No, that is not a euphemism. One time, when we were in middle school, one of my best friends and I ate a hot dog in the bathroom of the Sheridan Seven movie theater in Hollywood, Florida. We had met two boys at the theater to see the award-winning film, All of Me. Yes, it came out in 1984, and yes that makes me oldish.
Anyway, I had met the one boy, Bob, at a Bar Mitzvah the previous weekend, and had an instant crush on him. We had joined a group of other 13 and 14 year-olds in the designated make-out area in a dark part of the temple. As you can imagine, the Bar Mitzvah boy was not happy about all of this. Anyway, at the end of the evening, Bob asked me for my phone number and I was thrilled. Being a sort of dorky, chubby, and unpopular girl, I could not believe that someone so cute could like me.
He called me a few days later, and I about hyperventilated from joy. I sat on my bedroom floor with my Mickey Mouse phone and talked quietly so my mom could not hear me. During our brief, awkward conversation we decided to meet at the theater the next Saturday along with our best friends. I’m pretty sure the best friends went as our covers because neither one of us were allowed to date.
So, that next Saturday, my mom drove Hillary and me to the theater. We waited outside in the Florida humidity until the boys arrived. It was only a few minutes but I was worried that the air made of gravy would ruin my perfectly blow-dried hair. We didn’t have the flat irons and high-end shellacs and pomades that we do now.
The two boys arrived. I don’t remember what Bob’s friend looked like. I just remember that Bob was so cute that I could hardly look at him. I felt so lucky and so not worthy of any attention from him.
We decided to see All of Me, which sounded like a dumb movie to me but I went along with the group. I just felt thrilled to be on a “date” with a cute boy and my new bestie. I felt like I was straight out of a normal teen life or a John Hughes movie.
I sat between Hillary and Bob in the theater. It was awkward from the beginning. We sat there in the dark and just watched the movie. At some point, Hillary whispered that we should go to the bathroom. Since we were both girls we had to go together. When we walked out of the theater and into the lobby, we smelled the food and realized we were starving. We didn’t want to bring popcorn, or worse yet a hotdog into the theater and eat IN FRONT OF BOYS. We thought, or at least I did, they would think we were pigs. So, we did the only logical thing – we bought a hot dog and brought it into the bathroom.
Hillary and I passed that chunk of overly salted meat and white bread back and forth like we were college kids smoking a fat joint at a party. We finished it within five minutes and checked our teeth in the mirror. I think we even rinsed our mouths. It would be so embarrassing to have any evidence of eating, especially since I thought I was fat.
In reality, I wasn’t fat. I wore a size 5 in juniors, but since my thighs touched and my bones didn’t show, I thought I was fat. This was my main reason to not eat in front of boys. I didn’t want them to tell me I was fat and that I should stop eating. I already thought this. At 13, I felt guilty for eating that half of a hot dog.
My step-dad picked me and Hillary up after the movie. So, we couldn’t really hang out and talk much or anything. There was an awkward, quick hug as we left the theater. As we rode home, I replayed every word I had said during the “date” and thought about what a dork I was.
A week or so later, Bob called me again. I was so excited when I heard his voice. I was a little confused though because I heard another voice, probably that friend, in the background. Bob kept putting his hand over the phone. I would hear the noise of his hand on the mouthpiece and the muffled talking with his friend. When he finally started talking to me he said, “Hey, you’re a fat puss wad, ok?”
I was stunned. I already thought I was fat, but puss wad? Was he referring to the couple of pimples I had? I was 13 for fuck’s sake. I hung up immediately and cried. I called Hillary to tell her what he said and she told me to come over.
I sat on Hillary’s twin bed with her in the room she shared with her four-year-old sister. Hillary kept telling her sister to leave the room while I cried and talked about how fat I was and how I would never have a boyfriend. Hillary hugged me and told me what a jerk he was. Eventually, I agreed and we started talking about other things.
Thirty-three years later, I saw Bob in a news article online. I knew it was the same Bob because he looked exactly the same. I wish I could say he was in the news for a positive reason, but that is not the case. His son was one of the victims of the Parkland shooting. At that moment, I stopped thinking of him as that mean jerk from my middle school days and empathized with him as a parent.