To say Alex Rafferty wasn’t “my type” isn’t entirely accurate. As a sixth grader, I had neither the emotional security nor general sense of self to have a type. I was more concerned with beating Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and the fact that Lauren Engelbert had worn bellbottoms instead of sweatpants to picture day than determining who I might like to date.
Alex Rafferty, however, was apparently very sure of who he might like to date. After being asked out every day for several weeks on end, I finally caved (women love persistence). It was a war of exhaustion, and Alex won the day. And then we were boyfriend and girlfriend!
I was pleasantly relieved to find out that, despite what my illicit watching of Beverly Hills 90210 had taught me, relationships are actually super simple. Though I was only eleven and terrible at math and chin-ups, I was KILLIN’ IT as a girlfriend! Alex Rafferty and I dated for three entire months. If this doesn’t seem like a feat, congratulations! You’re an emotionally mature adult and we’re all super happy for you. But in sixth grade (and for some of us, still), it’s an enormous amount of time: when your internal clock is calibrated in terms of “days until Christmas” and “days since Christmas”, three months can equate to a small eternity.
But Alex Rafferty and I made it work.
First: it turns out we had lots in common. He was a chubby white kid with a bowl cut who wore clothes almost exclusively from the boy’s section at Gap Kids. I was a chubby white kid with a bowl cut who wore clothes absolutely exclusively from the boy’s section at Gap Kids. Newsflash: opposites may attract but science is dumb and Alex and I were twins and we made it work.
Second and finally: we understood the fundamentals of communication—just don’t have any of it. Alex Rafferty and I never spoke for the three months we were dating. We didn’t say hi in the hallways, we didn’t call each other late at night, and we didn’t sway in disjointed unison to K-Ci and Jojo at the YMCA dances.
We were so committed to our relationship working that we didn’t even speak on Valentine’s Day. I did, un-ironically, buy him a pack of conversation hearts, just in case he had something for me. (Obvious to the reader is the fact that we did not exchange gifts, largely because we weren’t speaking at the time; this did, however, establish my tradition of binge-eating candy alone on Valentine’s Day).
But, just as the bellbottoms I’d secretly bought and hid in my bottom drawer ceased to excite me, so too did my silent flame of passion for Alex Rafferty die out.
We had just become such drastically different people. When we got together, we were each other’s stunt double; when we finally broke up three months later, my former bowl cut was encroaching on mullet status, I had more hair under my armpits than Alex Rafferty had on his upper lip, and I had just purchased my first training bra (a formality, at best, as it would be years before anyone questioned my presence in the boy’s section at Gap Kids).
I broke our silence and broke us up in the same, “I don’t think we should date anymore, okay?” outside of Mrs. Chapin’s choir room. He took it like the strong, silent man I’m sure he’s become, and though it was hard for us both, we went our separate ways.
I have since been someone’s girlfriend five and a half times, been in love three times, and have had my heart ripped out and tossed into a Ninja Blender exactly once. Even though Alex and I speak just as much now as we did while we were dating, he crosses my mind every once in a while, and so wonderfully remains my perfectly uncomplicated first boyfriend.
Carley Moseley is a Chicago-based writer and performer. She writes postcards to her friend Julie here, and is happy to report that she’s slowly catching up on Breaking Bad.