I've decided to post the stories that I had to edit out of "Down the Rabbit Hole" either for the sake of the book's length or because they didn't quite aid the narrative. So, bonus! Here is Story #1...
7th Grade Love Addict
My first school dance was in seventh grade. I wore jeans and a blue tee shirt. I was way underdressed. Larissa Fountain, a girl who bullied me back then, had tried to trick me into dressing in costume. She told me it was a Halloween dance and she was going as a gorilla. But she was a bad actress, so I didn't believe her and showed up in my dowdy outfit instead.
When I arrived at the dance Larissa and Chad Houser were hanging out together. She was NOT dressed as a gorilla. She was wearing a cute black outfit with a leather jacket. She spotted me and whispered something to Chad. He scanned the room until his gaze landed on me. He smiled. At me? At what she said? They walked over to me.
"Hey," Larissa said to me, pretending to be my friend.
"Hey," I replied, ready to forgive her for the attempted costume trick. I was just happy to have someone talk to me.
"This is Chad," she introduced us. He smiled again at me.
"Hey," he said.
He likes me! I thought. Maybe Larissa wants to hook us up and become friends! I speculated. I was nothing if not an optimist.
"I'm Kate," I introduced myself back, blushing. I was pretty sure this tall, dark, preteen was going to become my first boyfriend.
"Well, I'll leave you guys alone," Larissa excused herself. Chad seemed grateful for her exit. I was conflicted. I had hoped to solidify Larissa as my new best friend before she left. I was also nervous to be alone with Chad. What were we gonna do?
"Wanna dance?" he asked.
"Yes!" I exclaimed, silently thanking the brilliant minds who invented an activity for us to do while gathered here together to distract us from having to talk!
Mariah Carey's “Emotions” was playing, which is not a particularly slow song, but Chad grabbed me by the waist anyway and pulled me in, as if it were.
Oh my God! He likes me so much! I thought. My heart kept skipping beats. I could not stop smiling.
"You have very pretty eyes," he complemented me as he stared into them. I blushed and turned my head away.
"Thank you," I replied. "I think you're very cute," I complemented him back.
He smiled a douchy smile, knowing he had me.
I was smitten by that smile. It was confident and strong, yet sweet. I laid my head on his chest and he wrapped his arms around me tighter. A slow song came on: “Everything I Do, I Do it For You.” I imagined he wrote this song for me. I envisioned our life together. We'd stay together forever and tell everyone we were each other's first loves. After being married for twenty years he'd still look at me as if he were falling in love all over again. I opened my eyes, as I realized I'd closed them to fantasize, and saw Larissa watching us, smiling a devilish smile. It looked as if she was thinking that everything was going according to her master plan.
The song ended and I raised my head to look into Chad's eyes. He was looking at Larissa too. It seemed as if they were having a silent discussion through eye contact or telepathy. He broke his gaze to look down at me, and snapped right back into suave.
"Will you go out with me?" he asked. My worries melted away.
“Yes!” I squealed. I couldn't believe I had doubted that he loved me just a second before. He was crazy about me! It was obvious. He had made me his girlfriend! I couldn't wait until Monday when we could announce to everyone that we were a couple!
He stepped back from me a little and held my hands.
"I'm gonna go talk to some friends," he declared.
"Oh, ok. I'll be right here." I didn't want to crowd him. I was not going to be a clingy girlfriend. Plus, I'm sure he wanted to go brag to everyone about his new girlfriend. He squeezed my hands and walked away, towards Larissa. Oh, ok. That friend, I thought.
I watched as she smiled bigger as he approached her. My worries resurfaced. Was this all part of some evil plan to humiliate me? Was he that good of an actor? They walked together into the crowd and out of sight. I walked over to the refreshments table to fill the void with sugar. I took some cookies and punch and surveyed the crowd of seventh graders. Some people I knew, but was too shy to approach. Everyone was dressed better than me. I felt very less-than. I felt alone. I ate my cookies.
A few more songs played while I continued to stuff my feelings and watch others having fun. I tried to smile, fit in, appear happy. I tried to be happy. Tried to feel the excitement I'd felt when Chad asked me out. And tried to drown out the skepticism I had that this was all going to backfire on me. Just then Chad and Larissa emerged from the crowd and walked towards me.
"Can I talk to you?" he asked me. My heart sank. I knew bad news was coming.
"Sure," I conceded. He took my hand and led me a few steps away, while Larissa stayed behind.
"My mother has cancer," he revealed. Had he just found this out!?
"Oh no! I'm so sorry," I comforted.
"It's just a really hard time for me." I could tell by his eyes that our short lived romance was ending. "Will you wait for me?” he asked, as if reciting a line from a movie he’d seen.
