Sex + Love

Loving You Is Easy Because You Live Pretty Close to My Parents’ House

My first love.

Illustration by Marjainez

Sheila was the older sister of Julian, one of my hockey teammates. We met after a school football game during my sophomore year of high school. She had jet-black hair and olive skin and was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my whole entire life. And since she lived over half an hour away from me on the other side of town, she was also exotic—a temptress, even. The only problem was that at the time she was dating some other guy in my class, so, to shield myself from heartache, I tried to forget she existed. Then one day during my junior year, she sauntered back into my life, as temptresses often do.

“Sheila was asking about you at the football game this weekend,” my friend Todd told me at school one Monday morning.

“What?” I said. “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know,” Todd said. “She was just acting all weird and asking everyone where you were.”

“What did she say?”

“I don’t know, dude. That chick’s a weirdo, anyway. Why don’t you ask Julian what the deal is?”

Todd was right—Sheila was a weirdo, if by weirdo you mean exotic superfox that I was now officially hell-bent on making my own. I ran into her brother, a freshman, in the school library the next day.

“Sheila says hi,” Julian said, beating me to the punch.

“What do you mean? What’s going on?” I asked, trying to keep myself from doing that thing where you grab someone by the collar and press them up against a wall in order to get them to start answering some tough questions.

“I dunno,” Julian said. “I guess she likes you or something.”

“Doesn’t she have a boyfriend?”

“Not anymore. Why don’t you call her?”

“Maybe I will,” I said, as nonchalantly as I could manage.

Since Julian was a whole two years younger than me, it would have been socially unacceptable of him to be protective of his older sister and not just go ahead and hand over his family’s home telephone number (this was all happening in pre-cell-phone times), so he scribbled it down on a piece of notebook paper and sent me on my way.

I was officially freaking out. The thought that Sheila actually liked me, Dave
Hill, a not-particularly-cool kid from all the way on the other side of town, was practically making my heart explode.

That night, I snuck down into the basement of my family’s house to call Sheila from the phone we kept in the laundry room, the most private place in the whole house, since everyone in my family absolutely despised doing laundry.

The phone rang a few times. “Is Sheila there?” I asked the lady who answered.

“Just a second,” the lady said.

It turned out the lady was Sheila’s mom. And the 20 or 30 seconds I had to wait for Sheila to pick up the phone felt like an eternity.

“Hello?” she said, probably not trying to sound sexy at all but still sounding totally, totally sexy to me.

“Sheila?” I squeaked. “This is Dave Hill.”


It was refreshing that Sheila didn’t hang up as soon as she heard it was me, as that tended to be most people’s reaction back then. In fact, it sounded like she was actually glad to hear from me. Weird, I thought.

“How’s it going?” I asked, trying and failing to sound like the coolest 16-year-old of all time.

“Great,” she said. Of course it was going great. She was the most beautiful girl in the whole world. Why wouldn’t it be? “How are you?”

“I’m really great. Thanks so much for asking.”

I hadn’t necessarily thought I would get that far into an actual conversation with her, what with Sheila being an actual girl and all, so I wasn’t sure what to say next. Angel that she was, however, she took the reins and I somehow managed to have a breezy, delightful discussion with her that—since my mom was at the grocery store at the time—lasted 10, maybe even 12 minutes as we chatted away about everything and nothing at all, finishing each other’s sentences, and laughing hysterically at whatever hilarious thing one of us had just said. When my mom finally came home, I even managed to play it reasonably cool after she picked up the phone in the kitchen and demanded I hang up immediately.

“Sure thing, Mom,” I said. “It was nice talking with you, Sheila. I’ll give you a ring tomorrow.”

I’m not sure where I got the moxie to throw in that last line, but I actually did end up calling Sheila the next day, and the day after that, too. And by the time the weekend finally came around, Sheila and I were hanging out. Together. We met up at my high school’s football game, and it felt like the most important moment in my life thus far. When I walked into the football stadium with Sheila, I felt like a champion—a champion of love, the best kind of champion. My hair looked good, too.

“So, do you like football?” I asked Sheila as we sat huddled together in the bleachers.

“No, I hate it.”

