It was eighth grade, and Ashley Matkinson and I we were at Carla Cartolotti’s house, kissing in the back stairway that led to her in-law apartment. Ashley assured me that the door never opened, that we would be fine. I was not sure, but that didn’t stop me from walking up the stairs with her, stopping at the top landing, and kissing her waiting awkwardly for her to kiss me. My hands traveled down her back and rested at her belt. I pinched the belt with my thumbs and index fingers, and used my six available fingers to apply light pressure to her upper butt. This. Was. Awesome.

I couldn’t wait to tell the guys. Plus, this was Ashley freaking Matkinson. Doesn’t that mean anything to you people?! If someone said, “Bart: hottest girl at Jonas Clarke Middle School, GO!” I would have been half way finished with her name by the time they finished talking. She was hott with two Ts. She had been dating my friend Luke, they stopped dating, and then there was this party.

I showed up to Carla’s house at the mortifyingly early time of an hour before whenever the party started. My parents wanted to make sure there would parents at the party, because they went to public school: they knew. So they drove me over early because they had an event they had to attend. I said hello to Carla and her mom, walked down to the basement. Becca Krisland and Mary Bloom were down there, cutting shapes out of paper for the party, like you do.

Becca proved to be my greatest advocate of the night, the best friend I had never known I had, when she came up to me and started listing off girls who said they wanted to make out with me. Amazing. What utopia am I in? Is this what I’ve been missing at private school? Do all public schools work like this? You just walk into a party and someone comes up to you with a list of girls who want to make out? Unreal!

Later I found out that this was not necessarily normal: I was the new guy. I started at the public middle school only a week or two before, and all my hockey buddies had put together an amazing grassroots marketing campaign for me, which made known that, despite my Clorox-bleached autumn-themed orange-red-brown hair, I was someone to be made out with.

She rattled off a few names, and I said no. I stood strong. I thought, this isn’t a good time to be kissing a girl, I don’t want to get a reputation come on, I should wait until I’m seventeen or eighteen when my brain and pectorals are more developed and then she came back later and said, “Ashley,” and I said, Yes, yep, okay, tell me what to do. And I was right next to Luke and I said “Luke, is this cool?” And he said, “Go for it buddy!” In hindsight, I’m sure it wasn’t that cool.

I went home that night feeling like a champion. We were in love. I added Ashley to my IM buddy list, and I talked to her the next day about our future together. We’d be boyfriend and girlfriend, we’d go out for the rest of the year, continue dating through high school obviously, we might have rough times but our relationship would be strong through college—duhh it’s easy—and then, Ashley Tocci. Has a nice ring to it…speaking of rings, marry me. Please.

She was slow to respond to my IMs, and eventually it came out that there would not be a future: this was a one time thing. Well, yeah, I mean, obviously it was a one time thing. Come on, I’m used to this stuff. We’re in eighth grade. This is normal. Also, just to clarify, you didn’t want to do this one more time, right?

I moved to Lexington in September of 2015 to start a new life by moving back in with my parents. I downloaded a couple dating apps, and who do I see? Ashley. Now what? Do I swipe right or left? Do I open the door to more rejection, or do I muster all the courage left in my finger and give love a swiping chance?! Give the people what they want!

[Swipes right.]


[Starts angry-crying].

Oh well. The good thing about online dating is that you don’t have to tell anyone—if someone doesn’t swipe you right, it can be your little secret. So that’s what I’ll do, I’ll keep it a secret. Forever. Locked up.

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