By Joe Rector

Ah, young love thrives in the halls of high schools around the country. I’ve seen so many couples in the hallways and common areas. Their actions aren’t much different from those of generations that preceded them.

Back in the day, boys discovered females who would pay them brief moments of attention. Freshmen boys still struggled with that awkward physical time when their bodies were growing and their voices were squeaking. Most of them had just recently realized that the other sex existed, and their fascination and preoccupation with them was intense.

Newly formed couples walked the halls of school tightly holding hands. Females looked comfortable with boyfriends in tow. However, those males traveled on stilted legs and with heads bowed and nerves on edge. They feared that a group of their friends would spy them and begin the teasing. Yelling at them or catcalling were common acts intended to embarrass. In reality, those who harassed were simply jealous of their friends who’d found girlfriends.

Boys walked their honeys to each class, and they were willing to be late for their own and to suffer the consequences. They ate lunch together and sat so close that one seat was all they needed. The couple looked cow-eyed at each other. Girls patted the boys’ legs and males made clumsy attempts to softly brush back locks of hair from females’ faces. Anyone who might catch a glimpse of them was subject to feeling just a bit nauseated at their actions.

In past generations, punishment for PDA (public displays of affection) was swift. Only the bravest of souls dared to exchange hugs. Rarely did a couple kiss goodbye between classes. Teachers tolerated not even a minute of such foolishness.

Sock hops gave young folks the chance to legally hold each other tight, and if the lights were turned down low enough, they might even kiss. They looked forward to slow dancing to such songs as “My Girl” or “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” and the dance ended with “Stand by Me.” Because they were too young to drive, they stood in front of the school and draped themselves around each other until parents came to pick them up.

What stands out most about young couples was the power dynamic. Females definitely ruled the roost. The boy was so thrilled to have a girlfriend that he acquiesced to whatever she desired. In fact, the boy always seemed to walk a step behind her, and others instantly commented that the male looked more like a whipped puppy following its master than an equal in a relationship.

At some point, these romances faded and then died. The girls usually grew tired of the immaturity of the freshman boys and looked in greener pastures for upperclassmen. To their surprise, even older boys displayed the same streaks of immaturity. The females decided that they “could change” their boyfriends into individuals who were more to their liking. That tactic rarely worked as older boys just didn’t have any desire to be “whipped into shape.”

Decades later, women are still dealing with males the same way. We men still have a bit of immaturity inside, and our partners work tirelessly to rid us of it. They are still in charge in the relationship; men have seen the job of being boss and want no part of it. However, the spark that appeared so long ago is still present, and we men experience the same awkward feelings about those special girls whom we have loved so long. It’s an older, deeper, more comfortable love, but it burns just a brightly as ever.