Scene: Our dining room, evening. My daughter and I are setting the table.
Her: Hey, Dad. Want to hear a funny story?
Me: Always. Let’s hear it.
Her: OK, so today at lunch, I’m sitting outside with Grace and Skye. And we’re just, whatever, hanging out by the art studio and this guy comes up to us.
Me: What guy?
Her: Just some random guy.
Me (pausing to process): Random guy. A random guy. Like a guy your age? Or a 50-year-old guy in a raincoat roaming around your campus? Do I need to call someone?
Her (rolling eyes): Oh my God. I’m talking about a kid who goes to my school. Like, he’s probably in my grade.
Me: Oh. OK. Proceed.
Her: So. This guy comes up to us. And he says hi to me. And I say hi. And he’s sort of good-looking, but not super good-looking. Like he’s just sort of OK. And then he says to me, “Your name is Ronnie, right?” And I say yeah. And THEN he says, “I keep seeing you everywhere, and you’re really cute.”
Her: And then after that, he says, “Maybe you could give me your phone number and we could do something some time.”
(Let me pause here. I feel it’s important to note that this is the first time this has actually happened to my 15-year-old daughter, as far as I know. While I think she’s absolutely wonderful and smart and cute and any guy would be lucky to be seen in public with her, this is the first time that a dude has actually come up to her and asked her for digits. Which is why, as she tells me the story, I begin to feel the first signs of a very gentle aneurysm coming on.)
Her: Are you still listening?
Me: Yes. Totally. Guy at your school thinks you’re cute and wants your number. This is a really great story. So … what did you say?
Her (putting her hands on her hips, and giving me a worldly expression): Well, so I’m all, “I’m not one to give my number out to guys I don’t know, sorry.”
Me (exhaling slowly, bathed in relief): Good answer.
Her: I thought so. And then I say, “But if we end up getting to know each other, then maybe.”
Me: Maybe. Maybe. Maybe what?
Her: Maybe then I’ll give him my number, duh.
Me: Oh. Right. And what did he say when you told him that?
Her: This is the best part: so then he says, “Well, then I guess I’ll just have to get to know you.” And then he takes off. Can you believe that?
Me: No. I mean, yes. So after that he just left?
Me: Returning to his rusted-out van with the windows blacked out, parked behind the cafeteria dumpsters, maybe?
Her: Dad, OH MY GOD. I told you, he’s just some kid in my grade. I actually think he’s in my history class.
Her: He’s just OK. He’s not really that cute. I mean, I don’t think he’s super attractive or anything like that. But, (she grins at me) isn’t that an awesome story?!?
Me: Awesome. Yes. Very super awesome.
Her: We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll give him my number and see what happens.
Me (muttering): Not if I drop your phone in the disposal.
Her: What did you say?
Me: I said he sounds great.
Her (very self-satisfied): We’ll have to see. Do I have time before dinner to Skype with Grace?
Me: Yes. Go Skype.
And off she goes to her room, perfectly happy and self-assured. I am left sitting on the couch, vaguely shell-shocked, and feeling unprepared for whatever this is that’s happening.
She’s 15. I know this. I remember being 15. At the time, I felt totally in control of my destiny. I had a girlfriend who’d let me round second base with her on a regular basis and I was pretty sure we’d be going all the way by prom (I was wrong). I had friends who knew how to sneak liquor out of their parents’ cabinets so we could hang out in various parking structures around town, sitting on the hoods of cars, playing music, and pretending we enjoyed drinking vodka out of the bottle. I knew exactly how far to push my teen luck with my parents before getting in trouble re: curfews, cigarettes and general tomfoolery.
My daughter is more of a homebody than I was at her age. I trust her completely. She’s a good kid. She doesn’t sneak out of the house. (Seriously, she doesn’t.) She is anti-substance use. Someday, she’ll experiment with drinking, smoking and peer-to-peer groping I’m sure. But we haven’t gotten there yet. And clearly, I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, not to mention denial that it’ll ever actually happen.
Some dude at her school asked for her number. That’s all that happened today. No big.