by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
June 15, 2001
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- When I was in middle school, there were three very good reasons I didn't date: I never had any money, I couldn't drive, and I was a bit of a goober (and for those of you who might say things haven't changed much in the past 20 years, let me remind you that I am the World's Strongest Humorist for a reason).
Actually, I wasn't so much of a goober that I thought Star Trek conventions were a great way to meet women, but I was just enough of one that dating was not something I was going to do until I had grown up, matured a lot, and assumed a new identity in a different part of the world.
Dating was a whole lot easier for my friends though. A lot of them changed relationships as often as they changed their socks, which at age 12, was about once a week. You could see the happy couple around school, walking close to each other, and exchanging sappy looks. The more daring couples would actually hold hands as they walked, even as they feared thundering retribution from the principal for such overt displays of passion.
But we didn't call it dating then. Dating is what the older kids did, usually in the junior or senior year of high school. Instead, an involved couple was just "going together."
To get to the going together stage, the guy would have to ask the girl, since way back in the conservative, retro Victorian-era Eighties, girls never asked guys to go together. Or at least they never asked me.
I remember the first time I was introduced to the concept of going together. A friend and I were at lunch, and discussing a particular girl a few tables away - between making crude fart noises under our armpits and telling hilarious jokes about bodily functions - when my friend said, "I'm going to ask her to go with me."
I paused for several seconds as I pondered this idea and all of its ramifications.
"Go where?" I finally asked.
"No, we're not going anywhere. We're going to go together."
"Oh," I said, pretending to understand for a few more seconds."Go together where?"
"We're not going anywhere. We're going to go together."
I stared blankly at my friend.
"You know, go together. Go together!" He said it loudly, as though I were from another country, and by speaking louder I would automatically understand.
"Look," he continued, "when a guy and a girl are a couple, they're 'going together.' That means they're not seeing anyone else."
"You mean their eyes are closed?" I understood it by this point. I was getting a kick out of being a pain.
"No!" He said through clenched teeth. "You know what I mean."
I admitted I did, only because he was threatening to throw a blob of Jell-O at me.
"So how are you going to ask her?" I inquired, giving this topic my full, undivided attention, pausing only to make more armpit fart noises.
"I think I'll write her a note."
"Why would you do that? Why can't you just ask her?"
"Because guys just don't do that. You have to do these things with a note, otherwise they'll just say no right to your face. At least with a note, they can hand their answer back to you and just walk away, so you're not embarrassed when they say no."
"You don't sound very optimistic. You need to have a more positive attitude about this," I said. Okay, I probably didn't say that. More likely, I chewed up some french fries and opened my mouth to show him, but that's what I meant.
"So how do you write the note?" I asked.
"Well, first I have to write something really nice and romantic, to make her like me," he answered. Trust me, we 12-year-old boys really thought this way back then.
"How about, 'I think you're a fox'," I suggested. Yes, we also used words like "fox" too.
"No, no, no! You can't say that."
We stewed and pondered on the precise wording of the romantic language that was sure to make this girl swoon with love and want to go with my friend for the rest of her life. After throwing out phrases like "My dear love, your beauty shines like the moon," "Sweetest Susie, I am spellbound by your beautiful blue eyes," and "Oh Love, I can't imagine what my life was like before we ever met. I would be complete if we could be together." However, we settled on "Dear Susie, I really like you a lot."
"Now I have to ask her to go with me," my friend said.
"How do you do that?"
"Well, I could say 'Will you be a part of my life and make me the happiest boy in the 7th grade'?"
"How about 'Will you go with me? Circle Yes or No'."
"That's perfect!" my friend shouted. "With a line like that, this note will work for sure."
"And you could make the Yes really, really big and the No really, really small." My mind was racing at the possibilities. For never having dated, I was a whiz at writing love letters.
My friend wrote everything down. He carefully traced every letter in his best cursive with a freshly sharpened pencil, his pimply brow dotted with perspiration, and a smile broke over his face as he considered the possibilities this masterpiece of amorous literature would shower upon him.
"Great," I said, as my friend folded the letter into the little square with the little tab that tucked into the pocket, sealing it against the most prying eyes. "Now what? Are you going to give it to her?"
"No! You don't just give a note like this right to the person. I have to give it to Jenny who'll give it to Sheila who'll give it to Erin who gives it to Susie."
"Oh." Apparently I had a whole lot more to learn about going together in middle school. No wonder I wasn't doing well. I comforted myself with the idea that being married would be simpler, without all the complications of pre-pubescent romance.
Did I mention I was a real goober back in those days?