God I loved this girl. I hated football, too. We were made for each other. In an act of extreme social defiance, Sheila and I left the football game early to go hang out at the Burger King near her house, where we made two Cokes and a large order of fries last as long as possible as we sat there figuring out what other stuff we both hated. Football, school, curfews, New Kids on the Block, at least half the people we knew in common—the list was endless.

I’m sure I had been happy plenty of times, maybe even most of the time before that day, but being with Sheila somehow made me feel happy for the first time in my life. I couldn’t get enough of her. Since she used Finesse mousse on her hair, I used to sneak down the hair-care aisle of the local drugstore and spray a little into my hand to tide me over until I saw her next. A little creepy maybe, but I was convinced she was my soulmate, so I did what I had to do.

A few weeks into our courtship, I borrowed my parents’ Chevy station wagon and went for a wild night on the town with Sheila and a couple of other friends to Burger King, McDonald’s, and maybe even Wendy’s while we were at it. Since my friend Todd lived on the same side of town as I did, over 20 long miles away from Sheila’s house, he was the last one in the car besides Sheila and me when I went to drop her off at the end of the night.

“Dave, uh, why don’t you walk Sheila to the door and I’ll pull the car around so it’s facing the right way for us to drive the rest of the way home?” Todd blurted as we pulled into Sheila’s driveway.

A little awkward maybe, but I still thought he was the best guy ever for seeing to it that Sheila and I got a little alone time as, terrified teenager that I was, I had yet to muster the courage to actually kiss her.

Sheila lived on a cul-de-sac, so Todd drove my parents’ car as slowly as possible, his foot barely on the gas pedal, all the way down to the other end before slowly turning around and heading back toward Sheila’s house. It was freezing out, and that, combined with my overwhelming fear, had me shivering. I stood with Sheila in her driveway, knowing full well that I absolutely had to make my move before Todd returned if I didn’t want to spend the following week anxiously waiting for another opportunity like this to come around.

“So, uh, that was fun tonight,” I said.

“Yeah, thanks for driving,” Sheila said.

“No problem.”

Shit. There were literally seconds to spare as I saw Todd begin to lurch back toward us in the Chevy, which by then looked like some slowly approaching phantom to me. Suddenly, a force I had never known before sent me hurtling toward Sheila’s face, my eyes closed and my mouth open as wide as humanly possible. Sheila picked up on my brazen cue and did the same. It was pure magic as our lips finally met for the first time, the moon shining down on us through the trees as if we were the only two people on earth.

Until Todd pulled into the driveway.

As the headlights of my parents’ car blinded us, Sheila and I slowly disengaged, returning to the awkward, stammering state we had been in only moments before.

“I’ll, uh, talk to you tomorrow,” I said, a huge smile spreading over my face.


“Goodnight, Sheila.”

“Goodnight, Dave.”

I climbed back into the car feeling like easily twice the man I was before the kiss. Even Todd, not normally the sentimental type, couldn’t keep himself from giving me a high-five.

“Awesome, dude,” he said.

“Totally, dude.”

Sheila and I continued our unbridled romance through the winter, and it seemed like we were still going full-steam ahead the following spring, when she invited me out to her family’s lake house one Saturday afternoon. It was our first official getaway, like we were a real couple or something.

As we wandered toward the water in front of the house in what I assumed was just some casual lovers’ stroll, like the kind you see all the time in those karaoke videos, Sheila said to me, “I…need to talk to you.”

“Um, OK,” I said.

“My mom says I can’t have a boyfriend until the school year is over because I need to get my grades up and boys are a distraction.”

“Huh?” I gulped.

“I can’t date you anymore. Because of school.”

“Oh, you mean just for the rest of this school year, and then when summer comes you can have a boyfriend again? Like me, for example?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

“But we can still talk on the phone and stuff, right?”

“No, my mom said I can’t do that, either. Sorry.”

I was devastated, but, blinded by love as I was, I figured that the school year would be over in less than two months and then Sheila and I could resume what I was pretty sure was the stuff of Harlequin romance novels, probably even better. As soon as we both finished finals, I went down into the laundry room and called her.

“Hello?” Sheila’s mom answered.

“Hi, it’s Dave, Dave Hill, from before,” I said. “Is Sheila home?”

“Just a sec.”

