Today marks an anniversary. 10 years ago I pinched a girl for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. My motivations weren’t solely about the enforcement of old-timey dress codes, there were ulterior motives.
This girl happened to be an ex-girlfriend. I didn’t mean her any real harm, but it was one of those high school “you’re my ex-girlfriend so I have to antagonize you a little more than other girls” kind of thing. The intimacy gained from having dated this girl, in my mind, gave me some form of permission to use less social caution around her than I would any other girl. I grew up with 2 older sisters, so annoying girls is sorta in my blood.
So I pinched this girl. I pinched her on her upper arm, a fairly sensitive part of the body. I pinched her too hard. What I saw as slightly over doing it, her body saw as a good reason to bruise.
The day went on, classes came and went, long bus ride home…
My father approaches me and says he needs to talk to me in the living room. Mind you, the living room, while not a “this couch is not for sitting” style living room, was pretty much empty all year except for Christmas morning. A talk in the living room wasn’t something to scoff at.
“We need to talk. It’s about your friend Teresa”
Two things: First, my pubescent, away from school mind had completely forgotten about the day’s events. School is at school, home is at home. They stay in separate parts of my brain. Second, my father delivered this line in a very “there’s been an accident” tone of voice.
“What!? What’s wrong?”
The concern in my voice is noticeable. I’m preparing myself to hear that something terrible has happened.
“Her father called me today…”
This isn’t helping any. Who else but her father would deliver the call to all the ex-boyfriends after a girl has died?
“…he says that you left a bruise on Teresa. That you pinched her.”
I’m not mocking the situation, but to go from “your friend is dead” to “you’re in trouble for pinching a girl” is quite a swing.
My father is taken aback. It’s either surprise, or unhappiness that I’m not responding the way he probably imagined.
I try to explain to him how the last couple minutes had sounded, and he seemed to appreciate it, but didn’t waiver far from his original intent: to give me a talking to about pinching girls. We tried to salvage the conversation, and I assured him that I meant no harm, that I’m not a bully and that I understand the gravity of giving a girl a bruise.
The next day I show up to school and Teresa is afraid to talk to me. Apparently she was very mad at her dad for calling mine. While she didn’t like being pinched until bruising, I don’t think she was ready for what she would see as the embarrassment of getting me in trouble.
I certainly understand her father’s point of view. If any punk kid had left a mark on my daughter, I’d be making some calls too. Imagine his surprise if someone had told him that in a year or so his daughter would bring that same boy home, bright pink hair and all, calling him her boyfriend. Worse still, in a few more she’d bring a ring home and tell her parents she was engaged.
I don’t know if my father-in-law has ever heard this side of the story. It makes me wonder if Noah will ever cause some poor girl’s parents this much drama. Or if I’ll ever flub up a few words and make him think his friends are dead.
Hmm…I should probably try that at least once.