If I Were Eighteen Again
I would go to my senior prom. I had a boyfriend then, but he was too old. I’m not saying how old. My mom, a Detroit cop, didn’t hide her disapproval. When Paul came over for dinner, she bragged about her marksmanship at the shooting range. She played show-and-tell with the paper targets—outlines of the male body, perforated in vital places.
It was more than the age difference, she didn’t trust him. Neither did I. Things he used to say scared me. One night at the movies, he waved his hand at the screen in disbelief and said, “That’s not how you hot-wire a car.”
When Paul said he was going to the gym one day, I showed up a little while later to see if his story checked out. His waistline was on the thick side for a guy who spent so many hours at the fitness center. I searched every aisle of the parking lot for his Olds Toronado. It wasn’t there, or maybe I missed it. I wasn’t sure. Like he said, the lot was huge. I thought I needed proof, but discovered something better.
It took a few more years, but I learned to trust my gut feeling and that feeling in my gut arrived just in time. As my wedding day with Paul neared, it forced me to sprint to the bathroom, one hand extended in front of me, the other, covering my mouth. It’s just the jitters, they said. But I knew. When I found the courage to call it off, the illness disappeared.
If I were eighteen now, I wouldn’t give my heart away first, then force the relationship to fit, like my Jordache jeans that I had to lie on the bed and kick my legs to zip. I would take time to go bike riding with my little brother, join the track team, and spend all day with my friends at the mall, trying on clothes I never intended to buy.