The Pact | TeenInk

The Pact MAG

May 1, 2008
By Helen Cooney, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

We sat around a wobbly, cast-iron table outside Starbucks around 9:30 one night the summer that I was 14. Emma, Karen, Cathy, and I had just been to a movie we had since decided was a waste of $4.50 and two hours of our lives.

Cathy was sipping her blackberry green tea frappuccino and flipping her Razr open and closed, hoping she had missed an incoming text from Jared, her current object of affection. She sighed and put the phone back in her huge bag. “Bathroom,” she said, sliding her chair out and proceeding ­inside.

Emma stirred her light vanilla bean something-or-­other she’d ordered because it didn’t taste like coffee. She twirled her straw around the small hole in the supposedly spill-proof top, wondering how long it would be until her parents picked us up. A faint humming started in her purse. After a few “Mmhmms” and a couple “Yeah, okays,” she hung up and announced, “They’ll be here in like 15 minutes.”

Karen hadn’t ordered anything. She people-watched. Seemingly consumed by an older man slowly, awkwardly mounting his bicycle, her expression held both confusion and pity. The man took a few long looks at us before pedaling off.

“Are the guys meeting us tonight?” Karen asked ­Emma. We were 14 – boys were rarely far from our minds. My ears perked up.

“I don’t think so,” Emma answered, and that was that.

Then, there was me, a bit disappointed since I had straightened my hair for an hour and was not even ­going to see anyone, witnessing these oh-so-ordinary events take place. I was drained from watching a boring movie in an uncomfortable seat. And I had bought a bottle of water instead of coffee.

I don’t remember who started the conversation, but somehow we stumbled upon the topic of “experience,” which morphed into how we all wanted to meet guys this summer and, to be blunt, make out with them.

I was spending practically the entire month of July with Cathy at her summer house on Cape Cod. There, I was hoping I would find a cute, mature, mild-mannered boy to hold my attention. Cathy promised I’d have my pick of at least three.

Karen and Emma were also leaving for a good chunk of the summer. At their destinations, like Cathy and I, they hoped to be confident, forward, and a bit lucky. That is, if they could duck their parents for a bit, since this was before any of us had licenses.

After we discussed our upcoming opportunities to gain “experience,” we came up with a wonderful idea: The Pact. The Pact was a promise to ourselves and each ­other. We each vowed to make out with a guy while away over the summer. We were 14 – this was big.

Looking back, I can’t think of a more stupid idea. Basically, we were agreeing to throw ourselves at any boy who came along, which I now know would have led ­only to ­humiliation.

The entire time we discussed The Pact, I ­remember silently panicking: Well, of course I have to do it, I can’t be the only one who says “No, thanks.” If they can do it, so can I, right? Right?!

Besides fearing embarrassing myself in front of a boy, not to mention my friends, I was freaking out about ­pressuring myself to do something I probably wasn’t ready for. We were all experiencing a bit more freedom that summer. Unfortunately, the thought of going new places with minimal parental supervision became a little too romanticized in our minds. The new teenage logic was “If we’re old enough to do this, we’re old enough to do that,” and so on. It was almost as if we were daring each other, feeding off the audacity of one idea, which led to ­another and another until we wound up with this contest.

Who did we think we were kidding? Those newly discovered teenage hormones had taken a firm hold of our hair and dragged us along way too fast, yet none of us had the confidence to dig in our heels and refuse. Instead, we complied, and though we were silently kicking and screaming, waging internal wars with ourselves, we didn’t show it.

Soon, we separated for the summer. I looked for guys. I struck up conversations with a few. But I’m very old-fashioned, and I was just too ­uncomfortable to be as forward as I had promised my friends. That promise, I rationalized, didn’t really count because I had been under the intoxicating influence of adrenaline and ­expectation.

Then, during tennis lessons that Cathy’s mother had generously signed us up for, I met a boy. Cathy already knew him and was “working on” one of his friends. It was as if our paths had been laid out for us. I was slightly scared but excited too. I thought, This might actually happen!

Cathy announced one afternoon that there was going to be a bonfire that evening, which she made sound like the event of the year. I eagerly agreed to go. And the guys we were interested in would be there too.

After the excitement of arriving ­dissipated, my mark decided he wanted to take a walk with me. Alone. And everyone knows what that means.

What’s wrong with me? My mind screamed as we walked slowly down the beach. It was the perfect situation. He was well-mannered, intelligent, a bit older, and very cute, and I felt like ripping my hair out I was so annoyed with myself. There must have been a thousand awkward pauses, but all of it added up to a lot of nothing.

On our return route to the fire, I stole a glance at him. I realized that if I was a different person, this night would have been a walk in the park, and this guy next to me would now have a smug look plastered on his face instead of the nervous what-did-I-do-wrong look that he kept shooting at me.

However, the sad part was that this realization only made me want to go sit in a corner and cry. I couldn’t be a bigger dork, I thought.

I returned to Florida the exact same person I was when I left two weeks earlier. This thought alone was enough to make my stomach drop. I hadn’t completed The Pact. What would my friends think? Trying not to think about it only made me think about it more, which made me increasingly nauseous. When Emma called about getting together for a movie since we were all back, I wanted to pretend I ­already had plans. But I didn’t, because everyone was going, and I still wanted to be part of “everyone.”

