Boys and Girls

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Misconceptions about the sexes have been going on since God created us. However, each individual must learn those painful lessons for themselves. When I was in sixth grade I became a Patrol Boy. I would stand on the street corner and tell the apparently blind, younger children, when it was safe to cross the street. Then, if it was cold enough, would get free hot chocolate before going to my class. I still remember the day Nancy, one of my classmates, smiled at me, thanked me and offered me a hard candy. I stood there and wondered if we were engaged. She was cute and friendly. I could have done worse.

The next year was the special after school lecture. Dads and sons were there on one evening, daughters and moms on another. I was incensed. Making me go back to that place for a second time in the same day! Was this a dictatorship? Apparently it was. The subject that evening was what everyone, and at the same time nobody wanted to know about, SEX. In particular, they talked about what was going on with our female counterparts. They talked about women and their periods. I think there was a collective groin of disbelief. Then one brave adolescent spoke out; really, every month? Then the fateful question came. When do boys start showing real interest in girls? The answer was simple. At different times, but generally when the girls shapes start changing. Then my ADD took over my brain function. That simple answer sent me into another realm. I had never really noticed, but girls and women don’t look the same. That process was going on while we were sitting there. Some of my classmates did look curiously different after the summer. Some seemed to be changing during this year or last year. Some of the changes were subtle and slow, others seemed to happen overnight. Which ones had changed and which ones were in the process? My mind raced through a list of my classmates. I know they talked about a lot of other stuff that evening, stuff that might have helped me, but I was essentially gone. On the way home dad asked if I had any questions. I said no while in my mind I was screaming, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

The next year we were forced to take dance classes after school. Apparently, you have to dance in High School. I later found out that fortunately, unlike classes dancing was optional in high school. I opted to not. Our dance classes weren’t too bad though. Somehow I managed to keep the same partner through most of it. Sandy was a very nice young girl. She smiled and even laughed at some of my jokes. I thought about asking her out that year and even the next year. Sandy was pretty, but she didn’t look like Rachel Welch (sexy movie star at the time). I worried about peer pressure and judgment. I also worried about rejection. I wasn’t very good at reading signs and now that I knew girls were different, what if I had misinterpreted the signals? This kind of uncertainty followed me through my high school years.

Freshman year, I was awkward and shy around girls. While that didn’t improve much, the next year I took a shot. I asked a pretty girl with a leather jacket who hung with the tough group just off the school grounds. She said something mean and called me a name. OK, she was probably a bad choice, but the damage was done. Message received; girls can be mean.

The next year I was shocked when one of the prettiest girls in school asked to be my chemistry lab partner. Unfortunately, she only wanted me for my brain, even though I was willing to give so much more. We both suffered that year. Even though I liked chemistry, I found myself continuously distracted. We both might have gotten better than C+ if she hadn’t kept leaning over the bench so often. I just couldn’t tell her.

Senior year at least I found some common ground. I was good at sports. I gave some private tennis and skiing lessons to girls who wanted to learn. At least I was learning to interact one on one. They no longer seemed mean or manipulative.

Finally in college most of the clicks were gone. Everyone had at least one common goal, survive as painlessly as possible and inevitably graduate. Fortunately, I got lucky and fell into a great group of friends who more or less stuck together for four years. Finally, one of the girls revealed the secret to dating. If you don’t ask, they won’t say yes. She went on to explain that if I was tactful and my timing was OK (i.e. never through a bathroom door), there were only two possible outcomes; either you would make some girl feel a little better about herself (someone wanted her), or she would say yes. Apparently, I had been looking at this dating thing all wrong. You don’t have to understand women to ask them out (thank God). What a relief that was. Suddenly it struck me. This was no longer a problem in sociology, at which I suck. It was now a simple statistical problem, which I could handle.

In my time at Bradley University I had the opportunity to make many young ladies feel good about themselves. I also got to date some really nice girls. Some even surprised me. One time when I noticed a very cute girl (way out of my league) laughing at my corny jokes I thought I would take a shot. When she said ‘sure’ my mouth just fired before my brain could stop it. I said “REALLY?!?” They say seven is God’s perfect number, so it might not be a coincidence that Crystal was the seventh girl (I barely knew her) I asked to the semi-formal dance my senior year. Statistics work.

So what lessons have we learned? A really good golfer noticed a similar situation in his sport, when he noted that 100% of the puts that are short of the hole don’t make it in. Go out and make someone feel a little better about themselves. Finding the one starts by finding someone.

As far giving advice to young people, just stick with everyone goes through awkward times at their age, but it will get better. They won’t believe you, but at least they know you care.

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I know! How did the girls in my high school keep their hands off me?

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