…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.