I waited breathlessly for Sheila to come on the line so we could pick up things right where we left off. Instead, however, Sheila’s mom picked up the phone again.

“Sheila can’t come to the phone right now,” she told me. “So I guess she’ll just have to call you back, maybe.”

“OK, great,” I said, and hung up the phone, totally oblivious.

And then I waited. And waited.

A couple of hours later my sister Katy discovered me sitting on the dryer all alone.

“What are you doing just sitting here?” she asked.

“Nothing. Get out of here!”

“Fine. Weirdo.”

I spent the rest of the night in that laundry room and, while the phone rang repeatedly, it was never for me. Sheila did eventually call me again, but looking back on it, it was most likely just to get me to stop phoning her house every five minutes.

Do I still think about her, you ask? Of course I do. She was my first love, and, unless you’re made of stone or something, I guess you never quite get over that sort of thing. You spend your whole life assuming you’ll die alone, just you and your Smiths records in your parents’ basement forever, your lips untouched by anyone outside of the medical community. Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, someone comes along and shows you that maybe you were wrong about all that and—worst-case scenario—maybe you could at least find someone to move down into that basement and listen those Smiths records with you, changing the course of your life forever. It sticks with you.

I realize there might also be some people out there wondering if any other “stuff” happened after that night Sheila and I totally made out in her driveway. And to that I say yes, maybe it probably might have. But if you think for one second that I’m about to go into graphic detail about what two teenagers got up to in the back of a Chevy station wagon, you’ve got another thing coming, thank you very much. Besides, it’s not like any of that stuff really matters anyway. The important thing to remember is that I’m now a major, major celebrity and there are so many chicks out there who totally want to make out with me that it’s actually a bit weird. Even so, I’ll never forget that first kiss in her driveway all those years ago. In fact, not too long ago, in a fit of wistful and maybe just a little bit drunken nostalgia, I decided to give old Sheila a ring.

“Hello,” her husband answered.

He sounded like he might actually be a pretty nice guy. And if I didn’t hang up right away, I bet I could have found out for sure. ♦

Adapted from Dave’s book, Tasteful Nudes…and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation, which came out today. Copyright © 2012 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.


  • Maddy May 22nd, 2012 3:13 PM

    Ah, this is the witty fellow in velvet! I like him ;)

  • Susann May 22nd, 2012 3:16 PM

    I loved reading this!

  • Bren May 22nd, 2012 3:30 PM

    This is fantastic and hilarious.

  • Flower May 22nd, 2012 3:45 PM

    this is so brilliant and hilarious and well written and i love the illustration and asifhgkglglg

  • mayaautumn May 22nd, 2012 3:45 PM

    only one thing i can say: bless. (and a great read)!

  • Claudia May 22nd, 2012 3:56 PM

    I really loved this. I hope that I’ll have these types of experiences in my future. Thank you for giving hope to all of us who may feel a little alone, and for an awesome story.

  • Mags May 22nd, 2012 3:57 PM

    Man, young love. It’s the best and worst thing all at the same time.

  • youngfridays May 22nd, 2012 4:30 PM

    I’ve never been in love, but this sure sounded cute and insanely well written omg

  • CoriGrace May 22nd, 2012 5:00 PM

    Oh those jerk butterflies that we know so well. Loved this article.

  • Moxx May 22nd, 2012 5:11 PM

    “Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, someone comes along and shows you that maybe you were wrong about all that and—worst-case scenario—maybe you could at least find someone to move down into that basement and listen those Smiths records with you, changing the course of your life forever. It sticks with you.”

    I am smiling so hard right now.

  • cherrycola27 May 22nd, 2012 5:57 PM

    I love this!
    “…I felt like a champion—a champion of love, the best kind of champion. My hair looked good, too.”
    That’s a great line.

  • Jenn May 22nd, 2012 6:28 PM

    In love with teenaged Dave Hill oh my goodness

  • kittenmix May 22nd, 2012 6:28 PM

    This was cool until the NKOTB hate. Why you gotta hate, hill? Why you gotta hate?

  • KittyLitter May 22nd, 2012 6:43 PM

    What is this sexist garbage, and what is it doing on Rookie? Rookie is a feminist website with resources that are often too radical for mainstream magazines. This oppressive article doesn’t belong here.

