The Invisible Sister Gets Her First Stalker

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…and awkwardly deals with it. 

At the age of thirteen, I was convinced that I wasn’t pretty and that was the only reason boys didn’t like me. Obsessing over the fact that I wasn’t as skinny as the more popular girls or that my mom didn’t let me wear as much make up. Junior high can be hell when you live to impress your peers. It wasn’t until a mysterious high school freshman took notice of me that I realized that the boys in my grade might take my complete awkwardness into consideration.

Going to a K-12 school is an interesting experience. It is a strange environment that produces situations like third graders passing through a busy hallway, designated for high school seniors, on their way to recess. The section of the building reserved for junior high students was a little more secluded. Most of the older kids were strangers to me. My brother and his friends were all juniors, but they mostly ignored me if I passed them in the hallway. My brother was more popular than I was. So much, that most of the high school barely knew I existed. One day, during volleyball practice, I noticed two older boys hanging around. One of them, a boy with dark eyes and blonde buzz cut, kept staring at me. Him and his friend kept whispering back and forth, occasionally pointing at me and the other girls. My mind directly went to the fact that I wasn’t very athletic and he was probably trying to figure out how I made the team. They were certainly mocking me and I their presence distracted me. Eventually they left and I quickly forgot about them as I tried to focus on not sucking at volleyball.

“Tim Stockton* just winked at you!” Cas* giggled. It was a couple of days later and we were in the library doing research for history class. At the same time, a class of freshmen students was studying in the same area. That day, I learned that the mysterious boy’s name was Tim Stockton from my friend who just about everyone in our small school. I had caught him staring again and was trying my best to ignore it. My friend Cas noticed and decided to make fun of me for it. “He must totally like you!” she chuckled, as I tried to cover her mouth. She was not following the strict rules of the library, practically shouting for all to hear. Cas was dead wrong. There was no way that Tim liked me. Even if he did, I wasn’t so sure that I liked him. I barely knew who the kid was.

After school, Tim and his friend Bobby were back spectating the eighth grade girl’s volleyball practice. Every time I briefly glanced over at his direction, he greeted me with a wide, goofy smile. It made my stomach turn. Ok, maybe he did have a crush on me OR he was playing some sort of joke. I was just some random homely looking girl that he wanted to pull a prank on. Yeah, that seemed more reasonable. After practice, Cas and I waited in front of the school for our parents when Tim and Bobby walked by. “I just wanted to tell you, you are the most gorgeous girl I have ever seen!” Tim shouted in front of half my volleyball team. My face turned bright red. This amount of attention was too much. Instead of ignoring it, I giggled. I couldn’t stop giggling and couldn’t form a response back. The only thing I could think to do was turn around and face the brick wall I had been leaning on. Both the guys chuckled as they walked past. I stood frozen there for what seemed like hours before my dad’s car pulled up to save me. Cas and the rest of girls couldn’t hold in their laughter. I hopped into my dad’s car quickly realizing that if my parents let me, I would never go to school again.

The next few days, I saw Tim everywhere, he would smile or say something about how gorgeous I was. My reaction would always be turning bright red. From my response, Tim must have thought I liked the attention. In reality, I hated it. I just wanted it to stop. If it wasn’t Tim turning me bright red, my friends would, by poking fun at how I was too shy to talk to boys. Like they were any better. Eventually I got so sick of all of it that I avoided him, bracing every corner of the school as if I was stealthy ninja trying not be detected. When that didn’t work, I would just completely pretend like he wasn’t there. At times I felt bad, but at the same, it seemed like he enjoyed embarrassing me.

Over time, Tim Stockton was no longer a problem. I gladly returned to being that invisible girl that boys seemed to ignore. My friends never got why I didn’t just accept his praise because, to them, it could have lead to more.  Well, frankly, I didn’t want to be the girlfriend of a guy who gets off tormented girls into liking him.  I never really knew why he stopped seeking me out. Maybe he finally got the message that I didn’t like him.  Maybe he found some other girl to stalk. Or, Maybe he found out that I was the little sister of a very large and intimidating junior guy with angry issues.

Finally saying “Hi” to my brother in the crowded hallway, while Tim watched nearby, was a great plan.

The Junior High Relationship That Stood The Test Of…One Day.

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If I could go back and slap myself in the eighth grade, I would, like more than once.

The second half of my eighth grade year started with me swearing off boys, especially ones named Jack*. I was a new me and I had pulled a Felicity to prove it. My once long thick hair was now cut to a simple bob. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to style it and half the time it looked like I was wearing some sort of helmet. Nonetheless, I felt pretty accomplished with my new look. I knew I had changed my feelings for Jack when one of my close friends, Jenny* started dating him after winter break.

It was new territory for me, finally not being jealous of one of Jack’s girlfriends. It made me feel like I had gotten over him. Once Jack and Jenny got together, I started to realize there were other boys at my school. The ones that I had been ignoring for months because I was preoccupied with being the president of Jack’s fan club. One in particular, Mike* had always hung around my group of friends because he had a similar undying crush on Dina*.

Dina was my next-door neighbor and on/off best friend. Our friendship could be rocky at times, but it was usually petty stuff that was quickly resolved within a day or two. One famously stupid fight was during a sleepover at my house years earlier. I had just discovered the greatness of No Doubt and was obsessed with listening to Tragic Kingdom over and over again. She found this boring (I don’t blame her) and quickly went back to her house. Sleep-OVER. I can’t even remember what she wanted to do, but it clearly wasn’t listening to the same CD on constant repeat. Dina wasn’t really interested in Mike’s funny charm and overall cuteness.

