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I'm 35, Single, and Still Changing Diapers
Jocelyne, Age 15, Calgary, AB

It all started my first day of school. The first day of high school isn’t easy for even the cool people, but it was especially difficult for me, Alex Gregory of the “lower class”. I’m the kid you avoid eye contact with in the hallway. The one you hope you won’t be partnered with in science class. The one who has his own lunch table in the corner. Nobody wanted to hang out with me because I had no discernable talents. I wasn’t bad looking but I wasn’t cute either. I wasn’t funny, smart or athletically gifted. I was just “normal” and definitely not “in crowd” material. Which is a problem when your heart’s desire is the most popular girl in school.

There I said it. It was no big secret in the end. But at the time it was madness for me to even look at a girl like that, let alone like her. I couldn’t help myself. It was like I was possessed. No matter how I tried to distract myself, my eyes and mind always came back to her. You have to understand that I’m not exaggerating. High school has a definite social class and if you violate that sacred line of “not worthy” and “elite”, you’re dead. I’m not joking. It was suicide to like Ali Pearson. I knew it, she knew it, we all knew it. We just skirted around the topic.

I created a friendship with Ali anyway. Maybe it was nothing, just blew up into something. But whatever it was, it started off innocently enough. We worked together at a local daycare. “Debbie’s Daycare”. The staff secretly called it “Infantile Hell”. The place where diapers go to die. Of course I wouldn’t have worked there on my own free will but my mom is Debbie. She was the one that hired Ali. God knows why Ali would have wanted to work there of all places. That’s how this horror story started. I couldn’t believe my luck when the girl I’d been lusting over was working overtime, helping me clean up Kyle Anderson’s puke. Not at all romantic, but I would have done anything to be close to Ali. I don’t know how to explain it, there was just this certain glow about her that rendered all males speechless and completely compliant.

And so, as the months progressed, my stiff, awkward attempts at conversation turned into friendship. One where we could talk and laugh together at work but completely ignore each other at school. It was more her that did the ignoring and me that tried to catch her eye. But she always refused to recognize me. Not ever a wink or a smile or a frown. Because I was “lower class” and girls like her ignored guys like me. I should have known she wouldn’t have risked her popularity for me. But I was blissfully unaware of the consequences to follow.

For months I had been planning Ali’s first date and mine. It was going to be perfect. A dinner at a classy Italian Restaurant, a scary movie (prime choice for some cuddling action) and then a country drive to the local lover’s make-out site of choice, Lookout Point. Nothing could go wrong, right? Wrong. First I had to get up the courage to ask Ali out. Not easy. By now I’d known Ali for eight months. The school year was rapidly coming to an end and I was desperately searching for the right time to ask Ali. She didn’t make things easier by being the busiest girl in the history of the world. Finally I figured that no time would ever be the right time, so while changing Suzie Demister’s diaper one Wednesday afternoon I casually brought up getting together Friday night. By casually I mean with much stuttering, rambling and profuse sweating. I stumbled and stuttered. You get the general idea. However, I’m not sure Ali did. She said yes but then she showed up Friday night at my house dressed in coveralls as if she were expecting to baby-sit the Nelson twins. She thought I wanted her to cover my hours for me. Not the idea I wanted to get across.

So I tried again, this time using a different approach. I wrote her a letter, which I left in her mailbox. It read,
            
             Dear Ali:
            
             I really think we should get together tomorrow night to discuss our hours at work.
            
             Love,
             Alex

Not exactly the message I was going for but in the end it got results. I told her I would pick her up at 7:00pm. She seemed confused but agreed. So 6:47 rolls around and I drive up Lawson Crescent in my mother’s wood paneled Volvo wearing my father’s old prom suit and a corsage in my hand. I better explain now that my father’s suit is powder blue and comes with a ruffled blue dress shirt and a vintage seventies, pointed black collar. Ali nearly screamed with delight (I least I think it was delight). So with much ado we were out the door and on highway 96 headed for Fettuccini’s. The maitre-d gave me some odd looks but we ended up in a small candle lit booth. I ordered fettuccini and Ali ordered a garden salad. It was only after we’d finished eating that I realized I was allergic to the basil in the pasta. Determined to finish our date, I pulled on my jacket to cover the hives and escorted Ali out the door.

Ali insisted on discussing work and I realized with horror that she didn’t know this was a date. She thought we were two employees getting together to discuss our hours and pay cheques. I drove in stunned silence to the movie theatre under Ali’s interrogations. “Alex, where are we going?”, “Alex, why are we driving to a movie theatre?”, “Alex, why are you wearing a suit?”, “Alex why did you give me a corsage? I thought this was a business meeting.”

As it turned out the movie tickets had sold out and there wasn’t another theatre in miles. My perfectly devised plan came crashing down around me.

I tried to change the subject but all Ali would talk about was work. She wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. I had no time to tell her how I felt about her because she wouldn’t shut up.  I had envisioned this night for eight months, planned every detail. I had imagined all the witty things I would say and how she would laugh and finally confess her undying love for me. We would walk down the school hallways holding hands, talking sweetly. The other students would freeze and wonder whom this incredibly good-looking guy was and how he managed to snag Ali Pearson. They would all eventually discover how charming I was. All the guys would want to be my friend and all the girls would want to be my lover. But I would only have eyes for Ali. Elected prom King and Queen, we would love each other forever and until the end of time.

But this reverie was broken and mangled when we pulled up to Lookout Point. The usual crowd of cars was there. I pulled up alongside a Porsche with fogged windows. I tried to explain myself. “Ali, I did like you…I mean do like… I mean when I first saw you”. Everything was coming out wrong! I couldn’t find the words that expressed how I felt. And all the while Ali was looking at me like I was crazy. For the first time, I saw clearly what I needed to do. I pulled Ali towards me, ignoring her screams of and I kissed her. I tried to do what I’d seen in the movies but she just started to cry. So I let her go. Her tears had smudged her mascara all down her cheeks and her hair was a tangled knot from the usual long, straight, auburn princess hair I’d studied so many times at the daycare. Then she said the words that I will remember forever. She said through her tears “ Alex, I want to go home”.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d done everything right. Why didn’t she see that? I could have given her everything. And she had rejected me. I’d thought we had had  something special, something worthwhile, something that everybody would be  jealous of. But I guess life doesn’t work like that. Girls like her don’t date guys like  me. Why did I even bother to dream that she would ever like me? Things like that only  happened in Cinderella. She dreams her life perfect, what crap. I was stupid to even  take the chance. Well, I guess I learned a life lesson, “never take any chances, because you’ll fail.” As I drove Ali home that night, I made a decision to become numb to the  world. I wouldn’t try, and if I didn’t try then I couldn’t get hurt. It seemed so perfect  then.

I’m now 35 and I live in my parents' basement. My computer is my only friend and aside from that one forced kiss to Ali on that fateful night, I’ve never been kissed. I regret every decision I made that night, and with every fiber in my body I wish I could reverse the outcome. But I can’t. So here I am, 35, single, and still changing diapers. It’s funny how one particular decision on one particular night changed me forever. Life’s weird isn’t it?

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