Well, I was pretty much ready to give up on #YAMyLife since it hasn’t gotten much traction, and because lately I’ve felt like I should prioritize noveling and newslettering over blogging. But then Danielle from the fantastic YA Cafe podcast had to go and tell me how cool she thinks #YAMyLife is and that it would make a great class writing exercise (she’s an 8th and 9th grade English teacher, by the by). If any adventurous teachers actually decide to do this, I’ll happily post student essays on my blog and Skype into your classroom for a pep talk. You know where to find me.
So here we go again, and if you’re reading this and wondering what the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks this #YAMyLife thing is, read the first #YAMyLife post, in which I explain I’m going to take cringeworthy moments from my teenhood and rewrite them, turning myself into the spunky YA heroine I wish I’d been. Thus far, I’ve focused on other people saying obnoxious things to me. But I was far from a saint as a teen and this time around I’m going to focus on my own very unfortunate behavior.
When I was fourteen, my best friend had a boyfriend. I don’t remember feeling jealous, but I do vividly remember thinking he was cute/cool and that he and I might have made a cute couple if he hadn’t been dating my best friend. But he was dating my best friend and, therefore, totally off-limits.
And then…one seemingly random day at the beach he broke up with her, as fickle fourteen-year-old boys are wont to do. As if the universe wanted to really rub her nose in the whole thing, she immediately stubbed her toe, probably on a rock, and stomped out of the water all teary and bloody.
Instead of running after her like a good friend, I flirted with her now-ex boyfriend for at least ten minutes, waiting for him to say what I wanted to hear — “I broke up with her because I like you.” He did say it, of course, and I’m sure I giggled and blushed like a sad little fool. To be honest, my memories of that part are hazy at best because hormones.
Eventually I realized that I should probably not be such a selfish ass, and told him that I needed to walk home with her and that I’d see him at school. But the damage had already been done and I’m pretty sure she gave me some fully-earned silent treatment and stink-eye as she limped home.
The boy and I did end up “dating,” I think for a whole two weeks. He literally broke up with me on Valentine’s Day, which was the universe’s way of saying, “OMG, girl. Did you really think you were going to get away with this? LOLOLOLOL.”
Before we launch into my YA revision of this moment, which will feature a Greek chorus of three 90s feminist icons, I should note that I haven’t seen this guy in ages, but I did run into him at a funeral about ten years ago and he appeared to be a more-than-decent person. I specifically remember him sadly pointing out that only a handful of our classmates had shown up to mourn someone we’d grown up with. As we’ve already discussed, everyone, myself included, says and does silly things as a teen, and the vast majority of those people grow up to be quality human beings.
~ ~ ~
“I broke up with her because I like you,” he said right after he splashed me, and it was sweet, sweet music to my ears. I dug my toes into the sandy bottom below the water, just to make sure this was real and I wasn’t dreaming.
“Oh, yeah?” I said playfully.
“Ahem,” a voice behind me said. “For real?”
I turned and expected to see my best friend with a scowl that could kill on her face. But no. Instead, I found myself face to face with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC.
“This is like putting your friendship in the bathtub and setting it on fire,” she said. “Sneakers are one thing, but friendship?” She scratched at the stripe below her eye. “Though if you’re gonna go there, use a rubber.”
My face flushed beet red.
“Look at her toe,” came a voice with faint Valley Girl lilt. “It’s bleeding all over the damn place. She’s your best friend and she’s in both emotional and physical pain.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Who are you?”
“I’m Kathleen. From Bikini Kill? In a few years my music is going to be very important to you. But don’t worry about that right now. Let me tell you a story about the time Courtney Love sucker punched me backstage at Lollapalooza. I mean, that’s pretty much the whole story. I was just standing there and she, like, hissed at me and then bam! It was seriously uncool. Almost as uncool as what you’re doing right now. You’re sucker punching your best friend’s heart.”
An animated girl with brown hair and thick glasses rolled her eyes. “As stimulating as this is, I’d like to get back to watching Sick Sad World. So let me just say that I stole my best friend’s boyfriend once and it ended like a fiery car wreck. Except with slightly less splintered limbs and seared flesh, and a whole lot more awkward silences.”
I blinked in disbelief. “Daria? Oh my god, does anyone have a pen? I need her to sign everything I own.”
Kathleen put a hand up. “Hang on. Can we focus on what’s really at stake here? The potential act of betrayal and girl-hate in progress?”
“Okay, okay,” I said as I glanced over at the boy. My eyes paused on his sinewy shoulders before flicking back up toward his face. He winked at me. “But look at him. He’s so cute. What if this is my only chance at true love?”
“Ugh,” Daria moaned. “True love is a lie made up by Jane Austen and Walt Disney.”
Left Eye grabbed me by the shoulders. “Girl, don’t go chasing water falls, even if they have dimples. You’re not even old enough to drive yet. You’ve got plenty of time.”
“Hoes before bros,” Kathleen said. “See what I did there? I’m reclaiming the word hoes and subverting a contemporary patriarchal idiom.”
I stared across the water at my friend, who was slumped down in the sand, still cradling her battered toe. I thought about all the times she’d had my back, like when her brother tried to attack me with a Super Soaker or this girl from school said I needed a nose job.
“Goddammit,” I whispered before addressing the boy. “Hey. Nothing’s going to happen here. Maybe in a few years you’ll have the emotional maturity to understand why.”
“Ummmm, ‘kay,” he said. “See you at school?”
“Yeah, but in a totally platonic way.”
I splashed my way back to shore and smiled sheepishly at my bestie.
“By all means, don’t feel any compulsion to join in my pity party,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Who am I to stand in the way of true love?”
“True love is a lie invented by Jane Austen and Walt Disney,” I said.
She cracked up. “God, that’s bleak.”
“Hey, let’s go clean up your toe and watch The Breakfast Club for the millionth time.” I grabbed her hand and pulled her up off the sand.
“Deal,” she said. “But I reserve the right to banish you from the living room if you quote all of Ally Sheedy’s lines.”
My bestie and I left the beach and literally walked off into the sunset.
~ ~ ~
Did you ever steal a friend’s significant other and later wish you could take it back? Tell me all about it in the comments.