The summer after my sixteenth birthday, I went to live with my Grandparents in a town that stretched about 3 miles wide– the length of Main Street. The idea behind it was for me to work for them all summer and get a bit of money saved up to be able to go to dances, etc. during the school year. I will admit that I was less interested in working than spending time with family and making friends, but in a small town like that, it was hard enough to find someone my age, let alone befriend them. It wasn’t until I had been living there over a month before I finally had the opportunity to hang out with people my age. I was at a lamb fry with my grandma, aunt, uncle, and cousins for the fourth of July when my aunt nudged me.
“See that boy over there?” she asked pointing to a rather handsome fellow who looked like he was about seventeen. “His name is Tanner (not his real name). You should talk to him! He’s very nice!” She went on to tell me about his large family, and how they recently moved back in the country after living in the Dominican Republic for a few years. “Here, I’ll introduce you,” she said, sensing my hesitation.
After making small talk for a few minutes, Tanner asked me if I would like to go with him and some friends to watch the fireworks that evening. I was ecstatic! Not only was I making a friend, but I had been asked on a date! I eagerly said yes, hoping I didn’t sound too eager without sounding bored. He said he’d pick me up at 7pm, and then he was off. I rushed home after the lamb fry and picked out my outfit. It had to be something kind of warm, but cute. I wondered what his friends were like as I did my hair, and imagined spending the rest of the summer like those teens in the books I had read. I pictured the movie nights we’d have, swimming at the lake, and playing games to the light of a bonfire. Things were definitely looking up.
The doorbell rang at 7pm sharp, but I spent a few more minutes getting ready, still not wanting to seem too eager. Tanner was dressed casually and was laughing at something my grandpa had just said. He greeted me with a smile when I came out, told my grandparents when he’d have me back, and after I hugged them goodbye, led me out to his new truck. I was impressed! Most of the guys back home had run down cars, if they had them at all. He opened the passenger door and helped me take the big step into the vehicle. As he got in the drivers side, he gestured to the back seat and said, “Sorry but we’ve got to drop off my little brother first.” I looked back, and saw a very pretty girl about my age with short strawberry blond hair sitting next to a boy who looked about ten. I figured they were both his siblings, and made small talk all the way to his house. But instead of both people getting out of the back seat, only the little boy jumped down and said goodbye.
“Oh ya!” said Tanner, throwing a glance at the girl, “I forgot to introduce you. This is my girlfriend, Victoria.”
Shocked is the adjective I would normally use to describe a situation like that, but I was more a combination of shocked and stunned. So stocked? Shunned? Regardless, I was silently staring like I had swallowed something huge and it was not going down. I attempted to recover quickly, smiled, and said, “Well, shouldn’t you be sitting up here, Victoria?”
She laughed pleasantly and purred, “Oh, call me Tori! And no, you go ahead. I sit there all the time.”
“Ya, I’ll bet,” I grumped in my head. I mean, who does that? Who asks someone on a date and brings their girlfriend? I know our religion practiced plural marriage at one point, but I was under the impression that each woman got her own date.
As the night progressed, I met many of the happy couple’s friends. They joked about things they would rather do, like getting eaten by a shark or an anaconda (shark, definitely). Tori and I eventually got to talking after she finally let go of Tanner, and I learned that Tori knew someone whom I went to school with. In fact, it was the guy I had liked for most of the year. The crush had ended when he decided he was bored of flirting with me, and called Tori up to ask her on a date. While at my house. I didn’t think I much liked Tori.
I was dropped off at home at about 10pm. I don’t even think he got out to open the door, because at this point, I was in the backseat with one of his other brothers. “Well, this will be a great story to tell my friends back home,” I thought as I plodded up the front stepsto my grandparent’s house. And it did. It also helped me make friends with the girls in that town. Apparently, I had just gone on a date with the most popular guy in the county. The fact that I wouldn’t consider it a true date didn’t matter. I was asked to recant the story over and over, while the girls broke down every detail. When the story had worn itself out, I was left with a couple of girls to talk to every week at church, and a couple of friends– but mostly, I was left with a story.