top of page
  • Writer's pictureSheena Boekweg


Updated: Oct 23, 2020

A sixteenth birthday is a big deal for a Mormon girl.

In case you weren't aware, Mormon teens aren't supposed to date until they're sixteen, and that was prophetic counsel I kept.

Though not for lack of trying.

My sophomore year of High School was a big year for me, though I didn't know it at the time. Living through it was torture. ALL my friends had their sixteenth birthday, got their driver's licences, and went on dates. All of them except me. Still fifteen, I walked everywhere like a child, and tried to learn how to talk to boys.

Summer Birthdays suck for Mormon girls.

Around that time, I'd heard a lesson in church about not dating until you're sixteen, and I had decided to actually not date until I reached that magical birthday, which felt like a big sacrifice at the time, despite my strangely quiet field of boys.  Besides, the sixteenth birthday rule explains why no one had asked me out or liked me back. They must all have known how pious I was.

Still, I really wanted to learn how to talk to boys.

Turns out, boys weren't that much harder to talk to than girls were, which in Sheenaland, means REALLY HARD to talk to until I've done something embarrassing and we're already friends, and then super easy to talk to. I had a couple of boys on my roster that I could walk past in the hall, and say..."Hi" to, (not to brag) and a few magical boys that together we could carry actual conversations, (totally bragging). These magical boys became something more than my roster of crushes. So high above it, in fact, I need a new name for for this particular kind of boy. Let's call them... "friends."

Dear cute boys from my high school. If you considered yourself my friend, you should consider yourself on the list of boys I liked. No, more than liked, I befriended. I did not know at the time that being friends with boys meant that I was friends with boys.  To me, it meant there were BOYS( magical, pedestal sitting aliens that I've been crazy about since elementary school) with which I talked. Now in the dark and tortured corners of my head, these BOYS with which I talked, were actually potential BOYS WHO WOULD DATE ME.

You know, once I turned sixteen. Cause I'm all pious and stuff.

My sixteenth birthday was not magical.  Do you know who asks you out when your birthday is in the summer?

This is me legitimately asking, because I have no idea.  The sad answer is no one.

I spent the day in Community Summer Driving School, (which is worse than it sounds) and that night I watched the window and my phone for all those BOYS WHO WOULD DATE ME to... date me. I had waited for this day, and it came, then it went, and no boys were asking me out. If facebook was a thing back then, my status update that day would be depressing and embarrassing and possibly involve jazz hands and the words COME AND DATE ME.

I think I learned how to talk to boys wrong. Because even after that magical birthday these BOYS with which I talked did not magically morph into BOYS WHO WOULD DATE ME. Somehow they became BOYS WHO WOULD DATE MY FRIENDS.

Sucksville. Population, me.

It seemed like all of my friends went on their first dates while I twiddled my thumbs, and read, oh, and had a life.

I had a life. Dreams. Goals. Big plans. In the Anthony Era, I discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up. That's something not everybody knows, especially when they're fourteen. I was going to be a Jr. High School Drama teacher. I'd teach English in my non-Drama periods, and put on plays, and in the summer do Community Theater. This was my goal, my future, and my dream. I wanted to be just like the woman who changed my life and inspired me. I wanted to help kids like me, and tell stories for the rest of my life.

I knew the step I had to take to get to that dream meant college, and because my parents clearly told me they weren't in the position to pay for school, that meant I would have to get a scholarship. Knowing my mad skills at math, (something Chase should have paid attention too) and my inability to play sports, or have any kind of skill set above standing in front of people and telling stories and playing characters, I knew my only option was to work my tail off to get a Theatre Scholarship.

 I started that work young. Sophomore year, in fact. So I was really busy and focused on acting, and scared of these boys I couldn't talk to, and then weirdly overconfident around these BOYS with which I could talk, plus I occasionally wore random clothes I bought from the thrift store, had weird hair, and would belt out show tunes while walking down the hall.

Who wouldn't ask that girl out?

Answer-- every boy I knew.

It happened again and again. There'd be a boy. We'd become friends, and while trying to get to know if I liked him or not, I got to know them, and they changed from a scary distant person on a pedestal into a friend, only it didn't ever feel like that. It felt like love, although I didn't even know what love felt like. I'd like them, but not realize that they didn't like me. Not until one day, sometimes weeks after I started liking them, once years, I'd hear these words, "I don't like you like that."

Six times in a row that happened. I remember the last time. It was the summer after my first year in college, and I was talking to this boy I really liked after work. He walked me to my car, (protecting me from the scary monster boys who lurked in shadows) and we talked for almost an hour until he said, "You know we're just friends, right?" 

Psh. I nodded. "Yeah." Psh. "Of course." Psh. "Obviously."

"Okay cool," he responded. I sat down in my car, smiled, and waved goodbye. As I pulled my mom's minivan back out of the parking spot, my lip started curling, and my eyes widened and my fingers tightened around the steering wheel... until I'd had enough and slammed on my breaks. 6 times. 6 times. What is wrong with me? I pressed on the gas and hard turned the wheel. No, I thought. This is not happening again. I am SO sick of the boy I like turning into my best friend!

And then a clear and quiet thought entered my mind. Yes, but your husband will love it.

I removed my foot from the gas, waved once more to this boy who watched me randomly jerk the van around like I was having a seizure, and then drove away.

I love that my husband is my best friend.  The friendzone is in the foundation of our relationship.

I didn't realize that at fifteen, but I had learned to talk to boys in the right way. It just wasn't the right time, or the right one, or maybe I just wasn't ready.

The reason my sophomore year of High School was such a big year for me, though, wasn't because that's when I learned how to be friends with boys. It's a big year, because that's the year I met Darren.

I didn't know it at the time, but one of those BOYS with which I talked, would somehow, magically, morph into a BOY WHO WOULD MARRY ME.

But that story was just starting.

Part Three

3 views0 comments
bottom of page