the fairy tale boy

12 Mar

In Mormon culture, you’re not ‘supposed’ to date until you’re sixteen years old. I grew up with that ingrained in my head. My brother, always a wild child, had his infamous first kiss (that we know of) when he was fourteen. It was with Rachie-poo, the blond whose mock petname remains to this day. He wouldn’t have told us about it at all, except for the fact that he was spotted macking in the theater. By our Bishop (comparable to a priest or father for our congregation) and his ENTIRE family, small children and all. My bro still brags about how that story made it to Massachusetts. Anyway, I learned three valuable lessons from his mishap:

  1. Don’t lie about going on a date. Especially if you live in a small town where you’ll probably get caught.
  2. Don’t date before you’re old enough.
  3. Don’t sit in the front row when on dates.
theater kiss

How to properly kiss in a theater. Note the people IN FRONT of the couple.

Still, I’ve always been a bit… boy-crazy. In kindergarten I liked a little boy who punched me in the stomach. I think his name was John. In second and third grades, I liked my neighbor who ate worms.

What a catch! (Ba-dun-ts)

What a catch! (Ba-dun-ts)

In fifth grade, I liked a blond boy with surfer hair whose catchphrase was “pie.” Looking back… had he been a bit older, (and I a bit less naiive) I would not have been surprised if he smelled like grass all the time.

From age twelve on, I went to an all-girls’ catholic school in Tokyo. It had a uniform. My friend Mayonnaise always teases me about how when we first met, I supposedly asked her,

“Are there any boys at this school?” Clearly, little me was a champ.

My lil sis, Tor, rocking the uni

My lil sis, Tor, rocking the uni

Anywho, I didn’t have much luck at this school. The only times I came into contact with the mysterious other sex was at Church and, after seventh grade, at school dances. I think after one of the dances, I actually had the hots for a gay guy from the all-boys catholic school my brother went to. It was not a bright time for me.

Still, I had plenty of crushes. Most of them were from church. None were reciprocated. I started going to church dances when I became eligible at fourteen. They were the highlight of my social life. At one of the first dances I went to, my brother shoved me into my crush, a freckled Californian ginger with an ex-CIA father, as he was asking another girl to dance. I never forgave him for it… and come to think of it, never thanked him for it, either.

In sophomore year, I grew closer to the big one-six. Soon, I would no longer have an excuse for being single (that useful excuse is yet another reason not to date young). As my birthday drew closer, I could sense my own excitement as clearly as static electricity. I really was only looking forward to the dating aspect of sixteen: in Tokyo, you can’t drive until you’re 18.

On February 5th, I went to Mayo’s birthday party. It was a blast. We went to dinner in a  restaurant with live Spanish dancers. Just afterwards, I went to a dance of my own. It was the valentines dance for my church, and as always, it came with great expectations (despite previous let-downs). While scanning the (only slightly) dimmed room, I looked out for hotties I’d never seen before. Or, frankly, ANYONE I’d never seen before. I noticed one really tall guy dancing with the older kids. After a few looks, (and possibly a few quick judgement checks with mah girls) I determined that he was, indeed, cute.

A few fast songs after we arrived (fashionably late, of course), a slow song came on. As I was looking around at my options, a pair of electric blue eyes locked onto mine from across the room… and about a foot above. Like in the movies, he crossed the room just to ask me to dance. And we did, and it was great. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, but oh, his EYES! And then at the end of the dance, he took both of my hands in his and thanked me for the dance. I was a goner.

I was elated. Every song after that was fantastic, and I felt wild and free. I danced like the white girl I am and everyone loved it. I distinctly remember looking over at Mr. Awesome at the end of a slow song, and with a pang of jealousy I noted him doing the same cheesy hand-holdy  trick with one of my girlfriends, a blond girl named Brie with hair (almost) as curly as mine. Later, we both talked about him and fought over him. For some reason, at one point we were shoving each other and running after each other through the hallways a floor above the dance.

I had one of my trademark brilliant ideas. I quickly assembled an impromptu post-dance McDonald’s run with my friends… and invited Mr. Awesome, who’d joined our circle. Either at the McDonald’s itself or before it, Brie and I continued to bicker over who would get Mr. Awesome. I kid you not, it actually got so bad that we had begun quoting Finding Nemo’s pelicans. (And I don’t mean that we were just having a “mine!” match… we were actually quoting the movie as we’re cool like that.) I sat next to Mr. Awesome at the McDonalds, where he tried to impress me with his vast knowledge of useless facts. It worked. (And, for the record, half of the time I managed to beat him at his own game.)

Maccers in Jay-land

Maccers in Jay-land

After the successful fast-food hangout, Mr. Awesome began joining my group of friends in our weekend hangouts. I also talked to him so much it was almost creepy plenty on Facebook. We could only hang out on the weekends, since he went to a co-ed school in Yokohama (about 40 minutes away by train). The group got to liking him. And I… I was nearly sixteen.

If you recall, nearly sixteen means still too dumb to date. When Mr. Awesome asked me on a date for the first time, I was overjoyed. Or at least… I would have been, if I had known he was asking me on a date. He’d asked me if I wanted to get lunch with him, and the naiive child I was asked if I should bring Mon-Mon and Brie. Oops. While I did have some inkling that it was meant to be a date, I wasn’t sure. So I did the sensible thing and asked if I should bring my friends. Obviously. When I double-checked with my big brother, he laughed at me and then made fun of me and then laughed some more. Then he helped me fix it. Soon enough, I’d patched things up and we were ready to roll.

