Time for another flash back, another failed romantic endeavour.
It was 1996, I was in the tenth grade and his name was Ben. He was tall, dark haired, with soft doe eyes, and he had this gorgeous smile where one corner of his mouth curved up higher. He was a little bit bad boy and that was really attractive to me – the Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. Of course this is a private school version of bad boy – what made him an undesirable (not to me, but to my cliquey school friends) was that he had to repeat year 10 and wasn’t of the same “social class”. Some people in my school were very much snobs it seems.
Anyway, he was in my homeroom; and we had our main classes together. Before too long I found myself totally into him, and it turns out that he was into me too. Of course he couldn’t just outright say it, instead he teased me mercilessly (you know all attention; even bad attention; is good attention). And of course my reaction was an overreaction because I was so into him I couldn’t help but react.
Eventually one of my friends (not one of the snobs) had enough of Ben and I circling one another. She (without my knowledge to all of this) outright asked him if he liked me, and he admitted as much. She told him to ask me out, and he said he would if he got me alone. So right before one of our elective classes; she drags me over to him under some pretence and then takes off. I’m left alone with him.
We’re both standing there awkwardly; trying desperately to make small talk, until one of us has the courage to make a move. Right at the last second I am the one to cave. I ask him out and he says yes and tells me that he was gathering up the courage to ask me out. We share a shy smile before we head off to our classes. I’m uncharacteristically a little late to my class; but I have the biggest grin on my face.
Now here is the totally awkward and fail bit. Even though I had asked him out – and he had said yes – I still couldn’t believe that he actually liked me. I had very low self-esteem, and even when faced with evidence to the contrary – I was convinced that this was all some joke on me. I was terrified that he didn’t really like me; and that somehow it was a practical joke, like out of Carrie. And so I became really shy, and aloof, and practically stopped talking to him – where before I’d done every little thing I could to get his attention. It was like I didn’t know what to do now that I’d had him. He got the impression I wasn’t into him, and the relationship was dust before it even got off the ground.
He resorted to being unpleasant towards me at lunch times; staring at me and calling out mean things when he was in his group of 11th grade friends. I took to ignoring him in class, and acting like he didn’t even exist. Our friendship had disintegrated because I didn’t know how to show him I liked him, and he thought that I wasn’t actually interested in him.
Then one day, one lunch time, he came up to me. He’s mustered up the courage to apologise to me, it’s awkward and adorable all at once. He says he’d like to start over, which of course stupid oblivious me somehow misinterprets. I say to him “Ok, so we’re friends again yeah?” and hold out my hand. Poor Ben has been unwittingly rejected, and limply shakes my hand with a dejected “Yeah, I guess…” and turns on his heel.
Suffice to say we never really talk again after that one. And for the rest of the year, and into the next (until he left the school mid way through the 11th grade) he’d always give me this strange look in the halls. At the time I thought he was staring me down to make me intimidated and uncomfortable – as if he was trying to tell me I was an idiot for thinking he ever liked me. But looking back with experience, I think his face showed something more like a forlorn wanting. I was unable to interpret back then that his expression reflected the disappointment of his belief that his feelings were unrequited. And my suspicious, self-preserving glares back at him really wouldn’t have helped the situation.
So now it’s time for another apology to another guy.
Ben, I’m sorry I couldn’t show you that I really was into you. I had pages and pages of diary entries filled about you, and had a major crush on you for a long time. However I was naive and unsure of myself. So I did the only thing I know how to do – shut down, and hide my feelings. I wish I’d been more confident – because now I’ll never know what your kisses taste like.