I was just remembering something hilarious.
One summer when I was at church camp, there was this kid named Jordan who had a crush on me.
He was Mr. Alternative- loved the Red Hot Chili Peppers (this was like 1989 or 90, okay, so the Chili Peppers were still pretty underground, at least in rural Illinois) and other "skater" bands like them.
He liked me because he thought I was Ms. Alternative, which I was actually not. Thanks to my friend Amy Thruman I knew enough about RHCP and They Might Be Giants to pass for an outsider, even though I had a giant Paula Abdul poster in my room and knew all the words to the latest Color Me Badd single.
When I was young- well, let's say between the ages of ten and sixteen- I had this weird phobia of guys who liked me. The only guys I was ever interested in were either way out of my league or had girlfriends. Obviously, I was not emotionally ready to have a boyfriend, because I could not trouble myself to pursue any relationship that was not imaginary.
My imaginary relationships were very satisfying. I'd pass the guy in the hallway, get a wink or a smile, and live happily on it for weeks, replaying the scene in my head, imagining its significance, and relating the story to my friends to see if they thought he "liked me." Over time, our relationship would progress. A wink would become a "hello," a smile turned into a chat session at my locker or his, a note or two was passed.
It was at this point that most boys had to screw everything up by professing that they did indeed "like me," at which time I suddenly and inexplicably hated everything about them.
I hated their longing looks, their stupid love notes and their swaggery walks. I hated the way they dressed, looked, smelled and smiled. I hated how they watched me constantly for "signals", confused and hurt by my sudden obvious disgust. I hated how needy and pathetic they became when I started hurting their feelings on purpose just to see what they'd do.
I remember one guy in particular who, after a week of this treatment, looked at me with clear eyes and just asked "Why are you being so mean to me?" He walked away and never spoke to me again.
No sooner did it happen then I respected him again for standing up for himself and for having the guts to treat me like I deserved. I didn't exactly have a crush on him again, but the spell of disgust was broken and I could see him as a human being.
Most guys weren't smart enough to walk away so quickly.
I have no idea what made me act the way I did. I really didn't like it- who likes feeling disgusted? It wasn't a game to me. I wasn't getting off on the power, and it's not like I was some kind of heartbreaker- I mean, anyone who went to high school with me can attest to that (haha!). I didn't want to treat these guys badly, but they wouldn't leave me alone until I did and all I really wanted was to be left alone.
I tend to think that maybe I was aware on some subconscious level of male sexual energy, and frightened by it. Some girls weren't, but those girls were having sex at age twelve or fourteen. Or maybe it's just an open and shut case of total immaturity.
I'm actually kind of glad when I think about all the stupid things I might have done with these guys if it hadn't protected myself with the "disgust" defense.
Anyway, so I was about eleven or twelve at summer camp when this Mr. Alternative (Jordan) decided he liked me.
We had been hanging out for a couple of days, playing tetherball, walking by the lake, and exchanging our views on important topics like "preps" and "skaters" and whether or not "cuffing" your pants was cool (my view: Cuffing your pants just to be cool is stupid, but cuffing your pants because they're too long is totally acceptable. Yes, I actually remember having this conversation. And yes, I am a douche.).
I didn't actually have a crush this particular kid- we weren't having a fantasy romance or anything. He was actually one of my first guy friends.
One day, we were out playing kickball in the back field. Jordan was on one team and I was on the other, but we exchanged jokes and comments as we switched positions on the field. He was happy, I was happy. It was a gorgeous day.
Then this WHALE named Naomi had to ruin it all by cupping her chubby fingers around my ear and whispering "Guess what? Jordan likes you!" in an exultant tone.
My stomache started cramping up and some of the disgust that started to radiate across the field toward Jordan was deflected onto Naomi. I felt ill looking at her flubbery gut and frizzy hair.
I waited in line for my turn to kick the ball, wishing she'd just disappear, but just as I was hoping hardest for an alien craft to come along and beam her enormous ass to Mars, Naomi bobbed in front of me like an enormous pink balloon.
"He wants me to give you this," she said, showing me a piece of notebook paper folded into a small triangle with my name written on it.
Here's where it gets hilarious. I started freaking out like I was Doc Brown getting Marty's "Do Not Open Til 1985" letter ("What's this? It's about the future, isn't it? It's information about the FUTURE! NO! I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THE RESPONSIBILITY!!!"). I refused to read the letter or even take it into my hand.
"I don't want to read it!" I whined. "I already know what it says!"
It said, of course, that he liked me, that I was beautiful, and that he wanted to "hold my hand at campfire" - although I didn't know all the specifics until the next day when Jordan came up to me after swimming hour and pressed the warm note into my hand. "Just read it, okay?" He mumbled, sort of half pleading and half gruff.
He knew at this point that the friendship was over, because he'd already been treated to a full half day of disgust. I'm also pretty sure that he was no longer hoping to "hold my hand at campfire." I guess now that he'd come this far, he just wanted to have his feelings heard, even if they weren't returned.
Jordan remained broken-hearted for all of twenty-four hours, during which time Amy Thruman did her best to comfort him. By the end of swimming hour the next day, he and Amy were making out in the woods.
Mr. and Ms. Alternative. They were meant for each other.