Goodbye my Goldilocks Cowboy (Part 1)
The catalyst for maxing out on fucks given? 50% self-consciousness, 30% public humiliation, and 20% fear of getting punched.
For most of us, our ascension from “limited fucks”, where we begin to feel the icy winds of social disapproval, to maximum “peak fucks” happens during our teenage years. We peak when peer cruelty and our own indisputable homeliness collide.
The transition from having little-to-no care about what others think, to altering our behaviour and personal brand to mirror popular vote, happens to each and every one of us. Even nerds with strong constitutions trialled Nair for their unibrows, cried over being excluded, and sought uncharacteristic vengeance against blondes.
Peak fucks represents shedding the edgy, unique, and controversial parts of ourselves for rounder, safer, more fabricated pieces. Getting rid of the parts of us that scare us is an antidote to a self-conscious time.
During the inaugural tsunami of peak fucks in highschool, we may do and say things that we don’t recognize.
For this reason, the words “high school” could register as a trigger warning (sorry, I’ll do better next time) and can stir up visceral reactions in even the most put-together adults. In reflecting on these years, we may unlock a fond memory only to be jabbed with a stomach dropping, “did I really do that?” or “praise Baby J video recording was grainy as hell then!” 0.5 seconds later.
Teenage memories lead us down a rabbit hole of cringe and bad haircuts.
Bad Hair Exhibit A: “The skunk, est. 2004-2007” (or to present day in various small-town Giant Tigers)—A blond wicker basket on top with a black witch’s wig underneath. “The skunk”, like the mullet, was another installation of the multiple personalities hair style genre. Only instead of “business in the front, party in the back”, the skunk was, “bus driver up top, Marilyn Manson fan page admin on the bottom”.
Bad Hair Exhibit B: Eyebrows so thin, so over-arched that they resembled a half-moon drawn by an off-the-sauce alcoholic holding a mechanical pencil. It’s a medical miracle that any female teenager of the 2000’s has even one wispy eyebrow hair to call her own. It’s also the driving force behind Groupon’s ever-popular “microblading near me” search.
As teens, the wires of our brains are crossed and supercharged, short-circuiting left and right. One minute, we’re impaired with emotion, dumping a glass of water on an acquaintance’s head over the winning hand of Asshole. The next minute, despite our glow-in-the dark skin tone, we’re indoor tanning with a playboy bunny sticker on our crotch.
In addition to teenage-mush-for-brains where sifting through right and wrong feels Herculean and decision-making involves as much consideration as a toddler paying two pebbles for a mud pie, we also must add into the mix: hormones, Vex Electric Lemonade coolers, losing virginities, preying creeps, public rejections, and the legitimate threat that at any given moment we could get punched.
Note: If you grew up in a small town, the person throwing the punch is more likely than not a former-classmate-turned-full-time Dairy Queen employee. Townie DQs are clubhouses for sassy drop-outs with Monroe piercings who’ll gladly smack a bitch for giving side-eye. Peanut busted parfait, anyone?
As teenagers, things are moving faster than we are. We’re bold and fiery, acting on impulse and influence. It’s the closest we’ve ever been, and likely will ever be, to a Real Housewife of New Jersey.
To make matters worse, this everyday impairment is exacerbated by one thing: a first romantic relationship.
In episodes of Dateline NBC or The Bachelor, first loves are called “high school sweethearts”. While “high school sweetheart'' seems to connote “longevity, a surprise pregnancy, and a former football star that will eventually battle his demons (opioids) whilst working for his Daddy’s air conditioning repair shop”, it shouldn’t.
For me, a high school sweetheart just means the person that comes to mind when we break down the mise-en-scène of your first urinary tract infection.
Gameplay: Take the name of the person you lost your virginity to, add in “UTI”, and close it off with the model of your first car (e.g. Paul “UTI” Impala).
This is your creep townie mechanic’s name!
