Turns out, that’s not a point of view which expedites one’s first finger banging session as much as it does one’s first public shaming...well as a teenager. I had shamed myself a number of times as a young boy, but just chalked that up to having no real father figure and easy access to knives. I mean Dad was “around,” not enough to be considered a real dad, but just enough to get arrested for snorting cocaine off the seat of a moped and calling me a faggot when I was 12 and got my ear pierced. I cried because, well, he was probably on to something.
Having a young dad that always put having fun before being responsible made me try real hard to get his attention. And by the time I realized it wasn’t worth it, that approach to gaining someone else’s acceptance had already bled into my social life. I would do anything to make people like me, ANYTHING. Even tell the unbridled truth about my deepest pre-pubescent sexual desires.
I was also raised in a quasi-strict catholic household. And as a Roman Catholic, you’re explicitly taught to repress all sexual needs and wants until you’re married. So when you couple that with my “do whatever it takes to get the attention of others” approach to friend making, there’s a very high likelihood that regardless of time or location, a conversation can get real boner-y, real quick.
Luckily for me, my reputation and every influential teen in my freshman class, a collision of those two schools of thought occurred during a 6-hour Sunday school retreat in my church’s convent. Quick Jesus lesson: If you’re Catholic but don’t go to a proper Catholic school, you’re required by the Lord to attend Sunday school until your confirmation, which is the end of said schooling. This retreat was the last step before confirmation.
As I said, this group of 30 some-odd teens, both males and females, were amongst the most popular of my newly anointed High School freshman class. And for most of them, this was their first impression of me. There were some super babes there, some of the top babes in the class, as well as some of the top cool-guy athletes. This day wasn’t about God, it was about was about high school pussy. You either got some, or became one.
The HNIC, Head Nun In Charge (that means something else in the rap world), gave a quick speech about why we were there before starting the day’s activities. She told us that we were going to learn how to become good Christian men and women, at home, in school and in relationships. That the exercises we were going to do would help build trust with one another, as well as learn what makes us different from one another, in a good way.
The first exercise these servants of the Lord had us do was about dating. They said it was not meant to deter us from dating, but rather learn the proper do’s and don’ts of building a healthy Christian relationship with the opposite sex. In hindsight, it was a cruel trick played on a boy with no inhibitions or moral compass.
She proceeded to hand everyone a pencil and a blank index card. She then instructed us all to write down, anonymously, what our ideal first date is. If I didn’t play my cards right, literally, I could make the rest of this day, and possibly a healthy chunk of high school, very uncomfortable.
Now, since I had started masturbating before it was legally acceptable, with thanks to pool jets and heavy flow shower heads, my ideal first date could only go in one direction. Or rather two directions, in and out. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only boy there that felt that way, but I was the only boy there who believed honesty was in fact, the only policy. If I wrote down what I truly want to happen, the other dudes will be impressed and the babes will like me for being a no frills kind of guy. High school chicks don’t like guys who play games.
So I proceeded to go write down, in painstaking detail, what my ideal first date was. I was the first to start and last to finish. My grammar was impeccable. My future, bright as the morning sun.
When finished, the nun instructed us to throw all our cards in the middle, pick up someone else’s card, as we’re going to read them aloud. I was ecstatic. Bristol Eastern High School freshman, prepare yourselves to revel in all my horny splendor.
And so it begins, the first card is read aloud: “I’d like to walk down a beach while the sun sets, hand-in-hand with my new girlfriend,” My thoughts? Clearly not everyone understood the exercise. That’s fucking boring and none of these kids even had a license to drive to the beach. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to like it. So I thought, “Well if they like that, they’re gonna love mine.”
“Maybe we share some popcorn and a soda at the movies. Then afterwards, grab a bite to eat at Friendly’s,” read the second card. Everyone again agreed that that was a wonderful date. I, on the other hand, had just realized exactly how screwed I was. Screwed to the wall like the very savior whose house I was anxiously squirming in. Things are going to change soon, change for the worse and change for quite some time. Teenagers never forget.
And then it began. My card was read. “Hopefully we hangout at her place, alone. We start by French kissing and my hand begins to slide up her shirt. If things go well and I’m really lucky, my other hand begins to go down her pants and...” And at this point, all hell broke loose. The nuns and priests lose complete control of the situation. Girls are hissing in disgust. Boys bellowing over with menacing laughter. I’m choking back tears of shame.
Then this one little dickhead decides to ‘Lord of the Flies’ the situation. Scott Colbert springs out of his seat, all five-foot one-inch of that little asshole, and screams: “We’re getting to the bottom of this. We’re going to figure out who wrote that. EVERYONE. Put the cards down and find your own cards.” The crucifixion had begun, Judas had spoken.
I am consumed by panic and can only think of one option as a last ditch attempt to save some face, grabbing someone else’s card.
I’m not even four words into “my” card before its rightful owner shouts “That’s mine, that’s my card! I’ve got the pervert’s right here!”
And there I sit. Alone with no friend nor God in sight. Judgment bestowed upon me by the self-righteous peers I had so wanted to call my pals. Now, I just want someone to call my mom.
I excuse myself to the bathroom to try and pull it together as there is still five and half hours remaining to this experience. I sit on the toilet, head in my hands, repeating the same two sentences: “You fucked up, chief. You fucked up in a major way.”
Nobody would speak to me, work with me or look at me for the rest of the day. My first cousin was in that class. My fat, piece of shit first cousin. At lunch time, I sat alone and ate my cold pizza, seasoned with adolescent tears.
As I was finishing what felt like my last meal, the priest comes over to me, gives me a gentle pat on the shoulder and quietly says, “Hey, maybe they won’t tell anyone.”
As the retreat came to a close, my shaming was far from over as my uncle was forty-five minutes late to pick me up. This means I had the privilege of sitting on the front steps of a house that God built, while every, almost new best friend/lover walked by me glaring, giggling and pitying.
Once my uncle finally arrives, I get in the car and he begins to apologize for picking me up so late. To which I stop him and reply, “No sweat Uncle Johnny, there’s no point in me getting upset with you just yet, cause we’re gonna be spending a lot of time together.”
Find Jason Burke on Twitter @eatprayjason