When I was in the seventh grade I had this boyfriend named Brendan. Brendan was a loner. He looked like River Pheonix and instead of listening to Megadeath and Metallica on his walkman like all the other boys, Brendan listented The Beatles. For these reasons, the other boys called him a faggot and he was ostracized. The thing is, I don’t think Brendan would have hung out with these guys even if they had wanted to be his friend. He seemed to live in his own world. Brendan and I would get into deep, philosophical discussions about religion and music.
Although the popular girls had decided they wanted me in their clique the year before, by seventh grade this was becoming a very time-consuming position, and I found less and less time to just sit and ponder life with Brendan. The stuff that was going on with this group of girls was insanely dramatic and unhealthy and I’m not sure why being their friend was something to be coveted when really, I should have ran as far away as I could. Attempting suicide became very en vogue with them that year, or at least attempting to make some small enough incision on your wrist that you could wear a bandage to school. The truly beautiful, cunning girls, wore long sleeves which they conveniently allowed to pull back with a long stretch at the most public of moments. They were thrilled at the look of the teacher who would look away and then ask to speak to them after class. After class, they could relish in the teacher’s questions and cry telling them about their parent’s divorce, or their older sister getting all the love and attention at home or, whatever horror it was that drove them to the butter knife.
Anyway, there were very intense meetings to be had after school with these girls, because one was always in a massive crisis. Then there were the boys. Who was going out with who changed routinely and the interchanging of one another’s boyfriends was completely normal fare with this crowd. They all agreed my boyfriend was gorgeous but none would dare date him as doing so was socially a terrible move. And, besides he was weird.
Most of the talk was about how far we should go with these guys. Everyone had been to first base, and now some were preparing for second. The popular girls were all in the dance program and studied ballet. Some already belonged to professional ballet companies. For this group of impossibly skinny, flat-chested girls, myself included, second base was really a moot point. But still, it was the principal.
Then there were the parties, roller-skating and movie outings, etc. All which were aimed at making out endlessly with “the boys”. I guess that in all of this, I really wasn’t paying very much attention to Brendan anymore. We talked on the phone everyday, but eventually at school and even after school I'd become far too consumed with my activities with these freakishly manipulative adolescents.
Then one day Brendan broke up with me. He told me it was because he’d thought I was different, and that it turned out I was pretty shallow. He’d thought I had more depth and a firmer character (he didn't use these words exactly). He’d watched me with these girls and thought I was a total sell-out. Gone was the girl who would sit with him to talk about “Yellow Submarine” endlessly.
But, I wasn’t prepared to be a loner like him. I didn’t have that sort of self-knowledge and I absolutely needed others to dictate my self worth. So, when he ended it, it hurt for two reasons, one because he was gone from my life as I’d known him, and two, more importantly, he reminded me what a shallow, frivolous girl I had become, and I was ashamed.
When I came home that day my father asked me how school was and I started to cry and told him that Brendan had broken up with me. I cried because I thought that was what I was supposed to do, but the truth is I was relieved. I couldn’t be held up to Brendan’s expectations of me and now I was free to be a vapid little monster. My dad thought it was very funny that at twelve I should be sad about a silly break up and he just laughed it off. But, dad didn’t understand this wasn’t so much about a boy as it was about an identity crisis. Eventually dad had me laughing about it too, but then I had to get serious. There were calls to be made to my friends, and I wanted to make sure I was sufficiently upset. I somberly went to my room, closed the door, dialed the first number and began to cry. As I did this a few times, the experience of the break up did indeed become more painful. I found myself inconsolable by dinner time.
Who knows who I dated next. Probably some douche-bag with a tail. But, I have always relived my breakups through telling each and every friend every grueling detail until its absolutely unbearable. I am starting to think the best thing might be to keep the next one to myself...