My first online valentines

I was reading Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime, Stories from a South African Childhood and he got played on valentines day as a school kid. Valentines day as a school kid was always weird when I was in high school. Unlike Trevor’s childhood school, you didn’t just randomly ask a crush to be your Valentines. Usually, the only people who got Valentines day presents were people who were in steady relationships during high school.

That wasn’t most of us. So, we spent Valentines day looking at other people drag their gifts around school. Some of us had girlfriends who went to other schools, and some of us were single. When I worked at Lowe’s in college, there was a guy who told me he hated Valentine’s day. When ever I hear people say that they hate a holiday, its usually followed up with something like, ” Its bull shit corporatism dressed up in red hearts to get people to spend money.” This kid told me he hated Valentines day because he never had one. I had another friend in college who told me the same thing. That must be tough to be in your twenties and never have shared that day with anyone. I’ve only consistently started having Valentines since I’ve entered my twenties.  When I was a teenager, one event happened that made me stray away from buying women who weren’t my girlfriend anything for Valentines day.

Now lets get on with this life story:

When I was in my early teens, Bebo was the social media site that every young kid in Baton Rouge used. All of my friends had a page, but there was a big problem. My mom hated social media. She taught middle school and she watched the news frequently. The stories of kids being molested or meeting up to fight made her paranoid about social media. She told us that we weren’t allowed to have a Bebo. She caught me on the site one day, and raised all types of hell. She went through the photos on my profile, and she made me delete my account. I was back on a week later re-adding all of my friends.

Social media gives us a different dimension of finding a significant other. No longer were people bound to their immediate surroundings to find a mate. The world is a vast place full of different types of people. Social Media gives you an opportunity to explore that vast and see if you can find a match. The girls at school never gave me any time a day, and I didn’t try with many of them. I went to a private school, and I figured that I couldn’t get any of the stuck up chicks I went to school with.

So when I went girl hunting on Bebo, I went after the public school girls in the Baton Rouge area. I was always really excited when I got a reply. I thought getting a reply meant that you looked good enough to the girl( not always the case). I considered that phase one, and getting past phase one was the hardest part for me. I would naturally let conversations flow. Sometimes I would get numbers, and sometimes the conversations would die. I would kill conversations that I kept getting one word replies from. Those were just waste of time and thought.

One day I wrote a girl named Jasmine and I got a quick response. We worked quickly, and she seemed as eager to find someone as I did. Within a week, I had her number and we were on the phone. In my early teen years, we were known for having 4 way conversations. It would be two guys and two girls on the phone. My best friend was Josh and girls loved him. He was always able to sway a girl’s friend just off of his voice alone. We didn’t have cell phones, and my mom complained about me draining the phone battery a lot.

I remember Jasmine being a cool chick. We were both 14, and she hadn’t had a boyfriend since she was 12. He was 15 when they dated. When she said that, I thought that she was grown and I was too immature to be with her. So, I was quiet a lot and not making great conversation. I’ve always been able to make really good conversation. When you cant rely on looks to get you by in life, you develop your character and conversation was one of my strong points.

Me, Josh, Jasmine, and Jasmine’s cousin would sit on the phone for hours and crack jokes. Later in the night, We’d go separate ways. Me and Jasmine would sit on the phone and talk until it was time to go to get off the phone. I thought I was really boring because I wasn’t saying much without Josh on the phone. She told me, “I’ve never felt this comfortable with anyone on the phone before D.” So, I thought this was cool. I assumed my big personality would come out one day and it began to. She was still cool. She said things like, ” you are really smart and you are really crazy.” The conversations seemed great.

We weren’t officially together and her ex boyfriend was still living around her apartment complex. She would tell me stories of how he treated her. How he’d slept with older women and how she felt. Looking back on it now, he was running game on her and she was probably caught up in his age. We wanted to hang out with each other, but my mom was an issue. I knew she’d ask 100,000 thousand questions and want to meet Jasmine’s parents. That would have been a problem because she would have realized that we didnt go to the same school. If she found out we met online, I could have been in serious trouble. I knew my dad wouldn’t care too much. He would just be happy that his son was hanging out with a girl for once.

My mom went to her home town in Cajun country every now and again. It just so happened that she had announced that she was leaving for Valentines day weekend a few weeks ahead of time. When I heard she was leaving, I began hatching a plan to meet Jasmine on Valentines Day.

I told Jasmine that I wanted to buy her something for Valentines Day, and she thought it was the sweetest thing ever. We started playing scenarios of the situation out before it even happened. She would say things like, “my ex is going to see you walking inside of my apartment with a bear and the smile on my face will piss him off, I hope you wont be scared?” I would say stuff like, ” my dad and my brother will be there, I have nothing to fear.” We talked about the moments that we would have often, but I needed to buy the actual gifts.

