I was 15

by , posted on February 17th, 2011 in Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

My sister Ellen, older by six years, had a college roommate with a brother. My age. He lived in a town about 30 minutes away.

His name was Paul.

I was 15 with all that entails.

My hair didn’t know if it wanted to be curly or wavy so it decided to just do both at random spots around my head. I was neither fat nor thin. I was tall but not overly so.

I had finally replaced my thick glasses with contacts. This did not make me see myself any clearer, however.

The insidious ball of insecurity that filled my very core blinded me.

I clung to the fringes of popularity, knowing my grip on even that was tenuous.

But here, here was an opportunity. Maybe, finally, I’d have what all my friends did: a boyfriend to call me, to go to the movies with, to like me.

And so the blind date was on. If you can call it a date; my sister and his sister were there, and also possibly my brother.

I was excited, a little jumpy, as I applied the lavender eyeshadow that made my eyes look more green.

Paul was nice. Quiet. He had dark hair and glasses. He was taller than me. He was a talented artist.


He didn’t fit what I thought he needed to. I wasn’t sure he was “cool” enough for me, he wasn’t a jock, and I didn’t think he’d help push me into the popular group if I brought him around.

Not, “He’s really sweet, I should get to know him better.” No. At this age, at this time, it wasn’t about my own self, it was about the self I wanted to be. I simply shut down. Because the thing about insecurity is it closes you up. Everything is framed around a certain ideal, and if a boy didn’t fit that imagined criteria, he had no chance. I needed someone to elevate me because I couldn’t figure out how to do it on my own.

We went to Friendly’s for sundaes that night. I had my favorite: pink peppermint ice cream drowning in butterscotch sauce. I spooned every last bit from the bottom, where your spoon barely fits and only the tip gets coated in gooeyness.

And then I felt it.

My intestines started to cramp, from nerves, from the huge dose of dairy and sugar, and I ran to the bathroom. Where I spent the next FORTY-FIVE minutes, while everyone waited patiently outside.

Yeah. Walking back out was, um, mortifying.

That was the last time I saw nice, quiet, artistic Paul.

Shocking, I know.

I can talk about the date and laugh. I mean, 45 minutes? Really? But now when I look back I also feel sad for that awkward teenager who was so scared about what someone else would think she didn’t put much time into what SHE thought.

I’m not saying Paul was my soulmate.

But I never gave myself the chance to find out.

This post is inspired by the prompt “Memorable date” from Mama Kat’s writers workshop.

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56 Responses to “I was 15”

  1. Varda (SquashedMom) Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 2:43 am

    I know this isn’t what the main point of this was about… but when you said Friendly’s and pink peppermint ice cream butterscotch sundae I just fell down the rabbit hole of my own sense memory. Being 15, being at Friendly’s. Bittersweet memories. We are of an age and place, you and I. (And I was an insecure teen with “problem” hair, too) Sigh.
    Varda (SquashedMom) recently posted..Not a Valentines Day Post


  2. Cheryl D. Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 3:00 am

    I was just happy to have a date in high school! It wasn’t until college that I cared what other people thought of the guys I dated!
    Cheryl D. recently posted..A Valentines Day Poem


  3. Erin Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 3:15 am

    OMG LMAO!! I had that happen once, but it didn’t take 45 minutes! You poor thing!
    Erin recently posted..An Epiphany


  4. CJ Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Gees—I remember that awkward stage and wanting so much to be cool. With hindsight, it seems like such a stupid pursuit. When I taught school, I had many middle school students who were more mature than that. They knew who they were and accepted it without a thought to how anyone else perceived them.

    A guy named Rob invited me to my senior prom, but I declined because he was what we’d now call a nerd. At a high school reunion, he had grown into movie-star good looks and was on his way to being a millionaire with his own company, not that I would have believed that would happen if I had a crystal ball in high school. My husband and I sat across from him & his wife at the reunion dinner —how interesting he had become in 10 years.

    Find my Writer’s Workshop entry HERE
    CJ recently posted..THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS


    Cheryl Reply:

    Wow. That’s amazing. I wish I’d been more mature back then..


  5. Nancy C Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Insecurity closes you up…how perfectly said. That’s exactly what it does.

    You’re so good.


