by Jean Roberta
When I was six, I had such a crush on a boy in my first-grade class that I told my mom I wanted to share my paper dolls with him. She told me that (most? conventional?) boys don’t play with paper dolls. (As an adult, I’ve met some charmingly feminine men who probably did, but that is another blog post.) I hadn’t considered this possibility. I realized that I really didn’t know Tommy very well. (I still remember his name!) I just liked the smart, quiet person he seemed to be.
This one-sided relationship was a preview of things to come.
At age fourteen, I met a nineteen-year-old boy/young man through mutual friends. When he asked me out, I was thrilled by the attention of an older man, especially when he told me he regarded us both as mature adults. For some reason, my parents were alarmed when I told them Bill’s real age.
Bill told me he thought we should get married when I was sixteen, and he was sure he could talk my parents into giving us their blessing. Since we were going to get married anyway, he thought it didn’t matter if I conceived our first child in the meanwhile. (Luckily, I didn’t.)
I had doubts about Bill’s plan for our future, especially when he made it clear that, as his wife, I certainly wouldn’t be going to college. In fact, I didn’t need to graduate from high school.
I thought my academic parents were reacting hysterically, but I wondered why Bill didn’t seem to care what I wanted. He thought I was being manipulated by my parents, and that I should stand up to them as the grown woman I really was. They told me I couldn’t see Bill any more.
It all came to a head with a shouting match between Bill and my father in our driveway. I watched from the sidelines, feeling horribly responsible for creating a mess. I was glad that neither man had a shotgun in his hands, the only thing missing to turn the scene into a classic western duel in a rugged, sagebrush-covered setting.
Time passed. I met several other guys who looked attractive enough, and who seemed fair, decent, intelligent, generous and compassionate – at first. Sooner or later, the connection fell apart when they decided that I was the “kind of girl” no guy could love: a wannabe intellectual and writer, a slut who had given herself away to earlier guys, a “shrill” feminist who argued against double standards.
I “came out” and began meeting women in the local gay bar. Several of them dazzled me at first, but in due course, I remembered that I had met them in a bar, the natural habitat of drunks. To a degree that surprised me, they were turned off by the same qualities in me that had turned guys off – but then, I was used to dating people who were not much like me. It didn’t help that we usually met over drinks.
I may have been a hypocrite, as several of them claimed when I asked for an honest, stone-cold-sober date, but two drunks do not a clear-sighted relationship make.
I don’t regret feeling the thrill of a first attraction, or the hope that goes with it. And to be fair, the disillusionment that followed was always mutual.
My current long-term sweetie was not a “first love” for me, or vice versa. Luckily, we both had some experience before we met.
I like to write about first-time attraction because it’s a rush. I just wouldn’t want to go there again in the real world. It's a state of altered consciousness which (in my experience) is always followed by a hangover.