One of the few times in my early youth I felt any “popular” or “stud” potential was in third grade at the Bede School. I remember always liking girls. I never understood boys my age who were so “icky” about girls. I thought they were lovely as far back as in nursery school when I had a crush on this quiet blonde girl that wore a ribbon in her hair. Girls were pretty and nice to look at. Besides, I knew from watching television how inevitable it was that women would be what most of us boys would be after anyway. I took competitive pride in second grade knowing that I was already ahead of the curve knowing what future value there was in forming alliances with girls. So in the third grade, I distinctly remember feeling like “the man” while I was sculpting clay across the table from the two cutest girls in class – Dale Sudakoff and her friend Danielle, a brunette and blonde respectively. We were talking about something, and I made them laugh and they smiled at me very seductively. I saw them whisper something to each other while I worked on my cheetah, and then my shoes gently brushed across theirs. It felt thrilling. I remember thinking that this is what being popular must feel like. I didn’t realize how fleeting that type of flirting was. I couldn’t believe how quickly I could feel the opposite when I heard Dale make fun of my last name saying “Sorry, I need to go run some errands.” I cried. She just made a small joke, and I couldn’t take it. I thought she was betraying me like kids often did in my past. I sensed how my insecurity made me lose some favor in Dale’s eyes.
In 4th grade the next year, I thought I had a better chance with Dale, but I felt crushed when I saw her spending more time with this kid named Jacob. The funny thing was that Jacob was black, but I never figured that into my jealousy. I was jealous just because he was someone who took Dale’s interest. I remember one of Dale’s friends coming up to me as I was working on my American Indian Iroquois panorama in a shoebox. She said that Dale thought I was acting weird and wanted to know what was wrong, that I wasn’t my usually funny self. I said that I was cool. Dale and I just grew apart that year. I ended up gladly transferring to Saddle River Day School (SRDS) the next year.
I felt redeemed later that year when I had my first date. I asked out one of my mother’s piano students I had a crush on, a girl named Tanya, who had shiny blonde brown hair, and an angelic face. My parents knew I liked her and just said to go for it, call her and ask her out. When her mom answered the phone she handed the phone to Tanya. After some fairly easy introductory conversations of “how are you, and I think you sounded good at my mom’s lesson”, I asked her to the movies. I was flabbergasted when she said yes. She was a year older than me too. I was proud of myself. My dad was our chaperone. We picked her up at her house and went to the movie theater on Cedar Lane, the main street of Teaneck, where they were showing “Crocodile Dundee”. We sat on the end near the aisle, while my dad parked himself all the way on the other side of the row to give us privacy. There was nobody sitting in the seats between my Dad and us. It was not a busy night. There might have been 12 people in the whole theater and barely anyone in my dad’s direction so he could keep an eye on us.
The movie was going along fine as we shared some Goobers and lightly touched hands. Suddenly, in the middle of the movie, a huge rip of a fart came from my dad’s direction. Tanya and I quickly turned our heads along with some other people in front and in back of us towards my dad. He had this really guilty look on his face. There was nobody else within the vicinity from where the fart sound emanated. He scrambled and tried to recover himself by rubbing his shoes on the seat in front of him, and pointing at the seat as if to say it was the shoes. The squeaks that came from the friction of his shoes and the seat sounded nothing like the fart that was heard just moments earlier. I was SO embarrassed. After a few awkward moments, Tanya and I continued to watch the movie for the rest of the movie but we did not look or talk or come close to holding hands. After the movie, there was no mention of the fart, but the overall vibe definitely seemed shot as we made small talk on the drive back to her house to drop her off. I scolded my dad on the way home. He apologized and still says it was the seat but also said that farts are natural and just happen some times. Tanya did say she had a good time so it wasn’t a total failure. We just didn’t go on another date after that.
