Liz’s Tuesday blog got me thinking about my painful teenagehood. I wasn’t joking. I was one of those shy, quiet girls. My goal was not to be noticed. I was a wall-hugger. I figured if I stayed close to the wall and tried to avoid eye contact, I wouldn’t attract much attention.
This method had served me well in junior high so I thought I’d continue when I arrived at high school. It was the first day and I was in English when he walked in. Pierre Navarro Derek John Robinson was in the house. He was tall, and good-looking. I forgot the rules and stared. We made eye contact, and it was impossible to look away. He smiled and said hello. To me. I managed a wobbly smile and a timid hello.
I was in love.
It’s been a long time. The details are smudged and blurred. I don’t know how we became friends. It was an unlikely pairing. On the surface we had nothing in common. Pierre had self-confidence and personality oozing from every pore. When he entered a room, people noticed. Once again, let me remind you, I had just spent three years successfully blending into the lockers, not wanting to draw attention to myself.
While my plans for us included marriage and children, Pierre didn’t share my vision. I was a shy chubbette, but a girl can dream. By junior year, I’d lowered my expectations. I was willing to settle for the role of girlfriend. It wasn’t to be. Think of it as Brad Pitt spending time hanging out with a boring teacher from Boise, Idaho and you’ve got the picture. By senior year, I accepted we would only be friends.
I remember going to the drive-in with a group of friends. When I say group, I’m talking about ten people, perhaps more. That was the beauty of high school. We traveled in herds. We really didn’t go to watch the movie. We went to hang out. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? was playing. The story was set during The Great Depression. It was about desperate people involved in a dance contest, trying to win money. At some point during the film, Pierre got out of the car and called for me to join him. He pulled me into his arms and we started dancing like the couples in the film. This drew a few honks from friends and others at the drive-in.
Pierre and I shared many adventures. There were the times we cruised Sunset Boulevard, the picnics at Recreation and Brookside Parks, senior sneak, the parties in his garage, and my first concert. He was a cornerstone of my teen years, and in a way, the person responsible for forcing me out of my shell. There was no way to blend into the background when you were with Pierre.
I was quiet and shy, but beneath the layers there was someone just as crazy and outgoing as he was. Perhaps that is what Pierre saw when we made eye contact the first day of high school, a kindred-spirit.
It was a defining relationship. I will always cherish those memories of that tall, good-looking, and oh-so-personable young man I knew.