I Wanna Hold Your Hand by Deb Jess

I’m the goofball who came up with “First Loves” as a posting topic, and now I’m stumped. You see, I was one of those hopeless romantics unfortunate people who believed that EVERY boy she went out with, no matter how wrong for her, was her “First Love.” Instead, why don’t I tell you about the first boy I ever held hands with?

AaronThat would be Aaron. We met at sixth grade camp. He had the most adorable mullet I’d ever seen—he was shorter than me, with freckles and hazel eyes and a husky, scratchy voice. I remember the first time we held slightly sweaty hands—in public!—oh, how my heart pounded. How proud I was to have a ‘boyfriend,’ and such a cute one at that. During one of our many awkward phone conversations, I tried shocking him by brazenly telling him that I liked the song “Talk Dirty to Me.” Not that I knew anything about that side of the relationship coin yet, but…

(Poison was huge at the time. As they are again, now. Thanks a lot, Bret Michaels with your reality dating show.)

lovenoteWas it love? I don’t know…but look at the back of the photo!

Four years later we dated again, as sophomores in high school. I remember popcorn, movies, and making out on my parents couch … and I remember my mother driving him home after one of our ‘dates’ and I’m pretty sure Aaron and I surreptitiously made out in the back seat the whole time. (Gaah!) A week later I broke his heart to go out with one of the worst boyfriends I ever had—a physically and verbally abusive creep who tried to burn his trailer down after I finally worked up the courage to get away from him. Yeah. You guessed it: I thought that was love, too.

After him, there was Beav. No, that wasn’t his real name—that was actually a nickname bestowed upon him by his father. A little gentle teasing about his “Leave it to Beaver” childhood, I guess. Two years older than me, he was stable and solid and shy and smart and threw parties when his parents were out of town. He played basketball and went to a nearby private high school but still knew all the right people in my own high school—which felt like a crucial thing in the teen caste system.

I snagged a pair of his sweatpants emblazoned with a giant ‘91’ on the butt, and I proudly wore them once a week. He was wholesome and kind; he called when he said he would, he opened doors for me and sent me roses. He was the perfect antidote to Abusive Boyfriend, and we dated for two and a half years. But he was too nice, and I just wasn’t ready for nice yet… senior year, I developed a wandering eye and eventually broke things off before I went away to college. Beav is now happily married, and I was so glad to hear that. Sidenote: the very first night I brought him home to meet my family our brand-new puppy Suka threw up on his shoes. Suka outlasted Beav and a slew of boys to come—we just put her to sleep last year.

There were other ‘first loves’ in college, each memorable for their own reasons (some galling, some sweet). But for that pure, hopeful feeling of fresh and innocent new love, I sometimes prefer to go back to a time before I knew anything about the myriad ways love can break your heart…back to a time when I was just opening my eyes to the possibilities of connecting with another person in a romantic way, before my first kiss even, and all the confusion and excitement that came with it…and I think about the first boy who ever liked me enough to hold my hand in front of all our classmates on a sunny, spring day back in 1987.

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10 thoughts on “I Wanna Hold Your Hand by Deb Jess

  1. Awwww…that was sweet! And I loved his description (crush #1). I know what you mean–it’s easiest, isn’t it, to look far far back, before things got complicated…

  2. Yes, I do confess: I am a hopeless romantic. 🙂

    I think we’re going to have tons of fun discussing our ‘university years’ at RWA.

  3. Of course it was spring because that’s when “a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love” and holding hands. That gesture/action may be simple and innocent, yet we know it’s also true don’t we Jess?

  4. Awww, I remember being in sixth grade at a boy/girl skating party and the last skate was the couple’s skating and it was announced and I slowly made my way to the benches to untie my skates to get ready to go home, and then A BOY CAME OVER TO ME AND ASKE ME TO SKATE!

    We skated and he held my hand and I just remember having to keep having to let go of his hand to wipe the sweat onto my jeans like every two seconds.

    I don’t remember the song though.

    I didn’t even like the boy. I just wanted to be liked though. So badly. I still want to be liked. So badly.

  5. Gail: for the longest time afterwards, the first time any boyfriend ever held my hand in public it was almost better than anything else.

    Larramie: you’re so right! The most honest, most meaningful gestures are sometimes the simplest.

    Steph: Aw, we like you! But the couples-only skate…oh, what drama and angst! I still remember trying to work up the courage to ask the boy I liked to skate with me, and chickening out and then we all had to pile on the bus and return to school.

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