Along with everything else we hear about combating teen pregnancy through education, proper contraception, abstinence, perhaps something like this might be added to the list.
I was fifteen and three-quarters years old and a Sophomore in high school. I was asked on a date by a 16 year old Junior with good looks and more importantly, a car. The family rule was I couldn’t date until I hit the sweet 16 mark, so I did what came naturally when faced with a quandary like this. I begged. I also bargained.
Let me go out with Stud Muffin and I will keep my room clean for a month.
I will get home by 11:00 and will call every hour.
I will fold laundry for two weeks.
I will walk on your back for 30 minutes every evening for 10 business days.
This last one seemed to work with my mother. But not without the two hour sermon from the parental units on “parameters and guidelines.” Here is a relatively small sample of those I actually remember:
The mother and the father have to meet him first. I can’t go “parking”. I have to have a destination.
Approved sights included: movies, high school sporting events, our living room with parents present – no thanks. Racquetball – yes, really. Bowling.
Unapproved sights included: the backseat of any car. The front seat of any car if not moving for more than 10 minutes. The vineyards up Morse Road. The ally behind Longs and Millers Outpost. His house. His front yard. His backyard. His garage. His trampoline. His friends’ houses. Any house. Fast food restaurants just because they are unhealthy and may give you unwanted methane bubbles to build up in the lower intestines. Any and all bedrooms or other closed spaces, including bathrooms. The creek. The path next to the creek. The benches along the path next to the creek. The church parking lot. Any parking lot, especially the parking lot at the mall. Anywhere outside a 15 mile radius. The dugouts at the baseball field.
I also had to go easy on the eye makeup. That was important as I did not want to give Stud Muffin the wrong impression. Lastly, I had to be home by 11:00 p.m.
I second guessed why I wanted to go. How could one person remember all of those “parameters?” I was bound to slip. But I charged ahead.
The night Stud Muffin came to pick me up, I was filled with so much anxiety, I could barely light a match to heat my eye liner.
An entire two hours were wasted with me going through every piece of clothing in my closet, my mother's closet, my dirty clothes pile, and wringing my hands over the thought of my toads meeting SM. I was reluctant to inform them of my “parameters and guidelines” for them. I had a few I wanted to talk about, you know. But I didn't bring them up in fear that they would conduct themselves in direct contrast to my demands as I planned to do with theirs.
But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. As my mother and I sat at the kitchen table waiting for SM’s arrival, I politely asked her to dispose her cigarette. “It makes my clothes and hair stink.”
She exhaled a big puff of nicotine in my general direction before discarding it.
I kept mum on the rest of my demands..
As soon as I heard SM’s car pull up and his footsteps traipse up the front porch, my mother let out some methane of her own, mimicking a fog horn. I was convinced that the neighbors were sure to have heard this one. My dad at least heard it from the end of the hall. “Nice out, Cath.”
Good grief, so this is how it was going to be.
I opened the door to greet SM with a red facial glow that already added to my thick foundation. He gave me a look to suggest, "What did I just hear bellowing through the streets?"
Poor SM hesitantly entered the twilight zone known as my humble abode.
As SM and I walked into the kitchen, my mother was gone.
Sweet. This might just turn out alright after all even if SM thought that the sound came from me.
I asked him to wait there so I could get my parents, do the obligatory hello, how are you, and then flee like escapees.
When SM sat down at the kitchen table, his leg bumped up against my mother’s arm. I lowered my head slowly and met her eyeball to eyeball. She was in the duck and cover position under our kitchen table. Then, that horrible human being spoke:
“Oh my goodness, I am so embarrassed! You didn’t hear that, did you SM? Well, it certainly wasn’t my daughter. I am not going to throw her under the bus on that one, especially during her first date.”
At this point in time, I was desperately praying for a natural disaster to cause that table to plunge atop my mother’s head.
SM was a good sport. While laughing, he offered his hand to her under the table so she could crawl back out. She placed her hand in his like a princess. I was going to be sick.
So, there we were. The three of us. Sitting at the table. Me, mortified while SM and mother talked about the basketball game we were going to see that night.
When SM excused himself to use the restroom, I lept across the table, grabbed my mother’s shirt, balled it up in my fist and with gritted teeth, whispered, “if you don't start acting straight, I will kill you in your sleep.”
To which she replied with feigned sincerity, “I’m trying to behave, but I had an upset stomach. I am fine now, though.”
And just when I thought the worst was behind me, a loud police-alarm-type siren came piercing from the bathroom. I recognized that sound. It was a novelty item we picked up at one of those magic shops in San Francisco during one of our family nights out. It had a latch to fasten to a toilet seat. When someone moves the seat, it sets off that ear piercing alarm. I recall the precise moment when my mother decided to purchase it.
“I know just what to do with this thing.” Cut to her maniacal giggle..
Ah, hindsight. If only my narcissistic teenage brain was quick enough to ask a follow up question or two that evening.
SM darted out of the bathroom quickly and back into the kitchen. Before he could ask what just happened, my mother apologized. “I keep forgetting to take that thing off.”
At this point in the date, if one could call it a date, I felt for the first time a sense of connection with SM for we both donned the same bright crimson shade on our horrified faces. And when it couldn’t get worse, it got worse.
Enter stage right, my father. My six foot 4 inch 260 pound father. His boots along the long hardwood floor sounded like Fe Fi Fo Fum. Making a run for it was out of the question. If SM didn’t meet my dad, I wasn’t leaving the house.
And there he was, my overbearing father blocking sunlight. He stood there, like a giant, hands on his hips. We gazed up at the giant with fear in our wide eyes like trapped mice under a broom.
Finally, after peering at us for some time, he reached for Sam’s shoulder with a sturdy death grip which made SM jump.
The giant spoke: “SM, it’s a pleasure to meet you. The only way it won’t be a pleasure is if you don’t bring my daughter home by 11 p.m. If you happen to bring my daughter home a minute after 11 p.m., I will proceed to remove your testicles with a dull knife.” The difference between my dad and others, is that I have seen that dull knife. He keeps it on the tool shelf in the garage.
Sam squeaked “Yes, sir,” and we were out of there.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember much about the actual date other than SM dropping me off at 10:30 and speeding off before I could lean my head into his car window to bid him adieu and hope for a good night kiss.
And no, I never dated SM again. After the story got around about my parents, I didn’t really date all that much until I got my drivers’ license and even then my dates would have to come over and meet my folks.
One time, they strategically placed a fake pile of doggie doo on the kitchen floor and told me to pick up after myself before I leave. That left SM #2 in stitches and a subsequent bonding with my folks.
These guys may have been one hit wonders with me, but they certainly made themselves right at home with my parents. I remember returning home from college one summer and seeing SM #1 and my parents sharing a moment in the backyard over iced tea. They looked to be enjoying themselves. I left them alone and went to my room to unpack.