Romance and the Mating Rituals of Adolescent Males

15 Nov

I have a teenage daughter who, bless her heart, has the attention of several adolescent boys. Years and years and (yes, I must) years ago in a faraway land, I was a teenager.

I was not the focus of hormonal male adoration. Oh, I wasn’t entirely hideous (yes, I did have Farrah hair, but it was a good look – very feathery). Unfortunately for my adolescent love life, I’d honed my ‘come hither’ style on Harlequin heroines of the seventies. Feminism had crept into the story lines and the emerging empowerment of the time translated into feisty gals with witty repartee. Secure, confident alpha male heroes pursued – and readily managed – the heroines of my favorite books.

The gawky, pimpled, studmuffins in my little farming community were unimpressed.

Hell. They were terrified.

As are my daughter’s suitors.


I really want to add an evil laugh here, but script can’t do justice to the pant-pissing cackle I envision.

The local boys are now rethinking their obsessive state. Change is good.

Apparently, when a young man wants a girl’s attention in Boise, Idaho, he must toilet paper her house with the assistance of his able-bodied (and feeble-minded) buddies. Somehow, littering her front yard with soggy strips of white inspires her to return his passion. Or – this strategy might also serve to win back a lost love.

Well, friends, it hasn’t snowed in Boise yet, but we had a downy soft layer covering the rotting leaves I should have raked last week. That was the first night.

The next evening, I waited until I heard the snickers and shuffling feet – then hit the car alarms and opened the door. They scattered. No serious damage and I ended up with several unopened packages of Charmin. And you betcha – I gathered my treasure and stashed it in the garage. Spoils of war, baby.

What happened to flowers, candy, and bad poetry? Surely, this isn’t the face of adolescent romance in 2011? The YA my girls read is more sophisticated than this. Twitter, facebook, and texting do alter the reality of adolescent making rituals, but are silly pranks still the norm?

I hear enough to know drugs are available, sexual activity is more common, and social aggression (and the depression it sparks) is thriving. I’m almost pleased to see the dorky manner of semi-formal courtship. At least, in this small way, kids can be – kids. But, I’m still ready with the panic button and newly installed, motion-sensitive floodlights.

What rituals did you see growing up? What’s new with teen romance in your view? Any tips on removing soggy tissue from pine trees?


Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Boise, Family, romance, teen fiction


Tags: , , ,

19 responses to “Romance and the Mating Rituals of Adolescent Males

  1. Janis McCurry

    November 15, 2011 at 6:58 AM

    Liz, the problem with your question is that the brain cells from my long-ago teen years sloughed off a few decades ago. Thinking back, I remember my future husband sat behind me at a school assembly for the first salvo of our courtship. We made remarks back and forth without speaking face-to-face…in a semi-whisper because of the assembly entertainment. He put a sign beside my locker which was at the end of the row saying, “____ & Janis’s Corner.” It was up two days before custodians took it down.

    That’s all I’ve got. Fun to remember, though.

  2. Meredith Conner

    November 15, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    Okay, I’m chuckling and slightly horrified. My girls have – hopefully – several more years before the mating rituals begin.
    I met my husband in a traditional Idahoan way. We met while getting wood for winter. His best friend and my best friend were dating. Our mating ritual consisted of him introducing himself with his given name vs his nickname of “Spike.” I think it was a type of “Me Mike. You Woman. Good.” subliminal male communication. It caused mass confusion with all of his friends though, whenever I referred to him by his given name. “Mike who?”

    • Liz Fredericks

      November 15, 2011 at 7:19 AM

      Ok, Meredith – you’ve got to include ‘me Mike. You Woman. Good’ in a book. And I hate to break it to you – being as how you’re a lovely person and all – but your girls will be the valley beacons for all that high school testosterone. What will your husband say to them? ‘Me Spike. My chainsaw.’ Yup, that’ll do it.

    • Steph

      November 15, 2011 at 9:16 AM

      Meredith, I also caused confusion with my husband’s friends (it didn’t take much) when I insisted on calling him Steve when everyone else except his mother calls him Bo.
      I love the car alarms and lights. A boy came to my sister’s bedroom window late at night. My dad heard him and sneaked out the front door and along the side of the house. When he got close, he jumped up and yelled. Our fence was about four feet high and the poor kid hit it about waist high and flipped over. It didn’t slow him down. The next morning Dad found two beers with dents that just matched the fence. He didn’t quit laughing for a week.

