Nerdypants, The Story of My Teenage Years

Since I’m a third of the way through reading Bossypants I’m kind of in the mood to divulge some embarrassing stories Tina Fey-style. And these are the stories that come back to me on a “holiday” like today when I realize that I’m at the age where, as my friend put it, the only 420 references in our facebook feeds are those our underage cousins are making.

I wasn’t much of a rule breaker or wild girl as a teenager and young adult, but those few occasions certainly made me think I was a rebel.

In high school I became the slightly preppy, socially awkward, way too nerdy “athlete” who somehow attracted interesting older guys. My first boyfriend was the senior quarterback of the football team who drove a cherry red, restored 70s Cutlass with bench seats. He played the guitar and sang to me. He knew how to mix a martini. The older cheerleaders who hadn’t known my name before then gave me dirty looks for the fact that he’d asked me out. My English teacher flirted with him as he waited outside my classroom for me. In retrospect I think he was probably a vampire because this is sounding too much like young adult fiction. OHGOD DOES THAT MAKE ME KRISTEN STEWART?

We dated for five or six months then things fizzled out, probably because he figured out I was terrified of sleeping with him seeing his sparkly chest. I mooned for a while until he graduated, then life resumed its normal routine but this time around I had a newly discovered superpower: I was no longer invisible. I spent the next few years defying my parents, punctuating a two-year on- and off-again relationship with dates with Catholic boys’ school hockey players (T-R-O-U-B-L-E), Argentinian rugby players, surfing guitar players from Florida, etc. (Okay so there was only one of each of these things in the list, but it’s not as fun saying it that way.) I looked forward to college for so many reasons, and I was oh-so-blindly convinced of my total badass status at this point.

The last day of my first semester of college my girlfriends and I decided to round up all the alcohol everyone left behind during dorm cleanout. We choked down some whiskey then rode with our DD down to 6th street in Austin, otherwise known as the land of Free Drinks For College Girls. I blame anything that happened that night on the fact that we were rebelling after our grueling astronomy final exam which took place the Friday evening of finals week. I later received a letter from my roommate’s overseas boyfriend telling me I was going to hell, so I must’ve done something right that night. Spoiler: Everyone kept their clothes on and my friends and I all returned home as a group at the end of the night, so the event actually wasn’t worthy of a soul-saving letter written from another country. Womp womp. At least someone apparently thought I was wild. Hmph.

The summer after B and I met I lived and studied abroad in Europe where gorgeous men seemed to stand in line for the chance to get with American college girls. After one all-night discotheque hopping event one particularly gorgeous and rather feisty hash-smoking Egyptian man (I’m not sure if he had a job besides procuring and smoking copious amounts of drugs, so I have no better way to describe him) even went so far as to lock himself in my dorm room with me there, shouting to our friends outside that we were going to take a quick break to have “the sex.” I was so head over heels in love with B that I didn’t hesitate a moment before calling him a dirty name and running out the door, brandishing B’s boot camp portrait as though it were a wooden cross to ward off vampires. This incident was repeated several other times, the most notable occurring on a ferry ride across the Mediterranean when a Portuguese man my father’s age followed me around begging me to “experience the eighth wonder of the world and make love to him on a boat.” I could hardly keep a straight face as he promised to teach me all the ways to communicate love in the Portuguese language, beginning with the nonverbal, close-contact method. I politely declined approximately fifteen times. That bugger was persistent, but I was completely cured of my BOYS BOYS BOYS addiction. Also, it is a fact that I can’t take men in Speedos very seriously.

The first time I learned about being “schwasted” was also during my summer abroad, but my good sense kicked in enough that I chose to do so without any gorgeous European men in the vicinity. My girlfriend and I walked to a nearby grocery store where we each purchased a $5 bottle of wine and some munchies and returned to our dorm to enjoy our spoils. A couple hours and an entire bottle of wine later I became sure my death was imminent. My dorm room wasn’t ventilated in the least, and the only relief from the boiling summer sun was a metal awning that rolled down over the window AND TRAPPED ME IN THE ROOM WITHOUT FRESH AIR. So not only was I drunk, but as long as I was unable to walk I also had to sit in my dorm room and bake in the 100+ degree heat. Giving up on life, I stripped naked and sprawled out on the bed, practically roasting like a chicken under a foil tent and vowing that I’d never drink that much wine again in my life if I survived it. I’ve broken and repeated that vow several times since then, and, come to think of it, most times the routine also involved some form of nudity. Shoot.

My early adulthood “drug experiences” are limited to a single ridiculous episode during college when my friend returned from New Zealand with a bunch of kava. (Are you laughing at my ridiculousness yet?) She explained to our honors program cohort that when consumed in large quantities kava is an effective social lubricant, but I must not have been listening to that part of her presentation. At the end of our meeting when everyone else turned up their noses at the dirt-tasting water I challenged one of the guys in the group to see which of us could drink more of it. We very quickly emptied an entire bowl of the foul tasting stuff, and yet again, I succumbed to that delusion that I was a badass.

My victory came at the cost of some of my dignity as I ended up stumbling blindly back to my dorm wondering why I couldn’t feel my face or move my tongue. Instead of studying for a big exam I’d take the next day I spent the rest of that night sprawled on my bedroom floor watching bunny rabbits–or were they rabid squirrels?–hop across the ceiling, all the while hoping and praying that the effects would wear off before B got a chance to call me from Iraq to hear that his responsible, mature wife was out getting trashed on imported muddy water. (For the record, the kava didn’t actually make me hallucinate but my vision sure did seem to swim for a looong while that night.)

I’d like to say that my stupidity wore off when B and I finally began our life together, but it didn’t. When my BOYS BOYS BOYS addiction turned into my B B B addiction, I did still have a few things yet to learn in the area of All Things Young Adults Do During Their Wild Years. Like how to not accept tequila shots from all of one’s coworkers, even if the party is being thrown in honor of one’s recent promotion. (Ugh.) Since he’s the Wonder Husband that he is, when we were 23? 24? and I was learning one of these lessons, B even found a way to be sweet to me as I was tossing my cookies–unsuccessfully–out the car window while he drove us home at 70 mph. With a knowing chuckle he patted my back and said, “It’s okay, honey. Because no matter how wild you think you were when you were younger, you’ve still got some things yet to learn. You were too busy being Miss Nerdypants while the rest of us were spending our high school years getting high and learning how to barf out car windows.”

Then I tried to toss more cookies out the window and they boomeranged right back into the car and hit him on the side of the face.


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