I consider myself to be a rather average 24-year-old. I went to college, I have a job I love that doesn’t pay a lot, and I get a majority of my world knowledge from Jon Stewart. I act outraged over the ending of Lost even though I never watched it, I say “cray” (often unironically!), and, sometimes, I lie about giving to charity in an effort to seem socially conscious or to subtly impress women.
However, for as much as I see myself in line with my peers, there is one area where I feel woefully inadequate (two, if you’re counting the bedroom) and that, my friends, is my middle school experience. Now whether you call it middle school or junior high school, the fact remains that sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are years when certain benchmarks are supposed to be hit. Unless, of course, your name is Mark Zito.
I consider these to be five experiences every guy had in middle school… except me.
Dating someone for two weeks.
I seemed to miss a key area of adolescent sexual development. Namely, that period where everyone starts dating everyone else for a brief period of time. Then, they start switching partners like some type of weird acne-filled squaredance.
If you’re unfamiliar, allow me to fill you in on what I believe to be the typical timeline:
- Boy or girl asks to borrow a Bic mechanical pencil in algebra class.
- Same boy and girl talk on the phone once or twice.
- They decide they are dating. (I NEVER GOT TO THIS POINT.)
- Each party’s respective name is placed in the other’s profile along with the message “I love you” and the date that they started dating. NOTE: Variations on this are allowed… initials work, as do heart emoticons and the always popular “143.”
- A weekend matinee of The Rookie starring Dennis Quaid.
- Break-up. (Bonus points if one scorned lover posts the lyrics to “Wonderwall” in their away message.)
- Awkward locker encounter.
- Repeat with different person, also possibly different font in AIM profile.
Making out in a movie theater.
To this day, I don’t know how this move is pulled off. You could argue that 13-year-old boys had and continue to have more game than my present day self. Do you do that yawn while putting your arm around the girl move? Do you just attack her over the arm rest? Do you simply ask politely if she’d like to French kiss? I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENS.
And moving beyond first base? Holy Christ, there would have been better odds of me actually developing the Spidey senses of the Tobey Maguire movie I was watching. The only thing I ever went hand deep in was a box of Sno-caps.
This is something that was only possible to achieve in middle school because I’m definitely not dropping $15 on a movie these days to not pay attention. I mean, how else will I know if these two people who seem to hate each other somehow fall in love and end up together over the course of 90 minutes? I don’t see it happening (I mean, they are SO different), but Hollywood always shocks me.
Playing organized sports.
Well yes, we’ve all played rec-league sports. But what about playing for the school team? Oh, how I longed to play for a team that wasn’t sponsored by a local photography company. The glory, the camaraderie… the cheerleaders with braces.
In my community, the same 15 guys played every sport. And they were considerably better than me at all of them. Oh, I tried out for the teams that had no cutline like Cross Country… but do you know what you do in that sport? You just run. All the time. That’s it.
Do you know how hard it is to stay motivated to run when you’re 13 and you’ve just gotten high speed internet with absolutely no parental controls? It’s hard, people.
Going to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
If going to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is the process of becoming a man, I am still a boy. While all my friends were slow dancing with girls and getting commemorative yarmulkes… I was playing Playstation. I guess I just wasn’t cool, because it sure wasn’t for lack of knowing Jewish people. I got the Jewish holidays off in school and there was always a Menorah outside of town hall in December. So, what I’m getting at is: They were around.
I still remember when this kid Bryan had his Bar Mitzvah. It was the hottest ticket in town. It might as well have been P. Diddy’s White Party. As far as I was concerned, the only two people in town who weren’t invited were Mark Zito and Hobo Joe. Let me just say, that high-speed internet got a lot use that day.
At age 24, I still don’t know what goes on at one of these events. But, I think they hand out those chocolate gold coins, so that would have been nice.
Being taught to shave.
I’ve seen Norman Rockwell paintings and I’ve watched a bunch of movies. That’s why I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I think your dad is supposed to teach you how to shave.
Clearly, my dad and I do not share the same cinematic tastes, because I had to figure that sh-t out all on my own. I don’t even think anyone bought me a razor. I think I just ended up with one, like I unearthed it in Narnia or something. I just kind of assumed “Here’s this tool, if I don’t accidently slice my own jugular and kill myself, I’ll consider this a victory.” In your tweens, you should not be allowed to make your own grooming decisions. That’s how I ended up with frosted tips. It’s amazing no one made out with me at the movies.
In the end, it seems that middle school and I were a relationship that was destined to fail. I can’t say I’ll remember it fondly, but I will remember. Because, after all, it’s my Wonderwall.