My first boyfriend was named Dick. We began our relationship in the fourth grade, when our mutual friend Jeffrey Paradise brought me a “Dickiegram” on the playground at lunch. I’d never received such a message, but was excited. Dick was very cute but very shy, and it was pretty common to ask someone out via messenger. At nine years old, that still called for remarkable bravery. So as Jeffrey stood there informing me that “Dick wanted to go out with me,” my body experienced that sensation where it fell away, things went white, and appeared to buzz for the rest of the day.
So this is what it’s like to have a boyfriend, I thought to myself as I headed back to the classroom upstairs, after lunch. I was pleased. And when I saw Jeff relaying the good news to Dick in front of Mrs. Friedman’s classroom, I realized this was all very grown-up, indeed. Jeffrey was smiling, and Dick’s face was red and bearing a look of disbelief and excitement.
How exactly I got permission to go on this date, I don’t know. In all likelihood, I didn’t ask for it. The date was for lunch; what did my parents need to know about such things? Details were hammered out during lunch summits with Jen and of course Jeff, who acted as ambassador to Dick. We were to go to Bagelmania. Which meant two huge deals: my first date AND my first time going out to lunch during school hours!
Not to mention that it was also Bicycle Safety Day. I rode the bus to school, and greatly envied the freedom of those who could ride bikes instead, every day. Even as I type this, I remember…
…gliding in smoothly to the school on that late spring day. In 1985, I felt certain that my worldliness was envied by many. On top of being an awesome bicyclist, I was wearing my carefully planned outfit: fluorescent blue polo shirt neatly tucked into my white pants with bright blue pin stripes. The most important acquisitions of all though, were my blue fluorescent socks (the most elusive of all neon socks) and the fluorescent blue lace bow in my hair, a la early Madonna.
I looked very glamorous, yet understated. That was what I was going for. Cool girls went on dates, and today that is what I was. Trying to remain humble, I locked up my bike and went inside, eagerly anticipating lunchtime.
When that fateful hour arrived, I was so scared! That white woosh-woosh feeling had returned. As I walked to Bagelmania, I whispered to my friend Jen how nervous I was, and wondered if Dick was telling Jeffrey the same thing, as they walked 10 feet behind us.
Lunch was lovely, a very special first date. My everything bagel with butter was the best I’d ever had, and from across Bagelmania’s tiled floor, Dick looked like he was having a great time, as well.
However, my next 24 hours were spent in dreadful suspense. I had yet to receive a Dickiegram, or anything indicating that he was still my boyfriend after our date. Where is Jeffrey? I worried as time passed oh so slowly the next day, spending my drab, non-date lunch filled with worry. What had I done wrong? Maybe he didn’t like fluorescent blue.
But then, who should appear next to my usual spot on the balance beam of yore, but Dick himself! His face was red and his hands shook as he handed me a dollar bill. Now granted, he was my first date and I did not yet know about hookers, but that just seemed * off * to me.
“For your bagel,” he almost whispered. “It was a date, I wanted to pay, but I didn’t have enough.”
“Oh!” I exclaimed, as my heartbeat flipped from fearful to nervous about talking to my boyfriend for sure. “Thank you!”
It could not last, but while it did, it was…pretty much the same. Only minus the date. Then he dumped me. But it was all good. Thanks to Hurricane Gloria, I had my newfound pyromania to console me. Ah, youth.