There was no denying that Mark was hot.
He was a surfer, with the accompanying abdominal muscles and bleached blonde hair.
He worked at a popular coffee shop near our college campus and girls would line up to order drinks, even if they didn’t like coffee. He was funny, charming and talkative.
He was also in high school.
But, he didn’t mention that last part to my college roommate, Samantha, until three months into their relationship.
(You’d think the fact that he was in high school would be a deal breaker, but no, Samantha stayed with him for almost a year, did his chemistry homework and even WENT TO HIS HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION.) haha
Mark lied to Samantha when they first met, saying he already graduated from high school and was taking “a year or two” off to surf and save money. Samantha was a sophomore in college, and lived off-campus.
Samantha and I had just moved into our first real apartment (not a dorm) and we were 800 miles away from our hometown and high school was a distant memory.
We never considered that anyone we hung out with was in high school, since we were so old and grown up and Mark certainly didn’t scream “high school.”
He lived with his dad, who was totally cool with him staying over at his girlfriend’s house (what!!), he was practically a manager at the coffee shop and he had lots of college-age friends.
He also had a fake I.D. (as did we) and he’d hang out at bars all night.
On weeknights he spent the night with Samantha, Mark would get up at 7 a.m. to “go surfing,” which didn’t seem out of ordinary.
(Surfing was a good excuse, since he was really going to homeroom.)
Samantha soon became suspicious when Mark wouldn’t meet her for lunch during the week.
“I have a break between my classes,” Samantha would text him. “Want to grab a bite downtown?”
He wouldn’t respond, or he’d say he was at his house sleeping, or that he was tired from serving all those coffee drinks.
“He’s cheating on me!” Samantha told me one day, after several weeks of being blown off. “He NEVER hangs out with me during the week! I bet he’s hanging out with somebody else!” (Like his math teacher.)
“Well, he sleeps over here every night!” I pointed out. “He gets up early to go surfing, I’d be sleeping all day, too!”
(I don’t know why I give people the benefit of the doubt. Mark had me fooled, too.)
“But he NEVER calls me during the day! He won’t return my calls!”
She was insecure about how good-looking he was, and saw girls bat their eyes at him, and she was convinced he was up to no good.
After Samantha's fourth freakout, I told her to ask Mark what was going on.
Yet, like many girls (um, guilty), her tone was more accusatory than inquisitive.
“ARE YOU CHEATING ON ME? Because you never call me during the day! You NEVER meet me for lunch!”
Mark said no, of course not, that he liked her a lot and has been really happy dating her.
“Then, what’s going on then?” she asked. “Something is going on.”
Mark said yes, something was going on, and that he’d like to take her out that night and explain everything.
Us roommates were very nervous for Samantha when she left that night to meet him.
“What do you think it is??” we all asked when she left. “You think he’s broke and can’t afford to pay for lunch?”
“You think he’s really seeing someone else??”
Samantha came home an hour later frazzled, and dumbfounded.
“He’s in high school,” she said.
Our mouths dropped.
“He’s a senior in high school, and that’s why he can’t get lunch during the week.”
“BECAUSE HE’S AT HIGH SCHOOL!??!!!”
All of us, except for Samantha, burst out laughing. We then thought it through.
Ahhh, this makes sense now! The getting up early part. The living with his dad part. The only seeing him after 3 p.m. part.
Before his confession, Mark had brought Samantha out to a romantic spot in the city, overlooking the water. He lightly touched her face, pulling her hair back.
He looked her deep in the eyes and said, sweetly,
“What would you do if I told you I was still in high school?”
WHAAAAAAT!!!!! she said, and got into a coughing fit. She asked him more questions, and then told him that she needed to think for a few days.
I don’t know, maybe it was his incessant calling and apologizing, maybe it was his abs, maybe it was the fact that she liked getting free coffee --- but she forgave him and they stayed together for almost a year.
She met his dad. She went to his graduation. Seriously, he even invited her to prom (they didn’t go).
They broke up soon after he graduated, and he ended up moving away. Perhaps he’s working at another coffee shop somewhere, surfing, pulling girls’ hair off of their faces, looking them deep in the eyes, sweetly saying, “What would you do if I told you I was a toolbag?”