"Of course!" I vowed, trying to stay strong.
"You will?" he seemed surprised.
"Yes, I'll wait," I promised, though I didn't know what I was waiting for. I knew this was just his way of letting me down easy. Your mom has cancer? Didn't you know that twenty minutes ago when you asked me to be your girlfriend? But I was too shy to say that.
"I could help you through it, though. My grandfather had cancer," I offered. He turned away to glance at Larissa, who began to walk over to us.
"No... Just wait for me," he said. He bend down and kissed me on the cheek. Then they walked away together. My heart broke.
I cried myself to sleep that night. The following evening I told my mom what had happened. I cried as I told her.
"Awwww, Punkie. It's your first heartbreak. There will be so many more."
For weeks after that dance I lived in the excitement of the whirlwind of emotions I had experienced that night. Feeling alone, then feeling loved, then alone again, then asked to wait, then kissed, then broken. It was a roller coaster of emotions and I loved the ride. I replayed that night over and over in my head. I tried to live in the highs of the night as much as possible. I tried to rationalize the lows. Maybe it wasn't so bad. Maybe he was telling the truth. Maybe he wanted to devote all of his attention to me and he couldn't do that while his mother was sick. Maybe he just got so caught up in the romance that he momentarily forgot about his ailing mother when he asked me out. Maybe. Maybe...
A month or so later Bobby Drexler asked me out. I was sitting in home room waiting for school to start when Brian White and Brian Schwinn called out to me from the hall.
"Hey Kate," they yelled through the open door. "Bobby has something to ask you." They laughed as they pushed Bobby into the classroom. He caught himself, turned and ran out. "You idiot!" they mocked him, laughing. "Don't be a pussy! Ask her!”
I had two classes with Bobby Drexler, but I'd never spoken to him. He was a mousy, skinny, freckled boy. Not my ideal first boyfriend, but who was I to be picky? This was seventh grade. There was only one possible question that Bobby could be too shy to ask me and that was 'do you wanna go out with me?' I got excited. The bell rang and school started, but I knew by the end of the day I'd have a boyfriend.
By second period I had a note from Bobby:
Hey Kate! Sorry, Brian and Brian pushed me into Ms. Olsen's room this morning. I did have something to ask you, but I was too shy to do it then. Anyway, how are you? W/B/S Bobby
He was flirting with me! He wanted to ask me out, but he was testing the waters first. I could get down with that. So I wrote back:
Hey Bobby! Yeah, that was awkward this morning, but don't worry about it. I'm good! Just got my test back from Mr. Garafolo. I got a 67! Bummer! Oh well. Whatcha gonna do (when they come for you). Oh no, I killed it! Gotta bury it! Anyway. What'd ya wanna ask me? TTYL! ~ Kate*
Oh yeah. I could flirt back. I was new at it, but already a pro. No way he wasn't madly in love with me after reading that. Cute, funny, flirtatious. I was the whole package.
Hey Kate! 67 isn't that bad. At least you didn't fail. Mr. Garafolo is a turtle. Anyway, I wanted to ask you if you'd go out with me? Circle yes or no. (I hope it's yes). W/B/S Bobby
Hey Bobby. Hmmmm... I dunno. I'll hafta ask Erica first. Sike! Just kidding! Haha! Yes, I'll go out with you (ya big dummy!) XO Kate* (I was nailing this!)
Thus began my first ever relationship.
Three weeks later there was another dance. It would be my first dance as part of a couple. Me and Bobby’s song was "Angel Baby". Bobby requested it. When the DJ played it he kissed me. I will never forget my first kiss. It was that amazing. I don't mean that Bobby was an amazing kisser. I mean the endorphin rush that exploded when it finally happened is cemented in my memory. More accurately, the anticipation of that moment happening is a feeling I sought endlessly afterward.
I got a high from the giddiness of knowing I was going to kiss Bobby for the first time. I was looking forward to that kiss for days before it happened. I knew it was going to happen. He was my first boyfriend, we had been together for three weeks and a dance was the perfect place for this magical "first" to occur. Also he told everyone he was going to kiss me and it, of course, got right back to me. I couldn't sleep or eat. I loved the butterflies in my stomach. I obsessed about it.
A few weeks later my friend Taffy had a party. Well, she had her boyfriend, Rob, me and Bobby over to watch movies on a Friday night while her parents and some friends yucked it up in the kitchen. This was the night I knew we were going to second base. Again, the plan had circulated throughout Woodrow Wilson middle school and eventually made its way to my ears, so I was excited and prepared to have my breasteses fondled that night.
