As we know all-too-well by now, there have been several examples of times that I probably should’ve just thrown in the towel on this thing we call life and holed myself up in a Hoarder’s Paradise of Beyonce posters and Ryan Gossling bobbleheads. But then you wouldn’t have anything to read about to make you feel affirmed that you know at least one person whose life you don’t want to swamp your own out for. And I’m a servant of the people, you guys. I’m here for YOU.
So, I’m about to share a story with you that, unfortunately for him, CB has heard more than 10 times in his life. And each time he’s like “Seriously, what is wrong with you” while shaking his head in embarrassment that he didn’t know about this prior to proposing. And it came up again recently when I was talking to Courtney and she was like “Honestly, Beck, how is this someone’s life?” To which I replied “I’m impervious to humiliation, which is why this life works for me.” Obviously.
Anyway, do you guys remember when I told you about that time that I sang at the kid I had a crush on? (if not, click here. And yes, that really happened.) Well, apparently it was a growing trend for me to say-yell things at pubescent boys I peripherally knew until they felt weird enough to walk away. It was a strategy I didn’t give a lot of thought to at the time and was my version of courting that typically ended in me playing cards with Courtney at her mom’s house on a Friday night while we talked about whether guys secretly liked us and just hid it really well.
Ok. So there was this guy sophomore year in high school that was just the dreamiest, and his name was Paul Smith. (No, of course that isn’t his real name. I don’t actively hate myself, I’m not 15 anymore!) Anyway, he played sports, was tall, dark, and handsome, and he sat next to me in history class one semester – which I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember vividly and I remember every moment of. Basically because I spent it trying not to look-slash-talk to him in fear that he’d catch on that I loved him to the depths of my sophomore soul.
And obviously the love was pure and real since most deep connections are built off of never speaking to each other or one person not knowing of your existence.
Well, the only person outside of me and my cat diary who knew of this budding love connection between Paul and me was Courtney. Basically, she’s the only one who signed up to care, which is the job of your best friend in high school - and one she did dutifully, I might add, since I’m pretty sure he’s all I talked about for at least six months and she still stuck around.
However, eventually (and inexplicably to the thinking person), I psyched myself up to talk to him one fine day. You see, he played sports with a friend of ours who we’d sometimes wait for after practice outside of the locker room, and so we’d see him nearly every day. Or, I should say, I’d see him and quickly turn away and pretend he wasn’t there until Courtney assured me he’d walked down the hall without ever noticing me. And then I’d think deeply about that near-interaction until the next afternoon when I’d repeat the exact same thing.
And while I can’t remember the genesis of why I thought it’d be a good idea to buck tradition and switch the play one afternoon, I did just that and proceeded to tell Courtney that Today Was The Day. I was going to talk to Paul Smith.
Sidebar: I’m pretty sure Court knew this would be an epic fail, but we also didn’t have a whole lot going on in our lives in the middle of a sleepy Detroit suburb in the early-to-mid 90s, and so she probably figured it’d lead to at least a few good minutes of entertainment for her.
Right. So I got my head into a good place – I mean, he’s just a guy. It’s not a big deal. He’s not a monster, he’s not a huge prick, he’s just a guy and you’re just a girl and what’s the worst thing that could happen?
|I loved me some bangs.|
So we’re standing there, likely talking about what a good idea this is and how well it’s going to go, when out of the locker room comes PS, all dreamy and tall. And there I was, complete with my 90s bangs and, I’m guessing, wearing a turtleneck, and my stomach is churning – a mixture of butterflies and the stomach flu – and my heart starts to pound so loudly in my ears that I almost didn’t hear what I was about to say out loud because the adrenaline was going so strongly that it was almost like an out of body experience.
And then it happened.
“Hi Paul Smiiiiiiithhhhhhh.”
OH MY GOD.
You see, it’s not going to translate nearly as well without you being able to hear me actually saying it. But I assure you, you guys, it was awful. Because I didn’t just say his name to him – I said his name to him in a semi dream-like state, all breathy and ogling.
Like, just picture the exact opposite of the way you’d ever want to not convey that you’re in love with someone, and that was what I did.
IT WAS AWFUL.
I mean, I could actively feel Courtney simultaneously trying not to laugh while also feeling so aggressively embarrassed for me that she was having panic stomach pains at the idea of breathlessly saying someone’s name to them that you didn’t know.
To his credit, I think he said hi back? Which is impressive when you’re being mildly stalked by a girl in a polar bear sweatshirt. He was probably on the verge of scared of me because I think I maybe leaned in while I said his name to him? I’m not sure. That’s how I remember it in my head, but at this point it’s become such folklore among my friends that it’s possible he just sort of weirdly looked at me and then kept walking, wondering to his buddies who the girl with severe social inability was.
Anyway, this was maybe 12 months after I sang “Two Princes” at a French horn player at a private boys’ school, and so I was obviously on a roll with raking up the points. I had clearly found my niche and a sure-fire way to narrow down my dating pool to a negligible number. It was perhaps my biggest strength at 16 years old. I’d found what I was good at and I was pursuing it with all I had.
Obviously it didn’t affect me at all and it never comes up in conversation. Except for the time that Courtney came back from our 10 year high school reunion, called me up and said “Hey, Paul Smith was asking about you.” And I said “Really?” and she said “No, not really. But I said ‘Hi Paul Smiiiiiittttthhhhh.’”
And then I hung up on her.
So there you have it, you guys, a great way to start your Monday! Don’t you feel better about yourselves now?