    Cheryl Reply:

    Thanks, babe. xo


  6. Callie Feyen Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 7:58 am

    “The thing about insecurity is it closes you up.” How very true. I can relate that to my 15 year old self as much as my life today.
    What a great post. I like that it captures the anxiety as well as the humour of growing up.
    Callie Feyen recently posted..Because I Shouldve Been an English Major


  7. Dumb Mom Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I did so much dumb stuff when I was 15, most of which had to do with boys. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was super awesome back then too, but still. I wish I would have been a little less 15 and a little more me when I was 15.
    Dumb Mom recently posted..Wordful Wednesday Photo Tips for Moms of Kids Who Don’t Listen


    Cheryl Reply:

    Exactly. Exactly that. “A little less 15 and a little more me.”


  8. JDaniel4's Mom Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I think I was nervous on most of my first dates.
    JDaniel4′s Mom recently posted..Italian Day at Publix and 25 Publix Gift Card Giveaway


  9. Leighann Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I had a boy I had a huge crush on hear me poo once. I had horrible stomach pains and had to go.
    Needless to say he didn’t ask me to go steady.


  10. Jen Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 9:45 am

    How dare the ice cream sabotage you?! Its just not right.
    Jen recently posted..“Tonight is Gonna to be a Good Night”


  11. joann mannix Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 9:48 am

    It’s funny. My girl is 16 and she just broke up with her first boyfriend. They’d only been going together a few weeks. He seemed like a sweet kid. Straight A student like her, nice boy, well mannered. I wanted to make sure she was okay, so I kept questioning her, ignoring the, “I just didn’t want to be his girlfriend” to get to the real source. She ended up telling me that he just didn’t fit in with her friends. Her sister decoded this for me by telling me that my daughter didn’t feel he was popular enough.

    I just sat down the other day to tell her my stories, the ones like yours, where the insecurities of those days allowed me to guide my choices. And in hindsight, I know I passed up some pretty decent boys.

    Such an insightful post, so beautifully written and filled with the truth of what we know now. If we could do it all over again, eh? Loved this, Cheryl.
    joann mannix recently posted..A Valentines Story Mostly About People I Hate


    Cheryl Reply:

    Thank you for getting this, for getting me. Much love, my friend.


  12. Carrie Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Oh man, what a horrible date. I remember all too well those awkward years. I never fit into the COOL crowd but I desperately wanted to.

    If we only knew then huh?
    Carrie recently posted..Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop- Vacation- all I ever wanna…


  13. annabelle Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Oh the blocked memories you just unleashed…

    Me. 16 years old. Riding around with my first real boyfriend. Summer vacation days away. Riding in his car, feeling beautiful and free. I sat up in the passanger side window. Talked to people in parked cars around us. Laughing being silly. Knowing I was giving the boyfriend a great shot of my legs in the car. Wearing white shorts and sporting the first of a tan.

    Get home, go to pee and see that the entire crotch of my white shorts is soaked through with red. Yeah, the red.

    Talk about humiliation.


  14. Donna Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Your post hit home. Still I find myself concerned with what other people will think of me, what impression I will leave behind. Recently began to become more grounded and secure. Learned to practice mindfulness and be aware of MY thoughts, not the preconceived notions that often fill one’s head put in there by the “in” crowd.

    No, it is time to spend time being me, not someone else. Beautifully written, inspirational, and encouraging post! Pink peppermint was also one of my favorites at Friendly’s. Your post has a Happy Ending.
    Donna recently posted..Balancing Act – also title of my blog


    Cheryl Reply:

    Thank you so much. And your final line, about the Happy Ending? Well played! Totally made me laugh!


  15. julie gardner Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I loved your description of clinging to the fringes of popularity.

    I, too, had a grasp on the outer edges of popularity – gave much thought to how I might reel myself in closer.

    And I’m now staring down the reality of my kids at that age. I so want something different for them. A greater comfort with themselves. I want them to love who they are without having to cram into other less comfortable shapes.

    I’m not sure that’s completely possible in adolescence.

    We shall see.
    julie gardner recently posted..Today call me pantsed


    Cheryl Reply:

    I am glad you’re going through this with your kids, so when it’s my turn, you can pour the wine down my open mouth to keep me from going off the edge!


