I Refuse to Call This “Sweet Sixteen”

Although I was. Sweet, that is. Innocent, really. Had never been kissed, until my sixteenth birthday. Really.

My mother had given me a pamphlet called “What Every Girl Should Know,” a kind of watered-down version of the facts of life. We had never had “the talk.” My grandmother told me to “keep my skirts down” (she told me that after I divorced at forty, too). About this time, a girlfriend and I took one of her father’s medical textbooks down from the shelf one day and greedily read the facts. I was partly astonished, partly appalled. And during my junior year, this year called sixteen, another friend dropped out of school, pregnant. She would never go back.

Meanwhile, I went on my merry little innocent but angst-ridden way.

This diary should be burned.  It’s solid evidence that I must have been the silliest sixteen-year-old who ever lived.

Diary. To be burned.

I was silly-sick in love with a boy who knew I had a crush on him, and he played me like crazy.  He would put the word out that he was going to ask me for a date for something big–like the Junior-Senior Banquet–and then he’d wait until the very last minute to ask. I was oohing and ahhing and Dear Diary-ing, page after page about how he called or he didn’t call. Meanwhile, I seemed to be having a pretty good time! I had great girlfriends, although my best friend would move away at the end of that school year, and I would never see her again. I was dating at least one other boy, and there was a lot of driving around in cars and meeting up with boys at the Dairy Bar and going to movies and meeting up with boys there.

But this one boy who mattered to me more than the others–he could be loving one day and cruel the next. Looking back, I believe he introduced me to emotional abuse, only I didn’t know what to call it. It was good practice for later, I suppose. If I had understood it better, I would have realized that I was pretty and smart and talented, and he was good looking and not smart and very insecure. The only way he could be with me was to put me down. Sad, isn’t it, that I took that for two years. In my defense, I was only sixteen, and back then, sixteen was very young.

Here’s a quote from the diary: I will never understand boys or men! That about says it, doesn’t it?

Tell-tale words

When you close your eyes and look at your young self, what do you see?