Technically, it wasn’t even a relationship, except perhaps in his imagination. But it was disastrously funny.
I was 15, in grade ten. He was an “older man,” in grade twelve. We met at a rehearsal of the school musical theatre production of Pajama Game.
He had a girlfriend, who was, conveniently (or inconveniently, depending on your vantage point), not in the musical. Mostly we chatted while we were waiting for our turn to rehearse. No. Mostly he chatted and I tolerated his company.
And then the night of my first high school dance rolled around. I was excited about the dance. Excited to be going on my own to meet up with my friends. Almost ready to leave, in fact, so that when the doorbell rang there was no mistaking the fact that I was dressed to go to the dance. No pretending otherwise.
And there he was, on my doorstep. Also clearly dressed for the evening’s festivities. And, I couldn’t help noting, minus one girlfriend.
“Hi there. I just happened to be passing by and I thought I would stop in to see if you wanted a ride to the dance.”
Now based on the simple geography of where his home, my home and the school were respectively located, there was no possible way that he “just happened to be passing by.” Those words have thus been logged forever in my family lore as the lamest of all pick-up lines.
I didn’t really want to go to the dance with him, but refusing the offer didn’t seem to be an option. I asked, awkwardly, “Where is your girlfriend?”
“Oh, she was in a bit of a car accident….”
“A car accident!?”
“Just a minor one. She didn’t even need to stay at the hospital. She’s resting at home.”
“…and…you’re going to the dance?”
“Yeah. She’s fine. Shall we go?”
And so, dumbfounded, I went. And spent a totally surreal evening not hanging out with my friends.
When the time came for him to drop me off, he insisted that he was hungry (having missed supper to check on his injured girlfriend before heading off to the dance with me) and he simply had to come in and order a pizza. My parents were out, and my grandmother was babysitting my younger sisters. The plan was that when I got home she would hand off the babysitting duties to me and head home. Which, to my horror, she did.
And there I was, stuck with loverboy, waiting for the damn pizza to arrive. Injured girlfriend notwithstanding, it soon became clear that his idea for how we should put in the waiting time differed greatly from mine. I kept trying to come up with reasons why he really ought to be leaving, but he was impervious to all hints.
And so I was forced to resort to my secret weapon: my three-year-old sister.
“Oh Oh,” I said, hand cupped dramatically to one ear, “I think she’s awake.”
“I don’t hear anything.”
“Oh yes, I’m sure she’s calling. I’d better go check on her.” At which point I marched into her room, shook the poor kid awake, and dragged her out to the living room. “See. She’s wide awake. There’s no way she’ll go to sleep until you’re gone.”
And then, because he was still too thick to take the hint, I propped my semi-comatose kid sister up on the couch between us and repeatedly elbowed her into remaining conscious until he finally wolfed down his pizza and accepted that he was not going to get lucky with Plan B.