The thought had crossed my mind. I’d moved right across the street from the high school football field. In my mind, however, rarely turns into reality. And even if the vague notion I had rattling around would have come to life, it would have been much different from the reality that set in.
The general thought was that if I took a glance out the window on a day off or two and happened to see girls in their spring clothes, showing off skin that hadn’t seen sunlight for months, it would be an enjoyable experience. It wouldn’t be a perverted thing. From where I lived, I could see mostly a side street that many students parked along. This would weed out most of the freshmen and sophomores and leave me with the older—although more than likely still illegal—crowd.
I’d be lying if, somewhere in that ill-defined wish, there wasn’t at least a chance that a close-to-graduating senior would strike up a conversation while I was outside for some reason (in the thought world I’d be doing yardwork with my shirt off, even though my landlord takes care of this.) We’d continue our chats, and I’d presumably snag an invitation to her graduation party.
Although the “family” graduation party would be the official premise, while there I could inquire about the more “evening-oriented” parties. There’d be no question as to whether I’d be invited—a guy who can buy beer is (almost) always welcome at a high school party—and I’d mostly have to worry about legal matters. I felt I could pull off nineteen to avoid looking like a weirdo, even if I felt like one.
Then, of course, we’d bang. I probably wouldn’t even have to try. She had obviously become friendly with me for a reason, especially since she’d done so while I was shirtless, and, to be honest, she’d almost have to. She invited an older guy to a graduation party. The fabric of the high school social code would be broken if she didn’t get drunk, come on to me, and realize her drunken desire to lose all innocence on a friend’s parent’s bed. We’d then continue to bang throughout an exceptionally fun summer, and she’d be off to college and to getting lost in the freedom that entails.
I realize now that this whole rant seems to contradict the point I made about any dreams of making sweet love to a young girl being only a passing fancy, but until I sat down and mapped it all out, it was. I can’t honestly say whether banging a fragile eighteen-year-old girl for three months without a hint of emotion is more or less pathetic than what actually happened.
After spending the first four days of the first consistently warm week of the year trudging to and from work with the sun low in the sky and mockingly right in my face, I had a Friday off. Spring cleaning would have been a good idea, considering I’d been lax in keeping up with anything through the dark, sleepy winter, but I would have none of this! I chose instead to spend the prime four hours between eleven and three sitting on my front lawn drinking.
This was begun without any hormonal intentions—it was simply to bask in and absorb the energy of the newly-prominent sun. Watching P.E. class, however, sent my brain on a trip through possibilities similar to my imaginary jaunt outlined above. Perspective altered my view, I can safely say in hindsight. When I’d been in college and had a smorgasbord of smarter, less-awkward and more-self-conscious women in front of me every day, high school girls seemed only a few notches above the elderly and the morbidly obese. Now that I had entered the work world and rarely saw women even roughly my own age on a regular basis, however, this parade of burgeoning beauties in loose-fitting active wear seemed like a dream come true .
It was at that point that I decided to put out the vibe for the after-school traffic. I popped off my shirt and—even though my personal collection was too informed by my college experience to really grasp what the kids were listening to—I tried to play music that at least wouldn’t be embarrassing. Of course, by that time I’d been drinking in the sun for more than two hours and wasn’t thinking all that clearly.
As it turned out, I was mostly ignored. I’d never really paid attention, so I couldn’t have known that most of the people who parked in the vicinity of my house were guys and prone to making loud noises of all sorts to show their appreciation for the end of an especially tough week of being cooped up in a classroom. I sat, dejected, and observed this once-familiar ritual through the relative privacy of sunglasses.
As I prepared to disappointedly return to my second-floor lair, I noticed a second wave coming through and decided to enjoy the outdoors for a bit longer. Taking an overview, I realized that high school students are generally not that great looking. There were some that were beautiful, but most needed a few years to adjust to their bodies. I moved my chair so that the sun would perfectly fall on only my body, with my eyes comfortably in the shade to facilitate a late-afternoon nap I felt all the day-boozing entitled me to.
It didn’t take long before I was revived by a third wave of students, although one much smaller than the first two. After a giggly group of young teens came by, I noticed one girl who splintered off from the rest to walk within ten feet of where I was relaxing. She was cute, but had more potential to be beautiful than actual good looks. She had dark brown hair, and was very trim. At that moment, she looked like an above-average fourteen-year-old, but the hint of shapeliness under her form-fitting spring clothes, along with the smile I caught as she bid her pals good day, hinted that there was a bombshell in waiting. Because I’d been half-asleep just before my attention was piqued, I didn’t notice that my sunglasses had fallen a bit down my face. She, however, noticed that I was paying special attention and we made eye contact.
