First love and being uncool

I dreamed last night about the first boy I ever remember being physically attracted to.  I guess I was about 10.  My older sisters had a dance at home, and this boy, Keith, came.  He was the only one who was my age.  I didn’t know how to dance, and I didn’t know about make-up or sex, I’d never been kissed, never kissed any boy myself.

Keith asked me to dance. I remember the room was dimly lit, and we danced a slow dance, and my sexuality woke up.  Bing!  I wanted to kiss him, but I was afraid that my sisters and their group of friends would laugh at me if he wasn’t cool.  I didn’t know how to figure out what cool was.

I didn’t let him kiss me.

Then he asked me to come to another dance with him.  His father drove us in their Mercedes.  We sat in the back seat, and I couldn’t think of anything to say.  It was awful – as was the dance, because he didn’t dance with me, he danced with other girls, and I stayed by myself in a corner.

Yes I did.  I didn’t know how to talk to people.  I felt so stupid, and gawky and ugly and I wanted to sink through the floor to China and never come back.

Then his father came to fetch us from the party, and drove me home.  Keith walked me to the back door, and suddenly leaned in and planted a kind of frantic kiss on my face, only he missed my mouth, and got my ear.

He was a really nice boy, though.  Sharp, good-looking, bright.  I developed such a crush on him, but he lost interest in me.  I didn’t know how to be cool, and he ended up being one of the A-list boys, confident, liked by everybody, athletic, clever.  It was awful.  I wanted him to like me so desperately.   I didn’t have a chance.  I was the least cool kid in town.

Years later, when I was about 20, I was working in a casino in Victoria Falls.  He’d been conscripted into the army (for the war between the white government and the revolutionaries) and was stationed there for a while.   I bumped into him, and he stayed at my place for a couple of nights.  I was still very shy, and although by that time I’d kind of learned how to cover it up with some kind of bravado, I still didn’t know what to say to people.

He interpreted that as arrogance, and I later heard via the grapevine that he’d drunkenly boasted that he was going to screw me, arrogant bitch that I was.  But it wasn’t like him.  He hadn’t been like that.  I think it was the war, and the trauma of having to be a soldier, the brutality he was exposed to, and maybe forced to do.

I felt angry and humiliated for myself, but I also felt so sad for him.  What happened to you?


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