- The Game Changes
I entered middle school with much lower popularity prospects than I anticipated. The contents of six area elementary schools had been aggregated, and as I walked through the halls and looked around my new classes, I quickly realized I would no longer be counted in the top ten per cent of the dating pool.
That summer I had traded my long hair for a bob and gotten braces. I was also starting to have one or two or three pimples at a time, you know, severe acne. My self-image had taken a huge hit. And now the market was flooded with exotic new girls with long, straightened hair, perfectly flared Silver jeans, and skin-tight Abercrombie & Fitch V-neck tops layered over pristine white camisoles.
The mystery of the universe, the engine of life, whatever it is that makes men take up arms and defend their homeland--seemed to be incubating under those camisoles, beneath those unnaturally round and stiff A-cups. There was a new energy in the air, one that hadn't been present in elementary school.
These new popular girls dazzled everyone, including me. I bowed out of the competition and set about being the charismatic, brainy, extracurricular activity girl, popular because of personality.
Nevertheless, I found a few boys to crush on and a few boys to date. The relationships never lasted more than three weeks, and they were all very basic; I can hardly even remember what I did with these boys. One of them had his mom pick me up and drive us to the mall where we walked around and sat on the couches. He tried to hold my hand. I panicked and broke up with him the next day.
I don't know if I just didn't like him, or if I was growing evermore uncomfortable with the idea of getting physical with boys in general. A few of my friends were getting pretty serious with their boyfriends, and I had even heard rumors of certain popular eighth graders sleeping together.
I was learning more and more about sex from health class, my peers, online chat rooms, late night TV channels at a friend's house, and a furtive session with a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
In theory, sexology captivated me. But it seemed the more I learned, the less I dated. The looming pressure to engage in sexual activity myself kind of freaked me out.