Last night on Community, Joel McHale's character made a comment about Vaughn (Eric Christian Olsen) being Annie (Allison Brie)'s "gateway douchebag." Apparently because she is young (only eighteen), she is therefore still impressionable when it comes to men, and since she isn't very experienced in the ways of dating and relationships, if her introduction is through a shirtless, shoeless, guitar-slinging hippie, that will only leave her vulnerable to far worse contenders.
I have thought long and hard about it since last night, but for all of my childhood issues and lessons about relationships through the fictional worlds on television, I don't believe I actually had a "gateway douchebag" of my very own. As London Tipton would say...Yay me?
Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
Age Five: I first get proposed to by a little boy in my kindergarten class we will call "Oscar." He is clean-cut, cute, and very, very smart. I turn him down flat. N-O. Not even a consideration; not even a mock ceremony in his backyard ala Stephanie and Harry Takayama (Full House). He is probably upset, but he still tries again the following year. I believe this time he brings me a plastic gumball machine ring when he does. I still say no. We end up as "just friends" but share a kiss years later during a game of Spin-The-Bottle at a friend's birthday party.
Age Eight: I decide it will be older men for me when I develop a much-deserved crush on the "bad boy but with a heart of gold" Zack Morris (Saved by the Bell) and his portrayer Mark-Paul Gosselaar by extension. Gosselaar does a D.A.R.E campaign and I keep the hotline phone number in my Hello Kitty address book, calling it nightly just to hear his pre-recorded greeting.
Age Ten: My love for blond-haired bad boys translates to a boy who lives down the block from me; let's call him "Joey." We are in different classes at school, which might as well be different countries, as I never find a real excuse to interact with him and instead settle for sitting on the corner with my rollerblades, waiting for him to ride his bike up and down the street.
Age Thirteen: I turn my attention to a slightly preppy blond in Jensen Ackles and his on-screen role of Eric Brady (Days of our Lives) but still manage to have my first real kiss with a very real (brunette) boy, let's call him "Tim," who I meet through my cousin. He doesn't live in the same city as me, and I hang out with him for all of three days while visiting family. That is the closest to a one night stand as I will ever let myself get.
Age Fourteen: I have high school orientation and end up sitting next to the kid who will become My First Boyfriend (trademarked like My Little Pony). When we meet again on the first day of school, I learn the only class we will share is homeroom, which is not an every day occurrence. Still we manage to connect enough to date for about three months. Our relationship is mostly an AOL one despite living in the same borough, and I end up breaking up with him (online-- natch) because I don't feel I know him well enough to know what to get him for Christmas. I know, I know, the things wrong with that sentence could fill a book...and it does fill the second chapter of my book.
Age Fifteen: I date my second boyfriend (no trademark necessary) only because he reminds me of a beloved character from another childhood favorite program of mine. We date for a few months, as well, and I can't remember exactly how we break up, but we do, and I start to crush on one of his friends, "Paul," another guy from my homeroom with whom I never end up sharing classes (it was a big school! we had almost eight hundred kids in my graduating class alone!).
Age Sixteen: I start dating one of my longer-term boyfriends, "Justin." He lives one state over, is the son of one of my mother's friends, and puts up with me during a summer when I should have been taking the ferry over to see him but instead spent a good amount of time fixating on a lifeguard at the camp at which I worked. I put up with him when he crashes his car into a tree and is barred from any form of communication and/or semblance of a life. I break up with him about two weeks after he crashes his car into a tree for the second time because even if I buy the "I wasn't drunk!" excuse, my confidence in his intelligence wanes greatly.
Age Eighteen: After spending the end of my senior year of high school wishing I had done something about my long-time crush on "Paul," I move out to California to start college and start a new life, and he becomes one of few people with whom I keep in touch. His friendship is both inspiring and easy, but perhaps most importantly, it is continuous.
So what does all of this mean? Have I escaped the wrath of "bad boyfriends" forever-- immune somehow because I had an okay start? Or is it so much more than that: have I never experienced the "gateway douchebag" because I was the "gateway douchebag?"