*Names and towns have been altered to prevent my granny from reading this up in heaven and calling the grandparents of The Boy with Two First Names who will inevitably speak to his folks. The Youth Minister will get involved. My dad will finally know the entire story. It will be a whole thing.
The summer before my freshman year of high school, I was invited on a make out hike during church camp in Hot-As-Hell, Oklahoma. That year, my boobs burgeoned, and I struggled to conceal the protrusions on my athletic chest. Still wrangling them into a B cup, I knew that the C cup lay in wait at the JCPenney. Though Aunt Flo’s proverbial visit to my sanctuary waited another 4 years, puberty tortured me with a compulsion to wear one of those t-shirts that reads, “Hey Jackass, My Face Is Up Here.” I choose to believe that the Boy with Two First Names invited me on that hike because of my killer wit and religious fervor. However, the day before we were to load the 15 passenger van home, he and his friends devised a plan that my tingling boobs seemed to both desire and fear. Yet, I escaped the triple digit heat and spent a quiet afternoon reading—the first of many sexual encounters quelled by my intellectual curiosity. When my camp BFFLs returned, their tales of strange wet lips and sweaty hands tempted me to dismay. I, however, learned the art of being elusive that day. My polite but emphatic rejection of the Boy With Two First Names only deepened his urge for summer love.
While we innocently snuggled in the back seat of the van, my dad waited eagerly in the church parking lot for my return. He expected to see his baby girl, inspired by the Word of God and full of tales from single sex swim time. He didn’t anticipate the red-headed senior quarterback to be the source of my inspiration. That’s right, mean girls from high school, the Boy With Two First Names was captain of the football team. For, what I now remember as, months, he called me every day from the small farming community just outside my hometown where he lived. When he finally got up the courage to invite me to his senior homecoming football game and when I finally mustered the courage to tell my dad that I wanted to go, the tension in our house was palpable. “Honey,” my dad began slowly. “I, too, was a senior football player in Nondescript-Farming-Community, Texas. I know what those boys talk about in the locker room. It’s my job to protect you from the one thing on his mind.”
Things could have been different. I could have gone to that football game, enjoyed my first kiss and possibly had my first taste of cheap beer at 14. Instead, it would be another 13 years before I fumbled my way through a sloppy first kiss with a boy I knew to be gay. I never told my dad about how I nobly avoided the make out hike—never defended myself or plead my case. I was terrified of that tingling in my boobs and the obvious worry it caused my dad. I called up the Boy With Two First Names and told him that I had to babysit. Maybe I would have ended up as the pregnant girl in my youth group or been busted by the cops at some farmhouse party. Even now, I doubt it. If the Boy With Two First Names veered from the approved itinerary, I most certainly would have called one of my many family members in Nondescript Farming Town, Texas. On the drive home, my aunt would have called his mother and blown the entire party to hell. I was a freakishly responsible kid. However, as I have struggled to understand my faith and sexuality, I often ruminate on this story and wonder if things could have been different. And if they were different, would things feel easier now?