Young Love is Tougher than Any of Us Remember

Lucky Garvin
Lucky Garvin

From long ago:

Among the more fascinating dramas taking place within this home is the timid emergence of heterosexuality in sons Chester and Cailan. Such blossoming is a vital force palpitating with intrigues and a hundred temptations to disorder the pre-adolescent mind.

First, eleven-year-old Chester.  He is entering `rut’, that strange inward hastening of change; and after years of anonymity, is bewildered to find himself much sought after by the ladies. Not six months ago he would run in terror from the humblest petticoat… and he still does, sort of, but now he looks back a lot.

Considering what he’s up against, he has probably chosen the smartest response.


The women move smoothly through their paces, while the guys, if Chester is any model, stagger about as if blindfolded in a dark room. These are turbulent times for young Ches, as they would be for any of us forced to go back to those days.  I’ll pass.

He was invited to a pool party the other afternoon.  He returned home saying that he had had a good time –  a blue-lipped and shivering; pruny fingers kind of good time. Four girls were there and one boy. Him. The girls, powdered and curled, had set this up; a `coincidence’. [“The other boys we invited couldn’t make it.”] A trap baited with perfume and bikinis.

“Where are the other guys?” he asked.  All the girls began looking about as if expecting the missing males to suddenly materialize over the pool filter.

After much shrugging of shoulders and mumblings of `Where, oh where could they be?’ they turned on him in unison; they the cats; he, the Friskee’s Buffet and said, “They couldn’t make it.”

“Well, who did you invite?”

“Oh . . . everybody.”

Me?  I don’t think so.  I think there was one invite tendered, one accepted. And why a pool party?  “They wanted to see your chest?” I offered.  He looked down at his chest.

“They wanted to see that?” Visions of being a stud danced before his eyes. Romance is not logical, Ches,’ I explained.

There are three things incredible to me about Chester’s love-life. 1.) Its suddenness; he woke up one morning and found, much to his delighted consternation, that he was an item on the female dessert menu. (The stress on his mother is considerable.)  2.) The number of women pursuing him with that calculated indifference which marks the chase. 3.) The very tactical nature of their pursuits; like a pack of remorseless gerbils calmly attacking a tangle of alfalfa. So Chester bounces around like a flustered shuttlecock trying to figure out what is going on.

Now, contrast that with 10 year old Cailan’s attitude towards the whole male-female thing.  His level of enthusiasm, taken at peak, could only be labeled torporous.  By all outward sign, he couldn’t care less.

Cailan sits on the sofa, eating a candy bar, engrossed in a cartoon.  Chester says, “I’ve got a girlfriend.” Cailan answers without turning his head. Chomp, cherf, swallow, “Had one for four years m’self” Cherf, cherf . . . Stare at the TV.

(Hitting the pause button here: Now, you must realize that beyond any social dispute, nothing betokens pre-teen suave more than having many girlfriends; either all at once or a series of monogamies. So Cailan, defying convention by keeping the same woman for four years, shames his contemporaries with an unprecedented romantic fidelity, that and the fact his tale is, of course, a shameless fabrication. But at his age, and on this subject, there is no such thing as shame.)

Chester, so conscientious in his romance; Cailan, so cavalier in his; tries again.  “I’ve kissed my girl friend.”

“He’s what!?” says Sabrina to me, overhearing this whispered confession.  “My baby!!”  She tries to run to him.  A strong hand is called for here. I take her to the other room, force a Prozac between her clinched teeth and apply cold towels to her burning skin.  This is a hard time for mothers; them being so emotional and all.

Cailan: chew, chew, “I’ve done that lot’s of times.”

“He’s what!?  My baby!!” I cry out and start to rise.  Sabrina shakes her head `No’ and pulls me back. We share the cold towels. I feverishly dry-chew a handful of Valium.

So Chester, unable to fathom the intersecting vortices of love at age eleven, and completely unable to impress Cailan, age ten, and world-weary with the whole topic, retires to his room, draws the curtains and spends the rest of the afternoon writing moody poetry in the fading light.

So, I’m just hanging in here, trying to learn.

By Lucky Garvin
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