Theatre is sexy. Backstage is dimly lit, with the subtle glow of the onstage lights streaming through the dust of the wooden flats. There are dark corners and pre-determined soundless moments. It’s hot, too. Heat-hot from the lights, and sex-hot from the right chemistry and synchronicity.
Give a couple of prepubescent teens two-and-a-half hours with minimal supervision off-stage, and the theatre can and will do its magic.
I began acting in the theatre at seven. By the time I was 12, I was a horny adolescent girl, and Tony Snow was my equally horny adolescent target. I met him while doing The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (Cue: howling wind and horse hoof-beats.)
It was the perfect dark and creepy story for a young girl’s first “show-mance.”
It didn’t take long before I realized he wanted me, too. What we wanted… we weren’t quite sure, yet. But we were more than willing to explore the possibilities. We were the reigning Sleepy Hollow item.
Tony and I shared the same path backstage as we headed from one exit to the next entrance. I’d lead as we ran off-stage through the concourse into the Green Room, past the rehearsal hall, and cut through the Very Dark Hallway–a hallway that was sealed by two sets of double-doors on either end.
When both sets of double-doors were closed, it was pitch-black in that hallway. Verily Dark.
The sign on the door read: THESE DOORS MUST REMAIN CLOSED DURING PERFORMANCE.
These doors must remain closed….
One morning (it was children’s theatre), as we quickly entered the Very Dark Hallway, closing the first set of double doors behind us, Tony grabbed my arm, pulled me to his chest with lightning speed, and pinned me against the wall. (We were only twelve?)
I was out of my head. My body was on FIRE. I could feel the heat of his breath and the beat of our hearts racing from the run and readiness for what was about to happen.
Here it comes. The kiss. My first kiss! I’ve waited for this my whole life!
He launched his tongue as far down my throat as his ambition would allow.
He had a lot of ambition.
And then he was gone.
Stunned and utterly mortified, I raced behind him so as not to be late for the entrance (always the consummate professional).
The run of this show was roughly two weeks. Every show, we’d run off-stage through the concourse, into the green room, past the rehearsal hall, and cut through the Very Dark Hallway.
And every show, he’d molest my throat with his lizard-wet, fat, untrained, inexperienced icky tongue. Despite it all, every damn show I thought, “Well, maybe this time I will like it. Maybe this time it will be… better. He is, after all, my boyfriend. I’m willing to make this work.”
Instinctively, I knew this was not the way to lock lips. Around the third or fourth performance, I’d had enough. I just could not bear his tongue for a mid-morning snack anymore. So, I gathered my courage and did what any savvy twelve-year-old girl would do:
I learned how to sprint.
Even though we stopped our mid-show tete-a-tete (he never caught me), I never once considered the idea that out courtship was over. I just figured one could go back to the Age of Innocence.
One could never go back.
The phone rang. “Is this Tony’s girlfriend?”
I didn’t recognize the crackling man-boy voice on the other end dripping with effrontery.
“Yes,” I said.
He cleared his throat. “This is Tony’s friend.”
And that makes me the enemy?
I was bewildered into silence.
He cleared his throat again as his voice betrayed him in the mezzo-soprano key of speech. “Tony wants to break up with you.”
I was honestly surprised. You may be wondering why the hell I cared to have this Spaghetti Tongue out of my life, but at that ripe morphing age of barely double-digits, I had already developed a healthy dose of pride. I wasn’t the type to let this go down without a fight.
“Where’s Tony?” I demanded. I could hear muffled tones of dissident whispering on the other end.
I called Rebekah Rabinowitz, my best friend, immediately. She knew everything about boys. Everything.
“He doesn’t want me. He, I mean, his friend broke up with me.”
“Coward!” She exclaimed from her telephonic pulpit. “He couldn’t even do his own dirty work. Just remember one thing,” she instructed. Then she paused for dramatic silence. “No matter what happens — ever again — NEVER let them break up with you. EVER. You break up with them first!” With that she hung up. She was getting to see a rated-R movie that night.
My first lesson in The Boy Who Only Wants One Thing. I think I was depressed for a whole day after that. As I grew, sometimes that sadness would last a whole month. Sometimes… longer. Much longer. Those were the times I only wanted one thing, too.
Just not the same thing.
We all have that one thing that matters to us more than anything else. And we’ve all been told never to settle for less than we deserve. Did I learn this from sprinting from a bad French kiss at the young age of 12? Nope. Not one bit. I did instinctively know it wasn’t worth it to stick around. But, it’s amazing how easily the boundaries of our values are tested once the attraction seizes us. It would take many more years and many more kisses — some good, some too good — before I realized it’s never worth settling for less than what you want most.
In my case, it’s that feeling of being seen and respected. To me, that lasts longer than love. Or perhaps, that’s what real love is to me:
A good helping of respect (with a dash of admiration).
Read more of Fleur’s adventures here.