How Fresca Almost Ruined My High School Graduation

I knew things had gotten out of hand when I got out of his moving car.  I’d been screaming at him to let me out for several blocks, and when he wouldn’t slow the car down, I just got out, which was no easy thing because I was wearing high heels.  And crying hysterically.

All through the baccalaureate mass I’d held it in.  During the opening lines of the benediction– Welcome to the mass of celebration honoring the class of 1991– I’d noticed that he had a purple “bruise” on his neck.  Hmmmm.  That’s strange.  Right before the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit visited the part of my brain that was shrouded in denial and whispered to me: “Your boyfriend just got back in town with a hickey on his neck he got from another girl.”

A hickey.  I almost fainted in the pew, but I gripped the seat in front of me and took deep breaths like they do in the movies.  He didn’t even notice.

Don’t ruin this beautiful morning I said to myself as if I was the guilty one. I decided to wait until after the breakfast to confront him.  I couldn’t swallow anything, but I watched him stab the skin of his poached egg with his fork, letting the runny yolk soak his English muffin.  As he chewed, his hickey bobbed up and down on his neck.

I’m going to be sick.

“Listen to this new Poi Dog song,” he said, when we got in the car.  I held the program from the mass in my hands and watched it start to shake as I prepared to ask about his neck.  As soon as the music started, I flipped the radio off.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

“What’s on your neck?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about how you have a hickey on your neck.”

Caught.  He knew it.  He didn’t even deny it.  “I ran into Sherri.  We shared a Fresca and she kissed me.”

“You have a hickey. You must have kissed her back.  Hickeys are like the AP classes of kisses– you don’t just end up with one, you have to do a bunch of lip kissing first.  I’m getting sick thinking about it.  Let me out of the car.”


“Let. Me. Out.  And thanks for ruining Fresca for me, Asshole.”

He reached for my hand.  I threw the crumpled program at him.  My 17-year old heart was shattered, and I wanted out of his stupid Honda Accord.

Once I jumped out, I turned my back on him.  “Cee, get in the car. I love you.  Come on. What’s the big deal?”

I slipped out of my heels and started walking towards my house.  Then, I thought about what I would do when I got there.  I didn’t have a key and my parents weren’t home.  How was I going to walk all that way in my bare feet? How was I going to explain to my family that he’d come back from his trip with a hickey on his neck?  They hated him and this would confirm their every suspicion.

Also, I wanted a boyfriend for all the graduation parties.

“Please get in.  I swear I’ll never cheat on you again.”  He was playing my favorite CD; I could hear the Indigo Girls singing Love’s Recovery.

I stood still until I heard the chorus, then I put my shoes back on and got in the car without looking at him.  Not because I believed him, but because I needed a ride.


56 thoughts on “How Fresca Almost Ruined My High School Graduation

  1. Excellent piece! Love the details of the eggs oooozzzing. And never knew that…explains the poetic maya angelou recitation of you being a black slave at ann’s graduation party–it completely confused me. I had no clue–poor thing.

  2. Oh, I hate him. I hate him and the boyfriend who cheated on me in the same fashion. I wish you hadn’t needed the ride from him – and I hope that it was a short one.

  3. I love love love fresca, hate hickeys (when I see my college students with hickeys it makes me want to gag a bit), and love poi dog pondering. And the Indigo Girls (duh). The metaphor of what we do because we need a ride….yep. yep. yep. And then we go to therapy.

    • Exactly. How many sessions were dedicated to Hickey man? More than he deserved for sure. And I like to drink and curse Fresca at the same time. Because contradictions.

  4. Ah, yet another confirmation of our kinship. I loved the Indigo Girls so much I named my first-born after them.

    At least you escaped. I got back in the car and then went ahead and married mine. Stupid! I’m just glad I’m not that same person anymore.

  5. Boys are stupid. I don’t think I’ve even had a Fresca since 1991. What a shitheel that guy was. I can feel the teenaged angst in this, made me all stomach-churny. Reminds me of a hurt right around that same time. The guy I’m reminded of was a real shitheel too.

    • How much do I love the word “shitheel”? So much. My brother called him “dick-nosed tree trunk,” which stuck. He was a basketball player, though his nose wasn’t that dickish. Just the rest of him.

  6. You are soooooo good at this! I love this story and the egg yolk running into his English muffin (not sure why I loved that part, maybe I’m hungry). This could have been me, was me, loved it!!

  7. What a load of crap. “We shared a Fresca and then she kissed me”? Asshat. But I would’ve taken the ride, too. Girls’ gotta be practical.

  8. Nicely written. I always enjoy reading your posts. I haven’t thought about Fresca or the Indigo Girls in a long time, so thanks for that.

  9. Give Fresca another chance! Don’t let one cheating d-bag ruin a perfectly wonderful soft drink. Try the peach version over ice with a little (or a lotta) white wine and a squeeze of lime. Trust me.

  10. I would have taken the ride, too. In fact, I’m sure some less-entertaining version of this happened to me either in high school or college, but I’ve mentally blocked it out. Love all your details…graduation mass, Poi Dog, the egg. High school is on the brain this week!

  11. What a great story. I love how the Holy Spirit spoke to you. Also, why do teenagers let each other affect each other so powerfully? Your ex-boyfriend’s hickey almost ruined your graduation, a celebration breakfast, your favorite song, plus Fresca!

  12. I have so many of those “I wish I waked away” moments from my teen years. Times when I was too insecure to do what I knew was right. Times when I was more worried about what others would think to pay attention to what I thought. I still don’t always get it right, but I’ve learned.

    • Oh, and hickeys are so so wrong. I’ve had my share, but never proudly. Now that I am an old married mom, I am thinking it might be retro cool to get hickied up.

  13. Love this story. Have had many fights in cars with dumb boys. But I was never brave enough to get out and try to walk home. Even if you DID change your mind. The intent was true.

    Can I interest you in a Shasta? No hickeys attached. 😉

  14. Really well written!! Oh, those damn high-school years, and all that young love causing all that trouble… adulthood has its drawbacks, but I don’t miss THAT.

  15. Pingback: Dustin Hoffman and Healing Faith Chunks | Outlaw Mama

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