I was the epitome of uncool in middle school. Almost all of my “friends” were people who would make fun of me constantly and in exchange for putting up with this, they might invite me out every six months. The sadness of being left out and bullied was worsened by how desperately I wanted a boy to like me. How could I meet anyone, especially someone of the opposite gender, if I never had the opportunity to?
To search for potential pals, I decided to join a theater group in a community center. My interest in theater was minimal at best, but I enjoyed meeting new people. I made friends almost immediately and in my second year of being in the group, it happened: I got invited to a party.
The girl, who I’ll call Jessica, who invited me was having the party to celebrate her eighth grade graduation. This sweetened the deal of being invited since I was a mere seventh grader. Plus, it was a pool party, which is by and large known as the best kind of party.
I walked into the backyard in my Mossimo for Target polka dot tankini to find a slew of high school bound, shirtless pubescent boys. “This is it,” I thought. A slideshow of all the romantic situations I would obviously encounter that evening played in my head. Would I kiss someone on the trampoline? Perhaps on the child-sized picnic table? The night was young and so was I.
My mother, who had walked in with me, was talking to Jessica’s parents about their new in-ground pool. She remarked that it must be easy to take care of because of its small size. Jessica’s dad told her about how they insisted the pool have a large, powerful filter installed so they would hardly ever have to clean it. My mom closed the gate and upon hearing the click of it shutting, I started to make my moves.
I immediately established myself as “the funny one.” I may or may not use as a security blanket to soften the anxiety blow I get from everyday encounters to this day, but honestly, it’s none of your business and it was rude of you to ask.
One boy was laughing harder than the rest. My memory of what he actually looked like is hazy, but I remember thinking he was hotter than a Hot Pocket that had been microwaved for too long.
I’ll call him Connor. He and I were talking one on one shortly after my arrival. He asked if I would like to be on his team for a game of pool volleyball, and I said yes before he could finish his sentence. I thought about how adorable this story would sound when my maid of honor told it at the reception of our inevitable wedding. What a lovely tale this will be to tell during the PTA meeting at Connor Jr.’s school.
I entered the water as sultrily as my awkward, developing body allowed. Everything was going swimmingly.
A person on the opposing team spiked the ball high above the net. I backed up to the end of the pool in anticipation that it would land there. Then I couldn’t move.
My back had been sucked into the filter. I thought I could simply un-suck myself, but a sharp pain hit when I attempted it. I screamed that I’d be sucked in. Everyone laughed. They must have thought I was joking and who could blame them because statistically speaking, the chances of this NOT being a joke were slim.
Logic says that the correct thing to do in this situation is to turn off the filter. 14-year-old boys, however, did not follow logic in this instance. Connor and another boy pulled me from the filter, causing my skin to be what felt like a mile from the rest of my body. I was freed and in a mild amount of pain. When I got out of the pool, a sea of gasps erupted.
Connor and a friend of mine escorted me to Jessica’s kitchen to figure out what to do. Jessica’s parents gasped just like everyone else. I had yet to be informed why this was. A trip to the bathroom mirror showed me that my entire back was deep purple and pink.
Jessica’s parents laid me out on their table and put frozen peas and ointment on my back. They called my mom and told me that this had never happened before. I had kind of already figured that out for myself.
My mom had been told that I “needed to be picked up because there was an incident.” She had no idea what had occurred, so needless to say she was surprised. I left the party and Connor, who I never got to say goodbye to. A call to my pediatrician from my mom was made as soon as we got in the car. I told him what happened and how my back looked like one giant bruise.
“Well, from what you’re telling me that’s not a bruise,” he said, “It’s probably just a really big… hickey. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
More like the worst. I set out that evening to potentially have my first kiss. I one-upped that by getting my first hickey from an inanimate object.
Katie is a writer and student in NYC. She enjoys discovering new bands to listen to, reading, and Googling “baby animals in party hats.” You can find her having a political debate with her dog or on Instagram.
Top image: Grease
More from BUST