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.)