One day in the summer of 1994, I went over to my best friend Joel’s house. He had just finished his first year of college; I was about to be a senior in high school. We watched a movie and then another and then another. Then somehow it was 6:00 a.m. and we were still awake so he said, “let’s go to the mall!” Oddly enough, this was before drinking and drugs were a part of our lives.
So we hop in his dad’s van — the kind with the ladder and the spare wheel and probably a wolf airbrushed on the side — and drove to the mall. On the way, we passed this girl who was driving and reading a magazine at the same time. He honked to startle her a little.
She looked up. She was cute. She smiled.
We passed her. She passed us and smiled again. Joel said, “Put your number on the window!” so I did. And so did she. We drove on to the mall. It was closed (obviously) so we pushed ourselves around in shopping carts in the parking lot for an hour, drove home and passed out. Later that afternoon, I called her:
“Hi, this is Randy. Um, we met on the highway?”
She told me her name was Jen. She was 22 and had just graduated from college. She asked me if I was the driver or the passenger. I told her I was the passenger. She said, “Good. Wanna come over?” I suppose it never occurred to her to ask how old I was. I went over to her place. She had a roommate or two, there were some friends hanging out. She asked if I was home from college.
“Uh…yes?” I said. “I just finished my freshman year.” A simple little lie, really. I mean, what’s the difference between 17 and 19 anyway, right?
Anyway, we drank for a few hours. They decided we should all go to Pizza Hut. This could have gone very badly. Lock Haven is a small town and the likelihood of running into a friend or a teacher or a band parent (Hey, Randy! How was band camp this year?) was extremely high. Fortunately, everything went smoothly. We went back to her place and hung out for a few more hours. She walked me to the door and kind of lingered in the way one does. But I was young and stupid so I was all “BYE!” Ugh. So embarrassing.
The next morning she called me at like 8:00 a.m. She was going to the Giant Eagle in Williamsport (half an hour away) because “they have the best meat” and she was having a big BBQ later that day. She wanted to know if I wanted to come with. Sure, I said.
Turns out, Giant Eagle’s meat wasn’t the only reason she wanted to go to Williamsport: her mom lives there.
She took me. To meet. Her mom.
So now I’m in this rando dining room in Williamsport wondering what horrible life choices had led me here.
“Where do you go to school?” she asked. I guess Jen and I hadn’t talked about that.
“Uh…Villanova?” My sister went there and it’s the first school that popped into my brain.
“You’re kidding!” she said. “Me too!”
“What’s your major?” They’re both beaming at me at this point.
“You’re kidding!” she said. “Mine, too! What a small world!”
“Please let a plane fall on this house right now,” I said.
Somehow I managed to lie my way through the entire lunch. It was awful. I made up professors and “reminisced” about the buildings and the classrooms. She hugged me, called me a very nice young man, and Jen and I left. We bought the meat and drove home. I helped her BBQ, her friends came over, we had fun, but I felt like such an asshole. This had to stop.
So what did I do? Did I come clean, tell her the truth, face it like a man?
I did not.
I wrote her a god damn note and stuck it in her god damn mailbox at like 3:00 a.m. I don’t remember the exact words, but I’m assuming it went something like this:
These last few days have been really fun but I have something to tell you. I’m not 19, I’m actually 17 and am about to be a senior in high school. I live with my parents. But it’s really fun hanging out with you! Call me! LOL!
Needless to say, I never heard from her again. Poor girl. I can’t imagine how she must have felt. I pictured her with her friends the next day:
“Hey, so is Randy coming ov…””NO.”