During the first half of my freshman year of high school, I had a crush on the cutest junior in school. Now he wasn’t the most popular guy. He wasn’t the coolest. He wasn’t what you’d call a stud. Yet everyone who knew him liked him—no one had a bad word to say about BlueEyes. He was kind, sweet, funny, and he had a killer smile, which would flash at me the entire duration of 6th period study hall.
He, one of the most popular guys in school, and I would hang out almost every day during study hall, frequently playing chess—yes, even we jocks know the game. There would be constant conversation, teasing and plenty of flirting. Mr Popularity was constantly teasing BlueEyes and I about the chemistry between us, but I didn’t think much of it. I was a lowly freshman, and we were just killing time during study hall.
Then one day my good friend Michelle told me that BlueEyes talked about me all the time at church, saying how much he liked me. I did a double take. First, I never knew they were friends. And two, BlueEyes was talking to other people about me? I had gotten the impression he was shy around women, which Michelle confirmed. So I decided to build up the courage to ask him out myself.
Shortly afterward, there was a big basketball game that we all went to. I was sitting there with a group of my friends when a rumor went around the group that a tall girl in my class who I wasn’t particular fond of had asked a junior out. Guess who it was? BlueEyes. They didn’t even really know each other! Not like he and I did, but he was naturally flattered. She was tall, athletic, attractive and obviously had more moxie than I.
The sad thing about this story is not that BlueEyes and I never had our moment in the sun. Even in my senior year, when he was in college and dating a junior, he was at my prom, and he came up to me and chatted with me just like in the old days, wanting to know how I was and where I was going to college and all. That friendship still lingered.
The sad thing is that this is the course most of my romantic “relationships” took during high school. Attraction. Heavy flirtation. Friends carrying messages of deeper romantic interest yet nothing more surfacing. Pseudo dates. Study dates. Babysitting dates. Movie dates. Proms. I don’t know if it was because I seemed like I didn’t care, that I didn’t play the game enough. My eyes were instead on the prize of getting into one of the best universities, being the queen of extracurricular activities, excelling in sports and putting my heart into music, singing and musical theater.
I don’t know if it was because I was “the exotic” in a sea of lily-white suburbia, oddly mixed with redneck country. Most parents loved me, but I realize people could talk, and I am sure they did. It happened to my brothers, though they never opened up about it to me.
One of my “best friends” in high school told me a guy I really liked, who obviously cared for me, too possibly wasn’t asking me out because his parents were prejudiced. This came as a surprise to me, especially when his mom invited me to go into his bedroom during a study session. But you never know. What bothered me more was my so-called friend planting the seed in my head.
I hadn’t thought about high school too much in a way until last night when I got a completely random Facebook chat message from a guy I’ve known since maybe 4th or 5th grade, but hadn’t actually conversed with in more than 16 years. He told me he’s been trying to think of something clever to say to me for a long time.
So umm i managed to notice some important [SingleInMy30s’s] facts via facebook
Well, one you look great
and umm, shit I can’t think of the other
And um I remember you as smart too.
He admitted to be being drunk and challenged me to guess the song he had just played three times in a row. I joked Lady Antebellum, knowing even after all these years, that would be completely out of his listening circles, haha.
He added it was by a white duo from the late ‘70s and ‘80s.
“Hall and Oates?” I guessed.
“Yes! Nice! Private eyes,” he said.
“Are they watching me, watching me?” I teased.
He randomly went onto the next question about the only real pub/restaurant in town and asked when I frequented it. The last time he’d been there was a few years prior.
“I dont remember seeing you,” he said. “I probably would have made a point of making an ass of myself if I had seen you.’
We went onto talk about real stuff. Where we were living now, what we did for a living. Talked about what happened to us since good old high school, of course. I told him to send me a poem he had written.
When I showed signs of logging out to go to bed, he said this conversation might have been perceived as hitting on me. “You know I always admired u back in the day.”
He wanted me to ask why, answering that I made everything look easy—grades, sports, being hot.
“I most definitely was not hot in high school,” I replied. Kinda cute perhaps, I thought to myself.
“ha but u know u were,” he wrote.
“But thank you,” I said with full sincerity about his comment that I had made everything look so easy. “I played the part. I went through the steps.”
i mean its all so much nonsense, but still u excelled
and u turned out to be good people
He reminisced about things we remembered about high school and middle school. Me in my blue track shorts. My brother calling the Lakers winning a game, but the Bulls winning the NBA series. Entertaining everyone during recess with my tumbling gymnastics. Remember his mother’s face when we were kids. My sixth grade boyfriend and I dancing at middle school dances, while Redhead was dancing with someone else.
I dunno, i think u were the standard for hotness.
u would always dance the last one, very nice
“You’re awesome,” I said. “My inner teen self esteem just boosted 100 pts tonight.”
ha im not trying to be nice
im just saying
that is what happened
“Very, very few people took the time or chance to tell me things like this back then,” I said. And it was so true. My best girl friends, of course, did. Guy friends, even the ones who liked me, rarely did.
“Well we were all like 15,” Redhead explained away, forgetting all the others around us getting it on like rabbits.
I eventually ended the night because I was already half asleep when we first began talking, but I realized how powerful our conversation had been for me. Not because a guy from my youth admitted crushing on me, but because someone had actually seen me, appreciated me, admired me and the way I lived my life “seemingly effortlessly” from a distance.
All that work to get to where I wanted to be, done joyfully, paid off in more ways than one. And years later, it was still remember and acknowledged. Sometimes those out of the blue conversations with people from the past can be just the boost to the spirit you need to propel you into another exciting future.