At that age, I didn’t have much money. We didn’t get an allowance for doing chores. When we needed money for something, we asked. One day, a week before valentines day, I told my dad I needed money for gifts. I lied and told him that the gifts were for a girl at the school I went to. He, like I expected, was happy. He claimed that I was a ladies man like he was. He asked me if twenty dollars was enough, and we went to the store. I grabbed a giant chocolate bear, some heart shaped chocolate, a card, and a balloon. I was so ready.

Leading up to the day, Jasmine begged me to tell her what I bought her for Valentines Day. She said she couldn’t get money to buy me anything. I told her not to worry about it. I was just happy to be getting her something, and I was hoping maybe a kiss could come as well?

I had a very poorly managed bush when I was 14. I was trying to grow my hair out, but my dad would only take us to the barber once every 2 months. It wasn’t until I got my first girlfriend that he started to take us every two weeks. That week I begged him to bring us by the shop after school and he did. I got a line and a shape up. I was looking like the man. Our parents didn’t spend 75$ on shirts for us, so me and Josh were notorious for showing up to events with just white tees like Dem Franchise Boys. I picked out a white tee to wear. I had a pair of blue jean Girbauds with grey straps. I had a pair of blue and white G knights to wear with the outfit. I thought I was going to dazzle her with this handsome big boy swag when she saw me. With my outfit picked out, it was time to plan the time of day that we were going to go over.

Valentines Day that year fell on a Saturday. My mom found out that Thursday before that I had bought gifts for Jasmine. I hid them from her site in a room she didn’t go in often. When she found out, she naturally asked me 1000 questions like, ” what kind of work do her parents do.” ” Does she make good grades?” Those were things that I didn’t care about at the time. I liked the girl for who she was and not for how many A’s she got in biology. After it passed my mom’s screening, I thought everything was set. We had planned on showing up at 2pm in the middle of the day for the brief exchange. I was nervous because I had never done anything like this before.

I woke up that Saturday. It was Valentines Day, and people were announcing it all over Bebo. I saw photos of people with their significant others, and I was happy because I could participate in the festivities as well this year. At about 10 am, my dad told me that he want to go to the Southern University basketball games that afternoon. He asked me to see about going over to her house later. I was kind of upset but I wasn’t too mad. He was willing to take me over there without asking too many questions. So, I wasn’t tripping. I called her and asked if I could come around 5 after the games would be over. She said sure. I got dressed, and loaded that giant bear, chocolate, and balloons into the car.

All throughout the game, I couldn’t do anything but day dream about the meeting I was about to have. I brought gum with me, and I must have slipped 2 pieces in my mouth every hour. I called her once during the game to make sure everything was still going to go according to schedule, and she said yes. Her cousin was at her house so i’d get a chance to meet both of them. That made me extra nervous because they’d both be judging how I looked. Even if Jasmine thought I looked ok, the cousin’s judgement could change the way jasmine looked at me.

My younger brother didn’t approve of what was happening. It was too secretive for his taste. He never did the online dating thing. I dont think he made a social media page until his junior or senior year of high school. Behavior issues plagued his childhood but as he began to grow older he clearly became the better decision maker. I remember him being supportive of what was about to happen. I just knew that it was against his way of doing things. He didn’t say much. He just sat back and watched.

The boy’s basketball game ended, and it was time to leave. Show time. This was back in 2006 before we had google/apple maps directing us on the highways. So, we called her and asked for a specific area of the city. Baton Rouge wasn’t that big. When she told us that she lived near the mall we headed that way, I was thinking the biggest moment of my social life to that point was about 15 mins away. We called again for directions once we got closer, and she began giving us very vague directions. She hung up. We wandered for about five minutes. My mom called.  She was trying to tell my dad to just ask to speak to Jasmine’s mom. My dad didn’t really seem interested in speaking with her mom, but he did so to appease my mom.

I called her back and asked if her mom could be put on the phone. She said sure, and she waited a few seconds then hung up. I kept thinking that this must be a lot of confusion, and that Jasmine needed to pull it together. My dad began to get frustrated, and this was making me look sloppy. We wandered another 5 mins, and my dad told me to call her again. I did and her cousin answered.

The cousin’s voice sounded like sheer panic. She said, ” my auntie just passed out!  We just called the emergency room, 911 is on the way here!” She began to cry. Or should I say, fake cry? I panicked and told my dad. He said, ” Oh lawd, oh well, sorry Dave.” We headed home, and he said, ” I probably shouldn’t have asked to speak to her mom.” At the time, he understood what I didn’t.

I waited on a call from Jasmine all weekend. I really wanted to know if her mom was ok or not. That call never came, and I never spoke to Jasmine again. I ate the chocolate and threw the gifts away a few weeks later. This story is one that gets lost in my archives because I shut it out of my mind at the time. It was a huge failure to me, and I didn’t want it mentioned around me for a while. I dont think I ever brought it up with Josh or my brother afterwards. It has just been quietly sitting in the back of my head.

Im glad things got better for me on that front. I dont have an issue with getting stood up on Valentines Day any more. I dont know what happened to Jasmine. I removed her from my Bebo friend’s list soon after that. I just know that it wasn’t the last time I would have an episode with a girl name Jasmine in high school.

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