This part is mostly boring background information, but it does involve a serial killer, so there’s that…
After the kiss we were officially “going out.” Those are the rules in ninth grade. Although, since neither one of us could drive, that really just meant that we saw each other in school and talked on the phone occasionally.
We had been going out for almost one week and then he dumped me on Friday. I don’t remember even being sad. I think I had expected hearts and flowers and chocolates or at least some semblance of romance. What I got was a friend who gave me chaste and awkward kisses in the hall a few times a week if no one was looking, so I really didn’t mind being dumped. Monday we saw each other in school and he called that night and said he had made a mistake and wanted to go out with me again. By that weekend I was bored with that business and I broke up with him. Our relationship freshman year lasted a grand total of two weeks, minus one weekend. We don’t count this time period at all. (He has since confessed that he dumped me the first time because I was pretty far below him on the social ladder and, being the new kid, he was afraid of what that would do to his reputation. By the end of the weekend he realized that was stupid.)
There were no hard feelings and we both dated other people. I got to kiss a Canadian boy on the top of the Eiffel tower that year when I went on the school trip to France and Eddie started a serious relationship with a girl in the junior class that lasted a few months. We stayed good friends because we were in the same classes and social circle. It was a tiny school and virtually impossible to avoid each other. Although by that time, if I’m being honest, I thought he was a little immature. (I had an international affair in the most romantic city on earth, after all. I was far too worldly for a typical high school romance.)
I played volleyball and became a cheerleader and, although I wouldn’t say that I was popular by any stretch of the imagination, I was very good friends with Nicki, one of the more popular girls in our class, because we danced together inside and outside of school and we were the only freshmen who were taking upper level French. I was able to hold my own and my confidence grew. I learned how to use a flat iron and make up. Time marched on.
Towards the end of our sophomore, year in March of 2000, serial killer Joe Palczynski went on a killing spree in the suburbs of Baltimore, which happened to be just a few minutes from where we went to school. It was scary and while he was on the loose we all had to be on lock down after classes until our parents came to pick us up. While on lock down we just sat around the cafeteria doing homework and talking to our friends. I was talking to Lauren and the conversation went something like this…
“I think Eddie likes me again, but he kind of gets on my nerves.”
“You are so full of yourself, he does NOT like you like that.” Best friends keep it real
“I really think he does.”
“No, he doesn’t. Seriously. Get over it. Wait. He IS looking at you. Is he throwing candy?”
And then I got pelted with a bunch of Shocktarts. (I wonder why I thought he was annoying?)
“Oh my gawd. He totally does like you.” When you are 15 and a boy throws candy at you it is a pretty obvious declaration of love.
Eventually they caught the serial killer and things returned to normal.
That spring our school was invited to travel to Virginia and perform our dance routines at the King’s Dominion amusement park. Nicki and I were dancing a duet to Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted Snake” and we needed a boy for the first few seconds of the dance so that we could pretend to fight over him. Eddie was among the volunteers. (We did several performances and used different guys. He was one of them.)
On the bus ride home Nicki told me that Eddie had confessed to her that he still had feelings for me. I still wasn’t interested. Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt and it didn’t fit.
In May of every year our school did something called Olympic Day, which is basically field day. You signed up for a team, played games and sports, and they turned it into a kind of competition. I had signed up to be on a team with my girlfriends, most of us being the nerdy, non-sports loving variety, and much to my dismay Eddie had signed up to be on our team too. He was popular and athletic, so this was the last team he normally would have been on. He was being very obvious in his amorous pursuit. It was pretty clear he wasn’t going to back off.
I had to spend all day embarrassing myself playing sports I wasn’t any good at in front of a boy I had no interest in who wouldn’t leave me alone. Meanwhile, several of the girls on our team did have an interest in him and were busy flirting with him the whole time, which annoyed me, although I couldn’t figure out why.
During the awards ceremony he sat next to me and my friend Nancy sat on the other side of him. They spent the whole time talking about me as if I couldn’t hear them.
“Do you think she’d go out with me?”
“Oh she’ll totally go out with you. Here’s her number.” (Nancy, I’m going to KILL you.)
After school I was really mad at Nancy.
“How could you do that to me?! Are you serious? I don’t want to date him. I already did and it did. Not .Work.”
“Why not? It’s Eddie. Everybody loves him. Besides, I already told him you’d say yes. He’s calling you tonight. Just date him for a week. You can always break up later. Don’t hurt his feelings.”
Apparently not all peer pressure is bad and I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings. By now he was a good friend. I sighed and resolved to give it one last chance.
He did call me that night. He always called when he said he would. He rambled for about an hour before he finally asked me.
“The real reason I called is that I would really like to try again with you.”
“Do you promise it will be different than last time?”
And it would be. Much, MUCH different.