The night was cool-shower-after-a-long-day-at-the-beach perfect. My friends and I were headed into the city to see one of our favorite artists perform. It was the summer after our senior year of high school, and the possibilities seemed endless. One friend mentioned that we were meeting up with another group of people she met while spending spring break visiting her family in Israel. I was excited to meet them, but didn’t think much else of it.
They were a group of about six, some Israeli and some locals. Immediately, I thought one of the guys was cute and looked oddly familiar. After introducing myself (the two drinks I already had probably had something to do with it), we managed to deduce that I used to go to a JCC day camp with his younger sister (Jewish geography at its finest).
Though the music was loud, we managed to have a really nice conversation. He was funny, charismatic, and I was really into his life-of-the-party, center-of-attention personality. I also found out that he was 24, which was quite a considerable age gap to my just-turned-18 self. At the end of the concert, we exchanged numbers and parted ways. Him texting me that night to make sure I got home safely definitely didn’t help me come down from the cloud I was floating on.
He texted me the next day and asked if we could hang out. I suggested grabbing coffee or going to see a movie, but he told me his work schedule was unpredictable and that he’d text me when he was out of work. 9 p.m. rolled around, then 9:30, then 10, and still nothing. Finally, around 11 o’clock, he texted and asked me to come over and watch a movie. I didn’t really like the idea of this late-night get together, but I didn’t want to seem like a wet blanket either, so I told myself that his work was probably super hectic, which is why he was asking me to hang out so late.
We actually did end up watching a movie (kind of). When we started kissing and he tried going further, I told him I didn’t want to, and not only did he respect that, he told me, “I was unlike any other girl he’d met.” (Current me is gagging just writing this sentence, but 18-year-old me lapped it up like an eager puppy.)
That whole month, I didn’t come down from the aforementioned cloud. We constantly exchanged our favorite music, he took me to little-known places in the city, and introduced me to his friends. We even went whitewater rafting with them! All throughout, he kept telling me how he loved my personality and how beautiful he thought I was. I was falling and floating all at once.
The closer we got to the bittersweet end of summer, the faster I began slipping off my cloud. You see, I was supposed to be going to Israel to do my freshman year abroad. Given my hot girl summer (again, by 18-year-old standards) I was sad about leaving Mr. Life-of-the-party. One night while we were on the couch watching I-don’t-remember-what, I decided to tell him how I felt — that I was going away and that I wanted to be exclusive. I had rehearsed what I wanted to say all day, and this was the perfect moment.
I spilled my heart out. I told him everything and had never felt so vulnerable in my life. His response (literally, I kid you not) was, “I’m not into all of this clingy stuff. This is fun and you’re a good girl, but I need to focus on establishing myself.”
Whelp. There it was. With those couple of sentences, he managed to crack my heart into a gazillion little pieces like it was nothing but dreck.
After he left and I shut the door, I felt so, so hollow. Instead of enjoying the last few weeks before college, I spent it packing, crying, and incessantly checking his Facebook because I was a self-loathing masochist.
Cut to seven months later…
He probably reached out because he saw my Facebook status about coming home for Passover break. He messaged me and asked what my plans were during my two-week visit. After my heart rate subsided, I told him that besides the whole family seder thing, I had nothing too exciting going on. He asked if I wanted to go see one of our favorite artists together. Despite my better judgment, I replied with a, “Yeah, maybe.” (I didn’t want to sound too clingy or needy, obviously.)
Why did I say yes? Maybe I wanted to show him how much I’d matured. Maybe I wanted to prove to myself that I had matured. Either way, I was looking forward to seeing him again.
The night of the concert arrived (thank God this was before Passover and my matzah bod kicked in). I had on my favorite jeans and my curls were on point. When he picked me up and I got in the car, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and said I looked great. So did he.
We had a great time. He invited me back to his place afterwards. He hadn’t even closed his door all the way before we started making out. Though we didn’t end up sleeping together, I slept over and the next morning, we stopped for bagels before he drove me home.
Though I told myself going into our reunion that it wouldn’t be like the last time, I once again found myself floating and already anxiously waiting for his next text.
That text? It never came.
What did come, however, was a phone call from his mother a week later. Let me repeat that: A phone call. From. His. Mother. I had met her before back in the day and a raspy voice with a thick Brooklyn accent like hers was hard to forget. She told me she heard wonderful things about me, but suggested that my hair may be “a little too much” but if I stepped up my waxing game, she saw potential for a real relationship.
While it’s true I have a head full of dark, curly hair — and dark coarse hair in other places, too — it had never before occurred to me that these natural features would be an obstacle in my dating life.
After nearly falling through the floor of embarrassment and having a good ugly-cry session with my mother, I scoured Yelp for the best waxing lady money could buy. (What can I say? I was 18 and impressionable.) Needless to say, I never saw this oversharing, shallow, life-of-the-party again.
What a fucking schmuck.