My "gap year" between high school and when I started community college, Shelley and I became obsessed with what we referred to as "Rude Boys" - long hair, leather jackets, listening to hard rock, smoking weed, riding motorcycles. So John Bender, basically. And we fancied ourselves the classy Claire, making a statement that was outstanding in that capacity. If I'd had diamond earrings back then, I'd have been handing them out to the stoners in my town.
There were so many of them that we crushed on that year. For me it was Joe, who picked me up one night after the taco stand closed and we got so high we just rode around for hours in his purple Celica without ever saying a word to each other.
Then there was Rusty, who offered to take me for a ride on the back of his motorcycle. I was wearing Jams - and I want to say no shoes? - and laid the inside of my right calf right up against the bike's exhaust pipe as I climbed on. What did I know of motorcycle hazards? Shelley rode with a big bear of a guy whose real name escapes me but we all called him Brutus. After several hours of riding around we headed back to her house and showed my burn to her mom, a former EMT. I tried to downplay the injury because we knew she was going to be mad at us for riding motorcycles. "It doesn't even hurt!" I swore to her. "That's how it is with third degree burns," she said. "You've burned the nerve endings so they can't feel anything." I had a scar about 2 inches in diameter on my calf for many years to come.
And then there was Scotty. Shelley and I kind of considered Scotty the ultimate Rude Boy. A skinny rocker-looking guy with blond hair down around his shoulders, Scotty was the only 19-year-old sophomore in our high school. My opinion was that he refused to drop out because then he'd have to get a job.
One Friday night, Shelley and I were cruising Jeff Davis and just as we drove by Danny's Fried Chicken, where some people were hanging out in the parking lot, AC/DC's Shook Me All Night Long came on the radio. Now, this is small town Mississippi in the days before satellite radio or iPods. You listened to the local pop music station or maybe played cassette tapes if you had one in the dash. I say that to say this: When every kid in school is cruising up and down Jeff Davis with their windows down and the same radio station on, it was kind of like a sound track for the night.
Okay, so we're driving south on Jeff Davis (toward the beach) and AC/DC comes on and all the sudden, Scotty comes running out into the street from Danny's parking lot. And he's singing "She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean...she was the best damn woman that I'd ever seen..." and he is right in front of my car and he is pointing right at me.
Shelley and I nearly lost our damn minds. This was - without a doubt - the coolest thing that had ever happened to us. Shelley was all, HE WAS SINGING TO YOU!!!
Some months later, Shelley and I were cruising around and we'd picked up our friend Chucky. Which was not a scary name before that movie. He and Shelley were old friends but I think she had a bit of a crush on him then. After a bit he was all, "Hey, can we pick up my friend?" and we were all, Sure, whatever. And he pulled into an apartment complex and picked up...Scotty.
So here I was, riding around in the back seat of a car with Scotty. I wasn't letting this opportunity pass me by so naturally I made out with him. We were kind of a pair for a bit after that.
Once I realized we were a pair, I instantly decided that I was going to lose my virginity to Scotty. It was so obvious. I was 18 years old and he was the classic Rude Boy. As Hamilton said, I was not throwing away my shot.
About six weeks after I gave it up to him, Scotty and I got into a big fight and broke up. If I recall correctly, it was because he didn't get me anything for my birthday. I am reminded now of a scene in Friday Night Lights after Lyla Garrity had started seeing Tim Riggins. She was trying to get him to go to college and church and family dinners and they got in a big fight where he accused her of falling for who he was and then immediately trying to make him into someone he was not.
I did not take the break up well, to no surprise. I called off work and drove up to Hattiesburg to get drunk with Shelley in her dorm room. I realized for the first time the full emotional impact of having a sexual relationship with someone, even if the relationship itself was negligible. But I also walked away having more confidence with boys, knowing that I could be attractive to someone in that way. Sadly, I was still immature enough to continue to choose the wrong boys several more times before I finally learned my own value.
More to come...