Why My Creative Nonfiction Professor Thinks I Am A Mess With The Ladies

If things had gone differently, I have full faith that I would still be with a girl named Lauren N. Lauren was the cutest girl in my second grade class. Our relationship developed, as most second grade relationships do, on the playground. The playground is essentially the bar of elementary school. You go there to do other things (drink, talk, dance in the bar; chase, swing, slide in the playground), but everyone knows if you are spending time on the playground, you are single.  All the boys with girlfriends play kickball.

I was a committed bachelor. Whereas other boys were self-conscious on the playground, chasing girls so that they could ultimately land spots on the kickball court, I reveled in the chase. I had no interest in kickball. I had chase strategies: Foster a friendship with the girl. Converse with her on the swings. Jump up suddenly. Chase her. Direct the chase to the Hill. Outlast the girl on the Hill.

If I managed to outlast the girl on the Hill before the end of recess, in my head, I had two options. I could choose to be the girls’ boyfriends or start again next recess. Before Lauren, I always chose to start over. But Lauren was special.

Chasing Lauren started off like chasing any other girl. I got her to the Hill by the end of recess without any problem. Then something interesting happened – Lauren began to talk.

“Oh, I am just so glad you are my boyfriend.”

Emergency lights began flashing in my head. I hadn’t committed to anything, had I? This wasn’t part of the plan. Identify, chase, reset. That’s what I was used to.


  • Chelsea B., if I hadn’t been too afraid to talk to an older girl.
  • Libby H., if I hadn’t written that short story where the love interest was named “Libby” and then published it in the school newspaper that her mom was the faculty adviser for.
  • Ruth Z., if I hadn’t believed that her parents didn’t want her dating.
  • Elizabeth G., if I hadn’t told her that when I hugged her it felt like I was hugging my sister. I don’t have a sister.
  • Mary T., if I would have let her drunkenly make out with me.
  • Lindsey J., if she knew that one of our professional dinners was actually a date.
  • Jess R., if I had never asked her on a date.


I gulped as Lauren took my hand and led me back down the Hill to stand in line for the end of recess. My days of recess bachelorhood were over. I didn’t even know how to play kickball.

I didn’t take well to a relationship. I disliked being around Lauren, but she insisted that we spend all of our free time with each other. It became quite clear that puberty had not yet hit me. I knew girls were different, but I was not yet attracted to them for that difference. I was more attracted to the fact that they would run when I chased them. If a boy had done that, I would have chased boys. (And would have probably faced ridicule from the kickball courts.)

Imagine my surprise, then, when Lauren began whispering about a secret plan. A secret sleepover plan. Lauren, being the worldly woman she was, knew that couples sometimes spent the night together and so she began talking of me coming over to her house when her parents were asleep. I was petrified. Never mind that we were eight years old, had no sense of direction, no transportation, and no way of getting past locked doors. I thought this plan was a very real possibility. It literally kept me up at night.

I spent hours wide awake, trying to devise an excuse. But I knew I couldn’t come up with an excuse for every night. I was only a second grader, after all. My schedule wasn’t exactly brimming with other engagements.

One night, as I was lying awake in my bed, quivering fearfully from the thought of spending an entire night with Lauren N., my father came in my room to check on me. He noticed I was awake.

“Is there something the matter, son?” he asked.

“Lauren N. wants me to have a sleepover with her!” I said tearfully.

My father waited patiently as I explained the situation to him, and then he introduced the greatest childhood excuse ever devised. “Just tell her that your mother and I aren’t comfortable with it.”


  • Staci B., if she hadn’t gone to an all-girls school after kindergarten probably because her father was frightened by the fact that I was her only friend.
  • Liz A., if her parents hadn’t forbidden her reading Harry Potter.


After my parent-developed excuse, the issue, for me, was resolved. I told Lauren the next day that my parents would never go for it, and in a weird not-yet-rebellious second grade world, that seemed to work. I was free to chase again! Life regained its sweetness.

But I soon realized my mistake. Lauren, after all, was the cutest girl in my second grade class. I had ruined my chance with her. The first reason, then, that Lauren and I are not still together is because I, in my second-grade ignorance fearfully told my parents about what would have been the first of what I can only guess would have been hundreds of romantic trysts.

The second reason that Lauren and I are not still together happened a week later. Right before lunch, we were pulled down to the guidance office. The guidance counselor, a small, kind, middle-aged woman named Mrs. R, ushered us into her office.

