One of the more interesting things about growing up in a (relatively) small town like Albany, NY, is that there is a very good chance I know someone you know. Sadly, I've discovered, there's also a very good chance I dated that person in high school / middle school / day care. This has happened to me many times since I moved away. (FOREVER!!)
Upon narrowing down the high schools within the city, and making sure to avoid including the entire county of Albany because, honestly, I'm only one man, the conversation usually begins with something like this:
YOU: "You grew up in Albany? I have a good friend whose girlfriend grew up there."
ME: "Really? Try me."
And usually ends with them promising me that we will never speak of this again. Not so recently, I was on a date with a lady who, through polite interrogation, informed me that one of her closest friends is a former high school girlfriend of mine. I spent the next 20 uncomfortable minutes wondering if I should tell her that I can fuck a bit longer than my high school record of 14 seconds. I've more than doubled that record, in fact. My point is, I never wanted to have this conversation in the first place, and my rekindled adolescent anxiety and her complete knowledge of all of my past inadequacies (and none of my present-day ones) colored the rest of the evening. After drink #1, I was out of there. As an excuse, I told her my dad was waiting outside the bar for me in his mini-van, because I had to attend a Kaplan course at 8pm. I could tell by her kicks and punches that she bought it.
This has happened over and over again. It's like a clumsy sexual reunion. Jill Summers? Frenched her. Danni Refferts? Bought her a gold-plated banana clip at "Things Remembered" and was unceremoniously dumped four days later. Christina O'Flannery? Two fingers in my parents' finished basement. Kelly Riedel? Kicked me in my testicles, without provocation. Rebecca Margolis? Peed on her after the prom. Her sister, Emma? Peed on me before Hebrew school. Coach Lymons? Let him touch it for a clean towel. Sometimes it's very difficult to make eye contact.
I feel most vulnerable during these 'happy coincidences.' It's like being taken by surprise, found out, de-pants, and inspected for scars all at once. Usually the other person keeps it cool - there's no reason to keep it any other way - but for me, when that familiar name is brought up, it's like a hollow vessel transporting my partner in conversation back to a point in my life where I thought I had a strict 'no visitors' policy. I've never done anything bad, or not so bad that I have any reason to lie about it. But it doesn't mean I want a new friend, potential mate, or anyone else to have access to certain things without my personal spin on them. Like losing my virginity on a gym mat. Or dating that girl with one breast, but never even getting to see it. (even though everyone else in three counties had) Or kissing poorly or fumbling loudly or coming early (very early [unfashionably early] ) or mistaking a belly button for a vagina or a pillow crease for a vagina. or even a discarded retainer for a vagina. really, mistaking anything for a vagina is problematic.
So now, when people ask if I know Tina / Maria / Shaniqua / Tequila from Albany I'm just going to say, "I was heavily into cock in high school." Case closed. Problem solved. Everyone wins. (p.s. shaniqua - call me. for serious, boo.)