I was in 5th grade when Janice dog-paddled up behind me in physical education swimming class and dunked me under the water.
That officially meant we were "going steady."
Which officially meant I would now throw snowballs at her during lunch and recess and she would chase me down and wash my face because, well, Janice was faster and stronger than I.
It was also agreed upon that:
1. I had to wait outside the school in the morning and follow her up the stairs.
2. I couldn't sit in the lunch room with my friends unless one of her girlfriends liked one of them.
3. I had to sit with her on the bus after school, even though our busses went opposite directions.
4. She could tease me and call me names.
Janice teased me so much once that she made me cry. That was the end of our courtship.
Dating was simple then.
Snotty girls and icky guys sent their number ones to tell you that they either liked, loved or wanted to punch you. You checked which box interested you - I almost always scratched off the red heart because most of the girls in Little Norway were of Norwegian descent and seemed to enjoy punching me anyway.
As a matter of fact, there was a cruel class in my grade school that involved teaching the students Norwegian dancing for the annual summer festival.
As everyone knows, the absurd ratio of men to women in Alaska has to begin somewhere and it was common knowledge that if you were randomly selected by one of your few female classmates then you were put into that relationship by association category - and the same rules of "going steady" applied again.
My best friend Ladd (now a math teacher) and I always tried to formulate some bizarre calculation for our placing in line so the teacher countdown would allow us to trip the light fantastic together as macho dudes, yet each time he would wind up with the only blond Valkyrie that didn't like to punch boys. I would subsequently find my hand crushed in the two-fist clutch of a young woman who lived across the bay and whose father ran a lumber mill, the operation of which provided a hefty salary for her in direct proportion to the amount of trees she fell. And invariably she liked to punch.
Many punches later, I find myself at the one-year mark of being in Juneau, still trying to answer relationship theories.
On Friday I observed that classic Hallmark moment: the two young lovers on the park bench. She, laughing and smiling down at his laughing and smiling face; he, peering up at her as he is resting his head on her lap.
Katie Poor, 17, had met Rumen Doggett, 20, three years ago at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.
"I was good at art," Poor said. "He was not. I am the artist and he is the artist at heart."
"I chased her endlessly," Doggett said. "She could care less."
They have been on-again-off-again for those three years.
"It feels like forever ago," Poor laughed.
"It is forever ago," Doggett laughed back.
So, how does this work, I wondered.
"It is all about talking, communication and having fun," Poor said. "Plus, I am stronger and faster than he is."
Eureka! What was I thinking? Relationships are not equal. Women are in charge. There is still time for some snotty girl to call me icky again, to stealthily approach me from behind and submerge me yet again.
Contact Klas Stolpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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