Ahh, the high school dating scene….
Did you go to high school in the 1980’s? I did. There, now I’m dating myself, pun intended.
Back then, I didn’t date anyone because no one was asking! Maybe it was because I went to the same high school where my dad taught physical education and coached two teams, and maybe dating a coaches’ daughter was off-limits in some unwritten high school code of law.
But, those in my high school who were seriously “going out” – and by that I mean they didn’t just “hook up” — were so very much in love and so happy the whole world needed to know. As sickening as it was for the rest of us.
In high school, you knew who was going out with who because of all the of PDA (and that’s not Personal Digital Assistant. Remember, this was the 1980’s. These were Public Displays of Affection) in the hallways, the stairwells, the cafeteria, in the schoolyard and on the bleachers.
Girls with boyfriends would go to the Mall and have these sweatshirts made up. (Another memory of the 1980’s, the melting, rubbery smell of the T-shirt shop.)
On the front of the sweatshirt, and it was usually a pink sweatshirt, would be the girl’s and boy’s name in a big air-brushed heart.
On the sleeve of the sweatshirt would be the date of what I guess was their first date, something like this:
Then on the other sleeve, something like this would be written:
And, if the happy couple were dating a really long time – say, six months – the boy would bestow upon on the girl as a gift an ankle bracelet. Only the ankle bracelet was not worn on the ankle but on a chain around the neck.
No other time did the have-nots of high school romance feel more left out than around Valentine’s Day.
Every year in my high school, the Key Club would hold its annual rose sale for Valentine’s Day. Roses were sold in different colors:
Red – I love you
Pink – I want to get to know you better
Yellow – Secret Admirer
White – Friendship
Roses were distributed the morning of Valentine’s Day in homeroom.
In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day of one’s senior year, seniors had another big day to think about and that was prom. That’s because at the Staten Island Mall, the prom dress displays would go up pretty much as soon as all the Christmas decorations would come down.
What made it worse was I believe that was the same year Pretty in Pink was in the movies. So many questions arose months before the prom among my circle of friends:
Who are you going with?
What will you wear?
What other friends are going in the limo with you?
In the timeline of high school, receiving a rose on Valentine’s Day could be a determining factor for answering the above questions about prom night.
So, there I was in homeroom on Valentine’s Day, when to my shock, I received a rose.
A red one.
Now, at the time, I was not interested in anyone, at least anyone who went to my school.
At that moment I thought of my mom’s wise words: it will happen when you aren’t looking. Someone sent me a red rose! Whoever this person was had circumvented the rose selections of friendship, get-to-know-you-better or secrect admirer. The sender of this rose went straight to
This could be big! This could be my first Love!
My 17-year-old mind whirred. Who could it be? Someone in my AP English class? Certainly not anyone in AP biology, I hoped. Or, someone who was in none of my classes who would see me in the hallway and confess his love and we would go to prom and everything would be wonderful!
With each class I went to, I walked in expecting – I don’t know what.
But nothing happened.
Then, it was time to go to gym.
As I headed across the gym floor to the girl’s locker, my dad was heading out of the boy’s locker.
He greeted me with a big smile.
“Hi honey! Did you get my rose?”
I gulped. “Rose?”
“Yes, I sent you a rose!”
At that moment, I wanted to die. Just someone, please drown me in the locker room shower.
But I know my dad really meant well. Looking back, my dad just wanted to send his little girl a rose. But then, the 17-year-old me just died on that shiny gym floor.
“Thanks, dad,” I said, and I think I even smiled. Because I knew he meant well. But when you’re in high school, with the sweatshirts and ankle bracelets, a rose given to you by dad is well, not all that – womantic.