a little taste of my teenage years for your reading enjoyment.
I was fourteen that year and pretty certain that I was an adult. I was working to finish high school (it’s hard to be completely grown while still in school, of course) and had one little year to go.
When my oldest brother’s best friend came to visit, I took a bit longer trying to tame my frizzy curls and attempted to keep my perpetually sunburned nose powdered.
It wasn’t that I had a crush. It was more, well, he was older (like, eighteen!) and I wanted to be thought of as grown up. I was hoping to stun him with my maturity, since the last time we had seen each other I only had a measly little eleven years under my belt. A lot can change in three whole years, you know!
That first night he convinced everyone in the family to put a salt and vinegar chip on their tongue and inhale. They all laughed hysterically but I kept my peace (and only tried it when no one was looking). I was pretty sure that he couldn’t help but notice how adult-ish I was. Who would have been able to overlook it?
Imagine my excitement when it was decided that I would go to an amusement park with them. Just me. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that my other two brothers were in school and I was homeschooled. It probably had everything to do with my stunning example of maturity that first night.
Indeed. Me, with two eighteen year olds. Didn’t that make me, like, eighteen, too?
Most of the trip was uneventful. They talked about guy things and I kept my mouth shut (always a safe, adult option, right?).
At the park they pretty much left me to my own devices, which was fine. I mean, I was grown up. So I spent the time wandering around a few feet behind them, trying to act, well, like them.
It was then that we saw it. The Congo. A brand-new rollercoaster that was longer and crazier than any other in the park. It was a new design where your feet dangled as you raced and swooped all over.
It was a doosy and you had to ride barefoot if you had on flip flops. And this was Florida, I was always wearing flip flops.
As we waited in line I was feeling quite proud of myself. The ride had rows of three. There were three of us. Perfect. I would be one of them.
Maybe, maybe he’d even think I was cute. (that is, after all, the final test of adult-ness, right? An older guy thinking you’re something?)
I was still congratulating myself when we went to sit down. He looked at the seats and then looked at me. It was obvious he was going to say something. I waited in anticipation… maybe, he was going to insist that I sit in the middle by him!
“You can only sit by us if you promise not to scream.”
All my joy dissipated into thin air. He thought I was going to scream like a…a…twelve year old?!
It wasn’t so much that I was crushed. It was more like:
I. was. furious.
The Irish blood in me came steaming out of every pour. Any crush I might have had dissipated into thin air.
“Isn’t that right, Ez?” He turned to my brother who was standing there stupidly (not jumping in and saying, “What? My little sister would never do anything like that. She is far too mature for such antics. Why, she’s hardly younger than us, you know!). I sent a fiery glance his way and it must have translated something because as I stomped to my seat and pulled the yellow bar down firmly, I noticed that he didn’t say a word. Not a single word. Although he did make a funny sound and rub a hand over his mouth.
His friend wasn’t quite as smart. He talked and talked. I don’t think he had any idea how lucky he was that I was sitting on my shoes.
Flip flops are very handy things to squash annoying bugs with.
I didn’t speak a word to him the rest of his two week trip. I don’t think he noticed.
I also don’t think he noticed that I was still irritated at him three years later when I was visiting his hometown. I spent quite a few evenings with friends at his apartment. Every once in a while he’d get talking and I couldn’t help but remember that day on the rollercoaster. He was lucky it was Alaska and I didn’t wear flip flops.
On my eighteenth birthday I reminisced with my Mom and, for the first time in my life, mentioned the story. She listened, laughed, and said, “Oh, Tasha, if that was me I would have sat down without a word and the moment the ride began I would have started screaming and not stopped until the end.”
Now, why hadn’t I thought of that?
(note: if this almost-thirty year old is ever on another rollercoaster with that boy… he’ll wish I’d used the flip flops.)