Things I Learned from My Exes:
We learn something from every ex. Whether it's big and important like "never let someone treat you like that" or something small but helpful like how to use chopsticks -- all our exes bring us a lesson. If you pay attention, those lessons just might help you do better in your next relationship. Today's anecdote: Don't do stupid things just for a date.
I was 13, and I was about to have my first big date. (First date at all, actually, if we don't count my play dates with Greg Roggin in first grade. A boy who broke my heart out of the blue one day, by shouting "EEEWW!" when I sat next to him -- which I had done every school day up until then -- and leaning as far away from me as possible to avoid girl cooties. The first, but certainly not the last, completely unexplained breakup I was to experience.)
This big date was with Joey, who went to a different junior high. I had met him at a party the week before, and he had invited me to a school dance.
I adored him. This was it, I thought. At last a real date. A real boy. I liked him. He liked me. I was finally on my way.
Which is why when I broke my arm that afternoon, I didn't tell my parents. The details are unimportant: suffice it to say that riding a bicycle while walking the dog is a bad idea. I fell head over heels, my arm twisted underneath me. It hurt. I couldn't move it. I knew it was broken.
And I told no one.
I was not going to let this betrayal of my body get in the way of my date. My parents dropped me off at the dance, and I clutched my arm to my waist, cringing with pain, all the way from "Ain't Nothing Going to Break My Stride" to "Stairway to Heaven."
As we neared the final slow dances of the evening, I knew I would not be able to touch that body. The thought of draping my arms around his neck as he surreptitiously tried to pull me closer made me ill. I begged off, saying I felt tired and my arm hurt anyway.
His eyes lit up. This was not the reaction I expected. "Do you want to go outside?" He asked. God, no. I didn't want to go outside. The whole point was to avoid touching him. I just shook my head. He seemed confused. And then embarrassed. We sat in silence for the next ten minutes until the dance was over and my parents came to pick me up. I said good bye to Joey and got in the car.
"How was the dance?" Dad asked.
"Um, ok. But now we have to go to the Emergency Room. I broke my arm this afternoon."
Needless to say, his reaction involved various loud exclamations, expletives, and "do you realize it's midnights??!!" But we drove off to the emergency room, and some 12 hours after I'd broken it, I finally got a cast on my arm.
Of course, I never saw Joey again -- making it vehemently clear he wasn't worth risking my health over.
Then again, no date is.