The Start of it All.

He arrived at her house in his black Sunfire. The sunroof was open, letting the evening sun pour into the gray interior. He was the first one in our grade to get his license and a car, dubbing him the official driver. His friend was in the passenger’s seat, waiting for my girlfriend and I to hop in the backseat.

We took off, speeding down the winding country roads to do what most Indiana kids did on a weekend night—drive.

That particular summer night, we drove to a steakhouse where the guys said their friend Adam worked as a bus boy. For some reason, they thought Adam would be able to hook us up {read: get us free food or beer}. But Adam told us he hadn’t worked there very long and didn’t want to piss anyone off.

It was too late. Our waitress, a chubby girl with blond curly hair, was already upset. She was confused and mad that we were trying to take her tip away and con beer out of someone. We ended the attempt, let Adam work, and allowed our waitress to do her job.

My first impression of Adam had me convinced he was a typical, good kid. Although that night at the steakhouse was the first time I met him, I’d heard things about him through one of my friends who had gone to a private Lutheran school with him.

As the summer wore on, I spent more time with him and his friends. Adam lived on California Street—the same street my family had lived on years ago. My old house was on the opposite end of the street, a green house with a large front porch. The first story of my old house was open, so I would ride my tricycle through the living room, toy room, dining room, and kitchen, without walls getting in my way. Months after we moved from the house, a set of curtains caught fire, burning a portion of the upstairs where the bedrooms were.

Adams house was on the nicer end of the street. His house was like a museum—quiet, clean and crisp. From the tile to the walls, and even some of the furniture, everything was white. There dining table was a slice from a giant tree trunk, detailed with rings and jagged edges. Even their fireplace was off-center.

The friendship I had with Adam started off casual, but we grew close fast. We talked on the phone nearly every night, about school or his work. I even told him about guys I liked. Our friends thought we would start dating, but we were always defensive about it—we were not going to date.

At the end of the summer, before my junior year, I joined Adam and our friends at the local marina. We’d spent many nights there, dragging coolers of jungle juice near a picnic table and lighting up flavored cigars, just to watch the stars dot the sky over one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in town.

It was the last night of summer and we were determined to do something memorable. In typical male fashion, the guys dared us girls to skinny dip and swim out to the floating dock. Although I considered these guys my friends, I had yet to come out of my shell. My parents had just divorced, I’d only been on a handful of dates, I’d kissed a few boys, but was a virgin in every sense of the word. None of my guy friends had kissed me or seen me in anything skimpy, aside from a swimsuit. I wasn’t about to go skinny dipping.

Then, a few other guys joined us at the marina. They were infamous at school for smoking pot. I wanted to have some fun that night, so I agreed to take off my jeans and swim to the floating dock wearing my tank top and undies. Adam and another guy agreed to swim to the dock with me. So, I peeled off my jeans and set them in the sand.

We started swimming toward the dock. The water was cool, and I was a little nervous that there’d be snakes once we got closer to the floating planks. But we made it, climbed on top and jumped off a few times.

Soon enough, we swam back to the shore, where the guys were still waiting. However, what wasn’t there were my jeans.

Of course.

So there I was. Finally, I had let my guard down in front of the guys and now I was pant-less, also in front of the guys.

At first, it was funny, but then the guys started to get mad. They knew I was upset and also knew that I wouldn’t be participating in any late-night pant=less swim sessions any time soon. I assumed someone hid them while we were swimming. I swore up and down I wouldn’t be pissed, I just wanted my jeans back, mainly because they were brand new.

But no matter how hard I persisted, no one said a word. The guys helped me look, but it was dark and my curfew was creeping closer. If I wanted to keep looking for my jeans, I was going to have to do it; I was going to have to call my mom and tell her that I took my jeans off in front of a group of guys to go swimming and now I was walking around in my underwear, soaking wet.

When I called her, she laughed at me.

I continued to search for my jeans, but I got the sick feeling the guys were starting to enjoy the view a little too much. I called off the search and joined Adam in the Sunfire for the ride home. It was one of the longest rides ever—not only was I cold and wet, I was sitting next to Adam, without my pants.

When we got to my house, my mom was waiting at the front door. When I stepped out of the car, she came out of the house, laughing. As embarrassed as I was, I was relieved I wasn’t in deep shit. The guys rehashed the story to my mom and everything turned out okay. Although, I never did find the jeans. I drove back to the marina the next day to search for them in the daylight, but had no success.

Nearly a year later, the event came back to haunt me. I was on a first date with a guy I really liked, a star athlete at my school and very cute. We went out to rent a movie for the evening and when we got to the cash register, I was faced with the pot smoker who had mysteriously appeared at the marina that night. Apparently, the police had caught up with him, as he was wearing an ankle bracelet for house arrest while working.

“You on a date with this one?” he asked, nodding in my direction.

“Yeah,” my date said.

“Good luck. She’s a wild one.”

Great. Now I was going to have to explain to my date why on earth this loser-face knew me, and why he thought I was a wild one to boot. As I told him the story on our car ride to his parents’ house, he got a good laugh out of it and I was off the hook.

When school started, I got a job at the steakhouse where I met Adam. He was still working there as a bus boy, me as a hostess. I was dating my first serious boyfriend, a hockey player for the local skating rink. He took me out to dinners, to friends’ houses and we carved pumpkins for Halloween. But just before Christmas, he called and dumped me. He said the relationship wasn’t moving forward physically, which meant it wasn’t going anywhere.

I was crushed. He was my first kiss, so of course it wasn’t going anywhere physically because I had no idea what I was doing. As soon as the phone conversation was over, I walked outside and kicked off the pieces of bark he’d put on my front step, in the shape of a heart. I dragged myself into the kitchen and told my mom what happened. It was the first of many conversations we would have revolving one of my breakups.

Not only was I without a boyfriend, I was also without a date to the high school winter formal. I was faced with this problem two years before, when I just decided to go with a girlfriend instead. But the dance was approaching fast, with few options in sight. One night, talking on the phone, Adam and I decided we would go together.

Our friends were a little surprised, after we had just spent the entire year swearing up and down that we were just friends, and here we were going to a school dance together. As parents always say, “What’s the big deal? You can go to a dance together as friends!” Which is true, but in high school, everything is a big deal.

We made plans to meet up and eat dinner with our friends beforehand. When Adam picked me up, I was dressed in a strap-less coral gown, with shimmering thread patterned all over it. I was wearing a classy pair of clear high heels. Adam brought me a gorgeous corsage, which he told me his mom helped him with. It was a small bunch of three white rosebuds, with silver ribbons around it. We met up with our friends and their dates and headed to dinner. At the dance, we all had a great time. Adam and I shared a few slow dances, which weren’t as awkward as I assumed they would be.

When the dance was over, we drove to the steakhouse, where we all worked. Our coworkers were closing up the kitchen, but unlocked the door and invited us inside. Still in our formal attire, I pulled up my dress to avoid any sludge from the red brick floor. The chef treated us to dessert—a slice of cheesecake. I felt exclusive, having dessert with my friends, being the only ones in the restaurant.

After dessert, all of us ventured to the towns’ very own hot spot—Adam’s hot tub. This particular hot tub, in Adam’s backyard, was rumored to house the germs of many ladies. All ladies who were not Adam’s—but those of his friends. Even after the fun, and somewhat romantic night, I stood by my strong feelings for Adam as a friend—one of my best friends.

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