I’d Go Amish For You: A (Rough Draft of an) Essay
Please give thoughts. Be brutal. It’s a super rough draft that needs polishing, after all. And, for those who don’t like reading for a while, the short version of this is basically the sentence, “I really don’t like texting and such” over and over.
I’ve finally met the temptation of breaking communication.
I mean, I would like to believe any woman I’ve given a damn about has killed a few pixels in me or taken a bar off my reception in some way. Madeline Stone, 1st kiss, 4th grade, summer camp. I threw my Gameboy in the deep end of the swimming pool to get her attention. The best memories I had up until that point were in 8 bit, the friends I kept were all drowning in the Pokemon Red cartridge strapped to the back of that doomed vessel. I sold out every trainer, every stadium, every desire to catch them all, and threw it six feet under for the advanced 5th grade swimmers and the counselors to find. Madeline gave me a peck in the pickup line that afternoon, barely enough for her mother to yell “Maddy!” from the Stone family Subaru, and I guess it felt fine to be worth shouting about.
Virginia Montgomery, 8th grade, 1st dance. I remember her telling me how much my hands felt like death. Cold, nervous death, lingering under the bleachers in the gymnasium. In every catch of my oversized dress shoes with the floor. Death was middle school. Death was this night. Death, in fact, was in the air tonight. By Phil Collins. “Aren’t you going to dance?”, Ginny asked. Everyone was pairing up like marriages in the far East and the DJ took a deep, drunk sip from his Thermos. Mr. Collins played his inappropriately sad slow song over the PA system and I faced the biggest decision of my young life. Ginny’s corsage was swaying in impatience, poking into my eye line like a loaded question. Martin, my pen pal from England, was texting me updates on the Chelsea v. Munich soccer match (excuse me, 8th grade me would’ve preferred if it had called it “true football”) And I was realizing the “true football” matches I followed, my flip phone that I texted on, and the reserved tendencies that I thought would make me more mature to girls like Virginia were the exact qualities holding me back. And so I stood for Virginia. I silenced my phone as, somewhere in the world, Munich scored a heart wrenching goal to send the game into overtime kicks. And I danced as slowly as I could, moving my hands from hovering the air around her, to the space below her shoulder blades, to running my fingers along the beaded dress down her back. Maturity is action, I learned that night. It does not care about how you can analyze team rosters or the talk you have in your arsenal. Maturity is where your eyes gaze to, how little you stare at your phone, what your teenage vernacular can muster out as a sentence, and where your hands can reach to. And, in the deathly and alcoholic-chaperoned air that night, my hands found a girl’s lower back.
It’s existed among every girl since then, this need to speak without screens and emote without emoticons. And I guess every girl, up until a few years ago, has been accompanied by a real experience. Hailie Jones, freshman year of high school. My phone died and I saw her across the school courtyard, talking with Julie Saunders and staring in my direction. Susan Benidoff, junior year. The events of my first receiving of oral sex by her can, in my mind, be directly traced to the time I told her I don’t play war video games. And, as a man in this age, I’ve used this need to talk and separate myself from technology as my wingman. Other boys take girls to movies; I take her to parks and gush about Bukowski.
But then came Allison North. Her name sounds like a million crime fiction damsels, but I haven’t even had a conversation with her yet. Her hair is auburn, but I’ve only met a profile picture of her in Rome. She is a number at this point, a setting up. Her name feels like nothing when I type it out, just pixels and unexperienced terrain. But I want it. The Gameboy killer in me wants it. The boy who’d dance for Phil Collins and pretty girls wants it. And, as my generation writes coy texting as the new way to start flirting, I want nothing to do with it.
I don’t know Allison North, but the temptation of breaking communication lies in her eyes that she posts in Facebook albums. I’m saying farewell to the witty texts about drunk cooking she posts somewhere in between late Saturday nights and early Sunday mornings. Arrivederci to every mention of her taking Italian that she posts to her friends. I would go Amish for this girl if it meant I wouldn’t have to wonder about the wording of a text again. If it meant I actually get to meet a girl without her meeting me behind a screen, cowering in fear. Without the world at my fingertips, I’d be the most free I’ve ever been.