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Girls

Girls are neat. They're pretty, and funny, and they smell good, too. If you are a boy in high school, girls are also mysterious creatures; nearly intolerable but absolutely wonderful and addictive, sort of like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups packed with heroin and adrenaline.

In high school, I wasn't exactly a lady-killer. I was not the star quarterback or the guy with the cool car- or any car at all. I was a gifted geek with a love for comic books (not the coolest high school hobby) making the transition to drama geek. I was loud, awkward, and poorly groomed (some things never change). You could count all the girls I dated in tenth grade on the thumbs of one hand.

How bad was I at dating? I present the following as proof of my ineptitude. High school drama class student populations break down roughly like this:

Saying "I'm a straight guy in a high school drama class who can't get a girl" is like saying "I'm an ice cube on the sun that can't figure out how to melt." I was not an ice cube - I was an ice berg . I was the Don Knotts of the drama department, watching all my friends effortlessly find dates while I tried to figure out the secret trick to make girls like me.

By eleventh grade, I had worked out part of the problem: girls are really neat, and they're pretty and funny and smell good and stuff, but for the most part they are not psychic. They're a lot more likely to go out with you if stop sitting in the corner waiting for them to know what you're thinking and actually walk over to them and ask them out. But even though I'd figured that out, I still worried about finding exactly the right time to ask. Here's some advice for my high school self: Almost any time is a good time to ask. If she's not using the bathroom, at a funeral, or kissing another guy, you're probably okay. Don't wait for a full moon, or the right temperature, or for your haircut to grow in just enough to look cool without looking sloppy- just ask. If she's interested, she'll say yes- if she's not, you could have waited until all the planets were lined up for optimum astrological potency, worn your finest black Chuck Taylor Converse high tops, your awesome English Beat sleeveless t-shirt with the stylized ska man dancing in front of a checkerboard, and your perfectly faded 501s and she would still give you the "I don't want to mess up our friendship" speech.

High School Me never got that advice, and I nearly skipped right over my first love. Luckily, someone else was working to make sure that didn't happen.

Like me, Katherine had been a gifted geek in tenth grade, had been in the same gifted geek class as me, and would eventually evolve into a full-fledged drama geek- but she chose a slightly different path to her new geekdom. While I only took the one Smart Kids class I needed to get me into El Camino, in tenth grade she actually took other geek classes instead of drama. In fact, she didn't even need to take Intro to Human Knowledge to go to ECR- she lived in the neighborhood. She was actually taking smart kid classes because she actually wanted to learn things in high school.

The first time I saw her in a drama geek environment, the first time I ever really noticed her, was in eleventh grade- and it wasn't in a drama class. It was in choir, one of the few classes dorkier than drama, a class only outgeeked by band (and, depending who you asked, ROTC).

We'd spend an hour together singing (with the rest of the class) whatever wacky songs Mr. Greb had chosen (My favorite was probably Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life" carefully arranged to remove any trace of soul, replacing Stevie's amazing, nearly scat-like delivery of the original vocals with a plodding half-speed dirge, each syllable carefully enunciated and roboticized: "For-once. in-my-life. I-have-some-one-who-needs-me."). We might talk a little in the hallway afterwards, or might not. At that point, I had no romantic interest in her- she was just a cute girl I was slightly aware of.

That changed on the last day of eleventh grade. The choir sang at graduation, and what a joy that was: standing in the late June sun in the middle of the football field wearing a polyester robe over my regular clothes, soaked with sweat, trying to sing without passing out from heat prostration. Highly recommended. After the graduation I talked with Katherine a bit, then said something like "Have a great summer- I've got to go catch the bus." Katherine said "Hey, do you want a ride home?" Let's see- did I want to be alone with a cute girl in an air conditioned car, or would I prefer packing myself into a busload of rowdy, sweaty, stinky teenagers torturing a bus driver?

As Katherine drove her mom's Oldsmobile to my house, we talked about our summer plans. First, it was summer jobs. She had lined up a job working for the DWP that was hard work but paid well; I planned to avoid all work and convince my friends with cars to drive me to the beach as often as possible. Then we switched to talking about our plans for the next day, our first day of vacation. Suddenly, I realized that the perfect ask-a-girl-out moment had arrived!

"Hey, Superman III comes out tomorrow, and I was gonna go see that. Do you want to go?"

"Sure!" That was it- I asked, she said yes, and I had a date. I couldn't believe how simple asking her out was! Why didn't I do that earlier?

Later, I found out the truth about my asking her out, and the fact that I didn't realize what was happening at the time is more proof of just how clueless I was (and still am) about girls. You see, it was no accident that Katherine just happened to have her mom's car, and just happened to be able to drive me home, and just happened to have no other friends to drive home. She arranged to have the car, the time to drive me home, and no other passengers because she wanted me to ask her out. You might be thinking "Well, if she wanted to go out with him, why didn't she just ask?"

Here's the thing: For high school girls, boys can be mysterious creatures; nearly intolerable but absolutely wonderful and addictive, sort of like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups packed with heroin and adrenaline.

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