Adolescence. That nightmare gap between tweendom and adulthood.
I guess I am not alone in being horrified by my teenage years. A mélange of bad sex, dental braces, and acne, with a whacking side dollop of humiliation. A lot of embarrassment.
And yet despite all this, I got off lightly. I am endlessly grateful that my peak teenage years passed by well before the advent of social media.
I can only drop to my knees in gratitude that there was no Instagram to immortalize my Barbie pink prom dress.
Some of you have recently shared your teenage vignettes with me, and I have been honored to read them.
So, in the spirit of sharing, it’s only fair I join in. And whilst there’s hot competition for the most toe-curdling moment, I still think the Jon/Jonella paradox makes it to the top spot.
Imagine; the scenario – I’m hovering on the doorstep of the local heartthrob’s house.
Every girl in the school has a crush on him. Together with his twin sister Jonella, they rule the roost in our little clique.
The date: It’s Valentine’s day. And I am hoping to drop off a card, unnoticed.
So, I slot it in, quickly, into their mailbox. It gets sandwiched in there, and then I hear someone coming.
In a desperate panic, I snatch the card back out again. But before I can run, a boy has appeared, from behind me on the walkway.
It’s Tony. Jonella’s boyfriend. He’s smiling. “Is that a Valentine’s card for Jonny?” he says.
I gulp. There’s nothing I can say, but yes.
But this is where the problem is. It’s not. It’s for Jon’s sister; his girlfriend.
But because our little town isn’t a place to publicize girl crushes, there’s no way I want anyone knowing. And, of course, especially him.
The worst bit of all this is he’s nice to me.
“Don’t be embarrassed, you should post it!” he says. And he is insistent. There’s no way I can get out of there without posting that damned card.
Somehow, I manage to open the card and scribble out the ella part of the name and cover it with a massive love heart. Amazingly, he doesn’t see.
Then, he takes it and posts it through the door. Which, of course, opens.
It’s Jon. With his flawless sister in the background. He opens the card and grins.
I nearly spontaneously combust.
And everyone’s still really nice.
It should go without saying that both Jon – and his sister – are about a million miles out of my league. I turn to go, burning with shame.
But Jonny asks me inside.
Long story short, we end up dating for two months, before I figure a way out of it.
Fast forward: a couple of weeks later. It’s a sleepover at Jon’s. The rest have gone to sleep, left only Jonella and me. To my horror, she has the damned Valentine card, and she’s smiling.
“It was really to me, wasn’t it?” she says, grinning. Then she shows me the inside of the card – where you can see the outline of her name, under the crossing out.
I try and bullshit, but she’s got me. Panicking, I think she is going to laugh or be angry or… something.
But she doesn’t. She doesn’t laugh at me, but she does place her hands on my face, and then give me a soft kiss. Just on the side of the cheek.
I nearly faint with shock. She laughs.
That’s all she says. Ever. And then goes back to sleep, leaving me hyperventilating and wondering wtf happened.
I still do sometimes.
Basic upshot? Sometimes it’s best to be brave – even if nothing can come of it.