Breaking hearts and arms

The AQ‘s Sarah Morin shares the story of her first ever date with a pro-life Christian boy  all in the name of free books and chocolate.

I accidentally threatened to break my first date’s arm. 

I didn’t actually end up breaking it. His heart, on the other hand, is another story. 

I was shy and bookish and refused to enter into the high school dating scene, but I wanted a prom date.

More importantly, I wanted the free book and box of gourmet chocolates I later got when he “prom-posed.”

I am still willing to date anyone in exchange for gourmet chocolates and books.

Prom dates, however, were like the latest iPhones — all the cool people had one. I wanted to be cool. 

I still want to be cool. 

We came from two different worlds. My friends and I were high-achieving predominately gay art nerds. We spent our lunch hours doing homework and discussing social issues. My parents were adamantly liberal — the pro-choice, pro-assisted-suicide heathens his family probably abhorred.

He came from a family of five children. His father was head of an anti-assisted-suicide group. They regularly attended church (my family never went to church). He even had a Biblical name. His name was James. He was a member of the God Squad, a legitimate high school group that protested abortion and went on prayer crawls. A prayer crawl is like a pub crawl, except it’s less pub-y. Actually, there are no pubs. There’s no alcohol. It’s just praying (and crawling?). The incentive is not alcohol. It’s Jesus. I am unclear on whether they actually crawl. 

James asked me on a Valentine’s Day “thing” to the most romantic of places: Pizza Hut. 

We’d played chess during our lunch break at school before, but this was our first outing (ouuu).

A few nights before my first-ever date, I had a terrible nightmare. I dreamt I was married to him. It was one of those dreams you were sure was reality in the moment. We had eight children and lived in a house in the middle of nowhere. Every wall in the house was painted white and I was staring at a blank Word document. I was a writer, but I couldn’t seem to write. He came up behind me, placed his hand on my shoulder, asked if I was having trouble writing and then said, “Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a good writer, you just need to be a good wife and homemaker.” 

I woke up screaming. 

I spent the day before the date panicking. 

“Oh my god, what if he offers to pay?” I asked my best friend. 

That would officially confirm that it was a date. That we were dating.


If he paid for my meal, we would be bonded for life. Basically married. My nightmare would come true and I would be a married homemaker with eight children in a house with white walls in the countryside and a non-feminist partner in a loveless marriage.

I simply could not allow it. I was, and still am, an independent woman who can pay for her own meal — gourmet chocolates and a free book aside, however. 

My best friend understood my future loveless-marriage-eight-children dilemma.

“Just threaten to break his arms or something. He can’t pay if his arms are broken,” she said. 

True enough.

So the next day, his dad drove us into town for the occasion. I had the overwhelming urge to throw open the car door and tumble out as Christian rock music played from the speakers. 

In fact, I was planning how to do just that when his dad told me to guess who his favourite saint was. I wasn’t aware people had favourite saints. I knew approximately two saints. Coincidentally, his favourite saint was Saint Thomas, which was almost enough incentive to turn me off of attending St. Thomas University.

After arriving at the dingy Pizza Hut and conversing awkwardly for an hour, we went to the cash register to pay. He pulled out his wallet just as I pulled out mine.

“Don’t worry, I’ll pay,” he said.

But I was very worried about having eight children and being incapable of writing.

I snapped my wallet closed, looked him dead in the eyes and said in my small, quiet, serious voice, “I’m going to have to break your arms.”

He started back at me in utter terror.

I felt a personal sense of pride at being perceived as tough. 

“It’s a joke,” I said. “I’m joking. My friend said if I let you pay, I’d have to break your arms.”

He was still terrified. 

“I’m not going to break your arms,” I said.

He stammered something to the effect of, “That’s good … Good, I’m glad.”

And we still went to prom together two months later. 

Four months later, I began ghosting him and questioning my sexuality.

Like an iPhone, our relationship was short-lived.

A year later, I found out he became a fervent anti-abortion activist. Naturally, I deleted my prom photos with him from my Facebook.

Two years later, I unfriended him.

We were two different people on separate paths whose lives happened to cross, briefly and regrettably. 

I had pushed myself to be in a relationship I didn’t have interest in pursuing, simply so I could be like everyone else. 

I didn’t break his arm, but I think I broke his heart.

The point is, you shouldn’t rush to jump into a relationship at a young age, or at any age.

You should only do it if free books and chocolate are involved. In that case, don’t be afraid to break a few arms.

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