At around 9:30 that night, we were sitting at the same Starbucks, with the same drinks, at the same table. I knew what was coming – the discussion of The Pact.

Who went through with it? My heart thudded. Maybe no one. Maybe they all had chickened out too. I desperately hoped so – I didn’t want to be the only loser. What if everyone had done it except me?

As it turned out, none of us had mustered the courage to attempt anything close to what we had so confidently promised. I was relieved that I wasn’t the only lame one in our circle. And I was thankful that I hadn’t actually pushed myself to do it. I knew if I had, I would have regretted it. We all were smiling, but there was something uncomfortable hanging in the air – we knew how stupid we had been devising The Pact in the first place. We weren’t ready; it was as simple as that.

I began to realize what peer pressure really is. Who knows where The Pact could have led. What if we had all returned with success stories? What crazy idea would we have come up with next? Would anyone have had the gumption to say “Stop”? A month ago, I would have agreed to anything my friends proposed without hesitation. But after The Pact, I realized that they had no more of a clue what they were doing than I did.

After that, I started making decisions for myself, based on what I ­believed was right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. What if I had come back from Cape Cod and been the ­only one who had “succeeded”? I would have felt embarrassed, ashamed, betrayed by my friends, and disgusted with myself.

Ben Franklin would have a field day with this story. “Trust thyself and ­another shall not betray thee,” he said. I wish I had known that before I spent one of the most stressful months of my life ignoring my instincts and letting others lead me astray.

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This article has 86 comments.

lovestruck said...
on May. 14 2010 at 11:17 am
You don't have to be dating to make out-i kiss all my guy friends.

lovestruck said...
on May. 14 2010 at 11:14 am
i don't consider this a poem. though its a GREAT story.

on May. 14 2010 at 9:04 am
The_Nasghoul BRONZE, Teh Boro, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everything Burns!

Great poem. Really good.

Sevanna BRONZE said...
on May. 14 2010 at 6:20 am
Sevanna BRONZE, Khartoum, Other
4 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life isn't about the number of breaths we take. It's about the moments that take our breath away.

This was amazing, and I can totally relate. Being only 15, it's recently the rave to have boyfriends. Personally, I don't have one, and I'm glad. My friends get so hurt and used, it makes me glad to know that I didn't subject myself to such abuse. An inspirational story.

TrueBeauty said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 5:17 pm
TrueBeauty, St. Petersburg, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Lawl...Your really good. P.s. I live in the same place. Amazin right? But Idk a Janet. But what ev's.

on Apr. 22 2010 at 10:27 am
KB_Country_Strong BRONZE, Hartsville, South Carolina
3 articles 2 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." ~James Dean

I am also 15 years old and never been on a date. I will actually be 16 in about a month so that is very bad. I have no need for boys right now. I am still trying to figure myself out. 

on Apr. 22 2010 at 12:51 am
mcpanicfanic SILVER, Cincinnati, Ohio
8 articles 0 photos 65 comments
You are a really really good writer. I wish I was as good as you!!!!

N33kii said...
on Apr. 6 2010 at 6:14 pm
Sais is spelled says.

Mz.G0ld3n said...
on Apr. 6 2010 at 6:12 pm
I love this story. It really shows how some teenagers act and what they might be going through.

epattkamilah said...
on Apr. 6 2010 at 6:12 pm
It's a good thing that you learned to make decisions on your own because if you always went along with what your friends sais then that shows that they are controling your life. Good job with the story!

KK =) said...
on Apr. 6 2010 at 6:11 pm
I think that this story relates to what a lot of other kids are now going through in school, and how many kids feel the pressure from their friends to do something they may not want to do. I think this story is really good.

Nannette said...
on Apr. 5 2010 at 6:44 pm
that helps alot with these choices that I have to make with my friends

ceci said...
on Apr. 5 2010 at 6:38 pm
story is really good :)

azu14 said...
on Apr. 5 2010 at 5:42 pm

This  is a great story about teens that shows to make a correct decision before acting. 

p.s. always choose correctly

on Mar. 31 2010 at 7:24 pm
spontaneous09 BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
1 article 0 photos 32 comments
I love this story. It makes me feel better about the good decisions that I actually make...sometimes alone.

on Mar. 24 2010 at 7:05 pm
Caitlin Holton BRONZE, Windsor, New York
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This is great. You really showed how niave teenage girls can ruin they're whole lives with one decision and i think you showed great courage to do what you felt was right for you.

This was beautifully written and just a pleasure to read. Keep it up!

Sabby SILVER said...
on Mar. 9 2010 at 6:55 pm
Sabby SILVER, Cullman, Alabama
5 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting." ~Edmund Burke

Fantastic!!! :)

on Mar. 9 2010 at 5:15 pm
MangoTree BRONZE, Grand Rapids, Michigan
4 articles 3 photos 7 comments
No, not sad. be respectful. jeez.

on Mar. 9 2010 at 2:55 pm
xBaByGiRrL22x PLATINUM, Pearl River, New York
22 articles 0 photos 281 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The goal isn't to live forever, but create something that will."
"If you wanna go, baby let's go; if you wanna rock, I'm ready to roll.''
"No one ever said it'd be easy. They just said it'd be worth it." <3

woww. this is really good. very insightful. luv the descriptionz. awesome job plz keep writing!!

mrs childs said...
on Mar. 9 2010 at 2:04 pm
i think that this was a very good story and it was a good ending