I’ve been called a badass a lot in the last few years. And to be clear, I don’t think I’m a badass. I think I’ve been gifted with an immense amount of straight up stubborn. Half of what I achieve, I do because it just needs to be done and I’m looking for the way I can do it by myself as cheaply (but nicely) as possible. Anyway, a thought occurred to me last night as I fell asleep:

When I was seventeen, I asked a guy to our tolo (apparently the PNW term for a Sadie Hawkins dance, thanks for the learn, wiki!). I had a black eye from a bad hop when I asked him but impetuous high school me didn’t let that stop me. My dad found the black eye bit alternately horrifying and really amusing. Fortunately, this guy was a baseball player and he said yes so it didn’t bother him too much. The dance was nice but nothing really came of it.

Over the following summer, we actually reconnected and went on a few dates, we (or at least I) had a lot of fun. I, however, was a massively awkward girl who had never kissed anyone and had no idea how to help him make the leap to so much as holding my hand. We went to homecoming together but it was massively awkward and I didn’t know how to make it better and thus it just ended.

Bellarmine Prep Homecoming, 2003

The moment that I remembered last night was walking into CenturyLink Field (then Quest!) for a WSU football game that my aunt had given me tickets to. Mike was working for a construction company of some kind that summer. A prep school kid driving a late model Civic, this seemed slightly out of character but he jokingly but with a certain level of earnestness told me about the concrete truck driver who was a “badass.”

“That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” he said.

“A concrete truck driver or a badass?” I asked.

“A badass.”

“A badass, okay then.”

Maybe he grew up to be a badass, I don’t know. We never really hung out after that awkward homecoming. Facebook does tell me he grew up to be a stock trader that appears to live in a house and be pretty normal.

Embarrassingly, looking back, I mostly rolled my eyes at that comment. I couldn’t particularly see this guy, that I really quite liked, growing up to be a badass and it didn’t even occur to think about badassery in my own life. I definitely didn’t think to be a badass and kiss him. The word “badass” sounded kind of crass and redneck. At the time, I was planning a life saving the world from the horrors of climate change in academia, not living this life (I don’t even have words for what I’m doing).

I knew I was brash and a little bit obnoxious— another friend’s (shitty) boyfriend in response to something about me said, “Feminists are fat, ugly embittered women who can’t get a man.”A rather critical and religious classmate told me she could spot me flirting “from across the quad” (which is hysterical because… see, I think I scared the high school boys).

My friends would cringe because I was the definition of “too much.” I was loud in public places and ridiculous. I hope they loved me for it. In college, my friends used to say, “Do it, Beth, you won’t” and I’d joke about having a dollar for everytime they said it. Maybe I was just a badass the whole time and just forgot for a few years (six?).

So cheers to you, Mike, I hope you’re a badass. I think I’m owning my title in 2018.

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