In high school, I used to see this cute skater boy hanging out near the library. To impress him, I borrowed a friend’s brother’s longboard and thought it would be a good idea to walk by him, awkwardly carrying this big-ass skateboard in my new sundress. I might as well have been invisible—he didn’t notice me at all! To this day, I still feel dumb about trying to front like I knew how to skate.
I made another crush a guide to John Waters movies…and posted the DIY on the teen mag I write for! That wasn’t the first (or last) time I made crafts for the dude I liked, either. I once made a weird collaged valentine for an internet crush, complete with printed-out pictures of him and I that I glued on top of other pictures, like a two-headed me on a pin-up body. Luckily, these dudes never get too weirded out—one guy that I made a mixtape for was so smitten he asked me to be his girlfriend on the spot. NOR SHOULD THEY! It is a goddamn privilege to receive personalized crafts from me!!
I was a vegetarian for 11 years, including one that I spent studying abroad in Spain, where I had to turn down all types of exotic and delicious-looking meats. (Very difficult! Many verbal altercations with ham-loving waiters!) Until I went to Barcelona for a long weekend, palled around with these brutally hot Australian boys, and ordered a chicken sandwich at Subway because the one I was crushing on said it was the best thing on the menu. I don’t even like Subway! I couldn’t tell if the guy was impressed, but we never made out.
The dude I had the hots for was signing up for a summer class—one of the head-start type programs for eager students who just couldn’t get their fill of homework the other 10 months of the year. As he told me about it, I realized that I really needed to be taking that chemistry course too, because duh, every aspiring writer needs to get in on ionic compound nomenclature on the ground floor, so I found myself spending a beautiful July behind a desk.
I wish I could turn this into some Feminist Fairy Tale in which I learned that chemistry was my bag and decided I had no time for boys because I was busy taking over the world with my newfound love of science, but, um. The class was brutal: The days were way longer than normal schooldays since they were trying to cover an entire semester in a month, the teacher was dull, the breaks were nonexistent, and though Boy and I ended up as lab partners, it was really hard to seduce him when we only had a few minutes each day to actually talk. When we did, our conversations revolved around (a) the commute to summer school and (b) other girls he had crushes on.
Eventually, I dropped the course. I took chemistry the regular way in the fall, and my grade was ridiculously good because I had already learned half the stuff we covered. Some good came out of it, even if I never dated the Boy! We’re still Facebook friends to this day, though, and I wish him a happy birthday every year.
As a shy, obsessive teenager, I was the queen of the subtle walk- or bike-by. This started in eighth grade: My crush lived all the way across town, so I’d walk to the downtown area to shop with my best friend, then drag her about five more blocks to go past his house, planning to say what a nice day for a stroll it was if I ever bumped into him, even when it was freezing cold.
I never once saw him, though, and the one time I saw his brother, I almost hid in the nearest set of bushes. Fortunately, my high school crushes lived closer, so I could walk my dog past their houses. Unfortunately, they were never home to meet my cute dog and fall in love with me. Sigh.
I worked at an on-campus video store in college. One night when there weren’t any customers around, one of my friends, a very sweet emo kid who lived in my dorm—and on whom I was silently crushing—came into the store. He had a girlfriend, but I got the feeling sometimes, like when he’d find me after our late class to walk me home, that he was maybe vibing on me, too.
He was teasing me about the disarray in the store, I think because there were about 100 videos stacked on the counter that I needed to put away, or that the glass countertop was disgustingly streaked with grubby undergraduate handprints. I got kinda sweaty and nervous, and said something like, “Yeah, well, it’s not THAT DIRTY,” then LICKED THE COUNTERTOP. Of course, this proved nothing other than that I was totally freeeeaking out.
Not only was he disgusted (when your crush yells “YUCK” at you, it’s typically not a good sign), but about a week later I broke out in a rash that was diagnosed as SHINGLES. Nothing ever happened between us, except that we’re still friends today. And he still makes fun of me for it.
One embarrassing thing I did to a former crush was to purposefully not wear underwear…and then tell him that I wasn’t wearing underwear. We’d just started dating, and he responded with great enthusiasm. That was the first time we slept together, and even now, 12 years later, he brings it up with alarming frequency—he’s my husband now, so it totally worked. Score!
What can we learn from tales of licking filthy countertops, piercing lips at 16, drinking all the creamer, and crafting for love? The best big romantic gestures come from being genuine…and the best stories about flirtatious disasters involve the exact opposite. If someone likes you, they like you, even if you drink all the creamer, and if they don’t, they don’t…even if you drink all the creamer. ♦