(Chasin’ that Zack Morris High is a recurring series that details my experiences dating and having one-night stands with (mostly younger) dudes.
Teeter tottering between equal parts genius and whore, either way totally not giving a fuck- these blogs are an ode to the fact that Zack Morris will always just be a castle in my sky and so, I’ve been wayfaring through life in the spirit of a whiny break-up song sung by Adele- eating a lot of cupcakes and searching for someone like him.
In a vain attempt to showcase that it takes more than no shame and killer cleavage to turn sex into a lesson plan- I invite you to share in the grossly negligent comedy my dating life has been and will certainly continue to be.
Think of it as your Chicken Soup for the Whore Soul.
Reader Discretion Advised always.)
I had my first “boyfriend” in the sixth grade.
His name was Ted and he was absolutely adorable -two, huge dimples punctuating his smile and a ‘bowl cut’ of soft, brown hair that he would gently toss from in front of his eyes with a slight flip of his head. He was enough to make any sixth grader swoon, and swoon I did. We would sit on the bus together and share fruit snacks. I let him feed my virtual pet Tamagotchi. Maybe we held hands once on accident.
It was everything that an elementary relationship should be.
The first time I ever noticed him, I was playing kickball outside for gym class and as I came up from fielding a grounder, my eyes glanced passed a large window and there he stood on the other side. I was so captivated, I missed the out and just stared at him with my mouth agape. My classmates shouted at me to come back to reality because real life -aka a kid running the bases- was sweeping passed me. Unknowing of the fact that I had just fallen in love right before their eyes, they wore their outrage on their face with expressions silently hissing we don’t pick you first to let the slow kid run by, girl. (Accuse me of accomplishing nothing in life and I’ll remind you how big a feat being the first girl picked in gym class is.)
Right away, I was enthralled with him, and immediately began plotting to make him mine. Ted was one of the first boys that I had a crush on who was not a fictional character. Unlike Zack Morris or the black Power Ranger, he was actually attainable. Nonchalantly, I started digging up information by asking people super hidden questions within questions inception-style. While I was at recess, I would stand outside the window of his classroom determined to catch his attention and when I did, I would smile and wave. And in one of the boldest moves a sixth grader could ever make, on a warm, cheery day, I just up and sat right with him on the bus. As he didn’t seem to be totally repulsed by me, I finally sent him a note that declared my like for him and asked if he wanted to be mine. He totally did. (Everyone, I just presented to you the 11 year-old lady stud version of Becki Trudell.)
But Ted holds a very special place in my heart not just because he is the first man that I called my boyfriend.
No, more importantly, Ted was also my very first scandal.
The year was 1996. Bill Clinton was president. The stock market was climbing at an incredibly fast pace. Dolly the sheep was the first successfully cloned animal in history, people were fucking freaking out about Tickle me Elmo, and the internet went from one million to ten million computers in just that year.
But no one in Mrs. Hunt’s 6th grade class gave a shit, because the new girl, 6th grader Becki Trudell was dating a 4th grader.
I was 11 and Ted Barbell was 9.
He was a whole two years younger than me. I mean, HE WASN’T EVEN DOUBLE DIGITS YET. And sure, once you graduate high school, two years becomes more or less nothing, but at the tender elementary stages of growing older, two years is an eternity. As far as everyone witnessing was concerned, I might as well have gone to the maternity ward of a local hospital, squatted down in front of a lady’s dilated vagina, and birthed my boyfriend.
The girls in my class wrote Ted letters pretending to be me in an attempt to break up with him on my (unknowing) behalf and stop my inappropriate relationship. (For real.) I was pulled aside by the school nurse and asked totally unrelated questions like “are your parents divorced?” (Seriously.) I was called slut for the first time in my life by a boy in my class. (He asked me out a week prior. I said no. Huh.)
And also for the first time in my life, I was faced with the recurring fork we all see over and over: to give a fuck or not to give a fuck?
In a (not-that) weird twist of coincidence, at the same time that this scandal was leaking, Mrs. Hunt was teaching my sixth grade class about the women’s rights movement. I became utterly enthralled with every aspect of the lesson plan. I asked an abundance of questions on every woman mentioned, and I tried desperately to understand why I was so much smarter than every boy I’d ever met, could hit a ball farther than even Will and Walter, and yet men were considered the greater than. Three cheers for Mrs. Hunt who when I approached her with my very real concerns, she let her glasses drop to her chest and leaned back in her creaky desk chair as she calmly said “Don’t you ever let anyone tell you that you are not equal with them. I can see you are very passionate about this and taking it very seriously Rebekah, and that is fantastic. You could be the first female president if you wanted to. You can be anything you want and being a girl should not hinder that.”
I have carried her words with me every step of my life, and even though, looking back I mainly used them as an excuse to steal lunch money and break hearts -whoopsie- at that time they made me feel validated in my decision of robbing the cradle.
I didn’t break up with Ted when everyone started questioning my decision or calling me mean names or tried to sabotage my whole social life. No, instead I walked through the 6th grade with middle fingers up, landed a lead in the school musical, read more books than every single person enrolled, and single-handedly brought the beret back into fashion.
Ted and I would run our course and break up about two weeks later. Because I was bored sharing my juice boxes with him but mainly because I’m an independent lady.
And eventually, everyone -including myself- soon forgot that I was the 11 year-old cougar.
Where are they now?
Good news! This story ends with a TWIST. Ted and I grew up in the same area for the rest of our middle and high school years and although we didn’t really talk ever, one night, long after I had graduated high school and was coming home from getting stoned with some friends, I was greeted totally out-of-the-blue by a completely butt-ass naked 18 year-old Ted Barbell in my bed. Imagine my surprise upon finding him -serenading me with the sweet song of drunk snoring and his now grownup dick flopping out of my leopard print sheets. God had sent my 6th grade boo in his naked adult form as a gift, it appeared. Or maybe a message that I didn’t get because I was too busy laughing so hard no sound came out for 47 minutes straight. Either way, as much as I appreciated the notion, I whacked Ted on the head a couple times until he was awoken from his deep slumber, helped him put his clothes back on, and lead him to the couch. (Ted would begin the annoying trend that every man always comes back to me. Sometimes in very mysterious ways.)
Since then I have seen him from time to time. I waited on him about three weeks ago and he ordered a cheeseburger cooked medium. So there’s that. Also, I think he may be engaged now to a chick who’s in the army and can totally kick my ass. So there’s also that. Congrats brah.