A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Being Thirteen

Oh, God, if you ever want an exercise in hilarity or, I don't know, sadness or self-reflection, try reading your old journals if you have any. I've been keeping some sort of diary since I was ten and paged through one today from when I was twelve going on thirteen. You wouldn't believe the things I wrote--well, yes, you would--they are so...Twelve year old-ish, but at the same time, they were part of who I would become or who I am. Lots of lists of things; lists of what music I liked, of movies I'd seen over the summer, of boys I had crushes on and there's also this fear of sounding too corny while at the same time sounding corny. A sarcastic self-emerging at the age of 12. And boys. It's always and forever about boys. I had a three year crush on a kid in my church choir, Steve Crossett. He was a year older than me and had red hair and freckles and was in all of the honors classes which I thought was so cool. He wore gray corduroys and Izod shirts (collar unpopped. That trend didn't start until we were in high school). Here's an entry from my 12 year old self and it could've been written last night (picture the hand-writing as this sort of loopy, overly ornate style meant to convey maturity and an old world sensibility. This was also during the phase that I drew lots of girls in hoop skirts):

Only three more days until I turn thirteen!

Guess what I did today! I went up to Steve to give him this recipe that his mom wanted from mine. Mom could have given it to Mrs. Crossett Sunday but I thought that I might be able to muster up enough courage to do it myself.

So after first period, I saw him outside walking to his locker in E-Wing. I couldn't catch up to him, and I didn't want to lose my chance, so I yelled to him, ingeniously, Steve! To which he stopped and turned around.

I came up to him, showed him the recipe and said, Your mom wanted this recipe, so my mom asked me (lie) to give this to you to give to your mother. Understand?

He had been holding with a couple of fingers to the recipe as I showed it to him, and then he replied, still holding the flimsy index card, Uh-huh. Got it.

I let go and said, Thanks, and rushed off because I didn't want to linger or make him late for class.

When I got to second period, I don't know what the matter was, but I was shaky and triumphant and nervous. Mom says it's because I cared so much about it, and she doesn't like me so wrapped up and stuff. I keep thinking that someday when Steve is my boyfriend and we're engaged, I'll show him this and we will laugh and laugh. I hope there does come a day when I can look back at these "serious" notes and laugh.

I now understand why one should never be allowed to glimpse into your future. You would not want to face it. Nothing ever did happen with Steve except once, he held my hand on the bleachers by the softball field and told me that he thought I was a very special person.

Here's another one from later in the summer, after I'd turned thirteen. You can see the sarcastic self peeking out. It only got worse from here. This was after an evening where I had to eat dinner with another thirteen year old (a boy) while my parents ate together at the adult table:

That kid was pretty cute. He had blond hair and blue eyes. His name is Mark. At first, it was really hard to know what to say. We played some games, took a walk, sat on the dock, and yak-iddy-yakt.

We talked about our different schools, about different kids, and about The Elephant Man. Once, he asked me if I had gone with anybody and I said yes, and named about five people, only one of which was true.

I don't know why I thought to lie, maybe I wanted him to think I was really hot tamales. The Elephant Man is another story, though.

He thinks that the mother of the elephant man was human, and the father was an elephant. And I am not kidding, nor was he.

According to Mark, any animal (be it kitten and dog, giraffe and bird) can somehow produce off-spring. Did I say he was bright?

Torture. That entire age was torture. And I knew it. Here's the last little bit, after I started eight grade and had a crush on Jim Hurst and Billy Francis and about half a dozen other guys, depending on the day:

It's hopeless. Jim will never, not in a million years, decide he likes me. Oh, he likes me for a friend, but just like a classmate, nothing more. I'm sick and tired of waiting for something to happen when I know nothing will. It's impossible.

Why, why, why do I always have to wait forever? I think being a thirteen year old 8th grader is the pits. When do boys start noticing me? Some boys notice me, but none that I am interested in. How long before a boy that I really care for decides he feels the same way? I don't know what I expect from a stupid 8th grade romance. Certainly not picnics on the beach because no one is ready for that yet. Even if he decided he likes me like I do him, what could happen? Nothing great. And really, the main thing that attracts me to him is the way he looks, and then his personality and that's not right. What kind of relationship could physical attraction produce? Not a very true and loving one. I will have to wait until I mature, and for now, admire from a distance. Let all those other girls throw themselves at him and be let down. I am going to be the smart one and stick it out.

Flash forward decades later: guess what?


Liz said…
"Some boys notice me, but none that I am interested in. How long before a boy that I really care for decides he feels the same way?"

Um. Yeah. I pretty much write that in my diary/blog every week. Proof positive that I am, in fact, 13.
Aimee said…
But let's not forget that you are the cutest thirteen year old trapped in the body of a young thirty something that I happen to know.