How I Almost Became a Man of the World at Age 13

My Real Memoir

I longed to be sophisticated, urbane, a celebrated satirist and scribe. I’d already conquered the stage, become known for my caricatures (see above), and was well on my way to winning my first Nobel Prize for Literature, having gotten an ‘A’ on every one of my 7th Grade writing assignments (also above). (We won’t talk about Math.) Heck, I’d even chosen the perfect pen name: Jules Paris Casino. Was there anything left to conquer, asked the young Alexander?

Yes! To be a true Man of the World, I needed to do three things: 1) travel, 2) try new foods, and, most important of all, 3) kiss a girl!

For three summers in a row, I’d gone to summer camp in the SoCal mountains. But now, at age 13, I was old enough for one of our YMCA summer “Caravans!” So, using my paper route money, I signed up for the Caravan trip to Yosemite and San Francisco!

En route, BFF Jeff and I made up our checklist: Explore the redwoods, climb Half Dome rock, eat at Chinatown, kiss lots of girls.

The trip flyer said we’d be eating at an authentic Chinese restaurant with authentic Chinese food made by authentic Chinese people (whose ancestors had been in America longer than mine). To be truly sophisticated, I’d have to broaden my palate. Which meant abandoning my obsession with separating everything on my plate (meatloaf must never be allowed to touch green beans or mashed potatoes). Chinese food, on the other hand, with its weird vegetables and see-throughy noodles, was the opposite of separatable! Which was why I’d always ordered a mustard-only hamburger and well-separated French fries when Mommandad took me to our neighborhood Chinese-American restaurant. “Self,” I told myself, “you’re going to eat Chinese food—and you’re going to like it.”

And I did! I discovered I liked all kinds of mashed-together foods, Chinese and otherwise (still do), and that I liked all kinds of mashed-together people, too (still do). Before returning to our 11th floor YMCA room, Jeff and I wandered Chinatown, got lost, cried, found our group, helped turn a cable car, smelled fresh fish, and fell in love with Ghirardelli chocolate!

Regarding that third goal: On our second day in Yosemite, our group arrived early at Glacier Point, famous for its nightly “Fire Fall” of burning redwood embers. During the wait, I met an adorably befreckled girl named Kristy. Kristy loved books, and she thought I was funny. What wasn’t there to love?

And so we decided to watch the Fire Fall together. As the glowing embers lit up the night, I found the courage to put my arm around her, and she leaned into me. It was heaven.

For about fifteen minutes.

Then her family called to her. And so there in the dark, quickly, while no one was looking, I leaned in, smiled rakishly…and shook Kristy’s hand.

Apparently, I’d have to wait until 8th Grade to finish becoming…

A Man of the World.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to How I Almost Became a Man of the World at Age 13

  1. Pingback: I Was a Professional Class Clown | Mitch Teemley

  2. Great story and finally I find another person who saw the fire falls in Yosemite.
    and another boy fail to become a man at 13. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So funny!! I still like ‘mashed’ people. (Those who smash your fingers?)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You are such a delight!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow I love this

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, the reverie you spark when you recount your youthful experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. murisopsis says:

    Hehe! The one that got away!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Seriously laughing out loud! Can’t wait to see if you get to kiss a girl in 8th grade! BTW: To this day I keep my food separate on my plate. Love your stuff, man…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alison says:

    Adorable story-telling. Love this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. marthadilo3 says:

    What a great trip! I love the Chinese food story…we took our family to San Francisco and ate in an authentic Chinese restaurant. Our son ordered squab. We didn’t really know what any of it was but it was good! Now whenever they ask what something is i say squab.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. revruss1220 says:

    What a great story! Brings back so many of my own 13-year- old memories. My “big moment” with the girl came on a church hayride… with similar results to yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Technically that was a first date, and technically first-date kisses were verboten back in the day. You did the right and honorable thing, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mitch, you should have had your own TV show – like “The Wonder Years,” only weirder. 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: How I Almost Became a Man of the World at Age 13 – Eastern Flyer

  15. Ann Coleman says:

    Loved the ending! It was both sweet and funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. masercot says:

    If you use the term “rakish”, you are already a man of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. lbeth1950 says:

    I so yearned to go to a real camp, a Spin and Marty Camp like on Mickey Mouse Club, not a church camp where we had church and no fun all day. Sadly, no camp for me

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Anonymous says:

    I met you almost 40 years ago when you came to Utah. You were funny then and still funny

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Me, Snogging, and The Beatles Effect | Mitch Teemley

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