Before this gets creepily familiar, I’ll open by retracting (or at least updating) a few statements previously made to some or all of you:
- I no longer watch you at your locker, lunch table, bus stop etc. In fact, I have no idea where in the world any of you are anymore.
- I do not, in fact, “see forever in your eyes.” I don’t know – nor have I ever known – what that means. Note that other, factual observations made about your eyes (e.g. flattering observations on their color) were genuine at the time though I regret the page(s) I dedicated to writing about them. It was probably overboard. I was definitely a horse’s ass.
- Having never had the courage to actually have a conversation with most of you, I had no basis for claiming that you seemed “really chill and funny.” The fact is that in most cases, I’d have panicked if I had to talk to you. You know that scene in Pulp Fiction where Jules flips out on Brett? Well, interactions with pretty girls used to go something like this:
You or someone like you would actually say something like the following,
- Recognizing that I never knew any of you well enough, similar statements to the one above like “I never thought a girl like you could exist” were equally ridiculous & downright disingenuous. So you know, at the time my concept of what girls were like was heavily influenced by my sisters (whom I didn’t get along with), the TGIF sitcom lineup, and “girls” I’d met in AOL chat rooms. I’m happy to report, by the way, that I’ve retired my robe and wizard hat for good.
- I don’t actually believe any of you are “the most perfect girl on the planet.” Since my last letter to you, I have actually found and married the girl that fits that description. To date, the drugs I’m slipping her to keep her high enough to stick around remain effective. (Kidding! Kidding!)
All that said, I’d like to take a moment to explain my frame of mind at the time, what I learned from the uniformly freaked out reactions I got from each of you, and what I really meant to convey.
Every Plot to Every Teen Movie Ever
When I got to high school, I arrived as a quiet loner with a hyperactive imagination. It was a 4-year epic battle just to work my way up to “quiet loner,” by the way, on the middle school social ladder. Clearly, socialization was not my strong suit. It didn’t help that my favorite hobbies at the time included reading comic books, watching The Simpsons, and playing video games. I had a few friends but most were even bigger misfits or social cripples.
Now, let me set the stage for you: September 1996, junior high has been over for months and high school is on deck. Exactly 2 other kids from my junior high got into our school – both were friends. The odds of my outcast legacy following me were slim. I had even spent the summer outdoors at the expense of valuable comic book and gaming time. The payoff was a tanned, lean and mean frame. The vitamin D made my skin the best it had ever been. My oldest sister, who previously had little involvement in my day to day, took an interest in my starting high school and took me to her hair dresser (a gentleman by the name of Didi) to lop off my gawky mushroom hairdon’t and give me a fresh new look. Didi nailed it – I was sexy.
Everything was set for me to make a fresh start. I was no longer encumbered by the label I had earned and the socially inferior role that came with it. I had hope. I had confidence. And with sexy new look and full scholarship in hand, I had all the balls in the world. So much so that I tried out for and got a spot on the JV soccer team. Right away things seemed to be working perfectly: on my way to my second practice, I was the recipient of an unsolicited and giggly salutation from a pair of attractive classmates. That made it official – I needed only to select from my new harem and presto: girlfriend.
The REAL Reason Too Much TV is Bad for You
Such was the utter MADNESS I mistakenly used as logic when I decided to write and send you those letters. I clearly did NOT know how to handle finally being comfortable in my own skin. Worse, my fantasyland lens on life made me utterly incapable of honestly answering the question: “How would I feel if some strange girl wrote this to me?” Because in my mind at the time, the only possibilities were:
You’d find it in your backpack after I had planted it there during lunch while a friend distracted you. As you read it on the bus home, the grin on your face would widen and you’d finish reading in time to look out the window and see me pop a Mentos into my mouth at the next bus stop then hold a piece of looseleaf up that reads “will you go out with me?” You’d be crazy or lesbian to say no.
One day I’d see you having a heated argument with your boyfriend – probably a senior from public school, probably a meathead. Things get out of hand and he let’s you in on what the five fingers said to the face. That’s when I rush in and go god mode on his ass unleashing (at minimum) a 32-hit combo, mostly on his jock face. Soon as I finish (but just before his limp body hits the ground) I look into your eyes and recite from a letter I’d been too bashful to deliver. The money quote would have been something like, “I didn’t rescue you just now; you rescued me from myself.” Obviously, we would have started making out there and then.
I’ll spare you any more contrived scenarios that played out in my fantastically out-of-touch mind. Suffice it to say I was not prepared for how you all actually reacted to my letters. And the reactions were pretty standard, by the way. Though I’m fairly certain word got around about the harrowingly creepy experience of getting a love note from me, I’ll recap for those who were spared the ordeal:
- Find the letter in your locker – probably endure an immediate wave of anxiety at the prospect of having your first stalker.
- After reading the letter, have your anxieties confirmed and magnified.
- Give no official acknowledgement of having received or even read the letter. Not to me, anyway.
- Avoid or cease all contact – casual or incidental – with me thenceforth. Return all accidental eye contact with lightning-fast darting of the eyes in the opposite direction (even if the only thing there is a wall) and a terror-stricken pallor on your face.
- If we sit near each other in any class, tell all the girls that sit around us about it so they can proactively shun me to avoid landing in your predicament. This creates an isolation bubble around me – an effective (and ironic) way to return both our lives to normal.
It took a number of failures with a number of you ladies for me to finally understand that what I was doing was not just ineffective, but downright creepy, douchey, and humiliating. I don’t remember who or what was responsible for the moment of clarity but when it hit me, the haircut, the soccer team, the little bottle of CK One – I began to see all of them for what they were: all part of a ham-fisted attempt by a geeky guy to artificially transform himself in order to get a popular/beautiful girl.
Except I was the only player in on it. This crushing realization was enough to chase me back to some old, comfortable habits. I grew my hair out again, ditched organized sports, and hung out with mostly dudes.
He Went on to Become Not a Psychopath
This is definitely not a guilt trip, by the way – I didn’t relapse completely into a loner state, you see. I never forgot how good I felt about myself for those first few (delirious) weeks/months. After the last huge, embarrassing romantic failure I was left with just enough confidence to strike up a conversation with a friendly girl in homeroom who wound up being a huge help in upping my socializing game. Although I thought I had zero shot with her (or any girl) and resigned myself to eternal loneliness, this actually gave me a mental advantage: by eliminating the possibility of ever having a chance with any girl, all my interactions with them from then on were genuine attempts at getting to know them so that future interactions would be smoother and more enjoyable for both of us. By the time sophomore year started, I was a completely different version of freshman me which was actually a more gregarious version of the loner who left junior high – only this time with a better grasp of who he is, inside and out. Oh, and a MUCH more firm grasp on reality. Things had changed so much for the better that I met a girl that year who would eventually become my wife. The difference a year makes, eh?
So I hope this letter serves as a refreshing palate cleanser for any bad taste left in your mouths from any of my previous letters. In the end, I still regret having written and delivered those crimes against loose leaf paper & common sense but I’m grateful that I was able to learn something from the experience. I wanted to thank you all for handling it (generally) with grace and more discretion than I probably deserved. Even though what you read in those letters was incredibly uncomfortable at best, please know what I really meant was that I noticed you and saw something special and really interesting. As a result, I wanted to get to know you better.
But then no one ever wants to receive an innocuous, matter-of-fact letter, do they? Least of all in high school. So I guess this is what I’m saying, ladies:
All the best,