My beloved Texas Rangers are back in the playoffs after more than a decade of disappointment, and not only are we playing, but we are winning. That hasn’t happened since October 1, 1996. I remember because I was glued to my television when they took their first game against the Yankees in New York. I remember because a few days later I got to witness the first ever Rangers playoff game in Arlington… at home… in our stadium. It was one of the most electrifying games I’ve ever been to, and I’ll never forget sitting 20 rows behind home plate, cheering on Pudge and the rest of my boys as they fought a hard fight… and lost.
But October 1996 holds a special place in my heart for another reason. Because two weeks after that playoff game, I got to go on my first ever date. With a boy.
I was a month shy of turning 16, the magical dating age my parents had set years ago. I was like Cinderella, dreaming of the world outside as I was locked away in a far-off attic, unable to go to the ball. Okay… so maybe I wasn’t locked in an attic… actually I was quite busy cheering on the JV squad, competing on the debate team (I know… debate kids don’t usually get a lot of dates…) and hanging out with friends. But I was forbidden from going anywhere with a boy. Alone.
Despite these hard and fast rules, somehow I was able to convince my parents to bend their rules ever so slightly so that I could go to Homecoming with the heart throb from my church. I had a crush on Dustin since we met back in the elementary school. He had one of those super cute bowl cuts, and his sandy blonde hair made me melt even as a 10-year-old. Fast forward to 1996, and I somehow managed to score a homecoming date with this mysterious boy who happened to go to another school. I was in love.
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly love. It was more like giddy with 15-almost-16-year-old school girl excitement. I picked out a hot new outfit (brown cigarette pants with tapered legs, clogs, and a mock turtleneck… such high fashion), ordered him a garter with all my saved up babysitting money, and curled my bangs so that my amazing beauty would completely overwhelm this poor boy when he saw me and he would immediately drop to a knee and propose, right there in my doorway.
It didn’t exactly happen like I had imagined it. My overwhelming beauty was more like awkward teenage gawkiness, and he ended up buying me a rather ugly mum that I was almost too embarrassed to wear. Since we were 15, my parents had to drive us. I remember finding the whole evening to be horribly unromantic, and it didn’t nearly live up to the unrealistic expectations I had created in my head. That poor boy never had a chance.
But 14 years later, as the Rangers win their next playoff game, I find myself in a slightly better situation. I’m now with a boy who makes me giddy with 15-almost-16-year-old school girl excitement, even though I’m 29. I’ve dropped the bangs, replaced babysitting money with a full time job (and a car), and I learned that cigarette pants and clogs are a huge fashion no-no. If only my 15-almost-16-year-old self had only known that someday those dates WOULD live up to my expectations. That someday I would find a boy who would make me melt… again and again and again.