    Let me point out some parts of this essay I find particularly disgusting:

    The use of the word “exotic”: I get that using this word is supposed to be a joke, but it’s too often used to otherize women that I can’t read it without cringing. The practice of exoticizing bodies as a tool of power is also tied up in histories of colonialism & orientalism; using “exotic” to describe a love interest is dangerous and problematic.

    The use of the word “chick”: This should be obvious. “Chick” is a derogatory term and it’s disgusting.

    When Hill says he was “hell-bent on making [Sheila] my own,” he clearly thinks he’s entitled to Sheila’s body. Male claims of ownership over women’s bodies have very dangerous consequences, especially when they lead to non-consensual interactions! Which brings me to:

    Non-consensual kissing: The “force that I had never known before” that “sent me hurling towards Sheila’s face” places agency on an external influence, shielding Hill from any accountability for his actions. That’s fucked up. First not asking for consent, then pretending like it wasn’t his fault, and finally making the kiss seem like it was some sort of big achievement makes me want to puke. All. Over. The. Patriarchy. No wonder Sheila dumped this asshole.

    This essay is both boring & horribly written. It’s not funny; it reinforces ideas and actions that perpetuate gender-based oppression.

    • Moxx May 22nd, 2012 8:04 PM

      -”Exotic” was not used to highlight her different ethnicity or any such thing. Yes, it’s a joke. He thinks she’s exotic because she lives on the other side of town. Not because she’s different in any other way.
      -According to who is “chick” derogatory? And do you honestly think that this was the authors goal here in using the word “chick”?
      -Not a single time was Sheila’s body mentioned.
      -”Sent me hurdling” raised a flag for me too, but then: “my eyes closed and my mouth open as wide as humanly possible. Sheila picked up on my brazen cue and did the same. It was pure magic as our lips finally met for the first time”
      He didn’t touch her. He only opened his mouth and closed his eyes, and THEN she “picked up” on the fact that he wanted to kiss her. THEN their lips met. Mutual.

      You are taking the expressions out of context. You even admit it when you talk about the use of “exotic”. Yes, this word is often used in patronizing ways toward women, but it’s not being used in this way here. You can’t just say “this word is sometimes used in an offensive manner therefore using this word ever makes whatever you’re saying offensive. I don’t think you’re being fair.

    • lorobird May 22nd, 2012 8:34 PM

      Unfortunately, I have to agree.

      Pretty disappointed. I’m sure Rookie can get decent contributors who are men, to talk about their experiences as teens in a more human and relatable manner.

      This guy’s narration is mere dude-crap. Teen girls get enough of this shit in every single mainstream piece of pop culture ever.

      • Anaheed May 22nd, 2012 9:21 PM

        Dunno if this makes a different to you or anyone, but Dave is a comedian, and his book is, while autobiographical, also meant to be funny.

        • Moxx May 22nd, 2012 9:52 PM

          safsdygdjhgadk maybe parts of it were ironic
          now I feel kind of dumb.
          But it’s interesting to sort of pull it apart and see how other people interpret it.

          • Anaheed May 22nd, 2012 9:55 PM

            Eh, it’s our fault for not contextualizing it properly. But yeah, the tone is largely comedic, though the story itself (which I find sweet!) is true.

      • Mags May 22nd, 2012 10:57 PM

        @lorobird: I honestly found it human and relatable. I’ve had crushes that made me act a tad (okay, a lot) stupid, too. I feel like this is kind of a universal experience. Aren’t all crushes awkward? I feel like first love can’t ever NOT be awkward.

        I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t understand at all and shouldn’t have even involved myself in this debate. My apologies.

    • ladyjenna May 22nd, 2012 8:48 PM

      I totally get not wanting chauvinistic stuff up on rookie, but really, i think this does not fit that category.

      I kind of get not liking ‘exotic’, but isn’t it possible that ‘chick’ can be used in a non-offensive way, and perhaps it was just the lingo of the time?

      And non-consentual kissing: i think this is going a tad too far to call this non-consentual.
      You might have wanted Dave to say something along the lines of “I am in awe your character and confidence, ovaries rule, would you mind if i kissed you?” But really, these are TEENAGERS having REAL EXPERIENCES in the REAL WORLD, and if this was something not harmful and fun and enjoyable (e.g., he’s not assaulting her) then to accuse a kiss of ‘gender-based oppression’ is ridiculous.

