When I was in high school, there was a girl I liked in my class. She was smart and pretty, and she came from a wealthy family. I came from the “other side” of Queens, so our relationship had all of the potential of a Lifetime movie.

One spring day, after math club, I walked her home. I bought her an ice cream cone at Baskin-Robbins. We sat in the sun and talked about how our SAT scores were going to determine the rest of our lives. The fact that we were sitting there together was a sign that she liked me. I was hoping this would be my first serious girlfriend.

That weekend, a group of our friends went to “the city” to see some movie at the Ziegfeld Theater on the big screen. Her friend drove us to the theater. It was six crammed into one car. I was in the front and she was in the back. She was all dressed up, wearing a dress, and looked fabulous. As we drove, I became upset when I saw her flirting and talking with one of my other friends. I could feel my stomach tighten. Until that moment, I had never felt such intense emotions, harsh and powerful feelings of jealousy and lust.

To this day, I do not remember what the movie was that we saw at the Ziegfeld or what we did afterward. I think we went out to eat after the movie, but I don’t remember for sure. Someone smoked pot, but it wasn’t me.

As we drove home, we took the same seats in the car. When I looked at her in the back seat, I wanted her badly, even though I’m not sure what “wanting her” meant as a virgin in high school. I just knew that I hated myself for wanting her so badly, and that these wild, animal feelings were turning me into some sort of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde monster.

I turned to her in the back seat. She was wearing boots with her dress, and a silk blouse with no bra. I was so angry that I did not possess this girl for myself, or that she might give “herself” to someone other than me.

The next five seconds have haunted me for decades. As we drove over the 59th Street Bridge, I put my hand on her thigh, saying, “Is this what you want?! Is this what you want?!” She quickly blocked my hand and started tearing up. I grabbed my hand back and turned to the front, ashamed. The others in the car didn’t really know what had happened, because it occurred so quickly. When they asked her why she was upset, she didn’t want to talk about it.

I didn’t speak to anyone for the rest of the trip home. I later apologized, but she didn’t talk to me again.

This was one of the meanest thing I ever did, and the only time I ever did anything like this, and it affected my relationships with women for years.

This incident truly scared me, not only because of what I did to her, an innocent victim, but because I lost control. For many years, excessive emotions and sexuality frightened me, as if they were dangerous, never knowing where they might carry me, like a leaky raft on wild rapids.