“Hello,” I offered, wanting to break up the awkwardness and keep the door open in case I still lived here when she became that bombshell as a Senior.
But she didn’t move on. She clung to her square of cement. “Do you live here?”
The alcohol had me much more talkative than usual, so after answering affirmatively I added my own dumb question, “Do you go to school there?”
“Yeah. Is that the Killers?”
“Yes. Yes it is.” Even in my altered state I had picked a gem of a record to impress the age group I was dealing with. “It’s their first album.”
“Really? You mean before Sam’s Town?”
“Yeah, I guess I never really got into them after this.” In truth, they never meant much more to me than a few good singles, but the heat and booze had gotten me in a sociable mood.
“Maybe I’ll burn them for you some time. I live right around the block. My name’s Sadie.”
“It’s good to meet you Sadie. I’m Carvin.” This talk of seeing her again made me snap back to my senses—I’m talking to a girl ten years my junior!—but I humored her, thinking that, even with our close proximity, I’d probably see her rarely: “I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other around.”
“Yeah, it’s a pretty close neighborhood. Most people know each other—which means you must be new here.”
I’d thought my last comment would end things. “Yep—I moved in last fall. I haven’t really had a chance to make my way around the block yet.”
“Well, I’m right over there on Pleasant—524. I’ll burn a CD when I get home so that I’m ready when you come over. Do you think you’ll be doing it this weekend?”
This was a bit pushy, but I remembered that I was dealing with someone who probably had some self-esteem issues—she was a teenage girl, after all—“I guess we’ll have to see how the weather is.”
“Well, if it rains I’ll bring it by on Monday.”
“Well, I have to work Monday, but we’ll see each other. I’m sure we will.”
“Bye!” She walked off, and I tried to avoid taking anything more than a quick glance at her walk away. Unfortunately, she caught me in that glance and I was forced to return an anxious wave.
The weather was great all weekend, but after returning indoors Friday and swilling a few more alone, thinking about how amazing it would have been if Megan Fox’s blind clone would have walked past and smelled my body roasting in the sun, I forgot all about my encounter. The Killers were returned from whence they came, and I gave up hope that I’d be invited to even a single graduation party.
The plan was to begin tidying up the apartment Saturday morning, but I stayed in bed a little late and began the day with a few hours on the couch tuning in and out of NPR and loading up on caffeine.
When the sun completed its ascent from my floor to shining uncomfortably in my eyes, I knew it was time to get vertical. I straightened up my living room and almost got the vacuum plugged in before I decided that I could clean at any time, but only had a few precious hours to enjoy the gifts of the season. I threw on a pair of shorts and headed out to my perch. It just wasn’t right without a drink, though, and so I took a lazy stroll to the grocery station for a six-pack. I shouldn’t really have to say that no more housework was completed Saturday.
Sunday I thought things out a bit more fully. I set a rudimentary timeline in my head and got to work. I can actually be pretty determined once I lay down the law with myself—I know I’d rather have one long stretch of discomfort than to always have in the back of my head that some task went unfinished. With that out of the way—and feeling almost confident that having a clean apartment would give me cause to invite someone up—I prepared to continue my regimen outside.
I’d had such a busy morning that my exhaustion overruled any need for alcohol, and I fell asleep in the late-afternoon sun. I was awoken by a horn and brought my head up just in time to see Sadie pass by, waving frantically, in the passenger’s side of a station wagon before it turned out of view. That’s right, I remembered, I’ve got that to deal with.
As I sat half-sleeping, half-thinking about how I could get rid of a clingy teenager, I heard a familiar voice:
“You never came over.”
“I’m sorry. I had some spring cleaning I really had to catch up on.”
“That’s okay. I brought you that CD.”
“The Killers. Remember, you said you wanted to hear Sam’s Town?”
I didn’t remember, because I really didn’t want to. “Thanks. I’ll put it on when I go in.”
“I’ve always wondered what this place looked like. There’s been a lot of different people in the top part.”
“It’s nothing spectacular.” Is she really hinting that she wants to come up?
“Can I get a tour?”