This townie mechanic skeeves you out, has a candy machine with M&M dust in the lobby that’s never been refilled, and is known to go missing for 3-4 days at a time.
You swear you’ll never go back to Paul “UTI” Impala’s shop, but the free oil change and front-row seat into his rapid tooth decay keeps you coming back for more!
My high school sweetheart, the very first “U” to my ”TI”, was a stocky blond named Dan.
In Georgetown, we were star-crossed lovers, divided by the two secondary schools: a decrepit public school with a history of covert racism, and a flashy Catholic school with parking lot access to The Real Canadian Superstore.
I was legacied into the public school where hazmatted spacemen cleaned out asbestos in the cafeteria during lunch hour. Dan feigned catholicism for air conditioning and astroturf.
We were separated by geography and religion. It felt exotic.
I don’t remember how we first met, but the attraction was immediate. Dan was one year older, had sun-kissed skin, and wore a puka shell necklace. He also had the haircut of a middle-aged accountant. It was a sleek, above-the-shoulder golden bob with chunky Kate Gosselin-esque highlights.
Dan had steady work at Tim Hortons where he wore a hairnet that flattened his Mommy coif, but not his spirit.
Dan drove a van.
But what I liked most about him was that he grew up in a household under strict maternal rule. As a family, they had an adopted motto of “happy wife, happy life” that they used as punctuation before, during, and after tasks.
Dan aimed to please and I aimed to take advantage.
We dated for two years, which in high school, like Hollywood, was an eternity. You wouldn’t have been wrong to call us the “Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell'' of the Georgetown high circuit. And being a monogamous mainstay came with its perks.
Our months of dating allowed me to complete a full run through of The Boyfriend Makeover Package™.
For those unfamiliar, The Boyfriend Makeover Package™ can be defined as: breaking the subject down (mentally and emotionally), throwing out any fedoras and Corona cowboy hats, and eventually rendering all “running shoes with bootcut jeans'' obsolete.
After completing The Boyfriend Makeover Package™, I chose to leave Dan’s shoulder length hair intact. Something about the Jane Lynch (nay, Jane Fonda) bob spoke to me. I also took the liberty of adding dozens of deeply unflattering Western shirts with pearl buttons into the rotation.
We looked like a lesbian power couple.
While together, we became regulars at one another’s family events. I liked his Mom. She was a Scandinavian woman with an extensive costume jewellery collection and a cellar full of Lindt chocolate. Whenever she was out, I’d shower in her bathroom, slathering myself in her sea salted frankincense potions. I felt regal—just like every 16-year-old lady of the house should.
With representatives from both sides, Dan and I built a circle of friends to get into weekend mischief with and invite to semi-formal dances. We were enmeshed in the way that teens are, loafting on each other's couches and daydreaming about our futures. We did our best to simulate an adult couple, only with diminished cognitive ability and buck-a-beers instead of Bordeaux.
It never felt like it would end.
Being a year ahead, Dan left our town for University in the fall of my senior year. I dreaded his departure and the uncertainty of what long-distance might bring. However, I was committed to making it work—for the sake of The Boyfriend Makeover™ alone.
As Dan moved an hour west, we had a good ol’ fashioned, sepia tone goodbye.
Thick steam from the train billowed across the platform. We held onto each other tightly as we wiped our sadness into a monogrammed hanky.
As the train began to pull out of the station, Dan’s oversized body hung out of the shrunken window.
I ran down the platform, clutching the top of my veiled pillbox hat. Through tearful, blurred vision, I watched as the lights from the caboose faded into the distance.
At the end of the platform, my knees buckled as I crumbled onto the floor.
With a strained, shaky breath I called out, “I’ll see you soon, my Goldilocks cowboy”.
The same week Dan left for University he dumped me.
Next week, Part 2 of “Goodbye my Goldilocks Cowboy” will drop. Stay tuned! And subscribe below, if you haven’t already!
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