I met my first serious boyfriend the summer before my freshman year of high school. He was tall with dark hair and hazel eyes. He was an athlete and a year older than me. He was super preppy. And he and Jake Ryan could have been twins. Yes, from Sixteen Candles. That Jake Ryan.
We met in summer school algebra, of all crazy places. He sat in the desk next to mine and wrote with a red pencil. I thought he was cute (well, hot to be exact), so I offered him one of my extras (Yes, extras as in more than one extra pencil. I was a little OCD even back then.). He smartly took the pencil, we started flirting and hanging out during our breaks (it was a four-hour class, Monday through Friday). And, the rest, as they say, is history. From that moment, we were pretty inseparable. For two years.
During those two years, I learned valuable lessons about how men should treat women and how important it is to honor your commitments.
A little over a year into our relationship, we broke up over something or other. It doesn’t matter what it was; in fact, I don’t even remember. What I do remember is that it was two weeks before my high school’s Homecoming dance. He attended a different high school and had asked me to my school’s dance weeks earlier. Because we broke up, I assumed I wasn’t going to the dance. It was the mid-80s and I don’t think people went to dances like Homecoming or Prom without a date. Certainly I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t face the humiliation of going to Homecoming alone.
Within a couple of days of our break-up, he called me and said that he had made a commitment to take me to the dance and that he wanted to honor that commitment. I remember thinking he’d taken pity on me, but after talking to my mom about it, I came to understand that this was how mature people acted. Smartly, I accepted and we went the dance.
Shortly after the dance, probably as a result of it, we got back together. I later came to learn that it was his mom who got him to pick up the phone and honor his word; as a 16-year-old kid, he couldn’t be expected to come to that conclusion on his own.
He and I broke up for good about nine months later and I was heartbroken. Not only was he my first serious boyfriend, but he was my first heartbreak too. Even though we ultimately broke up, the memory of him keeping his word to me when he could have simply walked away taught me how real men act, I’ve never forgotten it, and I hold the men I date to that standard.
To this day, I can’t watch Sixteen Candles and see Jake Ryan without thinking fondly about him.
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