The Perpetually Embarrassed Male Preteen

Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "The only thing harder than puberty, is pre-puberty..."

Okay, she never stated that publicly, but it's an important message that still applies today -- ask any dude that's had a "raging biological reminder" at the worst possible time.



"DAYAD! Stop... YOU'RE EMBARRASSING ME! Debbie's right over there..."

All of us have been this guy (or GIRL), and at one point or another (and unless our father is David Duchovny) we've been mortified by one or both of our parents.

Chuck Flannerty was always putting his son Charlie through an emotional crucible. Whether he was wearing plaid on stripes, socks under sandals, or ordering a few too many IHOP pancakes a little too loudly. All of it was too much for Charlie Jr. to bear.

Charlie was 12 years and 104 days old, and at the height of preteenhood. His dad was no longer his hero or undisputed best friend. The placard fell off what seemed like years ago. Charlie viewed his dad as a burden, and tried his best to deal with him through patience. The hormones of preteenhood had made Charlie very paranoid and very insecure. He'd change his "look" bi-weekly, and his friends just as often.

Nothing enflamed these hormones and insecurities quite like when he was around his crush, Debbie Alexander. Debbie was 13, a foot taller than Charlie, and could probably beat him at arm-wrestling.

Charlie thought he had a chance with Debbie... WHEN HIS DAD WASN'T AROUND. Charlie's dad was such a corny goofball -- making jokes with punchlines coming from a mile away, farting in the minivan -- doing stuff that Charlie once adored, but now abhorred with excruciation.

The peak of prepubescence is denoted by embarrassment. Charlie Flannerty just wished his dad would go away for awhile. No more noogies, no more "bear hugs," and no more talking to Debbie. GOD!

"I'm not into Robin Hood anymore Dad, cut it out!" Charlie whimpered as he carefully coiffed his hair. Charles Senior just stood in the hallway, green tights stretched to a pea hue. "It was not too long ago when you were into this stuff, Chuck... now you're finally talking to girls... I think I like it!"

Chuck Sr. took the bittersweetness in stride, lamenting while he was happy.

"Just stop, Dad." Charlie felt he already had too much on his plate. Debbie was coming over and he needed his dad to take them to the skating rink. And he'd prefer if Charlie Sr. would get the hell out of his Robin Hood costume, and burn it while they were gone.

"Sometimes I swear you're so immature, DAD." Charlie's dad took this verbal abuse because he'd do anything to reconnect with his rapidly evolving son. Charlie was also exploring his boundaries -- both with his parents, and with the prospect of true love.

Would tonight be the night of their first hand-holding? Highly unlikely. As Chuck Sr. dropped off both Charlie and Debbie, he kissed his offspring's forehead, as he messed up his hair completely. GOD! It's as if Charlie Jr. was on the brink of preteen aneurysm, thinking that the only positive experience this Friday night would be one from his stupid Dad.

Imagine the confidence Charlie would've had if he'd known that Debbie thought all of it was cute.

Charlie didn't get to hold hands that Friday night, but in the anthology of life experience, it really didn't matter. He treated Debbie like he was a young gentleman, and yet wracked by nerves, ended up having a fun time. Debbie would go on to see other people throughout puberty, and so would Chuck Jr. They'd meet up 15 years later at a high school reunion, and reminisce about mutual memories. When the bases were covered, they embraced and then parted ways. The two of them talked endlessly about everything. Everything except this one ostensibly embarrassing night for Charlie. A Friday night 15 years ago that neither of them could seem to remember.

Need more Retrospective Dude Content? How about this? Or this? Or... This