By the way, those candy characters really do walk around the park. Don’t you think that’s weird? Who wants to talk to candy? But I digress.
When I was in 7th grade, my friend Sarah asked me if I wanted to ask a date (she suggested Howie – who likely does not go by Howie anymore) and go to HersheyPark with her and her date, Benjie. (I know for a fact that he’s just plain Ben now – and that he’s still extremely handsome.)
I was not a particularly mature 12 year old. I was not comfortable with the idea of going on a date at all, and the thought of a 8-10 hour ordeal was more than I could manage. So I said no, thank you. It was really hard to do that. I remember feeling really pressured to say yes…I recall that her parents said she could bring a boy if I brought a boy. And here I was saying I didn’t want to. So I’m sure Sarah was just overjoyed that I messed up her plan.
She was nice about it, I think. We stayed friends for sure – and in fact, we still are. Though I see her only about twice a year, she has been my friend longer than anyone else. Since 1970. We sang together in the 4th grade talent show. That was the year she moved to Baltimore from Wisconsin.
I wonder. Was not going to HersheyPark with a date in 7th grade my first taste of bucking peer pressure? Maybe so.
I wouldn’t say that my junior high and high school years were free of influence from my friends, but I would say that I was always my own person and I made my own decisions. Some weren’t perfect. Okay, some really stunk. But they were mine. All mine.
I see my boys growing up and I hope that if I can give them anything, it will be the ability to see the options, assess the risks and benefits, and make good decisions.