I Was A Teenage Romeo

Every year the eighth grade put on a play and every year the whole class looked forward to it. I mean this was the big time. Real theater. Dress rehearsals, after school practices, set design the whole shebang. I remember the auditions. I walked in full of confidence and left looking at my shoes. I thought I totally blew it. My voice cracked twice and I had to read from the script the entire time. I think it was the second longest night of my life. Our teacher posted the casting list on the bulletin board the next day and wouldn’t you know it, I was cast as the lead.

I still remember the first time I tried on my costume. I thought it made my breasts look huge. Which sucks if you’re a twelve year old boy. To make matters worse, Maryanne Kempler, the prettiest girl in class, announced she was moving to California. This was a particular kick in the pants as she was the Juliet to my Romeo.

I sat in the lunch room eating a burger looking at my tits and feeling sorry for myself when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Can I sit here?” Donna didn’t wait for me to answer before taking the seat next to me. She smelled like ranch dressing.

“I’m going to play Juliet. We should get together and practice sometime. How about recess?”

I had to make a conscious effort to close my mouth. When she smiled it caused her nose to wrinkle. She stood up and giggled her way back to her friends. I don’t remember much of those recesses. My memory is flashes of forgetting my lines and laughing way to hard about absolutely nothing. The only thing that still stands out is Donna.

We practiced our parts together at recess and dress rehearsals. For me it was, “bla, bla, bla, good night, good night, yadda, yadda, parting… sweet sorrow” then, much to my chagrin, the director would remind me specifically, that we weren’t actually going to kiss. Jerk.

I spent the afternoon before the play trying to stretch my costume so I didn’t look like a fully developed young lady and convincing myself that I really didn’t want to kiss Donna. It didn’t work.

Opening night finally was upon us. The air backstage was electric. We were all excited and nervous as hell at the same time. The boys punched each other and joked loudly while the girls studiously practiced their lines. I made clandestine efforts to flatten my boy boobies one more time. It didn’t work.

The curtain went up and we were on. It went OK. For me it was, “bla, bla, bla, good night, good night, yadda, yadda, parting… sweet sorrow” then, much to my amazement Donna kissed me. I tried to pretend it was nothing, like girls kissed me all the time. Against all odds, I was able to finish the play. I think that was the longest night of my life.

My father took a job out of state that summer. Donna and I tried to keep in touch, but time and distance were too much for our freshman love and we agreed to go our separate ways. For years I labored under the delusion that our paths would cross again. My senior year I kissed Tara Tucker under the bleachers. Then again in my car. Then again and again. Donna’s spell was finally broken and the wonderful world of dating was now open. I had plenty of time to find the love of my life. Maybe it wouldn’t be Tara, or Donna. There was even a weird time in college when I thought it might be Steve. But throughout it all one thing remains constant, I still love ranch dressing.

22 thoughts on “I Was A Teenage Romeo

  1. This was great! I taught drama to middle school kids and we did Romeo and Juliet and the drama on stage was never as exciting as the drama behind the curtains! 🙂 You should absolutely send this to Laini Taylor through the First Kiss contest she’s doing in conjunction with Sunday Scribblings (dot com). Deadline’s Saturday or Sunday…

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Great story. Makes me think of way back in 8th grade kissing a girl named Anna. . . I swear man, I was going to marry her. . . until Courtney came along. . . then Kate. . . then. . .



  3. “There was even a weird time in college when I thought it might be Steve.” LOL! I love this kid. You did a great job making him sweet, honest, vulnerable…great character. Eighth grade…not even going back there, loved the story though!

  4. Beautiful, awkward, nostalgic, and funny. What a lovely story! It brought back memories of my first kiss in the summer when dinosaurs roamed the earth. His name was Craig and he had the softest lips I’ve ever kissed. He dumped me the second day of school.

    Yeah. Well. That might have been a bit of overshare. Heh.

    Very nicely done. 🙂

  5. I’ve had a thing for redheads since Warren…*sigh* …. Loved the story…loved especially the full circle back to ranch dressing. Great job Chris.
    I would have liked this eighth grader.. [and yes I was in drama] and yes I had a seventh grade onstage kiss….someone in the audience shouted “get a room.”
    Karen :0)

  6. Ok, Chris I looked all over your blog and didn’t find an email address….email me? I wanted to ask you something about the story.

    this message will self destruck in 15 seconds…

  7. Nice balance of humour and awkward teenage sentiment. I liked the way you came back to what I assumed was a small, more or less irrelevant detail (ranch dressing) at the end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *