This will seem insane. And I’m not a professional psychiatrist (hell, not even an amateur one), so I can’t say for certain that the events described herein have little or any bearing on my behavior. But as I can’t think of anything else that might have been the case, this is my best guess for why I am the way I am when I get an inkling that a woman is attracted to me, and/or why I’m so fucking weird about compliments.
In 8th grade, the legendary Bill was moved to a new school. Pam and I still hung out on occasion (mostly as part of a larger group hangout), and Ian hung out mostly with a different crowd. The infamous Ed and I had broken ties over the summer 1another story for another time. With our crew disbanded, there was no unity, and I was back to just being another weird kid trying to figure out his place in the world.
In my English class, I sat in front of one of the Popular Girls of the school. She was voted “Prom Queen” (or whatever the middle school equivalent of prom is) the year prior, and she remained popular into the 8th grade. I’d overhear her discuss in detail with friends around her the dates she’d gone on, boys she liked, what she thought was “so hot”, and more. At the time, I took mental notes, thinking maybe it would help me later in life. As I’ve come to realize since : women talking about what they like is approximately zero percent useful as a guide for what other women like. But I stayed enthralled, and – like apparently everyone else in my school – attracted to her.
One day, she was whispering to friends in the middle of an English lesson, so she didn’t hear what the teacher said before sitting down behind her big teacher desk when the room went quiet and worked on the lesson. We were instructed to write down some kind of quiz answers, but Sarah 2fuck it, I’m using her real first name here didn’t know that. She tapped on my shoulder and said “hey… heyy…” and I turned around. She asked what was going on, and I whispered to her the assignment. She said “thank you SO much!” and I turned back around. About a minute later, she tapped on my shoulder again and whispered into my ear “by the way, you have really pretty eyes”. Shocked that she was paying me a compliment, I just tilted my head back and said “thank you”.
The following day, she tapped on my shoulder for some mindless question I’ve since forgotten, and bit her lip while I answered. Later, she whispered “you’re so cute!” apropos of nothing. This kind of activity continued for about a week.
One day, while the teacher was busy at her desk and paying no attention, she tapped on my shoulder and just said “hey, I wanna show you something”. I turned around, she smiled, and said “kiss me”. Being that I’d only kissed one other girl in my life (almost a year prior at that point), I was nervous. And this was fucking royalty, so I figured I’d fuck it up. I leaned in, she leaned in, I closed my eyes and…
WHAM! she slammed my head into her desk.
This made our teacher stand up and ask what was going on, there were giggles all around, and I was trying to keep my eyes from watering after a brutal nose-smashing. Sarah thought it was hilarious. After class, I tried to talk to her, but she walked away like I didn’t exist. The following day in class, I leaned back to say “what the fuck was…” and she shushed me. “I’m trying to pay attention… shhh!”, almost loud enough that it would seem – to the teacher – like I was trying to disrupt her education.
After the weekend, she tapped my shoulder the following Monday. I said “what is it this time?” and turned around to see her frowning. “Why are you acting like that?” she asked. I pointed to her desk, then my forehead, and she looked confused. I whispered “you slammed my head…” and she cut me off with “ohhh shit! I’m sorry, I was leaning in and I think I bumped your elbow! I’m so sorry. Are you mad?”. Because I’m an idiot, I believed her, and rewrote the history in my mind to fit the narrative she just presented. She said “oh shit, teacher! turn around!” and I went back to paying attention. Sarah, I thought, was looking out for me. She’d continue her “you’re cute” and “I’ll bet you kiss great” whispers in my ear for another few days.
A few days later, she tapped on my shoulder again and said “wanna kiss me?” – to which I turned around and looked at her skeptically. She frowned. “Aww… you don’t wanna kiss me?”. I started to feel bad. I told her I would, if she was serious. She said she wouldn’t offer if she wasn’t serious, and she leaned forward, and stuck her tongue out, licking her lips. She even put her hands on my shoulders, preparing for us to kiss. I went in, closed my eyes, and…
WHAM! she slammed my head into her desk.
I was pissed. I stood up. I said “WHAT THE FUCK?”. She feigned shock, the class laughed, I was sent to the principal’s office. I didn’t rat her out, I just said I slipped in my chair and blamed it on her out of embarrassment.
The next day, after class, I tried to talk to her and she said “walk with me”. When we got to her locker, I helped her load up her books and she walked off too fast for me to follow. In my attempts to catch up, two of the larger, popular, most muscular boys in my grade stopped me and slammed me into the wall. “Sarah says you’ve been stalking her. Knock it off, dude”. I tried to plead my case – “she wanted me to kiss her!” – but they laughed and asked why I’d think I ever had a chance with someone like Sarah. “You’re a fucking freak, dude. Why would she kiss you?” and laughing further when I tried to explain “well, I slipped when I leaned in…”, telling me I was just making shit up and trying to seem like I was cool by making up a story about Sarah wanting to kiss me. It seemed so absurd, I can’t say I blame them for thinking that. For the next few weeks, if I so much as saw her, someone would shoulder-check me into a wall, or locker, or over the top of a lunch table. Other popular girls would throw things at me and call me names.
At one point, a girl who was – to me – the hottest girl in school (and whose older sister was one of the hottest girls in her high school, and conveniently friends with my older sister at said high school) came up to me and told me she was sick of me talking shit. Her name was Theresa. She said “you’re going around telling people that my first words were ‘fuck me! fuck me!’ — that’s fucking gross! you’re an asshole!”. Since she knew my sister, I had just enough clout to ask her to just tell me who said this.
Turns out, it was Ed. He’d seen Sarah blow me off near the lockers, so he decided to spread some rumors for fun, and really pile it all on. Theresa agreed to call off the goon squad, under the condition that she never heard from anyone else that I’d talked shit. Since it was all lies to begin with, we both held our promises. The rumors, and the beatings, stopped.
I’ve tried in vain, even 20+ years later, to not be skeptical when women hit on me. And to trust compliments as genuine. But I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m about to get my head slammed into a desk and have a group of angry jocks beat the shit out of me for not realizing I was being fucked with. I still find myself on dates with women I’m attracted to, who are giving ALL of the signals, and I’m apprehensive about the first kiss. If you could interview every woman I’ve ever been with, you’d find less than a handful that would say “ohh yeah, he went right in for the kiss”, while the majority would tell you that I probably need a neon “KISS ME!” sign to light up above their heads before I made a move.
On the plus side, at least there’s still women out there that want me to kiss them. That’s what matters here.
So fuck you Sarah Burton 3I’m sure she’s Sarah McMarriedToAShithead these days. Serves her right.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↩||another story for another time|
|2.||↩||fuck it, I’m using her real first name here|
|3.||↩||I’m sure she’s Sarah McMarriedToAShithead these days. Serves her right|