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Monday, 04 June
Going With

When I was in sixth grade, I found myself with my first girlfriend. But we didn't call it that. We called it "going with." As in, "I'm going with [this person]." "Did you hear? Damon is going with Hortense." Going with. We might have been sharing a car ride. It was about as erotic.

I promptly informed my parents of this, possibly because it was novel, and also possibly because I had no firm grasp on what was actually going on. "How was your day?" my mom asked. And for once, I had something other to say than "Nothing." "I'm going with J.," I said.

"What?" asked my mom.

"I'm going with J.," I repeated. Duh.

My mom stared at me as if I had grown a fresh set of ears on my forehead. "What does that mean? Do you mean you have a girlfriend?"

I had no immediate reply. I wasn't sure. I hadn't thought about it that hard. Did I? I decided I did, sort of.

"Sort of," I said. My mom fixed me with a momlook while my dad just sort of smirked and said nothing. He was probably thinking, Oh man! He might not be gay!

"Aren't you a little young for a girlfriend?" my mom said without real force, turning back to doing kitchen stuff. My dad didn't say anything, but retreated to the living room, figuring, I assumed, that there was nothing he could say here that wouldn't get him yelled at or something, and also probably to do a merry little jig.

"Nah," I said confidently. Probably, I thought to myself. The fact was, I didn't have the faintest idea what was going on. I only knew I was going with J. because someone had told me so.

Earlier that day, in class, T., a nice girl, approached me. "Do you like J.?"

I thought about it. J. was a quiet, nice girl. She wasn't like the alarming L., who once said to me in the cafeteria, "You're so into me," and waved a french fry in my face. L. was terrifying, because I was totally into her. J. was about as unterrifying as Switzerland.

"Sure, she's nice," I said.

"Do you want to go with her?" asked T.

I thought about it and resisted the urge to ask, "Do I have to do anything?" I didn't know what that meant, really. I mean, I had some idea--I'd be expected to spend some time with her, of course, and maybe kiss her--maybe?--but would I have to, like, beat up assholes who said stupid shit about her? Because, as a complete pud, I couldn't beat up anything animate. I decided I couldn't ask anything without sounding dumb.

So I said, "Sure."

T. wandered over to J.'s desk and a brief conversational flurry ensued. T. came back to my desk.

"Okay, you're going with J." She walked off, as her job was done. I sat like a mute lump, thinking, I am? I looked over at J. She smiled at me. I smiled back. Hey! She's not terrifying! Not like L. For one thing, she hadn't developed breasts like L. had--go figure why L. figured me out in about thirty seconds--and hence was that much less threatening. My lifelong embrace of utter cowardice seemed validated.

This is going to be easy! This is all I have to do? I was jubilant, sort of, and confused, so confubilant, and I guess that must be why I was eager to tell my parents about this whole strange new thing. I did a thing! Others are doing this thing! Therefore, I'm not the weirdo I assumed I was.

Then that night J. called me, right during dinner. My mom picked up the phone, and said these surprising words: "Skot, it's for you." Huh? Nobody ever called me. I went to the phone and said, "Hello?"

"Hi, it's J. What are you doing?"

This was like getting a phone call from the Marianas Trench. I handled it as such. "Eating," I said. "What are you doing?" A pause.

"I just wanted to talk to you. You want to call me back?"

Not really. But somewhere in my hindbrain, I was starting--incrementally--to see that there was more to this process than I understood when I signed up for it. "Yeah, I'll call you back," I said. "Are you at home?"

Classic. We were in sixth grade. No, she's at the racetrack, or perhaps a group meeting for urine enthusiasts. "I'm at home," she said quietly.

I called her later. "Hey," I said.

"Hey," she said.

We had more than one conversation exactly like this. Our conversations made Waiting for Godot sound positively DieHardian. Another example:

She: "Are you going to Rusty's?"
Me: "Probably."
She: "Me too."
(Silence.)
Me: "I guess I should go."
She: "Me too."
(They do not hang up.)

J. and I went to exactly one party--hosted by the aforementioned Rusty--where it was revealed to one and all that we were dating--no scratch that, going with each other. Rusty immediately ordered us into a dark room.

"When I come back in, you guys better be making out," he declared. He shut the door.

We sat there, not moving, not talking. J. coughed softly. I lifted up my hand tentatively and waved it around uncertainly in the dark. I eventually settled it next to--not on--her knee. I left it there a moment. J. bounced her knee a little bit. I didn't know how to interpret that, so I did nothing.

J. coughed again.

All women are terrifying, I concluded as those moments spun out and exploded into little baby universes of their own. Breasts or not.

Rusty eventually charged back into the room, flicking on the lights suddenly in order to catch in the no-act. His expression immediately fell as he saw us sitting there, doing nothing at all. I put my arm around J., attempting a look of defiance; J. merely hung her head in defeat.

"Jesus Christ," said Rusty. He shook his head.

The next week, T. stopped by my desk. "J. isn't going with you any more," she said in clinical tones, as if she was giving me grave medical information, like I had spine failure or mime's gene.

"I know," I said, feigning sadness.

But I had never been happier in all my life.


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Comments


My son is 11. He's doing this same thing in the same way.

Although I think that the next steps will progress logritmically instead of linearly.

ryan

Comment number: 014134   Posted by: ryan on June 5, 2007 07:01 AM from IP: 165.200.127.254

I was fortunate enough to go to an all-boys school where the only problem that had to be dealt with was the daily brutality. Life there was simple, ordered and thankfully very, very linear. There was no rush after all. We had the rest of our lives to learn absolutely nothing about women.

Comment number: 014135   Posted by: Lung the Younger on June 5, 2007 01:02 PM from IP: 87.223.252.110

As you are now married, I'm going to have to assume that the woman who would become your wife whacked you on the head with a club and dragged you back to her cave.

Yeah? Huh. Me, too. Weird.

Comment number: 014137   Posted by: JJ on June 5, 2007 05:15 PM from IP: 67.168.63.153

someone please burst in and turn on the light...
I've had my hand next to her knee for ten years.

Comment number: 014138   Posted by: btroffded on June 5, 2007 08:39 PM from IP: 130.13.222.99

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Thanks for dredging up memories that I obviously suppressed for a good reason.

Comment number: 014147   Posted by: flamingbanjo on June 6, 2007 12:06 PM from IP: 216.254.16.115

Wow. I had an almost identical experience. The same terminology and everything.

It is indeed terrifying that both of us have fine and noble wives.

Comment number: 014151   Posted by: kaf on June 6, 2007 05:52 PM from IP: 75.6.44.65

Say! I had this same relationship, too, except mine was in eighth grade, which just goes to show that I was extra backward. At the same time that I was engaging in my pathetic sexless pseudorelationship, a girl in my carpool, also in the eighth grade, was giving b*l*o*w*j*o*b*s to college boys for money. Awesome!

(Let's see if I'm right about what item in this post triggered your spam filter the first time around.)

Comment number: 014157   Posted by: redfox on June 7, 2007 06:28 PM from IP: 70.238.242.74

Sammi has passed beyond this stage and is now debating (out loud, god help me) whether or not she should french kiss her boyfriend, since they've been "going out" for 6 months. Thankfully, he's completely timid and in awe of her, so it'll be her choice one way or the other. :P

I miss the days when boys would just send her notes that asked "Will you go with me? ___ Yes ___ No"

Comment number: 014163   Posted by: Candi on June 9, 2007 03:06 AM from IP: 71.215.181.38

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