Smells Like Teen Desperation

Most memories of my youth have been repressed as a means of survival.  The unfortunate thing about repression is that the memories are not expunged; they are merely dormant until a new thought triggers a revival.  Reliving those memories is like waking in a cold sweat from a nightmare, except I can’t hold my hand over my pounding heart and say, “thank goodness it was just a dream.”

Last week, a group of related memories were roused from their comas by a conversation with the college kid I drive to work.  (I can call him a “kid” because I figured out he’s half my age.  Half!  Somewhere along the line, I got old and no one bothered to tell me :))

He told me a funny story about how he learned to play soccer because his crush liked the game.  He said he ended up enjoying it so much, he played throughout high school (but he never got the girl.)

This is much more constructive than the way I went about getting noticed.  At least he honed a skill and found a hobby.  I set out to test the limits of how far I could go before I got slapped with a restraining order.  Luckily, I dodged an early introduction to the criminal justice system…three times.

Now, before you label me a “stalker”, let me explain.

At 13, I was the poster child for teen awkwardness.  You’re going to have to take my word for it.  If I post proof, I might be tracked down and sued for mental anguish.  I don’t know if there’s a statute of limitations, but I’m not taking any chances!

Anyway, my shiny silver braces and plastic framed glasses didn’t do me any favors.  Not even the boys in the same Geek level paid me any attention.  Still, I had a crush on Jeremy, an athletic type who did not have an obvious affinity for pasty-skinned, frizz-haired girls with braces and glasses.  I set out to change his mind.

I cheered him on at his baseball games, said “hi” to him over his backyard fence (my lucky friend lived next door), and giggled with my friends when he walked by.  When he frowned at me, I couldn’t say a word.  I was too excited that I held his attention for a few seconds.  Of course, he never felt the same for me.

Then there was Dean, the shy yearbook photographer I met my senior year in high school.  By this time, the braces were gone and contacts replaced glasses, but the same awkward girl lived inside me.  I fawned over his photos, followed him around (waiting outside the boy’s restroom because I knew he’d come out eventually) and offered him gifts of candy and even a ride home from school.  But Dean’s mom taught him well:  he never accepted candy or rides from me.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson, but I found victim crush #3 during my first semester of community college.  In the back of my mind, I knew David wasn’t right for me, but I liked him anyway.  I had connections, and soon held his class schedule in my hands, along with the unexpected bonus of his home address.

I alternated between pretending to study in the vicinity and walking by as he exited class.  Either way, I acted surprised to see him.  I resisted temptation for several weeks, but finally, I drove by his house.  No, I didn’t stop to peek in the windows – imagining the horror of him catching me served as an effective deterrent.

By November, David hung around with a blond cheerleader type – someone more fitting for him.  We all ate lunch together one day and I watched them watch each other.  I listened to David tell me I was like the sister he never had.  Just like that, the spell was broken, along with my heart.

I threw away his class schedule.  I found new routes across campus and changed my game plan.  I finally understood that if I had to try that hard to be noticed, the guy wasn’t worth my time.

When I met my husband several years later, I knew I found my match.  It turns out he likes sarcasm and attitude – both of which I have an abundance of – naturally.

Video:  Somebody’s Watching Me (by Rockwell)

Hey, I might be crazy (you know I am), but I at least I am no longer not a stalker!

Now’s your chance to share your story, or make fun of me (if you prefer).  Don’t worry…I’m not watching you, but I do read your comments 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Smells Like Teen Desperation

  1. Debbie October 25, 2011 / 6:50 AM

    Boy, does this bring back some memories! I can remember being in college and going with a girlfriend to “scope out” guys we were interested in (always the ones who were only interested in the blonde cheerleader types!). It seems that, the harder we tried, the faster they ran — in the opposite direction! It’s somewhat comforting to know we weren’t the only ones doing this. Since then, I’ve wondered how many guys might have scoped out US, hoping to catch our attention, when we were the ones running away, ha!

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2011 / 10:38 PM

      You’re right, Debbie – there is some comfort in knowing we’re not alone in in the borderline stalking behavior. I still cringe when I think about those days (and I pray that I never run into any of those guys ever.) I’d never thought of the flip side before. I guess it’s hard to imagine anyone vying for my attention like that 😉

  2. Tori Nelson October 25, 2011 / 7:57 AM

    Oh Janna. I bet you were and are a total hottie. You should add humble to your list of desirable traits!

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2011 / 10:40 PM

      Oh, you’re so funny, Tori. It was a nice thing to write, but I was a complete ugly duckling. I turned into an “eh~okay” duckling in adulthood. Now I’m going back downhill 🙂 Wheeeeee!

  3. suzicate October 25, 2011 / 8:03 AM

    I was sooo that girl at times as well. I think most of us were at one time or another. Thanks (NOT!) for making me remember my awkwardness…bright side, we all surpassed and found someone worthy of our attention/stalking!

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2011 / 10:43 PM

      I couldn’t imagine you as awkward, SuziCate. I figured if my memories re-emerged, it would be more fun if I had company 🙂

      Life now is a bright side, indeed. Takes the sting out of the early years, for sure!

  4. chlost October 25, 2011 / 10:13 AM

    I think I beat you in the awkward department. For a time, I not only had braces, but a stainless steel cap on one of my front teeth. Who would do that to a teenage girl? I was very tall, and very shy. Now that I look back on some of my high school photos, I realize that I was quite skinny, but at the time I thought I was fat. I hope that there are ways to help teenage girls have a better self-image these days, but somehow I doubt it.