Okay, she’s too innocent to realize what she’s implying, I thought, before I realized that she may very well ask again on a day when it’s not spiffy clean. “I guess a quick one wouldn’t hurt.”
I walked her through, making sure to not linger by my bedroom door.
“Where’s your TV?” She asked as we finished the round and ended up back in the living room.
“I don’t actually have one. I haven’t for a few years. I kind of like it that way.”
“You don’t have a TV? That’s so cool.”
I never expected that as a reaction. “I guess that makes two of us—”
“Who’s this?” she asked, pointing at the CD player.
“Sonic Youth. They’re not really aimed at your generation. I guess they’re not really aimed at my generation, either, really—”
“I know Sonic Youth. They’re on the Juno soundtrack.”
“I guess I didn’t think about that—”
“You’ve got a lot of CDs. Mind if I have a look?”
“Sure. Quickly, though. I’ve got to be somewhere soon,” I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors by having an underage girl stop in for more than a few minutes.
“Oh, okay. You’ve got a lot of stuff here I haven’t even heard of. Oh, I checked out the first Killers album on iTunes. It’s pretty good.”
I didn’t want to turn this thing into anything more than it already was, but I couldn’t help myself, “If you like the Killers you should check out the new Franz Ferdinand. It’s the one there on that shelf.”
“Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. I’ll have to check it out sometime.”
I had been telling everyone how great of an album this was with very little success. This could be my first convert, “You can borrow it if you want.”
“Really? Thanks. Can I borrow the Sonic Youth, too? I can burn them both real quick and be back with them.”
“That’s okay. I won’t miss them for a few days, anyway. Why don’t you stop by after school on Wednesday and drop them off.”
“Oh, right, you have to get going. I’ll see you then.” She lingered a bit, which I didn’t think much about at first.
After she slowly turned and bounced down the steps, the whole of the situation began to dawn on me. After inviting a cute but dangerously young girl into my house, I had basically just set up a date. No wonder she’d lingered afterwards. She was waiting for my move.
At least setting up a meeting several days down the road gave me some time to think things through. By Tuesday evening, I had almost convinced myself that I had judged Sadie wrong, and that she was simply an impressionable young girl who was interested in music and saw that I shared this interest. I had a general idea of how I might deal with any blatant come-ons, but generally comforted myself with the fact that, even if she was interested in romance, she’d probably be too shy to do anything about it.
When Wednesday came, the situation weighed heavily on my mind during my short day at work, and even more heavily in the time between I got home and I began to hear the telltale sounds that meant school was out for the day. Finally, I heard a knock on my door. As I answered it, I caught in a glimpse what Sadie’s intentions were.
She was wearing a short, cut-off skirt that screamed “I changed into this in the bathroom at school because my parents don’t know I own it.” The group I’d seen her with that first day was huddled at a good vantage point, and they began to fake their way through a conversation when they noticed I was aware of them.
“Hey, you look good today.”
I couldn’t tell if she was fishing for a compliment or genuinely impressed by my workaday chinos, but I really didn’t want to deal with either.
“Thank you. You look awfully dressed-up yourself. Did you have something going on at school?”
“No. I had something going on after school.”
“You mean like right now? You should have told me. I could have gotten those CDs back another time.”
“Yeah, I mean like right now. It’s for you.” She dug in her bag as I tried to process what was going on. “Here’s your CDs back, and I made you a mix one. I thought we could listen to it together.”
“Look, I think you’ve got the wrong idea. I love talking about music, especially with someone young and impressionable, and I think you’re going to make someone very happy someday, but we can’t, you know, do anything.”
She was visibly disappointed.
“Look, I realize I may have led you on. If you still want to listen to your CD, as friends, I’d be more than happy to.”
“No. I was stupid to make it. I’m just going to go home.”
She ran down the stairs and to her voyeuristic gang, who were just starting to disperse.
I knew I couldn’t just walk away from this and take it as a cautionary tale. I had to do something. Eventually, I paid a visit to the house with the familiar station wagon out front. I met with her parents, apologizing for my part in the situation, and suggested that I return in a few days, when she was in a better mood, to smooth things over—with the bedroom door open, of course.
I came back with my own mix tape—carefully screened to ensure that there were no “hidden message” songs—and we spent the evening together. She was getting ready to take her constitution test, so after our music conversation ended I quizzed her and let her know some of the things you have to major in PoliSci to find out about. It was like the little sister I never had, except that a few years down the road we’d be able to bang hardcore with impunity.