Opposite sex just a passing fancy?

January 25, 1994|By Vicki Marsh Kabat

AT A neighborhood park a few weeks ago, a young friend and I spent some time visiting while we played catch with a football.

He's a cool kid, popular at school, makes good grades and is active in sports. He's at that awkward age between childhood and adolescence.

He was telling me about this party he had attended.

"Was it a birthday party?" I asked.

"No. It was a boy/girl party," he said.

"Oh," I said slowly. "Boys and girls were there together?"

"Yeah." He was quiet for a few minutes. "Some of them were dancing." Silence. "Not me, though!"

We tossed the ball a few more times before he said, "A lot of the guys in my class have girlfriends."

Obviously this was a troubling thought to him. Quite frankly, it was to me, too.

"What does that mean, 'to have a girlfriend'?" I asked carefully.

"Oh, you know. They go together."

"What does that mean?" I asked, hoping not to appear too dumb to my young friend.

"I don't really know." He chased an errant toss. "It's like if you like a girl, you don't talk to her. You have your friend ask her friend if she likes you. Then if he says she does, then you're going together."

This was a lot to digest. We tossed the ball around on that for


"So," I ventured, "the boyfriend and girlfriend never actually talk to each other?"

"Well, sort of. Sometimes they give things to each other. Like one guy I know gave this girl he likes this really neat pen. He paid six bucks for it. Then she broke up with him and kept the pen," he said disgustedly.

True love is often costly.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" I finally asked him.

"Naw. I don't even like girls." He drilled a spiral at me.

"Well," I continued cautiously. "It seems to me like kids your age are a little young to have boyfriends and girlfriends."

"Everybody's doing it, though," he said, citing the definitive answer.

"Is there a girl in your class that you like?" I asked.

He blushed and hid a smile. "Naw."

Uh-huh. I see. The football soared above the trees.

"Did you ever have a boyfriend?" he asked.

No, just a husband, I thought to myself.

"Well, there was this neighbor boy I rode the school bus with that I really liked. He didn't even know I existed, though," I answered.

"How old were you?"

"I think we were in the seventh grade," I said.

"Geez. You were pretty old," he said sympathetically. Yeah, 'fraid so.

Just then a girl about his age broke free from a group of her friends on the swings and appeared to be heading our way. Seeing her, my friend grabbed the football and said, "I gotta go home now, OK? See ya." He raced down the street to his home, never looking back.

Good idea. I was tired of receiving passes, and I think my little friend is too young to be making them.

Vicki Marsh Kabat writes for the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald.

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