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Post Column: True Story: Party prompts questions for meeting younger self

I was at a party during Sibs Weekend.

It was a girl’s 21st birthday, and my friend Jimmy and I went with some girls he knew. The party was at the birthday girl’s house (I think it was her house, at least) and we all packed in the kitchen and the living room. Some people brought their siblings along, mostly high school kids.

It was strange talking to them. They seemed reserved, as if they didn’t want to offend me, because I was older and should therefore be spoken to in a certain way, despite that I’m only a freshman.

As we were leaving the party, I passed by a group of girls who had a little kid with them. I heard someone say he was 12 years old — too young to be at a party like this. For some reason, the girls went inside, and the little kid stood outside the door. It was just me and him standing there.

It’s tough to remember what it was like being a 12-year-old. I know I was small and had no confidence. I still watched Nickelodeon. I spent each weekend night playing videogames in my friend’s basement. At night, I wore orthodontic headgear. That headgear defined me.

All around me, kids were dating one another. I liked a girl with brown hair, a tall, cute girl who talked to me in class. My friends convinced me to ask her out.

Our grade was at camp for the week. I saw the girl standing off in a field. The sun fell on her face. Her hair glowed. God was telling me: “Do it, Evan. Do it.”

My friends were saying the same thing. They stood behind me, five or six guys egging me on. So I walked up to her. I said her name, and she turned to look.

And I said: “Hey, I was wondering … maybe … if you wanted to … go out with me?”

It’s funny now, but when she started laughing, I swear it might’ve been the lowest point in my life. There was this mixture of deep shame and depression all at once, so much that I had one of my friends go up to her later to tell her it was just a joke, that I had only asked her out on a bet.

She laughed again. “Yeah,” she said, “I figured.”

I have no idea what this 12-year-old kid is like, the one I saw outside the birthday party. But I wanted him to know that he was OK, that I understood.

So I said, “Hey, man. What’s up? How you liking college so far?”

He looked at me. Then he walked off a few feet, not saying anything.

When his sister came back out, he grabbed her by the arm. He looked terrified. The sister glared at me, and with her eyes, she seemed to say: “What did you do to this poor kid?”

I felt old then. I felt older than I’d ever felt before.

People always bring up that situation, the one where you’re somehow able to go back in time and meet your younger self. What advice would you give? What things would you warn yourself about?

But if I ever met my 12-year-old self, I don’t know what I’d say.

It probably wouldn’t matter. Probably, I’d be sitting outside some house party. I’d introduce myself, but he wouldn’t recognize me. Maybe I wouldn’t recognize him, either. Maybe we’d walk right past each other, neither of us knowing just where we’d been or where we were going.

Evan Smith is a freshman studying journalism and a columnist for The Post. Email him at

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