The Opening Lines

Joe, 1995, age 14:

“I can tell you like me.”

To an incredibly stupid 14-year-old like I was, who’d had a crush on the beautiful blonde Adonis all summer long and had been expecting it to be nothing more than unrequited love, “I can tell you like me,” was akin to a proposal of marriage. I was his.

Shane, 1996, age 15:

“Did you seriously just say ‘kiss me, you fool’? Because I can. Unless you were kidding. Were you kidding? Do you really want me to kiss you?”

I was actually kidding. “Kiss me, you fool,” was a line from a commercial my siblings and I thought was extremely hilarious and I just assumed that Shane would have seen the commercial, too, and also found it hilarious. But then after he got all flustered and couldn’t tell if I was serious or not, I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d been kidding. So we kissed.

Luke, 1998, age 17:

“Does this mean what I think it means?”

Luke and I had been flirting all summer. Well, he’d been flirting and I’d been being stupidly oblivious to the whole thing. Mostly. Actually, truth be told, I’d sort of been leading him on. I thought he was cute and funny and I enjoyed spending time with him, but I never really meant to take it further than that.

But, as we stood in my parents’ foyer and I realized I’d been hugging him a little too long and resting my head on his shoulder, my “holy shit” moment came. In the span of 3 seconds or so, I convinced myself that I did want this relationship to be more than a friendship, and so I affirmed Luke’s suspicions that this meant we were now something more.

Matt, 2001, age 20:

“I usually don’t do this on the first date, but I feel like we have such a connection.”

You’d think by the time I reached the age of maturity (20, of course), I would have recognized the line. Luckily for me, he wasn’t just trying to get in my pants and he actually meant it, in his emotionally turgid sort of way.

As you’ll note, the theme in all these encounters seems to be, “Ramona is stupid.” It’s not a flattering picture. Every time I’d just begun to get myself under control after months or years of a roller-coaster long-term relationship, a new opening line would pop up and I’d go right back to Stupid Land.

I know lots of people who take good, long, healthy breaks between relationships. I know teenagers who have never been on a date in their lives. They are perfectly normal. I was not. At age 20, I hadn’t been single for more than a few months since I was 13.

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