writings about
walking around
the prom
moving forward

given it all to do over again...

girl, the first.

i still would have dated you
and would have been more assertive.
i started out right
when i layed out my case to you
and convinced you to date me;
i should have continued in that vein
rather than becoming shy and passive
-- i should have confronted you
when you stopped sending me notes between classes
and stopped making any time to see me.
at the time, i wanted desperately to touch you
but never did, and i think that's okay
-- it was eighth grade, after all.
i should not have told myself it was love
and i definitely would not tell you
given it all to do over again.

girl, the second.

i most definitely would date you again
and, really, wouldn't change much of anything
in spite of the fact that i was never important to you.
you dated me out of curiosity,
spent time with me out of charity,
and those were the most intellectually stimulation times i've ever had.
i mean, just trying to keep up with you... it was grand.
what i would do differently is this:
that night in my truck (can you believe
i drove a truck in high school?
it wasn't my fault) when you placed your hand on the dash
i would place my hand atop it
and then i would have kissed you.
and i would not tell myself that it was love
and i definitely would not tell you
given it all to do over again.

girl, the third.

i would not date you.
i would still be your friend but that would be all.
i would not give in to peer pressure and loneliness.
i would not take advantage of you.
i would not seduce you into things you knew we shouldn't do,
would not have touched your breasts or dry humped you that one time.
i told no one it was love, not even myself,
because even then i knew it wasn't.

girl, the three and nine-tenth.

we never dated, but i think we might have
if i'd kissed you that night in the computer lab.
and, despite the difference in our ages
i'm sure that it would have gone well.
so, given it all to do again,
i would have kissed you
and i would like to have dated you.

girl, the fourth.

i would still have dated you,
even though you were crazy and confused,
even though you dumped me after just one week
and then disappeared over Christmas Break, never to return.
i would not have tried to be so different from the other guys;
i would not have claimed prudishness about seeing you topless or touching your breasts.
i would have kissed you first, despite my shyness,
because that's what you wanted.
it was not love, it was not given time enough,
i knew it, i assume that you did too
but i would do it all over again given the chance.

girl, the fifth.

i still would have dated you.
i know that would come as a shock to everyone who knows us.
you were the most mental, manipulative, emotionally abusive,
two-faced girl i've ever known, but i still would have dated you.
i'd just do much of it differently.
we met again, after years apart, at a bowling alley
-- i have to wonder if it was your idea then
or if Neela suggested me to you --
and that much was fine, that was good, i did well.
i would still have been shy and nervous
but by some quality of yours i acted slightly outgoing;
when you asked for my number i gave you a doubly-wrong one,
not only my school number rather than my home,
but my school number from the previous year,
so befuddled was i by your asking -- and i wouldn't change that,
as it meant that i had to call you.
i wouldn't change the Archer's of Loaf concert
at which i used moves i'd only dreamed of
and you became my girl at the rock show
(and damned me to finding something with which to identify
in the songs of an asinine punk boy band four years later).
i would still have taken you tunneling
but i would not have gone skinny-dipping with you after.
our little scene talking on the guest bed
with the footsie and the locking pinkies
and then the kisses, even the groping, i would welcome.
and i would stop there.
i would stop there and i would be resolute.
i would tell you 'no' for the months and months that i did
and then i would not give in, i would continue to tell you 'no'.
i would not put up with your fits and your rages
-- i would tell you that you were being childish.
i would not put up with your lies and your manipulations.
i would not try to fix it.
i would kiss you and i would hold you
and i would be firm
if i had it all to do over again.

girl, the sixth.

in spite of all that happened
as a result of our dating the first time,
including but not limited to:
you dumping me, you going back to your ex
to ``try it again`` for the second time,
me wallowing in self-pity,
me exploring the world of cutting,
irrepairable damage to nearly all of my friendships,
and your ex dumping you for the third time,
i would still date you, would try again, if given the chance.
our first, tentative kiss, i'm sorry to say,
remains the single most erotic moment of my life
and i would not lose the experience of that kiss for anything.
the kisses that followed were warm and sweet,
and i would do them all over again.
i would have kept it on that level.
i would not have slept that night in your bed.
i would not have removed your shirt, or touched your breasts at all.
i would not have impulsively told you that i loved you,
because i'm still not sure whether or not it was true.
i would have handled the fateful event
of your ex deciding that he wanted you back
with the same grace and fairness that i did the first time
and, when you'd dumped me, i would have sighed and taken it well
and moved on easily.

girl, the seventh.

i never did date you
and if i had it all to do over again
i still would not,
and i would not have made out with you either.
i would not take advantage of your neediness
to try and salve my hurt, my need.
i would not let you kiss me that first time
and if you still somehow managed
i would have stopped you and explained then and there
that i had no intention of dating you,
that i didn't even like you that much as a friend
and tended to come to your single only because
i knew you would listen and then run your fingers through my hair
and because you had a comfortable bed upon which to fall asleep.
i would tell you that i came to visit you at your parents house
simply because i needed to get out of my own.
i would not have lead you on or taken advantage of you
if i had it all to do over again.

girl, the eighth.

i would have started dating you three or four years earlier if i could.
which is to say: i would have come to see you much sooner.
i would not have pulled away from you back in high school as a result of that other girl.
that first weekend we spent together, i re-live constantly in my head,
and i would do it all again exactly as i did the first time
except that i would tell you that i loved you then.
i would delete the folders of email from my ex-girlfriends.
i would not lie to you about the one.
i would not passively give shape to my sexual hang-ups
but rather would discuss them with you.
i would have gotten the ring with filigree.
i would have bidden my time until i'd thought up
some really good and romantic and inventive way to propose to you.
i would have looked you in the eyes through our vows the entire time.
i would not have worked the room at the reception so much,
but would have spent that time with you.
if i had it all to do over again
there are some things i would do
to try to improve upon my journey
to this wedded bliss.
Father, 12/10/01

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