I was still in a funk yesterday, feeling a bit raw and uncertain overall, and mom suggested I chat with her and get out of my own head. It worked really well, but the topic of conversation was, of course, unusual.
My mother isn’t new to Facebook, and has her own account. But she occasionally has these fits, where she wants to see [stalk] people from our past. Mostly my past – ex-boyfriends and the like. I showed her profiles of some of my school crushes too, and then I told her about this enormous crush I had in school. It was truly staggering how besotted I was with someone I barely even knew. Anyway, here’s that story:
So back in school, there were cute boys in great numbers. There was no dearth of cute girls either, so the overall hotness quotient of my school was off the charts, I have now come to realise. Supremely gorgeous people abounded in every class, and there were love affairs and so on by the bucketload.
Of course, me being quintessentially me, a contrary idiot with her head in the clouds, I had a crush for two years on a gangly, pimply, nerdy boy, who was quite athletic (because that is my type), had nice hair, and a giant smile (another one of my trigger points). He eventually became the head boy of our school, and I was the only person who was sighing romantically about him. [That’s right. Except for me, a 1000 other girls in the school apparently had taste and common sense and liked other people.]
Now, his best friend was a stunner. Gorgeous and sultry, he looked like a mix of a Mills and Boon hero and Shah Rukh Khan [back when he was not old]. He was dating a girl from my class, and had practically half the girl population of school alternating between sighing dreamily over him and plotting this poor girl’s “accidental” demise.
Both these boys were two years senior to me, and yet somehow the boys in their year picked girlfriends from my class. So there was a lot of interaction, is what I am saying. Not with me of course, because I approximated a wallflower with absolute passion and dedication. But then we discovered ICQ. An instant chat messenger which revolutionised our love intrigues. Suddenly, it was possible to chat with boys without actually having to talk to them.
I had a whole list of contacts, but I distinctly remember adding the best friend. I harboured not a spark of attraction for him, so I was fairly comfortable chatting to him.
The way it worked was that we had nicknames/usernames instead of our real names, and mine was Hazel. One of the boys in my year had nicknamed me that because of my eyes. In a poem he wrote for me. [Yeah, it was romantic. But I was oblivious at the time.] This ensured complete anonymity [at least in my stupid adolescent mind] and I continued chatting with all the security of a secret identity.
Only to find out, everyone knew who Hazel was. One day, the best friend walked past me and a friend in school, and he smiled at me and said: “Hi Hazel.” and walked away. I nearly melted on the spot in shock. My friend, who was one of his legion admirers, shook me and demanded that I reveal the secret to his heart. High school drama at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.
But I was only talking to best friend because of crush. Something that he didn’t find out till many years later.
Fast forward about 10 years, 2008 to be precise, and I had just signed up on Facebook. I had no idea how it worked, but I was excited to be in touch with my school mates, conveniently forgetting that most of them were shitheads of the first water. Beautiful shitheads, but still shitheads.
I added best friend too, and he sent me a private message:
“I’m guessing you are from Modern High, and you look very familiar. I’m sorry to be rude, but I can’t remember you exactly though.”
I laughed, and reminded him that we talked every day on ICQ, and I wasn’t surprised he had forgotten. And then he remembered: Hazel!
Yes! I exclaimed, and we talked for a while, on and off over a few months. I finally admitted that I used to massively crush on his best friend, and that’s when things got weird. It is relevant to add here that he got married too in the interim. And I congratulated him.
His first reaction to me telling him that his best friend, and not him, was the object of my teenage affections was: “My ego is hurt! I thought you had a crush on me!” Ok. Double take. Modest much?
I managed to gloss over that with some dexterity, only to have him say this:
Again, me being me, I didn’t know how to handle this. It went on for months, with me deflecting each advance, and trying to get the conversation back to an even keel. He even offered to fly to Goa to “spend time” with me. I was not happy. At the time, I was being bombarded with advances from two other otherwise-engaged men. [AQ and JP from this list.]
Thankfully though, the chatting stopped. He had a daughter, and I thought maybe this guy has straightened his shit out. Alas, empty hope.
Two years later, the conversation picked up again. And he renewed his advances, paying fulsome compliments and so on. I finally screwed up my courage and shut him down. It took a few times, but he finally got the message. And said the sweetest three words I have ever heard from him:
“I give up!”