OMG OMG OMG (i.e., my head is about to explode)

All right, if you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I was an internet dating pioneer. You also know that I’ve dated quite a few freaks. (Even some scary ones.) I’m not shy about my dating past.

But maybe you didn’t read my post on perspective, where I talked about being a junior in high school, and having an ongoing email “relationship” with a guy who was 30. That post is a pre-requisite to this one, so if you haven’t read it, go do it now. (It’s short. Stay with me.)

So our basement flooded last week. Tons of stuff went to the dump. I found this huge plastic bin FULL of stuff from high school. I have old printouts of novels I wrote in high school, I have even more pages where I wrote novels long-hand. (Hey, not everyone had a computer in the early 90’s.)

I also found printouts of almost every email this guy and I wrote to each other.

I haven’t read them all, but I mostly bitch about school, practice profanity, and pretend to know what I’m talking about when I use innuendo. His emails to me are not disgustingly sexual, but they’re also full of innuendo, and he definitely knew what he was talking about. It wasn’t his fault — I led him into it. Seriously, I did. Internet was brand new, and this was no child predator. Yes, it wasn’t exactly right, but it wasn’t criminal. I’ll scan the letters and let you read them if you want proof. He was definitely straddling the line, but he wasn’t firmly on dangerous ground.

And he lived in Seattle! I lived in Baltimore! It’s not like he was handing out his address or soliciting a date. It wasn’t like that.

But here’s what made my head explode. I apparently sent him an email with a list of questions about himself. (How high school.) One of the answers he wrote:

No, I do not have a girlfriend, hence you’re [sic] finding me in a room with M4F NOW in its title. I don’t have a boyfriend either, though some guy from NY IM’ed me during one of your annoying little disappearing acts the other day!

A room called M4F NOW! Did you read that! And I found HIM. You caught that, right? Tell me you caught that.

This threw me for a loop. Just now, standing in the kitchen, I almost fell over while reading. What the hell was I doing in a room with that title? I was a teenager. A virgin. I wasn’t looking to “hook up.” Honestly, I probably didn’t even know what “hook up” meant.

But I was curious.

I’m writing YA (Young Adult) right now, and sometimes it’s hard to remember the choices I made in high school. Sometimes it’s hard to understand how curious I was about the rest of the world.

Going into a room like that was stupid. I could have gotten in real trouble. But I was a teenager, and I thought I knew enough to take care of myself.

I was just curious. Innocent enough, right?

A friend recently compared teenagers to toddlers. It’s kind of true. I have a three year old, and he keeps pushing limits, to see “what happens when…” Teenagers do the same thing, on a broader scale. It’s all about discovering yourself and how you fit into the world around you.

The problem is when you’re a toddler, there’s someone there to snatch your hand away from the stove.

When you’re a teenager, you’re supposed to know better.

Sometimes, obviously, you don’t.

(I’m still flipping out.)

~

6 thoughts on “OMG OMG OMG (i.e., my head is about to explode)

  1. If it makes you feel any better, we teachers routinely talk to kids about internet safety now. At our school, we also have strict no cellphone rules to help kids stay safe(r) from people snapping and posting embarrassing photos of them.
    Yes, kids will still push the limits, but we do what we can to help keep them safe from themselves and others.

    (On a scary note, long before internet was common and long after parents had begun warning kids about “stranger danger,” one of my 8th graders was killed because a nice-looking man in a spiffy car offered her a ride to school on a rainy day. True story. And there was no internet involved at all; it was 1992.)

  2. What a sad story, APW. It’s hard for me to believe that kids nowadays would get in a car with a stranger (but they do), and it’s hard for me to believe that an 8th grader in 1992 (which is when I was in 8th grade) would do it then.

    I watched this Dateline episode a few weeks ago where they put kids in “hidden camera” situations to see how they’d really react. They set up a scenario where teens were trying out for a reality show. Then they put a bunch of teenagers in a room with a teen actor who pretended to be drunk since it was his 18th birthday. When the “producer” of the reality show came into the room, she said they were going down the road to another studio, and she tossed car keys to the “drunk” kid and said he got to drive since it was his birthday.

    The parents were shown in a hidden room, all of them saying, “My kid won’t get in the car.”

    But all the teenagers did! Even knowing that kid was drunk!

    It was very eye-opening, how kids who know better will bow to peer pressure or think they’re in control of a situation, when clearly, they’re not.

    Wow, I got off on a tangent.

  3. Oh, I believe your tale of a drunk driver. Of course, it would be different if the “drunk” kid in question were nerdy; then more of the kids would’ve refused. But if he were good looking and impressive, most kids would climb right in.

  4. I totally agree that curiosity leads teenagers into unsafe situations. Heck, I still get into unsafe situations because I’m curious (only just realized it now, thanks to your post). Like earlier this year when I dated a pathological liar who turned out to be married! I didn’t know until after, of course. I’ll share deets with you one day; it’s an epic lesson in stupidity.

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