      Should we be so wrapped up in our feminist ideals that we can’t appreciate/enjoy an honest story of a teenage guy?

      But thanks so much for your concern, i (non-sarcastically) applaud your ideals and verve.

      • Moxx May 22nd, 2012 9:07 PM

        Look, honestly, this is not really my favorite article on here. But I still don’t think it is terrible and misogynistic. Ok, sure, it is a bit dude-bro-ish in expressions (like when his friend congratulates him), but it’s written in a way that I honestly, really doubt that the author was trying to do anything more than talk about his first love. It seems that he may have picked some unfortunate/unclear expressions, but I think you really have to be looking for offensive things to think that this is terribly offensive. As much I feel horrible saying this, I think that the author’s intentions were good (why would he be submitting this to a website for teenage girls if he didn’t feel that it was appropriate and respectful, and why would his piece have been accepted, then?) and that some of you are reading into it too much.
        aaaaaaaaaaaa I’m sorry! I know, I know that last phrase is just often used to dismiss feminist arguments (“you’re just reading into it too much”, “lighten up”, “it’s just a joke”, etc.), but I honestly do not mean it in that way and am not trying to be patronizing and really just think this and would like you to think about it.

        • missmadness May 24th, 2012 8:19 PM

          I didn’t take his friend congratulating him as bro-ish, I actually thought it was sweet…I took it more as “yes! this girl you really like likes you enough that you two kissed!” (the same kind of thing I would do if my female best friend kissed a guy she was into) rather than “dude yeah, you can totally tap that.” Not to say the second scenario doesn’t happen (often), but it was just not the way I interpreted it.

          And on the note of “dude-crap in the mainstream media” yes–there are tons of article about what hairstyles guys like or ten ways to get him hot in ten minutes or less, but I really think it’s great to see a relationship from the perspective of a guy that (as far as I can tell) is kinda sweet, and kinda goofy. It is reassuring and comforting for me to read about a guy who just really liked this girl, and the highlight of who’s teenage life is just being around her. It reminds me that there are good men in the world other than the three that I know personally (I frequently think they’re the only ones left on earth.)

          Finally, I enjoyed reading this because it was from a perspective that I will never have as a straight female–just like I enjoy reading Mexican-American literature as a white person, or WWII literature as someone alive in the 21st century. Literature (writing, in general) is a chance to see things through someone else’s eyes, and to identify in someone completely different things that you feel, too. I thought this was brilliantly written, and did just that.

      • KittyLitter May 22nd, 2012 11:23 PM

        The kissing scene is ambiguous. We don’t know how into it Sheila was. Nevertheless, it does perpetuate some kind of non-consensual body-language ideal that’s ubiquitous in mainstream cultural narratives. Assuming your partner’s desires and making moves on them without knowing their boundaries or what they want is dangerous. It can lead to sexual assault!

        I’d like to see more radical feminist narratives on Rookie. As lorobird said, there’s enough dude-crap in the mainstream media.

    • Mags May 22nd, 2012 10:45 PM

      Wow, I really did not pick up on any misogynistic undertones whatsoever. Maybe I just haven’t taken enough gender lit courses or something. I am extremely sensitive to any mere mentions of sexism, but I feel that you are reading far, far too much into this. Some words may have negative connotations in certain contexts, but that does not mean that every time they are used the user means to offend.

    • julalondon May 23rd, 2012 12:17 PM

      Well, this piece is written from the perspective of a 16-year old high school boy and it’s supposed to sound authentical in the cute/naive/clueless way 16-year old boys think/act.
      I really don’t understand why people get offended by a story like that!
      I’m all pro feminism, but i’m totally against radical stuff because when everyone is just so narrowminded and is only seeing everything negative and offensive it doesn’t help anybody..

    • scrapthebook May 23rd, 2012 6:49 PM

      I think your point is extremely valid and some of the things written could be interpreted as slightly derogatory but I feel they are justified for one reason: they the truthful and honest. It would be nice if we could all wander through a 3D Rookie-verse forever, pausing only to discuss our zines and vinyl collections but that just isn’t what the real world is like. Real teenagers, in particular teenage boys, often objectify other and are very socially awkward. I know many boys who barely seem to understand that girls aren’t a completely different species. Because of this, boys can be desensitised to the reality of girls. It sucks, but this article shows this actuality in a very realistic light and I think the author did well by it.
      Of course though, you have your opinions which I fully respect. Stay passionate.