My attempts at dating seemed to go South after that for another six years. At first, I figured since I could at least get in the door with Tanya, it shouldn’t be too hard asking out the next girl. That next year in 5th grade at that new private school, SRDS, I had a crush on a brunette with freckles named Megan. I thought that I was handsome enough to overcome my status of being a nerd and not dressing well. Besides, I knew I was still pretty gutsy and bold for a 5th grader and perhaps that would impress her. I called her up to see if she wanted to go out that weekend. She said she was. I asked her about the next weekend. She said she was busy. Ever the persistent one, I asked her how about next month. Busy. Next year? I awkwardly got off the phone. The next day all of her friends pointed and laughed at me for trying to ask her. I was traumatized and cried when I got home. I barely recovered.
I did not think about acting on any more crushes until the 7th grade when I saw a new girl named Sandy. When one of my classmates said he had stronger feelings for her, I felt that he had a better chance, and wanted to help him get her. I did not really have any close friends at that rich school. I found most of these rich kids to be especially mean. My mom said it was because their parents tried to substitute money for giving them love and that deep down the kids were mean and miserable for it. Nevertheless, if I helped him find love I thought that it would solidify at least two allies I’d have in that class. I built his confidence up and he asked her out and they fell madly in love with each other (at least for seventh graders). When I was fed up, they were the only ones that tried to dissuade me from leaving in the middle of 8th grade.
Later in 8th grade at Benjamin Franklin middle school I tried asking a girl out in my creative writing class, a 13 year old version of Elle MacPherson named Kristin Long. I developed a crush on her the prior summer when I first met her at the Sports and Arts budget summer day program they had in Teaneck. I was elated to find her in my creative writing class I randomly signed up for when I transferred in the middle of 8th grade to my local public school. I got butterflies every time I passed her in the hall. I tried to make sure I made it down the hall the same time every day so I could bump into her. I didn’t have the guts yet to ask her for her number, so I thought I would try a different. When I found out her last name was Long, I looked at all the “Long’s” in the phone book and looked at their addresses. I found the address that matched the area of Teaneck where I saw her walk towards after school. Then I looked at the map in the back of the phone book to see where the address was located in relation to where I lived. I took my dad’s ten speed bike, which was formally my mom’s ten speed bike without the male crotch bar, and biked to her address. I biked passed her house multiple times hoping I’d just happen to run into her. I even tried to act like my bike broke, and took off the tire in front of her house hoping that somehow she might be home. I must have tried that about six or seven times. She either never was home when I drove by or never came out of the house. I got to dance with her at a friend’s bat mitzvah, and mailed her a card I made with a crayon drawn rose on it saying, “thanks for the dance”.
After 8th grade ended, I finally asked her out to the ice cream parlor, Bischoffs, and she agreed to go out at the end of the week. We were going to meet up. I was especially excited because we could both walk there and I didn’t have to rely on my dad’s driving. I felt proud. Now that I was an expert at asking girls out, I told Ethan as we shot baskets in our backyard that “dating is just like Apex tech. The hardest part is making the call”. The next day, Kristin called to say that she couldn’t go out because she had to pack for her family trip. When I asked her when the trip was, she said it was next week. I got the hint and wished her a good summer. It felt like fifth grade all over again. However, television shows like Beverly Hills 90210 gave me hope for future love and girls as my Teaneck High School career was just around the corner.
Table of Contents
Part I – My Material (Physically Having) History
- Chapter 1 – Race, Money, Fashion
- Chapter 2 – Plants, Pets, and Education
- Chapter 3 – Jobs
- Chapter 4 – Connections, Opportunities, Genetics
Part II – My Sensual (Feeling) History
- Chapter 5 – The Satin Edge
- Chapter 6 – Gifted, Hyper Competitive, and Overly Sensitive
- Chapter 7 – Puppy Love and Status
- Chapter 8 – Busy-ness as Salvation
- Chapter 9 – Karate and Self Image
- Chapter 10 – Homophobia and Musical Expression
- Chapter 11 – Digging a Pond, High School, and Music Camp
- Chapter 12 – Heterosexuality, Self Esteem, Avon Fashion
- Chapter 13 – The Opposite Game, College, and Sex
- Chapter 14 – Cruise Ships, Internet, and Control
- Chapter 15 – Saturn’s Return, Delayed Gratification, and Aging Dreams