When I Was 17

Posted on October 17, 2012

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What just happened?

This story is from Jules, a 21-year-old student from Chicago, as told to Raz:

This is the story of my first date. Funny thing was: I spent most of it having no idea I was even on a date.  I was 17, and my friend took me to a college party. I met a guy there named Adam who was 24 and finishing up his undergrad in film. He seemed really nice and we bonded over things like being Jewish and from the same neighborhood. He asked if we could hang out, so I gave him my number.

Fast forward a few weeks. Adam texted to ask if I wanted to see a movie. Cool. Can’t wait to hang out with a new friend! Looking back, I was an idiot for not realizing what this was, but I’d never been on a date before. Plus, he was way older than me and not cute. It didn’t even cross my mind.

He picked me up in this little two-seater manual-transmission Honda convertible, and we go to the theater to see “Up.” He started to pay for the tickets. I was confused. “I can pay for mine,” I said. “No no,” he said. “I really want to.” Well, if you insist…

If you’ve seen “Up,” you know it’s nearly impossible not to cry within the first 5 minutes. So there I was, bawling like a baby in the back of the theater as Adam tried to console me. As the movie went on, I calmed down, and we started a joking rapport along with the movie. Somehow, this escalated to a mini slap battle with our hands (fun, right?), but he ended it by grabbing my hand to hold it. That was my “a ha” moment. Oh my God, I thought. This is a date!

I immediately tensed up, and I could feel my face turning bright red. Suddenly, I had nothing to say to him. Why in the world would a 24-year-old be asking a 17-year-old on a date? What was wrong with him? Was I leading him on? After the movie, we walked in silence back to his car.

“Do you want to learn how to drive stick shift?” he asked.

No, I want to go home. I thought of the first excuse I could. “My old nanny always said she would teach me, so I want to wait for that to happen,” I said. It wasn’t completely a lie. My nanny had mentioned that she would teach me one day…

Apparently, that wasn’t an acceptable answer, because he grabbed my hand and put it on the gear change. I pulled it away, officially freaked out. “Please just drive,” I said.

When we arrived at my house, I warned him not to pull into the driveway because it’s pretty hard to back out of. He looked at me, confused. Wow, I thought. He thinks I’m going to invite him in. Suddenly, his expression changed. Is he about to kiss me? Yup, he is. Eager to escape his car and this one-sided sexual tension, I gave him an awkward one-arm hugged before he could make a move and pulled away as fast as possible.

We spoke a few more times after that, mostly because I was a nice kid and didn’t know that it was acceptable to just say, “Hey, I’m not into you.” Eventually, I just stopped texting him back. I have to say, I’m glad I had this experience because it taught me a very important lesson: Assume everything is a date unless proven otherwise.

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