When I was 15, I fell in love.
Or something like that.
I don’t know any other word to describe my feelings for this boy. When I tell people about it now, they don’t understand how he had such a hold on me.
“What did he look like?”
“He was about my height, maybe a little shorter. He sort of had a mullet. Eventually he got a really questionable tattoo. He seemed to have a total of four outfits.”
“He was really cute.”
“Uh, yeah. Sounds it. Was he at least nice?”
“I don’t know. I never actually spoke to him.”
“Then how can you say you loved him?”
“Some things you just know.”
Stalkers behave better than I did.
Because I couldn’t be near him all day, I asked my friends to keep an eye on him and report back on his actions.
“Uh, what is it you want to know?” one friend asked.
“Oh, you know, like did he sneeze or open his locker or eat a sandwich?”
“You are deranged.”
But any bit of information was evidence we were destined to be together.
“I overheard him talking to his friend about asking his mom for a ride somewhere.”
“That’s so cute! My mom has to drive me around, too!”
“Uh, he is 17. That’s not cute.”
“Yes it is!”
“No, it’s not.”
“Whatever. Did he say anything else?”
“Um, he was drinking Mountain Dew.”
“I love Mountain Dew!”
“No you don’t.”
“Yes I do!”
“Oh yeah? Then finish this can for me.”
I did have one friend who indulged my fixation. For my birthday, she snapped a photo of my crush during their PE class. It was the best gift anyone had ever given me. He looked kind of stunned in the photo. When I looked at that picture, I liked to pretend he was noticing me for the first time. Obviously, he would fall for me. Ours would be the most passionate love our little town had ever seen. Then we would break up, but he would realize the error of his ways and win me back. I compiled a mix tape of schmaltzy 90s ballads that served as the soundtrack to this fantasy.
But how to make that fantasy a reality? I needed to get his attention, but I wasn’t sure how. Staring at him from across the cafeteria wasn’t working. Neither was memorizing his class schedule and planting myself in his path. No matter how uproarious the good time I pretended to have, I couldn’t catch his eye. I had to figure out what he liked and be that thing.
As I mentioned, he wasn’t a big guy. I am 5’6”, and he couldn’t have been taller than I was. Most short men have big egos, I thought, so surely the thing he loved most was himself. So, to get his attention I would become his double.
I decided the best way to do this was to dress like him. Unfortunately, he had a limited wardrobe and very little of it was flattering. I have too much booty for Dockers, I don’t look good in camo and I wasn’t sure where to find a t-shirt with a rattlesnake on it. That meant the only ensemble I could copy was his gray sweatshirt/black jeans combo. This became my uniform.
Because my crush had only four outfits he wore to school, he staggered their order of appearance in an unpredictable manner. Sometimes he wore the camo twice in a week, sometimes he wore the snake t-shirt twice in a week. In order to wear my black and gray outfit on the same day he wore his, I had to wear it often.
My friends told me I looked like a boy. Not only did I look like a boy, they said, but I looked like an ugly boy. I ignored them. Maybe I looked like an ugly boy, but at least I wasn’t going to look like a single girl for very long.
Surprisingly, it took two months before the boy and I both wore our black and gray outfits on the same day. To make sure he saw me, I asked the art teacher if I could come in to finish a project during fourth period, which just so happened to be when my crush had that class. The art teacher said yes. Everything was in motion.
Waiting for fourth period was agonizing. When the bell signaling its arrival finally rang, I went into the restroom to kill a little time so that I could walk in after everybody else had taken their seats. After tightening my ponytail, smearing on another coat of Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker and making sure my bra strap wasn’t showing, I was ready to make my entrance.
I strode in with a purpose, took my painting from the drying rack and gazed around the room to find an empty chair. There, in the back corner of the room, sat my crush and a few his friends.
Our eyes met. He looked as stunned in person as he did in the picture my friend took. I flashed him a smile. He turned to one of his friends. His perfect lips, the ones I planned to kiss before fifth period, formed three words.
“What a psycho.”