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The Dating Lame

Those of you who are lucky enough to have found love: Remember your first love? Remember that first magic date? Remember the things the two of you did together- where you went, what you talked about, what you wore, what each of you ate and drank? Remember the way the two of you spoke with each other, effortlessly talking for hours about little things, big things, silly things, important things? Remember staring at the eyes of your newly beloved, watching those eyes watch you? Remember "accidentally" bumping into your beloved one, just for a brief hint of electricity as your skin and theirs touched? Remember how you felt when the evening ended- a little sad to see it end, but full of joy and energy as you remembered the events of the night and thought about the nights to come?

I don't.

This is what I remember about my first date with Katherine: After two years of classes with her, I'd finally figured out on the very last day of eleventh grade that I should ask her out. For our first date, my subconscious went out of its way to screw everything up. First of all, I chose a movie for our date- but not just any movie. I chose the first showing on opening day of "Superman III," a horrible, horrible film that features a gutted and toothless Richard Pryor as a computer geek who accidentally creates an evil robot, and guys running around in bright red and blue underwear. Not exactly a romantic comedy.

When we arrived at the theatre, I had a bit of lucky misfortune, which I attribute to God taking pity on the poor doofus that was me trying to discover the rules of dating: Superman III was sold out, the theatre most likely packed with elementary school kids sent out of the house by parents not quite ready for summer days filled with demands from their darling insufferable moppets. We picked a different film: WarGames, a movie that had some elements that were similar to Superman III, but some very important differences. Both movies feature a computer geek, but the geek in WarGames, instead of being a shrieking comedian suffering the indignities of a fading career, was a dorky high school student- just like me! Instead of obsessing over a guy who runs around wearing a cape, the geek in WarGames was obsessing over a cute girl- just like me! Instead of creating an evil robot, the WarGames geek almost caused total nuclear annihilation- just like me (it was an accident, I swear)!

I remember the movie quite well. I remember Matthew Broderick getting the password to the school computer from the desk of the office manager (the password was "pencil"). I remember him changing his grades. I remember lines from the movie; when I am on my deathbed, if you lean close to me and whisper "You're giving away our best secrets," my last words will be "Mister Potatohead! Mister Potatohead! Back doors are not secrets!" But if you ask me what Katherine wore that day, or if she sat on my right side or my left, or if we shared popcorn, I would die with a look of pure confusion on my face.

After the movie, we did not hang out. We did not get dinner. Instead, geek that I was, I figured "we have completed the tasks we planned for the day- therefore our date is shall conclude." It was a Friday, the night was upon us, we were young, we had a car, and I had her drive me home. Oh, I was a suave one.

While I don't remember the date, I do remember that I'd enjoyed it enough that I was willing to do it again- perhaps this time, we would go nuts and stay out until the street lights came on! I called her Monday, after her first day of her summer job.

"Hey, what are you doing tonight?"

"Oh, I'm so tired! Can I call you back later?"

"Sure!"

No call.

A few days later, I call again: "I'm sorry- Katherine isn't home yet. Can she call you back?"

"Sure."

Again, no call.

I try one more time: "I'm sorry! I meant to call you, but I came home and passed out. I can't talk right now- I'll call you tomorrow."

"Suuurrrre."

No call.

I finally got it. She didn't want to talk to me. Maybe I was too much of a geek. Maybe I should have asked her to dinner. Maybe she's mad that we didn't get to see Superman III. Whatever. I gave up. I didn't see her again for the rest of the summer.

September came, and I went back to school. My geekiness had been blunted by the inherent coolness of being a senior. I walked into play production with my drama geek friends, laughing and joking as we enjoyed our new positions at the top of the pecking order. Then I saw Katherine. She was in play production with me.

And she was freaking HOT. I mean, she was hot in June, but now every one of her physical features seemed specifically designed to compliment some other part of her. Her hair was blonder from hours in the sun. Normally, the color of a girl's hair is about as important to me as the color of her socks, but the lightness of her hair accented the deep tan she had acquired since we'd last seen each other. Her new tan highlighted her body- and it was a body well worth highlighting. She had definitely been working out over the summer. Firm, muscular, but still very, very female. Despite the summer of no response, I had to talk to her.

Once we started talking, everything clicked into place. She was tan, blonde, and buff because she had worked outdoors all summer. She was tired or passed out when I called because she had spent her days clearing brush in Chatsworth Reservoir. Her days were long and full of hard labor- mine were long and full of avoiding labor, wondering where all my friends were all day. By the time she'd adjusted to her new workload and was able to manage having a social life again, I'd given up. Now that school was back in session and she was no longer working, our free time matched up again.

Katherine and I were a couple almost immediately. I can't say what she saw in me- I suppose she had a fetish for gangly, braying weirdos with unibrows and massive earlobes- but I know what I saw in her.

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