I started to have a crush on him soon after he started messaging me on AOL Instant Messenger (yup, you read that right). Before texting, AIMing, was made perfectly to chat with cute classmates and even total strangers. If there was one invention I loved more as an awkward pre-teen, it was AIM. I wasn’t my awkward stammering self around boys because I could actually think before I typed. They weren’t faced with my cheeks turning a bright shade of red in an attempt to make dreaded eye contact with them.  It was awesome, and my online persona was way more confident than the real me. One afternoon, Mike seemed to be typing in a more flirtatious manner. He talked about my “pretty eyes” and how he loved my new haircut. At the end of the conversation he asked me to be his girlfriend. Stunned, I quickly said yes. It was a dream come true or so I thought.

The next day at school, all my friends were excited to finally see me with a boyfriend. It had literally been years since I had one and it was quite possible that I knew even less about boys that I did in the sixth grade. At lunch, things got hard when people demanded that we do the same things that all couples do after eating. The typical couple embraced each other, with the boyfriend usually standing awkwardly behind the girlfriend holding on to her hips.

Not wanting to break some sort of junior high tradition, Mike and I cuddled for the most painful ten minutes ever. I could feel his warm breath near my ear, as he tried to carry on conversation. I stared straight ahead, panicked, as my friends observed us in our unnatural habitat. Who thought of this way of showing that you were boyfriend and girlfriend? What happened to good old holding hands? I felt trapped and actually couldn’t wait to go to history class after lunch. It was tough to say, but I still wasn’t ready for the pressures of having a boyfriend.

Right before last period, I had made a decision. The thought of having to participate in the rituals mirrored from the more popular crowd was not going to work for me. I couldn’t stand telling Mike to his face, so instead, begged my friend Cas* to deliver the bad news. She was a pretty frank person, she quickly told poor Mike that we were over. It seemed brutal, as she recounted the disappointment in his face during after-school volleyball practice. Our love lasted less than one day. It took awhile for me to even look Mike in the eyes after that. Eventually, we both moved on.

For months, all I wanted was a boyfriend. I flooded my journal with dreams and desires of finding the right guy, but in the end I wasn’t ready. Of course, I didn’t really learn my lesson from this and moved on to other crushes. Even returning to the worst one I could ever have because no matter what he did to hurt me, Jack was my end game. Yup, I was that stupid.

The end of the year, the start of ‘THE BLACK PAGES’

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…sounds ominous…but it really isn’t.

A lot of things had happened in the months after the Halloween dance. After getting saturday detention for being the “ring leaders” of the bathroom war, Anna* and I were seen as resident badasses. It was the furthest from the truth in my case, but I loved the newfound attention that the ‘bad girl’ status gave me. Towards the end of November I once again became obsessed with becoming Jack’s* girlfriend. So obsessed that Anna and I resorted to three-way calling him nightly.

I was, of course, to chicken to talk to him. Anna would call and ask him about his thoughts on me, while I listened intensely with the mute button on. Mostly our little calls backfired because he would say something slightly hurtful like how he thought I was strange and hyper. He followed up, in his slightly raspy voice, that he did think I was sort of pretty.  All I got from the conversation was, OMG! JACK THINKS I AM PRETTY! I dropped the ‘sort of’ in my head because…I was stupid.   I was oblivious to the fact that he was just trying to be nice. Nope, I thought he loved me.

I was getting tired of waiting for Jack to ask me out. I wasn’t just being naive about his feelings, but there was actually a steady rumor going around that he was finally going to ask me. After months of unrequited torture it was going to happen. I filled my journal with all the possibilities of us as a junior high power couple. How, with Jack on my arm, everyone would know who I was. Not really thinking that given his past track record, our relationship probably wouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks. I convinced myself that we were meant to be.

One night, I had finally had enough waiting. During another one of our three-way calls, Anna demanded to know why Jack hadn’t ‘popped the question’. He mumbled something about how he had to focus on his upcoming wrestling season and that he wasn’t going to go out with anyone. The disappointment hit me right in my heart, but it quickly went away because I was the glass half full type girl. Jack said he wasn’t going to go out with anyone, meaning I would just wait for him.  I mean wrestling season was only a couple months long and I could wait. Instead of being mad, I respected his focus on athletics. It only made me obsess over him more. That was until I learned about Kayla.

Within the month Jack had started going out with Kayla, a peppy seventh grader with the body of a tenth grader. So much for wrestling season, I thought to myself. Not only had Jack bypassed me, but apparently he had bypassed the rest of the eighth grade girls and moved on to the younger ones. I started to grasp the reality of my situation. Jack never wanted to go out with me and he probably felt sorry for me. I was over it. The school wasn’t.

The rumors of my obsession with him spread around until it was full public knowledge. So quickly I went from badass ring leader to crazy stalker girl. I kept my head up in public, but honestly it was hard to avoid my feelings in my quiet bedroom. I resorted to spewing all my feelings in what was left of my Lisa Frank Journal.

After so many blows a girl has to do something to keep what is left of her dignity. On New Year’s Eve, I vowed that I was over being treated the way Jack treated me. I had new goals and better yet, I had a new journal. The spiral bound black pages would help me get over my heartbreak and into the new millennium.

blackjournal

*Names have been changed because….just because, who cares?