The Agony But No Ecstasy Of Getting A Date As A Teen

When Valentine’s Day rolls around every year on February 14th I can help but think of the trials and trepidations – plus downright fear — I went through as a teenager trying to get the nerve to ask a girl out on a date.

I think the dread goes back to elementary school when I was either in sixth or seventh grade. It couldn’t have been eighth grade because I would have been smarter to have not fallen for the prank that befell me.

You see there was this girl in our class who was a real knockout. I mean she was so good looking, and she knew it! All of us boys dreamed about what it would be like to be liked by her.

Let’s call her Marilyn (in reference to Miss Monroe) just so you can get a more accurate picture of what she looked like.

As I was saying, every boy in our class, including me, dreamed about Marilyn. So, what do you think happened? You guessed it, some of my so-called “friends” told me that Marilyn wanted me to ask her out – on a date! “No way,” I exclaimed. “Oh, but yes,” my buddies assured me for many days saying she was just too shy to hint to me to ask her out. In those days, girls did not ask boys for dates. They just blinked their flirty eyes at a boy in anticipation of him getting the message to ask her out.

I must admit there were no promptings with her eyes or any other favorable flirtations toward me. But I could dream, couldn’t I! And the thought of me out with Marilyn on a date was just too overwhelming! Where we would go on this date and how we would get there was not yet in my thinking process. Afterall, we both were but a mere 12 years old, if that.

Following what seemed like weeks instead of days, I finally was convinced and worked up the courage near a city bus stop after school to say to her in the most masculine, husky voice I could muster: “I understand you would like me to ask you out.” “What?!” she exclaimed in the most feminine shrieky voice she could marshal. “Are you out of your mind?” she demanded as she resolutely turned away from me to catch a bus, probably any bus. Needless to say, I was devastated, destroyed, demolished, distressed and distraught not to mention disappointed. But did I really think she would be delighted by my petition?

I don’t remember if my classmates witnessed my appeal and I didn’t want to find out. I just wanted to board my bus and get as far away from my brief encounter into the world of asking a girl out on a date as I could. Why did I think homily me, short, wearing wire-rimmed glasses perched on a big nose would ever stand a chance with Marilyn!

As I said earlier, that confrontation had an effect on me later as a teenager trying to work up the nerve to call a girl and ask her out. Yesteryear was not like it is now. Today the boy OR the girl simply text each other, carry on a conversation and probably can see each other. I had to first work up the nerve to dial a girl’s home knowing her father probably would answer the phone. It went something like this:

After several rings a gruff male voice answered and enquired, “Yes?” And I tried to say, “Uh, hello, I, uh, was wondering if …” Again, Dad says, “Hello! Who is this and what do you want?” I try to answer, “Uh, yes, I’m Vince and I was wondering if I might be able to speak to …” “Who did you say this is” good ole Dad asks? “It’s me, Vince LaBarbera. I’m a classmate of hers.” “Who?” Dad snaps. “I have two daughters.” “Uh, JoAnn. She’s in English class with m’me,” I stammer. “Just a minute,” he says slamming the phone down on a table.

When JoAnn finally comes to the phone she inquires, “Hello? Who is this? My Dad said it was Barbara something. I don’t know anyone named Barbara!” Well, it usually went further downhill from there with JoAnn not able to recall me being in her English class even when I said I sat just two seats from her.

Marilyn also was in my English class. I wonder if she and JoAnn ever talked about how charming I was when trying to ask either of them out on a date?

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer