Girls, hello! I neglected you yesterday for the laundry and getting my eyebrows done and all the things I have to do before I go to Canada to sell my book. But I did think of you, and wondered what words of wisdom I could drag out from my 20 years of dating. Sometimes I wonder if I had to go on all those dates or whether I could have just concentrated on other stuff and then just met B.A. at 37. I don't know about you, but it makes me think.
Now, I know the boys are going to read this because it has boys in the title. I'm not sure reading this would be good for them because do they really, really need to know how much girls long for their attention? But they do, and as I struggled in high school to free myself from crushes that positively fogged my brain, I wondered why.
"I wish I had a boyfriend," the teenaged me said to my mother.
"Why?" said my mother. "What would you do with one?"
Ten years or so later my shrink said this was terrible and Freudian and alluded to sex and inappropriate and blah blah. But actually it was quite a sensible question, and I don't think my mother was asking, literally, what I would do with one. She meant what was the point of having one when you're way below marriageable age and I was stumped.
But I was stumped only because I did not know how to express to my mother the sense of being unloved and not-special and lonely and plain and I thought romantic love would clear up all that. And, I have to admit, being admired even by boys I wasn't attracted to (the vast majority of a small band of brothers), did add an frisson of excitement to my day.
This feeling began when I was ten or so, and I think I have to blame books. I was not interested in attracting the attention of the boys in my elementary school class--au contraire. The boys I loved were created by E. Nesbit and Enid Blyton. The male behaviour I admired was best illustrated by the heroes of Tolkien. The typical boyfriend, I believed, was Ned Nickerson of Nancy Drew. Reading about these boys gave me such comfort, I suppose I thought having them come to life would be even better.
(It may be significant that, when I first met B.A., I had the curious sense that I was living in a book. Indeed, I spent twelve days or so moving from book to book, with frequent returns to the happier chapters of Brideshead Revisited. Basically I've married the spiritual descendent of Evelyn Waugh. Maybe this means that if you grew up in love with heroes of Westerns, you should move out West. Just saying.)
But to get back to my original theme, other girls in class were more interested than I in attracting the affections of the boys and went at great lengths to get it. It was common, by the time I was ten, for the "popular boys" and the "popular girls" to meet behind the school and French kiss. They didn't have a lot of privacy--indeed, sometimes they all trooped back there together. At the time I (accidentally well-catechized) thought this was SHOCKING, although now it seems a trifle funny.
Less funny is the world of today where ten year old boys can download porn from the internet in the blink of an eye and the average girl is offering up her body for sex at a younger and younger age. It seems like such a stupid, stupid thing to do, but girls do it all the same. Why? Can they not see that the kind of boys interested only in sex are not the kind of boy to whom they should even be speaking?
Oh poppets, I think I must be getting Married Person Amnesia, because I cannot remember why it is that girls and women take such emotionally and socially terrible risks to attract or keep the men they admire. If any of you have light to throw on the topic, please answer in the combox.