The date is January 26, 1999. It is a Tuesday. The group of friends to which I belong have collectively decided to see “Patch Adams” starring Robin Williams at the cheap theater in the next town over. Then, one by one, my friends call up cancelling. All except me and one of the prettiest girls in the school.
So we went to the movie together.
The set up was so much like some kind of 90’s romantic comedy that I had convinced myself that God was giving me a sign. I, Josh Mosey, average in most ways and peculiar (as opposed to impressive) in others, was about to get the popular girl. After spending a delightful afternoon with me at a movie, she would realize that what she wanted wasn’t someone athletic or good-looking, but the friendly, funny guy who had been there all along.
On the drive home, I told her that I really enjoyed myself and that I’d love to go see a movie with her again sometime. So smooth!
She kindly said, “Oh. Was this a date?”
“Um,” I said. “Not if you didn’t want it to be. I mean, we’re just friends, right? Besides, today is Australia Day, so this was more of an Australia Day film festival thing, right?”
Where did Australia Day come from? And why couldn’t I just stop talking?
“Sure,” she said. “So, not a date.”
“Nope,” I said. “I guess not.”
Fortunately, we were almost to her house so the awkward tension wouldn’t have to suffocate either of us for long.
Reading Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim brought back vivid memories of my emotional state during and after the Australia Day film festival debacle. Kim captures the essence of what it means to be an awkward teenager, as well as the growth process that results from a few years’ perspective.
In some ways, we will always be the teenagers we once were. But we needn’t live in the regrets of stupid things we said or did. At least, that’s what I got out of it.
Also, Same Difference won a bunch of graphic novel awards (The Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards) and it would be a good thing to read, whether you were an awkward teenager at some point in your life or not. But let’s be honest, you were. You were.
PS – That girl I watched Patch Adams with ended up marrying one of the other guys in my group of friends, another friendly, funny guy who had been there all along, just not me. I ended up marrying well outside my group of friends and I’m glad because it meant that my future wife could see me as cool (I wasn’t, and if she had known me in high school, she would have known that about me).