After we watched “My Girl” the four of us took a walk to the playground to make out. Taffy and Rob went to the swings and Bobby and I to the slide. We kissed for a minute or so and then Bobby moved his trembling hand under my see-through shirt to my right boob. He didn't know what to do once it was there, so he just petted it like a cat for awhile until he decided that was enough, then moved on to the left one. We kissed for a little while longer until it got too cold outside and we had to go back. Again, my adrenaline was through the roof. I wondered if people could tell from looking at me that I'd had my boobies touched. Did they look different? I obsessed and rode that high.
But that’s the thing about adrenaline. It’s temporary. So after making out with Bobby for a few weeks it no longer provided that rush. I needed my fix again. I needed that high.
Chad Houser was not in my "team" at Wilson. "Teams" were how students were broken up into classes. There was team R, team A and team M. (Our mascot was the Ram.) Bobby and I were in Team A, Chad was in team R. Therefore I had a few classes with Bobby, but none with Chad. However, I'd still see Chad occasionally traveling from one class to another. If we happened to make eye contact we'd smile as if to say, “still waiting?” “Oh yeah!”
One day Larissa Fountain approached me with a note. She was smiling her usual I-know-something smile as she handed me a note.
"Chad asked me to give this to you."
The butterflies began to flutter. I smiled. Something forbidden was about to happen. I could feel it.
What's up, baby? How've you been? I've been good. My mom's doin' better. I heard you let Bobby Drexler get to second base. Damn! I'm jealous. Haha. Well, gotta jet. Xo, Chad
My heart rate escalated. He wanted me and, now that I knew that, I had to have him. I promptly wrote back.
Hey baby! I'm glad your Mom's better. I did let Bobby go up my shirt. Too bad. It coulda been you.
I was playing this so well! I knew what was to happen next, and I couldn’t wait! I was high. Chad wrote back right away:
Meet me in the Team A stairs when the pep rally starts tomorrow. Will you be there?
Everyone was in the gymnasium the next day at 1:30, except me and Chad. I hid in the bathroom until Team A cleared out, then hurried to the stairwell, my heart racing with anticipation. I pushed open one of the heavy steel doors and found Chad suavely standing there, hands in his jean pockets, leaning against the cement wall, waiting for me. The sound of students and teachers heading for the gym faded away in the distance. We were alone. He pushed himself off the wall as I walked toward him. Neither one of us said a thing. Without missing a beat he put his hands on my waist, leaned down and kissed me. Hard, like he meant it. I kissed him back, passionately, hungrily. Never taking his lips off mine, he turned us around and walked me backwards to the wall. He pushed me up against it and kissed me harder.
This is so awesome! I kept thinking. I was elated! High! I'm gonna have this secret. Bobby won't ever know. I'll have this love affair with Chad and Bobby will never find out. Oh, the power! I didn't think for a second about how Bobby would feel if he found out. I didn't feel guilty at all. I didn't care that his heart would be broken. All I cared about was this high. How could I feel this always?
Just then Chad moved his hand to find the bottom of my shirt. He rubbed my waist and hips once he found it, like a pro. Then he kissed me gentler as he slowly moved his hand over my bare stomach and up to my breasts. He was so much better than Bobby! He somehow knew exactly what to do with them. He massaged each one, giving equal time to both. He was gentle but intense. His fingers massaged my nipples until they got hard. The whole time he continued to kiss me. I was hooked.
Our session lasted about ten minutes when we decided we'd better sneak into the gym before someone caught us. We kissed goodbye, making an indefinite plan to do it again…
So, you're probably wondering if Bobby found out, huh? Well yes, he did. But I don't know how. I mean of course I told Erica because she's my best friend. And I told Debbie, because she's my other best friend. And I know Chad told Larissa, who probably told Ron Barnum, because they were going out. And I know Bobby is best friends with Brian White, who is friends with Ron, but still, I doubt any one of them would've told…
In any case, Bobby found out. And he was crushed. I don't remember what he said to me, or even if he said anything to me. I might've just found out that he knew through the grapevine. I saw him in seventh period that day and he wouldn't look at me. He looked pissed, and at one point he kicked the cupboard door shut and got yelled at.
What I do remember distinctly is how I felt. Regretful only because he found out and that meant it probably wouldn’t happen again. I had wanted this affair to remain a secret because I wanted it to continue. Now there was no chance of hooking up with Chad again, and that meant no more eager anticipation: no high. I craved the secrecy, the lying and the thrill.
I was an addict without a drug, but I didn’t know it at the time. I’d go on to learn that I actually had a lot in common with my fucked up parents. This was only the beginning.