  16. Theresa Sonoda Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Oh I felt sorry for you! But that kind of embarrassment goes away soon. Lord knows that kind of stuff followed me my whole life. I felt sorry for the boy, too, because you didn’t give him a chance. I had a couple guys on a string like that in high school, and used them when I didn’t have a date or wanted to go somewhere. One of them ended up a successful surgeon in Atlanta and I’m not sure what happened to the other one. They were nice boys though. I was just like you, though, in that I wanted to be in the popular group and they didn’t quite take me there. In fact, I never actually made it to the popular group. Awww


  17. Sara Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Oh how I miss Friendly’s. There are none down here, but I still dream of Fribbles…

    And I’m surprised you did come back out. I might have tried to escape into the night through a back entrance :)
    Sara recently posted..Happy Hearts


  18. Blissfully Jeanette Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    That is a great story! Glad you can laugh about it now.
    Blissfully Jeanette recently posted..Hes a keeper


  19. dawn Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Very cute story!


  20. mommakiss Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Now I know this isn’t about the poop. I know that. This is about how silly we were when we were younger. Didn’t think clearly. However. I’m laughing at the poor child in the bathroom for 45 minutes! Jays!
    mommakiss recently posted..WW My Name is KID!


  21. Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Ow. Painful. painful in big hairy stomach cramping ways.

    I wouldn’t have been able to try for a second either.

    not in a million years.

    Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points recently posted..The Nanny


  22. Deb @ San Diego Momma Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Oh man.
    THAT was cringe-creating.
    But you are lovely.
    Deb @ San Diego Momma recently posted..Rewind- One More Time


  23. Kimberly Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    This is exactly how a teenager thinks…well at least I did anyways :)
    Kimberly recently posted..Come Join Me At Postpartum Progress


  24. Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I could really feel your angst in your recollection. Kudos to you for being able to recreate on the page as an adult.


  25. CDG Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Seriously? 45 minutes?

    That’s cringeworthy. I’m also trying to imagine the awkward conversation at the Friendly’s table… and just giggling.
    CDG recently posted..Kingdom- Phylum- Fish Out of Water- and First Lines


  26. Jack Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I had more than a few of those awkward moments. It reminds me of the first date I took my high school girlfriend on. We went to the zoo.

    I took her there so that we could talk and because I thought that it would be cool. Was so nervous that I never offered to buy her a drink or food.

    Thinking back I know she liked me not just because she became my girlfriend but because it was 98 outside and we were there for 3 hours.

    Life can be peachy. ;)


  27. Mad Woman behind the Blog Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I loved your perspective and even your closed-mindedness. It rings true. How long did it take us to open our minds and see ourselves and those around us in a wider yet kinder light?

    BTW I always enjoy your gutsy stories, with or without the intestinal distress.
    Mad Woman behind the Blog recently posted..A night to remember


  28. gigi Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I struggled with that same type of insecurity well into my 20s. It sucks when you’re focused on the wrong things.
    gigi recently posted..The 3 Pillars of Blogging Enchantment


  29. Aliza Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    GREAT post! What an honest and insightful look at teen-hood. I was also on the “fringes of popularity,” but I’ve never been able to articulate it that well! Great turn of phrase…

    I was totally expecting to read something…um…moving…at the end, but not exactly…moving…in that way! lolol!!! Fantastic. Loved it!


  30. Kris Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I know I should be commenting on the true meaning of your post. I was right there with you in high school. Insecurity and all the angst that came with it.

    But peppermint and caramel? Really???!!!


  31. Kris Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I know I should be commenting on the true meaning of your post. I was right there with you in high school. Insecurity and all the angst that came with it.

    But peppermint and butterscotch? Really???!!!


  32. Heidi Smith Luedtke Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    That awkward, self-conscious part of the teen years (and — who am I kidding — most of my twenties!) is so, so hard. I can remember my mom saying “if he doesn’t want to date you, it’s his loss.” Somehow it never feels that way. Glad to be forty now and completely unconcerned about what other people think. Well, not completely. But mostly!


    Cheryl Reply:

    I’m right there with you. Right there. Sigh.


  33. Jennie B Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Bad dates always make the best stories!
    Jennie B recently posted..Finding Balance



    February 17th, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Oh I’m so glad I never have to be 15 again!!! 45 minutes is a pretty impressive lock-down in the bathroom. Wow. Poor, patient, Paul.

    Our poor daughters will be 15 one day. How I cringe for her!
    MOMSICLE VIBE recently posted..THIS JUST IN!!!!


