Everyone remembers middle school dates, right? You joke about getting your picture taken in the little booth with a curtain, when really you want your first kiss. You go all out and buy the biggest drink and popcorn available so that you’ll look like a gentleman, but really you just want to assure yourself that you’ll have something to fidget with for the entire movie. You feel like a badass walking up to the porch to pick them up, when really you’re some punk midget with a lollipop shoved in your back pocket.
We had spent nearly all summer together, as my grandparents and I travelled with the local baseball team, for whom her mother worked. My grandmother was infatuated with the Brazilian?Puerto Rican?Chilean? chunk of hotness catcher, who even gave her a bat he had broken after one of the games in Charleston. (That bat still perches proudly on our mantelpiece, forever protected by a plastic sleeve which will reportedly survive Armageddon.) We spent Friday afternoons before ballgames playing Marco Polo in hotel swimming pools, and always watched the games from seclusion in the very tops of the stands. School started again, as it is wont to do, and it was there that I thought our friendship would end.
Which is why I was surprised, and rather petrified, when I answered the phone and was informed that she wanted to go to the movies with me.
So here I am, an acne-ridden, nerdy, grossly overweight eighth grader (oh, how fabulous life has become in comparison!) riding to the movie theatre, she and I sitting together in the backseat. I still remember the exact spot the car was at on the road back home when it began:
“Made for men who feel that current regular and large sizes are too small, now you can enjoy the MAGNUM XL! Tapered at the base for a secure fit, MAGNUM XLs are 30% larger than the standard condom and are smoothly lubricated for comfort and safety. Try one today so you can be an XL (drum roll) TROJAN MAN!”
Suddenly, the hand-holding ended. Faces turned red. There were no giggles trying to play off what had just happened. This lack of contact continued…throughout the entire date. All of Monster’s, Inc. we sat looking straight ahead, neither so much as glancing at the seat next to us. Waiting outside for her parents, I offered her my jacket and our hands accidentally touched, which prompted me to turn away and search the crowd for people I knew to talk to. She snuck off as her parents arrived, not saying goodbye. (And taking my jacket! That bitch.) And, to the best of my recollection, we never spoke again.
And so, it is with humblest gratitude that I thank Trojan Condoms for making me wonder why I had absolutely no desire to be on a date with that poor girl. You may have never kept me from fathering a child, but you have made an important contribution to my life, nonetheless.