I met Armageddon in the summer of 1998, the summer of laceless keds and cut off shorts. He was my childhood friend’s new classmate at their military academy. Armageddon was tall, played hockey, and drove a Chevy Blazer – this combination is like Minnesota-girl kryptonite. There were a few group hang-outs where we watched Tommy Boy and played foosball in the basement of our friend’s house. Then, one day, he looked up my number in the telephone book, called my parent’s landline, and asked me out on a date to see Armageddon in the movie theatres. Yes, this post is going old school retro.
THE FIRST DATE
Personally, I felt I had so much riding on this date because it wasn’t just my first date with Armageddon. It’s my first date EVER. In life.
I was more nervous than an agoraphobe at a rave. To make matters worse my BFF was spending the summer in Switzerland and could only be reached via written letter. This is to say my general counsel was conspicuously absent from my side of the negotiating table. I wasn’t sure what to wear, how to act, or most importantly what to explain to my parents. I ended up saying, “I’m going for ice cream with Armageddon after dinner and then to the movies at 9:30.” Unable to articulate what I really meant, I relied on them to decode this as: I’m going on a date, the movie starts at 9:30, ends after midnight, and I’ll be home at 1AM.
Our household operated under the principle: There are no rules, until you break them. Basically, if you act like a reasonable person, then no one will put arbitrary perimeters around your behavior. But, if you speak in opaque terms, stay out with a boy they’ve never met until an hour that’s later than you’ve ever been out, the wrath of God will come down on your head.
Back to my date. I was having a great time. I felt super cute in my popped collar polo, which was only tucked in at the front. Everything I had studied in teen sit-coms paid off and I was even doing the Clare Dates hair flip. Once at the theatre, Armageddon bought our tickets from a mousy cashier that I recognized as a girl from the grade below. She gave me a smile that said she knew I was on a date, and my cheeks lit on fire. Once inside, Armageddon and I got popcorn, sodas, Junior Mints, and Sno Caps because we were kids with cash and that’s what they do. Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler put me into an emotional state akin to Leo and Kate’s affect from the year prior, so I was delightfully giddy when we held hands afterwards on the way to the car.
The drive back was a little circuitous, but I didn’t mind even though it was getting pretty late. Once in front of my house, I gave him a peck on the lips goodnight – similar to how a woodpecker might head bang a tree – and then hopped out of the car. Full of good midwestern manners, Armageddon waited to see that I made it inside ok. I jiggled the front door and it was locked. This was completely bizarre because our town was safer than the Truman Show; we kept the keys in the ignition of our unlocked cars in the driveway; I didn’t even own a set of house keys. There must be some mistake.
I motioned to Armageddon that I was going around to the back. I got to the family room door and found it locked also, which gave me the unfamiliar sensation of being in big trouble. Brainstorming other entrances to the house, I remember the mudroom! No one had been through there all summer, so I walk further around the house. Also locked. By this time, Armageddon had driven around the side of the house and wanted to know if everything was ok? Of course everything’s ok. Easy Breezy, right? False.
I surveyed my options, 1) I climb through the raspberry bush on the hill at the side of the house in order to scale the deck, tiptoe across the squeaky boards, and access the patio entrance; or 2) I ring the front doorbell and face the music. Bad decision begets bad decision. Armageddon watched in disbelief as I made my way through the thorny bushes, climbed the railings of the deck, and waved goodnight as I walked out of sight, “Bye! I had a great time!” As I walked through the backdoor my mom was waiting in the kitchen to play me the music. My world ended and I cried like Liv Tyler loosing her dad on the a-bombed astroid as I was condemned to the worst fate imaginable: I was not allowed to go to Dan’s pool party the next day.
PS – I had a midnight curfew for the rest of my high school career.