Lately every morning, just as I walk out my front door for work, a kid rolls past my apartment building on his skateboard. My gut is that this boy is always late for high school, the local public school is right down the street in the direction he is headed, and the skateboard makes him faster than any teenage boy would walk.
I hear the neighborhood teens at night too. Their skateboards scratching the pavement, their shouts piercing the late night as they push curfews as the days get longer and warmer.
And for a brief moment I think to myself that they should be home by now. In the morning I'm the person who is worried that the late-skater is going to get hit by a car. And I feel officially old.
But truth be told, I have a soft spot in my heart for skater boys. The skater boys of the late '90s were my exact cup of tea. I loved tall boys who wore Vans and used wallet chains. And all of the memories of first (puppy) love come flooding back and the inevitable first heartbreak that happens a few weeks after college begins. It was so easy in comparison to what would come. But I like to think that's exactly how it should play out when you're young.
And not that any of today's skater boys are paying attention to anything I have to say, but still, I wish it was possible to pull those young men aside and give them some tips. Or, perhaps more preferably, go back in time and give the same advice to the boys who built skate ramps in my neighborhood and made out with me in cars as we pushed the limits of our own curfews.
It would be a short note, handed off in the hallways in between classes, or shoved in outer pockets of Jansport backpacks. And it would say,
Dear Skater Boys,
Be kind to the sensitive girl who likes to watch you skate after school. You're too young to know what leading her own really and truly means, but be aware that every little kindness you show her is going to be taken as a grand gesture. Because she is too young and too naive to notice subtlety.
Know that when you give her earrings on the night before she is about to leave for college, that it will remain one of the sweetest things a guy does for her over the next four years. At least.
Be brave and call it off officially, before summer ends. It will make it easier for both you and her, as you head out into new worlds. No guilt. No hard feelings. Just let it go.
And when you try to win her heart back a few years down the road, and she is hesitant and resistant because she remembers all of the ways you let her down in the past. And all of the things you said, but the actions that differed. Come out swinging with a truly grand gesture. She'll recognize and know what they are by then. Bring on the flowers, the romance, the compliments, and sweet dates. Who knows what might happen the second time around.