Dear Teen Ophelia,
Hey you with the crimped hair: turn down that Debbie Gibson tape and listen up.
You’re fifteen and the big girl-ask-guy dance is coming up. You’re smiling now, I can tell, because I know who you’re dying to invite. Sure, he’s an upperclassman and way out of your league, but he’s always been so nice to you, and he’s so totally cute. I say, go for it! He’s going to say yes, and you’re going to be on Cloud 9 for the next month. The night of the dance, you’ll wear your cutest red-checked shirt tied at the waist, and cut-off jeans (it’s “Sadie Hawkins” theme) and curl your hair just right. You and your friends will spend a fortune and about a million hours decorating a barn for dinner. Everything will be perfect.
You’ll get to the dance, and things will get awkward. But hey, you’re fifteen; you’re used to awkward, right? You’ll dance with your date, he’ll smile and do all the right things, but he’ll want to spend a lot of time with his friends, too. And you’ll let him, because you want to make him happy so he’ll fall in love with you. Well, I’m terribly sorry to say that’s not going to happen. Instead, the next day you’re going to discover that he was making out with another girl (your best friend’s younger sister, to be exact) while you were in the bathroom and while he was “with his friends.”
And everyone knew.
You’ll cry. Man, will you cry. First taste of betrayal. Hugest taste of humiliation. But let me tell you what happens next, because it’s pretty amazing. You’re going to forgive. And you’re going to befriended. And I’m telling you, little one, I don’t think I could do that now. I would be concocting some pretty creative revenge. But not you.
Your heart is so incredibly huge. Keep it wide open and keep on trusting. Yeah, you’ll get kicked in the teeth plenty of times because of it, but—thanks to those hideous braces you wore for two years—your teeth are strong and they can take it. You’re going to love a lot more and cry a bit, too. Enjoy it all.
And now for the advice part. You knew it was coming…
Don’t go to that party in the country. You know which one I’m talking about. Stay home instead and learn all the dance moves to “Electric Youth.” (You’ll do that later, anyway, but you should do it that night. Trust me. You don’t need that other experience.)
You have so much going for you. Clear skin, perfect late-eighties bleached-blonde hair, and a body made for pegged Guess jeans with zippers at the ankles. But, hey, listen to your dad more often, be patient with your sweetheart mother, and hang out with your little sis. You two are going to be best friends someday and you can never unkick her shin. I’m not going to tell you to use sunscreen because I know you’ll roll your eyes. Tan looks good on us. As does blue eye shadow—some people are just lucky that way.
Crank up the New Kids music, and don’t worry that you don’t “get” Bon Jovi yet. It’ll happen. Your dreams are enormous and deliciously unrealistic—as they should be. You’d rather be watching Days of our Lives than practicing the piano. You know you’ll never get a record deal that way, but it doesn’t matter. You’re going to take all of that wonderful, pent-up creative energy and use it somewhere else.
You’re blessed beyond belief, sweet Ophelia. In quiet moments, you’ll realize the truth of this and you’ll be grateful; sometimes unbelieving, undeserving and down-right bratty, but grateful. Your best friends are in the family room watching Newhart. Go on and kiss them goodnight.
PS: When you’re my age, you still love George Michael and boy bands, and your hair is even more fabulous.
PPS: Invest in Mac.
Ophelia London was born and raised among the redwood trees in beautiful northern California. Once she was fully educated, she decided to settle in Florida, but her car broke down in Texas and she’s lived in Dallas ever since. A cupcake and treadmill aficionado (obviously those things are connected), she spends her time watching arthouse movies and impossibly trashy TV, while living vicariously through the characters in the books she writes. Ophelia is the author of PLAYING AT LOVE, SPEAKING OF LOVE… and ABBY ROAD. Visit her at her website. But don’t call when The Vampire Diaries is on.