposite sex are scarier or at least more potentially life altering than chugging Jack Daniels in public parks while trying to roll a joint with wax paper.
But there are some degrees of pathetic that should be documented for all time, even if I was a teenager.
I was near the apex of what I call my “shell of a man” stage, in which my girlfriend, with whom I lived, had been in England for five months, and had slept with most of Scotland, which I only knew because she would get drunk and tell me about it over the phone, which brought the phone bill to about 1300 when all was said and done. I’m not bitter about this anymore, except in so far that I feel morally entitled to mention it publicly for laughs, although I did stick her with most of the bill.
At some point, one of my friends1 suggested I just go pick up some young thing at the local college2 and just get laid. Oddly, my girlfriend in England had suggested exactly the same thing, which was confusing, but made some kind of psycho-teen sense in the moment. At the time, “going out and getting laid” was a pretty foreign notion, but I was ready to try anything. So they hooked me up with a red headed dancer who was about the most gorgeous girl I’d even seen. She was also fifteen. These days I’m not sure if I’m more embarrassed about the fact that I tried to sleep with real jailbait or that I failed.3
Despite my shell-of-man status, wastrel thinness, total lack of game, self-hatred, inherent geekiness,4 chain smoking,5 abject poverty, and just all around vivid undesirability, I got this astoundingly beautiful girl into bed with me, because teenagers are stupid.
AND THEN I FUCKED IT UP.
I don’t know how I attracted her through the late night coffee double date at the truck stop. I don’t know how I kept it together through the car ride. It was like a previously dormant charm gene suddenly kicked in and took over my brain. I was funny. I was pleasant. I made good eye contact. I didn’t blatantly stare at her breasts, although, again, she was fifteen, so her chest wasn’t the main attraction. So we all drive on back to my place, we’re holding hands, possibly cuddling in the backseat, I can’t remember, and then we get back to my place, my closet man6 and his girlfriend go off to have sex in my closet, and I’m left watching Red Dwarf with this illegal hottie.
Here’s the problem: She was so pretty, and so sweet, and I was such an addled, stoned, depressed loser at that point,7 I decided she was my angel, sent to rescue me from my despair. The irony is she was, and all I had to do was fuck her and start getting over my girlfriend, but I hadn’t told her I had a girlfriend, and I wanted this budding relationship to be pure and sweet and forever because I was a stupid teenager. Stupider than most, honestly, but as I keep saying, it was a bad time. So I desperately wanted to have sex, but wanted her to be my new perfect girlfriend, and was pretty sure my actual girlfriend, who, to be fair, had actually told me to go sleep with someone else, would be upset, and once I realized I had been trying to unbutton a sweater with no buttons for twenty minutes, my newfound self esteem collapsed almost as quickly as my erection.8
It probably would have helped to know that she was sleeping with whatever was handy because she was screwed up about her ex-boyfriend. In fact, our mutual teen angst would have been a much better basis for a relationship at that moment than what I’d envisioned. I can only imagine if I’d had the strength of will and/or character to be honest:
“Hey, so I have a girlfriend whose parents pay for this apartment, and she said I should go out and cheat on her so I knew what it felt like, and Tohpy suggested you.”
“Wow, that’s so funny, my boyfriend broke my heart so I’ve been trying out this slut thing to make him feel bad and maybe distract me from my self-loathing.”
“That works out great. Want to fuck?”
What actually happened was I drove her home in my girlfriend’s car, acted really quiet around her for a week or so, and she thought I was a stalker and a loser and avoided me for the rest of the semester. She was right, and if she remembers me at all she’s probably telling the story to her friends today like this: “Yeah, I got stalked in college. I thought he was cute and I really just wanted to have sex with him but then he got all weird. Whatever, it was creepy.”
You just can’t please everyone.
Lesson: If the girl is in your bed and letting you take her clothes off, have sex with her immediately or you’ll become a stalker.
Alternate lesson: Don’t get out of bed between your 13th and 20th birthday parties.
1 Specifically the guy sleeping in my closet and not paying me the rent I didn’t really deserve but that he was just not paying me because he knew I didn’t have the backbone left in me to press the issue, and didn’t even really have the backbone to scream at him for destroying my apartment during the one week I was gone. The screens were black with flies, I’m surprised the cats were alive, and there was broken glass emanating from the piles of other people’s beer. This man’s name is Christopher “Tophy” Yager, and mentioning it isn’t vengeance, it’s justice. I’m looking at you, Tophy, and I will continue to tell all of your girlfriends this story verbatim, with hand gestures.
2 Simon’s Rock: commentary deleted for legal reasons.
3 That’s a lie, I’m more embarrassed about the latter.
4 Before geeks were even remotely cool.
5 Two packs a day.
6 Christopher “Tophy” Yager.
7 I say “at that point” because I don’t smoke pot anymore.
8 Which was also fairly newfound at the time, since I’d been a malnourished mess for three months.