January 18, 2018

Young Love

young loveBy Ann Van De Water

I’ve been thinking about Romeo and Juliet lately as I’m teaching it to 8th graders.  In Romeo and Juliet, the title characters so eloquently and maturely express their feelings when even most adults are usually nervous and say stupid things on their first dates. I saw a survey recently that asked women what topics their dates discussed during dinner dates that made that not want to stay for dessert.  “Ex-girlfriends, cars, sports, and bathroom habits” topped the list, so I think it’s safe to say most men are not as eloquent on their first dates as Romeo.
I suppose most teenagers meet at school, through friends, and maybe social media, before they go to the movies, high school football games, dances, etc.  When I was in junior high the big boy-girl meeting spot was the school gym on the first Friday of the month when my Catholic School, St. Louis in Pittsford, NY cleared the gym after school for a rollerskating party.  For $1 you could wear the ironically named “free dress” all school day, and then for $3 you could rent a pair of skates from the skating company the school hired and let the good times roll! 
The skating rink sent a d.j. to play the latest tunes like “Celebration,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Oh, What a Night.”  The girls skated with their friends until it was time for “Ladies’ Choice” when the song, “Ladies Night” was played. Boys could ask their favorite girls to skate to “You are the Woman that I’ve Always Dreamed Of .” (Cue the flute solo.  Why did bands stop including such awesome flute solos?) After a few spins around the gym holding some boy’s sweaty hand, you had lots to share with your girlfriends at the next sleepover.  And let’s not forget Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady, Woe, Woe, Woe She’s a Lady” or “Macho Man.”  Sigh. 
Monday morning was kind of a letdown after all the fun and excitement of Friday afternoon. Back to diagramming sentences with Sister Robert and back to gym class with Mrs. Alfieri where we girls had to wear bloomers.  Hello!  This was the early 1980s not 1920s!  Did any other school in the country make its girls wear bloomers in gym class? Please let me know.  By Monday morning, the gym was no longer a disco ball of middle school romance, but just a gym.  Even the boy who asked you to skate a few days ago did not hold back in the slightest when he pegged you in dodgeball.  But all is fair in love and war ball.
Ann teaches middle school and is a mother to 12-year-old twin girls.

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