“I hear that you two have been thinking about… dating,” she started. I rolled my eyes. Back at this. I had been chasing new girls on the playground for a whole week. Lauren had tears in her eyes.

“I think we can all agree that the two of you are a little young to date.”

I was nodding profusely.

“So I thought we would come up with some appropriate ages for dating.”

Mrs. R pulled out some hokey picture book that she had bought with school funds for occasions like this one, and read us a story about Jack and Jill who dated in high school and then got married and lived happily ever after.

“See,” said Mrs. R. “Dating in high school doesn’t put you behind. So, what do you think would be an appropriate time to start dating?”

Lauren answered first, sniffling as she did. “High school?”

“That’s great, Lauren. That’s really great! Now what about you, Spencer? When do you think is a good time to start dating?”

We had just read a story about people dating in high school and getting married. Lauren had just answered high school. The answer should have been obvious. But I crossed my arms and answered: “College.”


  • Bethany M., if I hadn’t smeared dandelion on her Abercrombie cardigan at recess.
  • Lauren P., if I hadn’t gone to the Spring Fling with Amy V.
  • Amy V., if I hadn’t almost elementary-school cheated on her with Lauren P.

Important Timelines

Excuse the absence the past couple of days. I have been recovering from the culture shock that is that introduction of Facebook Timeline. I have been waiting for Timeline since some time in October when Zuckerburg and the team first announced it. I have always been team Facebook. Even when I opened a google+ account, I did it begrudgingly. But over the past couple of months I have been happy to see Facebook keep its mass public appeal while making additions that seem to be mostly cluttering and superfluous.

But then, several days ago, Timeline went live to all users. And I have never been more excited to log on. I switched immediately and made my new profile public without even thinking of the consequences.

You see, the whole shtick behind Timeline is that it is meant to show your entire life through pictures, interactions with friends, and events. Sounds cool. Isn’t cool.

As I started scrolling through my 2007 and my 2008, I realized that I really didn’t want all 700 something of my closest friends to be able to see all of my triumphs and failures and friend interactions from almost half a decade ago. Now, in winter of 2011, I treat all of my online interaction as if I were on a street corner shouting. I never say anything that I wouldn’t want everyone to know. But back then, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking that Facebook was a gateway that would help me better communicate with my friends. Of course, that was entirely misguided.

The joke on my Facebook news feed as people began to change to Timeline was that we were all about to get a lot closer. But I don’t think my friends will get a better idea of who I am by understanding the person I displayed myself as sophomore year of high school.

From time to time, I talk about sincerity and making meaningful connections with people. I stand by all of that. But I also think that we decide what about ourselves is going to be meaningful. The reason it’s okay that I hid all my Facebook posts from January 2007 to August 2011 is that those posts aren’t necessary information about me. You don’t have to know those things to know me.

I think we often get caught up in our “important” narratives. I have a nasty habit of telling new romantic interests my dating history within the first couple of weeks of dating. I do it because somewhere down the road I decided that my romantic history was an important narrative – that it defined me. But, you know, it really doesn’t. And neither does my Facebook news feed.

Love is Not a Currency

If I ever write a book, I think it’s going to be called Lies People Tell You. Because there are a lot of them, and it would be easy to come up with new chapters.

There’s a lie out there that says we can run out of love.

That’s not true.

Love is not a currency. Let me repeat that: Love is not a currency.

You can’t run out.

I wrote a post about a week ago about reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I have one major problem with the book – the assumption that love is a resource we can waste. In the first chapter, Joshua Harris tells this story about a girl’s nightmare. She’s at the altar on her wedding day and as her husband is saying his vows, all of the girls he’s slept with start walking and standing around them. I’m rather sure love has nothing to do with all of this.

I think the reasoning for this kind of fear comes mostly from Proverbs 4:23, which says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring  of life.” Nowhere does this verse say “guard your heart or else you won’t be able to give it to your future spouse.” But that’s how a lot of us read it. And, certainly, sometimes it feels like that’s what’s true. We fall in love for the first time, and when it ends, it feels like we will never be able to love at that level again. That’s all just faulty reasoning, though.

I think we are supposed to guard our hearts because we are special and valuable, not because our hearts and our love are finite. God wants us to share our specialty and value with people who deserve it, people who have earned it. That makes sense to me.

We have been offered everlasting, infinite love. The least we can do is offer that to others.