A friend and I were discussing past romances today. Specifically, past romances from our high school days. The time of first dates, first kisses, first dances and first everything (for some of us, that “everything” implies more than others, but my friend and I were fairly innocent).
It got me thinking about one of the reasons why I enjoy reading YA and want to write it. There’s something so fresh about love when you are 16 years old, when it can be just about the romance and butterflies and not about balancing your monthly budget and/or rock-paper-scissoring over changing poopy diapers. I mean, can you imagine how tedious Twilight might have been if Bella and Edward had discussed the impending increase of property taxes in Forks? Or how utterly NOT romantic Anna and the French Kiss might have been if St. Clair said to Anna, “There are better things to spend money on than movies, you know. What about investing some of that allowance in mutual funds?”
And sure, adult romance novels don’t necessarily focus on the daily grind either. When I think back though, if there was ever a time where real life could have closely mimicked the idealized romance of fiction, it was in high school. And those memories are simultaneously swoon-inducing and cringe-worthy. Here are a few my friend and I look back on fondly.
1.) Cheesy lines that worked
I actually LIVED this moment:
Me, resting my head on boyfriend’s chest: I can hear your heart beating.
Boyfriend: It beats for you.
No. I’m serious. That totally happened. And I thought it was SO romantic at the time. Now I kind of giggle, of course, and offer my past self some crackers with my cheese.
This one happened to my BFF, with her BF, while dancing at prom (of course). It might just win the John Hughes Could Have Directed My Life Award:
BFF: Do you think you know what love is?
BF: I think I’m looking at it.
Ack! Did your toes just curl up a little? Mine did!
2.) Cliché city
My friend and I both had boyfriends pull the yawn-turned-arm-around-the-shoulder trick. Or how about the old, I’m-going-to-leave-my-hand-on-this-armrest-nice-and-accessible trick? Or the oops-did-I-just-“accidentally”-touch-your-boob trick? There were obligatory dances where we wore ugly crushed velvet dresses (oh yes) and we had to fumble our way through pinning boutonnieres on boys. Making out in movie theaters? Did that too. I cannot tell you how the movie Outbreak ends. I was too busy playing tonsil hockey.
3.) Making stupid decisions in the name of love
I once switched my school schedule around so I could take first hour speech class with a boyfriend. I was supposed to take debate but I changed it for him. He did pass me football-folded love notes in class. And the cool girls talked to me when I was with him. So, ya know, it was totally worth it.
I used to think I could get away with anything. Which was true sometimes. Skipping class? Calling in sick to work? Yep and yep. But not true other times. You might think you’re getting away with something naughty under that blanket on the band bus, but in reality your friends are all watching your boyfriend cop-a-feel while you pretend to sleep. You are not so smooth as you think you are, high school Erin.
4.) Really, truly romantic moments
The summer after our senior year, BFF and her BF went to Switzerland on a vacation together. I KNOW, right? Their hotel overlooked Lake Geneva. He pulled her onto the balcony and asked her to dance to the sound of the waves. Le sigh.
At my senior prom (I was so cool I went to three proms, haha!) my boyfriend had to come home from college to go. An older boy. Fancy. He told me he’d had a crush on me since he saw me at my very first prom, my sophomore year, in my red dress. I must admit, that dress was my favorite of the three too. Something about knowing he’d sort of pined for me for two years made me feel all kinds of special.
Of course, since neither BFF or I are married to any of our high school boyfriends, it goes without saying that high school romance eventually became high school heartbreak. But let’s end on warm and fuzzy right now, ok? Then one week from today I will do another post “Reminiscing High School Heartbreak” and we can talk about all the drama that wasn’t (that was a plug, by the way, so check back and stay tuned!).
Do you have any cringe-worthy high school cheese you’d like to ‘fess up to? Or how about sweet and romantic moments? Tell me your stories. I’ll ooh and ahh and laugh in all the appropriate places. Promise.