By Brittney

How can I start this post without sounding completely scandalous….

…To hell with it. One of the greatest joys I have in life is sounding completely scandalous.

I have the most annoying habit of groping my boyfriend in public. I can’t even help it at this point. We’ve hit the six-month mark where the physical chemistry hasn’t worn off and yet we’re so comfortable with each other that it’s second nature to seek skin-to-skin contact. Throw in the fact that out of the past six months, four of them were comprised of that dreaded state of “Long Distance Dating,” wherein I lived in Illinois and he lived in Michigan and our only point of contact was via text, email or Skype, and the ability to touch him whenever I feel like it, to reassure myself that he is, in fact, here, is one that I cannot resist abusing.

I have been judged by so many passers-by, innocent bystanders until they witnessed my sexual assault of the poor young man who accompanies me. I apologize to you: Barnes & Noble shoppers, Target employees in the electronics section, TJMaxx customers, moviegoers at all theaters in the tri-county area, and especially to the owner of that used bookstore – we didn’t knock over any books and we did actually buy stuff, so I’m only sorry you had to listen to us kissing in the stacks for 15 minutes.

It’s a very good thing that my boyfriend doesn’t mind the constant petting, stroking, kissing, and occasional butt-squeeze, otherwise, I may actually have to find a new outlet for reassuring myself that he’s actually within arm’s length instead of nearly 300 miles away. Then again, if I weren’t as discreet about it as I try to be, he’d probably be more upset about it. He finds the occasions when I we get caught amusing, like the time that several clucking older ladies came out of absolutely nowhere to give me us the stinkeye when I, ahem, had my hands full.

Those women, and the multitudes of other older women who have caught me during the many shenanigans over the years with various young men, seem to be on the lookout for girls like me. During high school, I was at a store with my (gay, but I didn’t know it then) best guy friend (that I’d had a crush on for two years) and invited him into the dressing room with me to see if he liked a particular outfit (again, I didn’t know he was gay, but he certainly knew I wanted him). I heard a gasp followed by a disapproving scoff… and there was, again, several clucking older ladies giving me us the stinkeye.

"You should know better, young lady."

Sometimes, I get the impression that these ladies secretly seek out girls like me. Their attention is drawn to the outspoken, to the scandalous, to the mindless joy of the misbehaving young women of the world — not because they inherently disapprove (even though they probably do), but because they were once girls like me.

They see themselves in the ridiculous antics I get into. They see their old flames in the boys I maul for affection. Perhaps they feel a need to reprimand the wild youth they spy acting out in stores because they remember the situations they couldn’t talk themselves out of.

A part of me knows that I will do it when I’m their age, but a larger part of me refuses. I want to be that old lady with the severe hairstyle that kindly directs the rambunctious couple to the corner of the bookstore on the other side of the romance novels, to the right of fiction, out of view of the children’s section and the store cameras and tells them to carry on. I want to be the older mom strolling through the park, winking at the couple necking in public, as if to say “Good for you. There should be more love in the world.”

Though as much as I’d like to be the elder advocate of the freedom of youth, those same disapproving ladies probably said the same thing when they were 23. We’ll all end up as old, disapproving people if we’re fortunate enough — and a lot of us will envy young people. It’s a part of life.

…Unless.

Unless you lived your life as a young person so thoroughly that all you can do is cheer on the newbies as they discover the freedoms that come with the reckless abandonment of being young. That’s my game plan. Be so thorough in living that all I can do is look back and sigh when I see a young woman pinning her boyfriend against a wall in the back corner of Barnes & Noble for a nice, long kiss.

Of course, knowing myself, I would probably cluck loudly in disapproval just to see the fear and shock pass across their faces as they realize that they’ve been caught yet again and then laugh softly to myself….after all, growing up doesn’t mean you have to grow old.

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