Friday, February 8, 2013

My failings as a YA romantic heroine

From some of the YA I’ve read lately, you’d think it was the natural state for teenage girls to be constantly moping around after dark, mysterious boys. And you know, it really isn't. At least it wasn't for me, and it wasn't for my friends either. 

It wasn't love. It was never love. When it hit it was hormonal, and it was all over the place...and all over in seconds. The first flush of romance I felt in home room had usually worn off by lunch time, leaving the afternoon free for homework, swimming, and writing terrible serial fiction that had something to do with a usurped prince and an evil sorcerer. It was awful. I should find it and burn it. (See, even now I remember more about the stories I wrote than the boys I liked. That's called priorities.) 

It was generally the senior boys I liked, not the boys in my year level who were either a) repulsive, b) my friends, or c) my repulsive friends. But the senior boys, since I didn't know them as well, had an air of mystery that allowed me to fill in the gaps with generous speculation. There was one who I shall hereafter refer to as The Boy to denote his importance, who I might have loved longer if only he'd maintained that mystery. 

Once, my parents went to New Zealand for a holiday. They figured that my sister, in Grade 12 at the time, and me, in Grade 10, were old enough to look after ourselves for two weeks.

“This is the deal,” Kath said to me. “I’m having a party here and you’re not invited. You can go and have a party at Shelley’s place and come back tomorrow.”


Stone’s Ginger Wine. Under no circumstances should you drink this. Even in the circumstances where you have no money and Shelley’s older brother buys it for you from the bottle shop. Looking back, it could only have been a cruel joke.

Yes, it was exactly like this. Neato!  

So there I was afterwards, 5 am in the morning, in the middle of a freezing Goondiwindi winter, walking back home from Shelley’s place. The bottles in the pockets of my duffel coat were clinking, my hangover was gnawing at the edges of my tipsiness, and I wanted to sleep for at least forty-seven hours.

I made it home to the dark house, and clinked and rattled my way through to my bedroom. I turned on the light, and there he was: The Boy. The hottest senior boy in school lying asleep in my bed wearing only his underwear. A thing of beauty. In. My. Bed. And it wasn't even Christmas. 

I drank in the sight of him -- the curls of dark hair, the lean, tanned plane of his back, the curve of his backside -- and waited for that magical moment when he would wake up, smile at me, and say something that I probably wouldn't be able to hear over the sound of angels singing joyously. 

And, as I waited, reality crept on in. 


Maybe it was my Disney sheets (shut up, I was being ironic). Maybe it was the disapproving stare of my Tom Cruise poster (shut up, he was almost normal then). Or maybe it was the clouds of bourbon fumes that The Boy exhaled with every snore.

You know what? I get the appeal of the dark and mysterious boy, but he only works from  the distance. Bring him into sharper focus, and guess what? He's just a dumb boy who drank too much, took his clothes off, and drooled on your pillow all night.

Less Byron, more Beavis and Butt-Head. 

Clink clink clink back down the hallway.

Knock knock knock on Kath’s door.

“There’s a boy in my bed.”

Kath lifted the blankets off her head. “What?”

“There is a boy in my bed. Get him the hell out. I’ll be asleep on the lounge.”

Romance isn't dead. It was never alive to begin with. 


  1. Did you ever think that maybe he ended up in your bed 'cause he'd spent the whole night there, waiting for you? That he knew you were soul mates when he saw you had the same Disney sheets? That he'd been talking to Tom Cruise all night about how he'd been trying to work up the courage to talk to you all year, and the night he finally makes it to your place, to your very bedroom, which he refused to leave until you came back, you're the only one not there? No wonder he started chugging bourbon.

    Okay, so that's a load of generous speculation, but hey, you never know. And now I really want to read about this usurped prince.

    1. Lol, MC! I think I was too much of a cynic even at that age.

      The usurped prince story was derivative and just plain god-awful. I used to write it when I was bored in class, so naturally it was an epic! I also used to write a satirical school story, in serial form, that was duly passed around every week. It found some fame -- mostly with the principal, who didn't like the way I compared both his moustache and his management style with Hitler. Oh well. Haters gonna hate.

  2. Oh what I would do for an attractive boy to find his way to my bed. Sigh. That could have been a memory to hold onto. No one sleeps elegantly. It would have been funner to see what he did after he woke up.

    1. It was definitely one of those moments where fantasy and reality collided...and reality won!

  3. Wow. That was awkward. I think you should find his Facebook page and send him an anonymous copy of this story just to see if he remembers. :D

    1. I'm pretty sure that whole weekend was a blackout for him!

  4. Wow, just wow. I'm glad you survived your experience with the ginger wine and finding a half-naked boy in your bed. Bye-bye teenage fantasy.

    It sounds like such a perfect teenage story, which is why you'd never see it in America. It "encourages" drinking and not falling helplessly in love with every mysterious boy you see. What filth!

    1. I was always contrary. Who would have thought a drunk 15 year old would make the decision NOT to sleep with the boy? :) Mind you, he was much more drunk than I was, so it probably would have been an exercise in futility anyway.



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