Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Very First Asshole

There comes a time in every girl's life when she reaches the milestone of meeting her very first asshole. Until recently, I didn't fully recognize that this was a milestone at all, but now that I do, I realize it's an important one.

Shortly before first grade ended this year, Paige came home one afternoon and told me, "[a little boy] said I look like I'm having a baby, but I'm not having a baby, and it hurt my feelings." After I shared this on Facebook with a little heart-break emoji, a friend said wryly, "Aw. Her first asshole." 

The comment struck me as genius, because I immediately knew what she meant and yet had never thought of it before.

I was instantly transported to the fifth grade, when I reached this watershed moment myself with a little boy whom I will call "Chet." Chet wasn't his real name, of course, but Chet is a good asshole pseudonym because it sounds like (and is) the name of an 80's brat-pack movie asshole, which is appropriate since this was the '80's (Weird Science).

Oh, there were a few minor assholes before him--like a couple of mean bullies in kindergarten who liked to spy on me and other girls in the bathroom. But this was my first real asshole. 

Chet was my best friend for a whole year, and we did everything together. Fifth grade is that transitional, pre-pubescent time when you're too young to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, but just old enough to feel a shadow of something different when the right chemistry is there. 

All I knew is that I spent almost every weekend and every day after school hanging out with Chet, and that's all I wanted to do. But by the time sixth grade rolled around, Chet suddenly--very suddenly--lost interest in being my friend. It wasn't a slow drift apart, but a very immediate light-switch type friend-dump that hurt my feelings in a brand new way, and bothered me for years afterward. Even now it hurts to remember it. 

The only explanation I ever came up with was a simple one: Chet decided he was cooler than me, and continuing to be my friend was a popularity anchor that was diminishing his stock at school. He wasn't wrong about that, and we never really spoke again. 

I've known lots and lots of assholes since Chet, but as the Cat Stevens song goes, the first cut is the deepest, and I have to admit that cheddar-dick crooner is right on the money.

I don't think the kid who told Paige she looked pregnant was actually her first real asshole, and he's not the first person (nor will he be the last) to comment on her weight. For too many girls, their own father is their first real asshole, and I'm just glad that won't be Paige's problem.

For someone to be her first asshole, there needs to be some real emotional connection followed by inexplicable rejection. Then and only then can she proudly say that she's met her very first asshole, and as her mom, it will be my job to help her pick up the pieces when she does.

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