American dating etiquette
She never notices.”The doorbell rang and some packages came—the UPS man had two: some squishy neon-colored balls for Lily’s younger sister, Olivia, 10, and Lily’s eyeliner. ” Lily told the UPS man, signing for it.“Don’t tell Mom,” she told Olivia, the package under her arm. ”“She took Henry to the Apple store,” Olivia said, tearing open her box of squishy balls. ” Lily asked.“To buy him a new i Phone,” Olivia said. He threw it at the wall when he got mad at the game he was playing. Lily’s father was a lawyer who worked in Manhattan and her mother was a stay-at-home mom.
He threw it twice.”Lily was glad Henry wouldn’t be in the house while she was getting ready to go on her date; he was always saying things to try and make her doubt herself, always comparing himself to her, saying he was better at sports, and she was “dumb” for caring about things like clothes and makeup. As the oldest of five, Lily said she never felt she had her parents’ full attention; the littler kids took up so much of her mother’s time and “my dad is, like, never home.” Her mother did pay her attention, she said, but she was “always, like, managing me and making sure I’m doing everything right.” So now it was nice—“so nice,” she said—to have someone in her life like Josh, her date, who would just talk to her and listen to her, and tell her she was pretty, “Oh my God, like all the time.”They hadn’t actually seen each other in person for about a year. Ever since then, she said, she and Josh had been Skyping most nights for about an hour, and then for three- or four-hour stretches every weekend, only stopping “when we have to, like, go to the bathroom or take a shower.” Now they were texting all day, every day, even during school (“We just talk about whatever we’re doing, or we’ll say, like, Hey, what’s up, hi, bye”).
After camp, they started gradually making contact through Facebook messaging, occasional texting, favoriting each other’s tweets and liking each other’s pictures on Instagram. He was the last person she talked to at night before she went to sleep and the first person she talked to in the morning, “when I open my eyes.”“He kept asking me out,” she said, “but I said no, because there’s just so much going on in my life right now and I just didn’t feel like I had the time. We have hours and hours of homework a night, and it’s a lot to deal with, all the work.
As crushes go from real-life likes to digital “likes,” the typical American teenage girl is confronted with a set of social anxieties never before seen in human history. He was “really smart, really funny, really athletic, really tall,” she said, eating chips at the long wooden table in the kitchen of her home, an eight-bedroom house on a leafy street in Garden City. “It goes on the best and you can make wings like Audrey Hepburn’s. I watch of them ’cause they give you really good information.”She had ordered the eyeliner on Amazon the night before for next-day delivery. “Garden City kids are sick at sports,” said Matt, a 17-year-old boy at Roosevelt Field, a mall in East Garden City, the 10th largest mall in America; it used to be an airfield.“You work hard, you excel at sports,” Matt said, “you get into an Ivy League school, or even like an N. They see everything in terms of money so that’s how they show their love—through money.” “But a lot of kids who are fuck-ups get whatever they want, too,” his friend Roxanne, 16, observed. She was one of the top students in her grade at a competitive Manhattan private school. “My whole family’s good at sports,” she said breezily. D., too, she said, but the prescription drugs she took controlled it and she could concentrate. She said she also suffered from anxiety and took medication for that. An estimated 99 percent of Garden City High School graduates go on to colleges, many of them high-ranking. “That’s one of the reasons we moved out here to Garden City, so my brother could play soccer.”Garden City is a village of some 22,000 people, about an hour’s drive from Manhattan, an affluent community with many beautiful churches, a place centered on raising kids, raising them to be successes.