I have been inspired by Pamela Ribon, who has recently been blogging entries by L.P (Little Pam) that were originally written at the age of fifteen. Ripping passages out of her childhood journals or shoeboxes full of letters never mailed, Ribon offers the original words in all of their teenage melodrama but flavors it all with a sprinkle of years older and wiser commentary.
In many ways, reading L.P entries are like taking a step back in time and reliving parts of my own childhood. Though L.P seemed to be a bit more boy-crazy than I was, I can more than relate to the emotional rollercoaster on which she was traveling.
Ironically, earlier this week a friend and fellow blogger decided to post a similar blast from the past: a list of twenty-two qualities she was looking for in a mate at the age of twenty-two. She posted it to show that though it is years (though only a few!) later, she has not changed and still stands by what she wanted then as what she wants now. She claims this is why she's still single. I claim it all makes sense. After all, it has always been my belief that if we're honest about what we really want, that is not something that will change over time unless we start to be willing to settle.
So today I went digging through my own writing journals from when I was a teenager because I could have sworn I had created a similar list when I was around sixteen and fixated on two separate guys. It took a little longer-- and I sifted through more bad poetry-- than I would have liked, but I found it! And wouldn't you know it? All of the things I said I wanted were related to things and people in pop culture at the time...because let's face it, that's always been my only real frame of reference!
Here it is in all of it's potentially embarrassing glory:
1.) "If you're not in it for love, I'm outta here."
-- Oh boy. Okay, I should explain that though I am now, and mostly claim to have always been, super into old-school hip-hop, there was a time when I was as equally fanatical about the "new" country-pop hybrid that was forming in the mid-nineties. Yes, I was a Shania Twain fan; yes, I saw her in concert; yes, I have quoted her here in the opening to this list-- mostly to denote the fact that I wasn't into one-night stands or guys who just wanted to hook up. Um, I was sixteen, all guys just wanted to hook up!
2) Let's get it out of the way right now: 18-24/M/S/5'10" +/Slim, slender, swimmer
-- I think this is a throwback to the way you'd "make a new friend" on AOL when that was all the internet rage. The first question out of everyone's mouth...err, IM would be Age/Sex/Status/Stats. Clearly I was only interested in guys who were older than me, not linked to anyone else or previously linked to anyone else seriously enough that they'd already be a 'D' for Divorced, a few inches taller than me, and in good shape. I also had a thing for alliteration, which I don't think I've fully gotten over. However, I know the nod to 'swimmer' was in reference to one of the guys I was hung up on at the time. Maybe I should go Facebook him and see if he still fits the criteria...
3) Although not necessarily an "artist" himself, you embrace the creative lifestyle.
-- Not sure why I put the word artist in quotations. I think this was during the period when I still felt slightly uncomfortable about calling my writing an art simply because I was living a middle class lifestyle and not that of the Bohemian starving artists I so admired from RENT. But even back then I knew I was going to need someone who understood, allowed, and respected what it was like to create.
4) You're the Mimi to my Roger.
-- Speaking of RENT! Is it weird that I identified myself here with one of the male leads? Not if you know the play and know the characters! Roger was the one who was holing up in his apartment, not sharing his music with the world anymore, and always saying "not now" to things. Mimi was the one who was living in the moment, knowing that any one of them could be her last. Those two parts of me were always at war with each other, and sadly, the "Roger" aspects of my personality usually won.
5) You don't push me.
-- This is such a loaded line for only three words! Though I can't know for sure what was going through my mind when I scrawled them in lazy script almost a decade ago, now I can see this having so many levels and meanings. Most literally, I don't stand for any sort of physical abuse, obviously, but I think furthermore than that it stands for the fact that I don't react well to those who try to push or change me into someone I'm not, to believe things I don't, to do things I don't want to do. And finally, I'm pretty sure it had to do with the fact that I didn't want a guy who wasn't going to be able to wait until I was ready to be intimate. Whether he understood my reasons or not, if he truly cared about and respected me, he wouldn't force anything but instead just let it all happen naturally and organically. How hippie a statement is that!?
6) You don't wait for me to make the first move.
-- Aaannd I prove I was a walking contradiction in some respects. This must have been written right off my relationship with my second boyfriend because he was super shy and timid and seemed to be the passive one in the relationship. For as much as I didn't want to be pushed, I didn't want to be the one doing the pushing, either. And I still don't! There are a few things I'm somewhat old-fashioned about, and one of them is that the guy should make the first moves (at least early in the relationship). If I refute them, I refute them, but at least then we'll both know.
7) You share some of my interests, taste in music, movies, television, thoughts on politics and religions, and are willing to talk about them. When we disagree on points, you don't mock me or tell me I'm wrong or try to convert me to your side.
-- This isn't too much to ask, right!? Though admittedly, it's pretty hard for a straight man to share my love of movies and television since I gravitate towards chick flicks and shows on which I can stare at hot men. But really it is the latter part of the item that means the most, as it just goes back to not pushing me to be someone or something I'm not and accepting me for who I am. That was a hot button issue with me growing up.
8) Chandler-esque sarcasm is fine, but wit is better. A willingness to address the issues underneath is best.
-- Have I ever mentioned I was really into psychology when I was in high school? I considered it research for my writing-- to be able to create richer, deeper characters. But really I just liked analyzing people because it was a way for me to secretly judge them. I think this item is the perfect example of that.
9) If you want me to shave my legs consistently, you should consider doing your part.
-- The term "metrosexual" hadn't yet been coined, and I'm not even sure "manscaping" was rolling off our tongues, but the idea was in my head. After all, I liked swimmers!
10) Your wardrobe does not consist solely of New York sports jerseys (or jerseys in general), track pants, or items in general that are two-three sizes too big. Because if I'm dating you, you're past the age where you're really going to "grow into" your clothes.
-- At the age of sixteen, I already had visions of my future as a television bigshot. But it wasn't just my image I was worried about; I simply figured if I could put myself together, my potential boyfriend should be able to as well. We've all heard the "you always see these really beautiful women with those really nothing guys" (Friends) line, and though I didn't put myself in the "really beautiful" category, I understood the basic concept of the mis-match and didn't want to be the subject of that gossip. I was already going to screenings and events, and I dressed appropriately, so I wanted to be able to bring someone and feel that they would, as well. Unfortunately in my neighborhood, the Sopranos-style guinea suit was more common than not and most guys my age had a different jersey (or sports-related tee-shirt) for every day of the week.
11) You do not consider a keg party a proper date.
-- I'm quite surprised I didn't put "You should be straight-edge" as the item. Though I liked guys with tattoos, no one my age knew how to drink responsibly yet, and I had absolutely zero tolerance for drugs.
Good God, I'm glad I didn't write this as a letter to send to a potential third boyfriend! Everything I wrote makes total sense to me now, looking back. I spent so much time as a kid and a teenager just trying to grow up before my time and projecting an image of someone older, more mature, maybe even better than my adolescent surroundings. I wanted nothing more than to find someone who was in similar shoes. I am a bit surprised, though, that the list stopped where it did! I wonder now if perhaps I got distracted by a new episode of Friends or something and then just never went back to it...