Start me Up

My first boyfriend, the one in high school, who should have been all innocence and perks, wasn't very nice to me. I was sweet sixteen, never been kissed. He kept pestering me for sex. I wasn't ready. I couldn't even imagine what that would look like. Although he had the appearance of a "nice" boy he had apparently done enough research to know exactly what it looked like. He bought me a cheap ring at the dimestore, insisting that a "created" diamond was chemically the same as a "found" diamond. I was skeptical, but afraid of his putdowns and bullying. He wasn't abusive in a physical manner, just domineering. "What's the problem?" he demanded at my reluctance, "We're engaged, anyway." As if that made it alright. My parents were charmed by him, although his mother was less than happy with me. I could scarcely understand her thick Peruvian accent. So I had stared dumbly and hesitated answering her conversation. She decided later I must be on drugs.

His mother did me one favor though. Sensing that "something was up" with the kids she asked my mother to meet her for coffee. My mother was not the most social person in the world. She was curious. Arthur was my first boyfriend after all. She met with the notorious Mrs. M., only to come back enraged. "She thinks you kids are having sex!" Sputtered my mother, who knew me well enough. Knew me well enough to know I would have been terrified to do that. Horrified and offended that Mrs. M had called me a little slut my mother had read her the riot act and split. My mother stood up for me. I felt a unexpected surge of pride for the tiny woman. I didn't know enough at the time to be enraged for myself.

No, I entered the grey world wholly unprepared for the stereotypes branded on the flesh of young teens. If you are a mean person you turn bully, a sweet person you cave. Somewheres in the middle are theives, drug addicts and cheerleaders. No one wants to believe a pretty girl isn't putting out. They'll make her less pretty in their imagination by deciding she's a b-word. I didn't want to be thought of as horrible, I was cowed by the things I heard my brothers say about girls.

I met my first real boyfriend when I was 20. I met him before my mother died, and got serious with him shortly after her death. Tony had a philosophy of how relationships work. You simply treat your boyfriend like a king, and he treats you like a queen, explained Tony. I liked that idea. I liked how he always paid when he took me out to dinner, and how he sent a cab for me if he couldn't pick me up. I entered his home and did what ever dishes I saw in his sink. I wasn't above sweeping and fluffing, and generally cleaning his house.

Why do you do that? Demanded my room mate. You don't LIVE with him. I could never explain the viseral pleasure I received from doing him a kindness. It was, without a doubt, more for me than for him. Much as I loved him, and I later learned much as he loved me, that relationship was not to be. Tony moved from Hawai'I without bringing me along. He felt I needed to finish college, to find a boy my own age, and have a family of my own in that order. When he found me 10 years later, still single – still loving him, he still loving me, we cried over the mismanagement of our lives. The time had passed. As two single parents we didn't imagine throwing our kids in together. We couldn't make it work. He found me just days before I was moving away myself. We passed, ships in the night.

There are so many habits I picked up from him that I still do today. I still unpack everything as soon as
I get back from the store. I still feel the need to treat my partner like a king. I never worry about if people love me. I only chose whom to love, and concentrate on my end of the deal. The part I have control over. That way I am never enraged.