  • lorobird May 22nd, 2012 8:37 PM

    So she breaks up with him, and refuses to talk to him, and he doesn’t take the hint and calls her constantly until eventually she calls back.

    Um, I was stalked in school by a boy in my class. It was freaking serious stuff. And he did this. It was intimidating and awful.

    • Mags May 22nd, 2012 10:47 PM

      To be fair, I’ve been the one who calls incessantly after being dumped. And I’m a girl. I did it when I was younger, but I don’t do it anymore. I have also been stalked by a much older boy who would basically follow me in his car while I walked to my high school. I don’t think this piece is making light of stalking or harassment, but the truth is that sometimes when we’re heartbroken we do call the other person a ridiculous amount of times. And then, hopefully, we learn that it’s wrong and we stop.

  • Sea goddess May 22nd, 2012 8:45 PM

    Oh wow this is so cuteee ahhhw

  • Mags May 22nd, 2012 10:59 PM

    If anything, the responses to this piece have taught me that no matter what you write, and what your intentions may be, some people will misunderstand it. We all view art through our own personal context so I completely understand the varied responses. It sort of makes me afraid to share my own writing with the world, but not afraid enough not to do it :)

  • ninamosall May 22nd, 2012 11:36 PM

    That was so touching. Reminds me of my first real boyfriend.

  • Laia May 22nd, 2012 11:50 PM

    i love this SO SO much.
    <3 dave hill <3

  • Caden May 23rd, 2012 1:46 AM

    Rookie has had lots of these ‘firsts’ stories from a girl’s perspective. It’s interesting – if a little shocking – to read what it’s like for a teenage boy.

    I don’t think it’s sexist. It’s just a different point of view based on real events.

    Caden x

  • Lotta May 23rd, 2012 3:36 AM

    wow..”pre-cell-phone” dating sounds awesome!

  • Lillypod May 23rd, 2012 4:30 AM

    I think any girl who is offended by this article isnt reading it carefully enough!
    If you all take off your feminist-ray glasses for one sec and consider the clever tongue-in-cheek way this article is written, you’ll see its meant to be FUNNY and IRONICAL because Hill is looking back on his experience as a fully grown adult. It is very self-deprecating…the language only reflects the way real human beings talk and think!! If it was written in PC “feminist-friendly” talk you desire, it not only sound false but wouldn’t be true, because this is a TRUE STORY…

    I think its hilarious, sweet, funny and honest. What more could you want?

  • caro nation May 23rd, 2012 8:12 AM

    Loving you is easy, Dave Hill, because you write well and for good magazines. Also, you have a bitchin’ apartment.

  • MinaM8 May 23rd, 2012 9:22 AM

    This is such a sweet and cute story! Made me smile all the way through.

  • Juwi May 23rd, 2012 10:20 AM

    I thought this was soo damn well written!!!!.. it so added a couple smiles to my face :)

  • Claire May 23rd, 2012 10:45 AM

    Yes, totally. A voice of reason at last!

  • Sophii May 23rd, 2012 1:02 PM

    Aww I love this :) x

  • afabrication May 23rd, 2012 6:17 PM

    Dave Hill, you are the man.

  • María Inés Gul May 24th, 2012 11:08 AM

    noooo….. read the story like thousand times while illustrating it and NEVER EVER thought about anything sexist. overinterpretation, for me.

  • Iin May 25th, 2012 11:01 PM

    this helps me a lot!

  • Miss Erin May 26th, 2012 12:23 AM

    Okay, definitely getting his book now.

  • pubertyblues June 14th, 2013 10:16 PM

    “You spend your whole life assuming you’ll die alone, just you and your Smiths records in your parents’ basement forever, your lips untouched by anyone outside of the medical community. Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, someone comes along and shows you that maybe you were wrong about all that and—worst-case scenario—maybe you could at least find someone to move down into that basement and listen those Smiths records with you, changing the course of your life forever. It sticks with you.”

    so well written! love it