  35. Elissa Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    “This did not make me see myself any clearer, however.” So profound, and so emotionally hard-hitting for any adolescent who has made a change to find herself potentially more attractive…

    Sigh. I so remember this time – it’s like I never hit puberty until my last year of high school. I always felt my body was a jumble of parts – not quite put together in what was a considered a traditional ideal. There wasn’t much action for a girl with glasses and a Jew-fro, I tell ya…


  36. Kimberly Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I wouldn’t be 15 again for anything. High school was the absolute worst part of my life.
    Kimberly recently posted..I Got A Cooler in the Truck


  37. themombshell Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Well I’ve heard everybody poops, but now I know its true.
    themombshell recently posted..Dante probably never had to write report cards- or maybe he did and that was the whole point


  38. Mrs. Jen B Says:

    February 17th, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Oh, poor young you. I can’t imagine how humiliating that must’ve been for you! It’s so hard to be a kid, isn’t it? Like they say, youth is wasted on the young. So true.


  39. Miri Says:

    February 18th, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Ohmy, teenage embarrasment – and in front of boys! – was the worst. You brought me back there is such a real way.
    Miri recently posted..Doing the Mommy Juggle


  40. Ilana @ mommyshorts Says:

    February 18th, 2011 at 3:11 am

    “I needed someone to elevate me because I couldn’t figure out how to do it on my own.”

    That just described the entirety of my adolescence. I now understand why I didn’t have a real boyfriend until college. Any boy that wanted to be with me— well then, there must be something wrong with him, right?
    Ilana @ mommyshorts recently posted..How To Get Your Baby A Front Row Seat At Fashion Week


  41. KiKi Says:

    February 19th, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Oh my! If this doesn’t just beautifully capture those awkward times–the sepia stained photographs buried deeply away in our minds.

    Love this–so honest, cutting, and touchingly vulnerable all in one: He didn’t fit what I thought he needed to. I wasn’t sure he was “cool” enough for me, he wasn’t a jock, and I didn’t think he’d help push me into the popular group if I brought him around.

    Gorgeous job!
    KiKi recently posted..Locked Out! But I broke in without the help of cats- Nick Nolte or Dixie


  42. Carri Says:

    February 19th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    45 minutes? That sundae must have hated you! I wonder if Paul is out there writing a blog post about a girl he went on a date with at 15? ;)
    Carri recently posted..High School Is Soooo 1996


  43. Sherri Says:

    February 19th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    The thing I remember most about being that age is the total insecurity and lack of seeing people for what they might really bring to your life! It’s only “are they cool” or “will they make me popular?”.

    And I think I missed out on some possibly fun friendships because of that self-centeredness.

    Great post…made me want ice cream.
    Sherri recently posted..The Very First Thing


  44. I Thought I Knew Mama Says:

    February 19th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Visiting from TRDC linkup.

    This soooo took me back to my first date when I was 15. I went out with my best friend’s older brother and I whacked my head against his giving us both bumps on the head.

    Gotta love being 15!
    I Thought I Knew Mama recently posted..3 Steps to Flavor Your Way to Good Health


  45. Angie Says:

    February 19th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Oh my goodness. Being a teenager. Such an awkward time. Painful to recall.

    The sweet, interesting guy didn’t stand a chance, did he? Not when there was a perceived social ladder to be climbed.

    45 minutes??? Eeek!

    And also, I’m with Kris – peppermint and butterscotch? I can’t get my head around that AT ALL.


  46. Karen @ Time Crafted Says:

    February 20th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I’m kind of frightened to remember my teen years. I look at teenage girls today and think they’re annoying. And then I quickly cringe and realize that oh my word, that was me! I’m sure I was annoying too! And then I think I’ve got a wee girl, who will one day be a teenage girl. Can I help her not be so annoying?! And then….thankfully, I read your post. I take a deep breath and I think, who cares about annoying. I hope I can help her just BE as she grows and comes into her own. Thanks for the reminder! :>

    Hopped here from TRDC, new there, first time here and glad I came! :>


  47. The Lovely One Says:

    February 20th, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Ah, those were the days! When we were 15 and we thought a date would make or break us in the realms of popularity!
    The Lovely One recently posted..Dilemma


  48. Lady Jennie Says:

    February 21st, 2011 at 3:05 am

    WOW. I can so relate to this post, right down to the lavender eye shadow.


  49. Kir Says:

    February 21st, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    this brought back so many memories of that awkward time of life doesn’t it? I felt every single one with her…and at 15 everything is magnified/high drama. I am so glad we all made it out alive.


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