I wasn’t yet sixteen, but since my birthday was on March 6th, I only had about three weeks left. My mom gave me the go-ahead when I followed rule number one: don’t lie about your dates.

Skipping forward, I turned sixteen after two or three dates with Mr. Awesome. I had good feelings about our hangout on Friday the 11th, the first weekend after becoming datable. The plan was to ditch Bingo Night to go to Karaoke with my group of friends plus Mr. Awesome. Due to tragic events, we were unable to get together that night. Little did we know that Mr. Awesome was to be evacuated later that week, going all the way to Utah. Even in countries halfway round the world away , we continued skyping or facebooking at stalkerish rates, talking every day that we were apart. We cheered each other up after morose moments.

My friend Mayo sent me a link to a cool website where you could ask questions, and it would generate an answer. I asked (of course) if Mr. Awesome liked me. I got giddy when the computer told me that he did. After a few more questions, I got the prank. It was Mayo all along.
BING! Lightbulb moment. Epiphany. Trademark brilliant idea.

I sent the link to Mr. Awesome, and hoped with all my heart that he would ask about me.

His first question: “If I ask Chloe out, will she say yes?” It gave me immense pleasure to type back, in the guise of some mystic computer, “Yes. Do it.”

His second question: “Will Chloe and I ever get married?”*

Wait. WHAT?! 

That one… gave me quite a pause. After too long, I wrote back “Only if the circumstances are right.” Hey, it was a fair response, right? A few questions later, he admitted that he had figured out the joke. He asked me to be his girlfriend then and there, apologizing profusely for not doing it in person.

Get this: he’d been planning to ask me to be his girlfriend on the day of the earthquake, when we were ripped apart like the prince and princess of a fairy tale. We didn’t see each other in person for another month. While apart, my family evacuationed to Saipan, a US territory near Guam, where we had already been planning to go for Spring Break. My mom and I attempted a triathlon while we were there, with disastrous results. But that’s another story for another time.  All you need to know about my stay in Saipan was that a hot Islander-lifeguard tried to kiss me while playing laser-tag. I told him that I had a boyfriend.

I. Had. A. Boyfriend! (And, now that I think of it, I never did tell Mr. Awesome what almost happened in Saipan… oh well.)

I couldn’t wait until I could see him again. The next time we were finally both back in the country was in early April. We planned a date for April 8th, which I remember because it was his 18th birthday. (And if you think a two year gap is gross, divide the older age in half and add seven: 16. See? Our relationship was legitimately deemed not creepy by a well-known and semi-reliable creep test.)

I got him a very lousy gift, but due to its sheer cheesiness I am obliged to share. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what the proper thing to get a boyfriend for his birthday on his first date should be. So I went with the personal/homemade category. I took a cute little jar which I had decorated with Japanese paper. I then filled it up with little notes saying all the good qualities he had that I enjoyed, and wrote on the top of the jar: “For your 18th birthday, here are 18 ways you make me smile.”
I know, I know. Try to hold in your gags.

The thing is, though, that he actually got ME a present for HIS birthday. He we exchanged gifts after he bought me dinner in Yokohama. His gift showed me up by far. It was a little stuffed jaguar (my favorite animal) for whom he had handmade a necklace and a bracelet. The necklace had beads on which he’d written the name of my future pet jaguar (I WILL get one!), Saphira. I’d had no idea this was why he asked me about it. The bracelet also had beads with writing on it. If you turned the beads just right, they spelled a message: “Will you go to prom?” Of course, I said yes. I still resent him for getting me a better gift than I gave him.

Afterwards, we walked together around Yokohama, a city just going to sleep. He had his arm around me as we walked, or else we held hands. We were always touching somehow. We wound up stopping to look out over a bridge into the night. A few meters away, one of Japan’s famous sakura (Cherry Blossom) trees looked down at us. There was jazz playing somewhere in the background as our conversation slowed. I peeked over at him, but couldn’t bring myself to look him in the eyes. I felt myself grinning as I looked at the sakura tree. It was breathtaking. I looked over at him again, then away, then back at him again. Before I knew it, we shared our first kiss on a bridge before blooming cherry blossom trees.

This is the actual bridge where we had our first kiss. It is one of many painted scenes of Yokohama on a deck of cards Mr. Awesome gave me before we broke up. (Gift jealousy again.)

This is the actual bridge where we had our first kiss. It is one of many painted scenes of Yokohama on a deck of cards Mr. Awesome gave me before we broke up. (Gift jealousy again.)

I’ll spare you the details, but it was definitely not the last kiss we had that night.

And that’s how, a long long time ago, I met the boy who appeared out of nowhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d come right out of the storybooks.

Mr. Awesome and Me

Mr. Awesome and Me on My Tip-Toes (not used with permission)



2 Responses to “the fairy tale boy”


  1. My homage to eastern Japan | that blog about - March 12, 2013

    […] But things got better. Countless volunteer groups and individuals came together to give support. I saw messages on Facebook from around the world as people kept my adopted country in their hearts. I personally kept in contact with Mr. Awesome every day, even though we were separated by evacuation. I later discovered that he had intended to ask me to become his girlfriend at Karaoke that evening two years ago. (Our story, largely fairytale-ish, is here). […]

  2. my addiction | that blog about - March 25, 2013

    […] about addictive substances: you really can get hooked by just one. I was spoiled by Mr. Awesome, my first boyfriend, who just loves people. Now, whenever I’m single (and sometimes even when I’m kind of […]

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