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2011 / 10:49 PM

      I had a warped self-image, too, Chlost. I weighed less than 100 pounds when I graduated high school, but, like you, thought I was fat. Luckily college was healthier for me and I gained 20 pounds during my first year. (When I’m stressed or anxious or feel uncertain about myself, I don’t eat. I was always self-conscious in high school.)

      I couldn’t imagine a cap on my tooth. That must’ve been horrible. We’d have to compare pictures to officially declare you the winner!

  5. nrhatch October 25, 2011 / 10:42 AM

    As I read through your Stalker Years, my days in HS and college began looking better and better to me. 😉

    I’m a bit like the college kid you drive to work . . . I started smoking at age 13 because my crush smoked and i wanted to be able to bum a cigarette from him on the playground!

    I ended recess that day WEARING HIS JEAN JACKET! Woo hoo! 😎

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2011 / 11:15 PM

      You’re so lucky, Nancy. Things never worked out that way for me. I could dig up many more embarrassing stories, but I think I’ll just back away slowly and let them be 🙂

      Just curious – whatever happened with that crush? Did you continue smoking? It’s fascinating what lengths we go to for recognition!

    • nrhatch October 26, 2011 / 6:50 AM

      Glenn got arrested (breaking and entering) . . . dropped out of HS . . . ended up in jail.

      So . . . I had to find a new crush. 😉

      Smoking ~ yes . . . I continued.
      And, in short order, added a few other less-than-stellar habits to the mix.

      • jannatwrites October 26, 2011 / 9:27 PM

        It’s sad he took that route. I hope your next crush was a little less “bad boy” 🙂

  6. pattisj October 25, 2011 / 2:19 PM

    Ugh, did you have to bring THAT up? The only thing I really wanted from going to school was a boyfriend. But I was shy, and had that same frizzy hair in the days before anti-frizz styling gels and blow dryers.

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2011 / 11:18 PM

      Bright side: those days are done!

      My hair was a disaster and never fit in with the trends (you can’t feather course, curly hair in a Farrah Fawcett ‘do….I know because I tried…and failed.)

      Thanks for commiserating, Patti!

  7. Connor @ Citiesofthemind.org October 26, 2011 / 9:02 AM

    This made me laugh. Several times. May I say you could have been a lot worse than shy/awkward. I was a total jerk during my high school years. When I wake up in a cold sweat I’m wondering how I could ever have been such an arrogant damned prick. I was also insecure, with braces, but I played sports, was bigger than most kids, and already taking college classes at that point. Basically, I was that guy that thought people liked him, because everybody was nice to him–until he gained a little perspective and realized they just saved the bad mouthing for when I wasn’t in the room where I could physically or verbally make them look weak and stupid for my own petty amusement.

    So, next time those repressed memories hit you, just take a deep breath and say, “But at least I wasn’t an asshole.”

    • jannatwrites October 26, 2011 / 9:44 PM

      If you were older, I’d swear I went to elementary school with you! I never understood why they went out of their way to harass me, but your comment gives me a different point of view to consider. Maybe it wasn’t about me at all (or at least as much as I thought).

      I think you might be a bit hard on yourself, but it goes to show we all have lessons to learn in our lives if we pay attention and reflect on where we’ve been. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment, Connor!

  8. Widdershins October 26, 2011 / 11:30 PM

    Janis Ian … ‘Seventeen’ … to this day I change the radio station when it comes on … OK, not all the time, but I’m tempted.

    This is the embed code. I wont know if it works until I post this comment, so I’ll add the YouTube URL afterwards.

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2011 / 10:29 PM

      I haven’t heard that song before, Widdershins. Thanks for sharing the video.

  9. Widdershins October 26, 2011 / 11:33 PM

    Well. Fancy that!!! … it worked!… the URL embedded it, not the embed code! I think!!!

    … the interwebz is a strange and unknowable thing sometimes!

    • jannatwrites October 27, 2011 / 10:31 PM

      I don’t know how you did it, but it works. I only know how to do links, none of the embedding stuff, so I’m impressed 🙂

  10. SAS Fiction Girl November 14, 2011 / 4:40 PM

    I had a crush on a football player at school. He was a couple years older than me and we didn’t have any classes together, just lunch period. I was in the library with my friend after school one day and saw the guy standing at the card catalog. Suddenly, one of my alternate personalities (I assume, since this isn’t something I would normally do) walked my body over to stand next to him and pretend to look something up in the catalog.
    When I got there, he said, “I was hoping you’d come over here.”
    I replied, “That’s what I heard, so I rushed right over.” And he told me I must have ESP.
    He was joking, of course, and I went and sat back down and we never spoke again, but I was sooooo happy that my crush noticed me enough to either insult me or joke around with me, I don’t know which. I think he was being friendly, though, given his tone of voice.
    At some point, my sister voluntarily went to the school office and copied down his class schedule just in case I wanted to up the stalking ante. But since I was taking classes of my own, that would have been pretty difficult.

    • jannatwrites November 14, 2011 / 10:23 PM

      Great story, Jen. So cool of your sister to help you out like that, too. I’m glad you didn’t resort to stalking. If only I had been so not crazy strong.

      I also admire that you were able to form words and have a short but flirty conversation. If I got the courage to get within shouting distance of the guy, my brain turned to mush and my voice refused to work. I’d leave an impression all right…”complete idiot!” I’m still surprised that I ever landed a legitimate date and eventually got married. Beat the odds there 🙂

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