Sixteen is a great age for a girl to be. Watching my niece Amy bloom into a social butterfly has got me thinking about how different things were in the mid-70's when I started looking at boys.
"In The Olden Days" you had to wait for a guy to ask you out. OK you could stalk him around the school, tell your friend to tell her brother that you really liked his friend and hope for the best. You still had to wait. I was a champion chaser and enjoyed the chase. As soon as I was asked out, I refused the date - I was an over-achiever, I followed the older, good looking guys around the school corridors and once they showed interest, I backed off. The game was over. In my mind, I had won (silly child). My sister will argue that I was no over-achiever because I said "yes" to so many dates with guys I should have said a big "NO" to, but was too scared to hurt their feelings. My mother often had to push me out the door "Jennifer, you said you would go to the barmitzvah with this very nice boy, so off you go!!". Only once did she allow me to play sick when this very odd, older guy arrived in a sports car, brushing his already blow dried hair as he walked up the driveway (the three of us were watching from behind the curtains). "I can't do it Mom", "OK, Jennifer, this time and this time only, get into bed and pretend to be asleep". I think the sports car was the tipping point for my mother. "I can't believe you said you would go to movies with that guy, Jenny", Dalene kept saying, over and over again, as I was pretending to be asleep, rubbing it in as only a younger sister could do. "He was gross, his hair, would you have kissed him?" "Yuk" "You must be desperate".
Now Amy has the world at her feet and BBM, Whatsapp and Facebook at her fingertips (Not forgetting the Rondebosch Boys' High School rugby field). You can flirt and put yourself out there. You can build up confidence and get to know the boy and in as many characters as your "app" will allow. It is all free and it never leaves you. What about the boy? Does he ever have to build up the confidence to dial your number (landline), maybe get your Dad on the line, announce himself and ask to please speak to Amy. If he did, perhaps Amy would also have a problem saying, "Sorry I am busy this Friday night", "Next Friday?" (think, think, think of an excuse quickly) "Sorry I have my uncle's birthday party", "the following Friday??", (think, think, I am blonde, I can't think anymore,) "I don't think I have anything on". So the date is made - three weeks in advance. Now try getting out of it if you don't have a cellphone. He would arrive, on time because arrangements were not easy to break "ITOD".
These days you don't need to talk, you can change your mind, change your plans at the press of a button.
Great times being sixteen and whether "ITOD" or now, some things have not changed. Your best friends will stay your best friends (all except the one that stole your boyfriend the night of your Valedictory). A new week, a new crush, more names on your pencil case (and the first team rugby field).
"ITOD" you just did it, sometimes it was fine and more times than not it was 'orrible and once, only once in your life would your mother allow you to jump into bed fully dressed, pretend to be asleep and after being hit by a sudden fever!!.
And this one, just for Amy, as she falls in love for the fifth time this week:-
“We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It’s easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven’t even met yet, probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually.
This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these loveable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.”