Hello, young lovers! You don't have a clue

THE FLIP SIDE

April 06, 1995|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Staff Writer

As a baby boomer parent, it's comforting to know that the adolescent dating ritual hasn't changed that much, if the 12-year-old who lives with me is any indication.

Recently, Sean informed me that he's interested in going out with a girl in his class. As the boy has no money, no driver's license and no car, "going out" in this case apparently means they might walk down the hall together between classes.

Naturally, Sean has absolutely no intention of actually walking up to the girl and asking her out.

Because if he did, there exists the chance she would say "No" or "Drop dead" or even, "I wouldn't go out with you if an asteroid smacked into this school and killed every other boy within a 10-mile radius."

And upon hearing this, Sean would have no choice but to do what any boy would do in this situation, which is to quietly slip out a fire exit and move to a small Amish community in Pennsylvania, where nobody knows him.

To take the whole scenario a step further, if, God forbid, his friends found out that the girl turned him down, even more drastic measures would be needed, such as facial reconstructive surgery.

So the dilemma was this: How do you ask a girl to go out with you without actually asking her to go out with you? And the answer, of course, is: You get the word out to one of her friends.

This is a classic tactic that dates back hundreds of years, back even to when I was in junior high and liked this girl Debbie Brescia.

Naturally, I was too chicken to approach Debbie on my own. This was mainly because she was your basic blond cheerleader/goddess type while I, even back then, was a puffy boy who looked like he was raised on a landfill.

So one day I cornered Debbie's friend Ellen. I told Ellen I really liked Debbie and wanted to go out with her. Since I had no money, no driver's license and no car, I told Ellen to tell Debbie not to take this "going out" business too literally. I was just sort of hoping the two of us could walk down the halls together between classes.

Ellen, a thin girl with pigtails who constantly wore a look suggesting her dog had just been run over, nodded gravely. She promised to get back to me, which she did the next day during lunch.

"Debbie thinks you're a rat-faced little creep," Ellen said.

For several seconds, I was too stunned to speak. Finally I said: "So the answer is no?"

Yes, said Ellen, the answer was no. She also added that Debbie secretly liked Jeff, a tall, gaunt dweeb who wore madras blazers to school.

Well. This was all too much. Again, my mind reeled while I processed this disturbing new information ("Debbie likes . . . Jeff?!")

Finally I blurted out the only thing I could think of blurting out in this situation, which was: "You gonna finish your chocolate pudding?"

In Sean's case, though, the girl he enlisted to approach the girl he likes (stay with me here) did considerably more than just act as an intermediary. She even volunteered to write a note for Sean that would serve as an ice-breaker with her friend.

Well. I was so impressed when I heard this that I asked Sean to see if the girl could write a few columns for me, too.

"Seven-hundred fifty words, any topic she wants," I said. "Believe me, nobody'll know the difference."

In any event, After laboring long and hard for at least seven minutes, this is the letter the girl wrote for Sean: "I would like to go out with you. Will you go out with me? Signed, Sean."

I thought this was a bit too flowery and overwrought, not to mention it didn't really get to the point. But you do what you have to do.

Anyway, Sean is anxiously awaiting word as to whether the girl he likes will go out with him.

There was a slight breakdown in communications at one point, with the note ending up in the hands of the wrong person, a pinch-faced girl thought to spend her spare time tearing the wings off butterflies.

This was highly embarrassing for Sean, to the point where he came home from school and quizzed my wife and me relentlessly about Amish life. But they got all that straightened out and the note is now in the proper hands. All Sean is waiting for is a response.

Sometimes I see him moping around the house and I want to say: "Look, every day you don't hear from her is another day you're spared the sickening feelings of failure, humiliation and rejection."

But I'm tired of always being upbeat.

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