      • Liz Fredericks

        November 15, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        Steph, I can picture the kids, the dented beers and your Dad. I have to admit – my nine-year-old son and I bonded in our stealth as we waited by the window for the perps to arrive. My daughter, sneering at our plot, waited upstairs for her beaus to show. I heard her laugh, but she won’t admit how clever we were.

  3. Liz Fredericks

    November 15, 2011 at 7:14 AM

    Ahhh . . . he put a sign by the locker for everyone to see. That’s what I love – hearing about ‘first courtship salvos’ .

  4. Kyrsten

    November 15, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    I am about to confess something nobody knows except the guilty parties.

    When in high school my brainy friend and I, both totally socially inept and unnoticed by boys until college, toilet-papered several homes of friends in the middle of the night. Several boys were suspected and chastened, they never suspected us.

    Why did we do this? I don’t remember. Maybe just to see if anyone would point the finger of blame at us. Maybe we were playing with plot twists and expectations even then. We were very careful about keeping the mess within reach and doing it on a night when there would be no rain. We put TP bunting on a trampoline for example.

    Don’t tell my children. LOL. Thanks for digging up the memory, I had forgotten about this.

  5. Sally

    November 15, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    Liz, that’s hilarious! And kinda sad… growing up in Canada, I never saw any toilet-papering going on, but there must have been similar silly rituals of devotion. Boys are dorky everywhere!

    • Liz Fredericks

      November 15, 2011 at 7:53 AM

      I’m with you, Sally, I don’t remember this being an issue when I was a kid. But then, we lived on a farm by the time I was in high school. Maybe if we’d stayed in town . . . ? I do remember stories of paper bags being filled with cowpies and lit on fire on the principal’s front step. Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home.

  6. Liz Fredericks

    November 15, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    Kyrsten, that’s awesome!!! I won’t tell. I’m almost sorry I never TP’d anyone now. We lived so far out of town it simply wasn’t feasible. Now . . . don’t get me started on the great rabbit invasion of ’79.

  7. Susan Russo Anderson

    November 15, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Well, kids, I’m old enough to see my granddaughter spinning into these kinds of mating rituals. No Charmins yet, but, from my point of view, seeing her girlfriends and boyfriends together, I’m so totally struck by the fact that the girls seem like fun-loving, yes squealing, teenagers while the boys are still little boys. I don’t think they grow up at the same rate, and the Charmin trick sounds like something invented by little boys. How do you cope? I have No Idea!

    • Liz Fredericks

      November 15, 2011 at 2:48 PM

      Thanks for commenting, Susan. You mention seeing ‘girlfriends and boyfriends together’. This is something different from years ago for me – now they seem not to date as much as herd around together. I like the group nature of the activities, but then, it also means more players in the toilet paper wars.

  8. Mary Vine

    November 15, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Fun blog, Liz. Thanks!

  9. Lynn Mapp

    November 15, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Liz, it’s been too long for me to remember my teenage years. Not. I was painfully shy. Stop laughing. If some boy had been interested I wouldn’t have a clue. I rarely made direct eye contact with boys.

    • Liz Fredericks

      November 16, 2011 at 6:52 AM

      No. Way. Not the Lynn I know and adore! Well, you might not have been looking, but I suspect you were the center of attention.

  10. Johanna Harness

    November 15, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Thanks for the giggle, Liz! I love your stories.

  11. Liz Fredericks

    November 16, 2011 at 6:53 AM

    Thanks Johanna! Sharing stories is one of the best aspects of this blog cuz I always enjoy yours too.

  12. Carley Ash

    November 16, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    LOL. Great post. I LOVE that you copped off with their toilet paper. And Charman – the good stuff. 🙂

  13. Clarissa Southwick

    November 17, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Yup. This sounds like my teen years. Nothing much has changed. In our neighborhood, we have doorbell ditchers. I have no idea why they get such a thrill doing that.


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