It’s my freshman year of high school, Valentine flower-gram-delivery day. Ya know, the day where awkward people come break into your class while everyone is silently reading, awkwardly delivering roses to everyone with little awkward notes attached to them. Ya know, the day you shrug off because it essentially has nothing to do with you. You don’t have a gram going to anyone nor would you be receiving any. No fault of anyone’s, just how it is. Except on this day, it’s different. This day, you have a gram heading to someone a couple of seats behind you. It’s going to reveal your “weird” feelings to some unsuspecting cute social-butterfly. You’ve never done this before. What you’re feeling is familiar, something you won’t actually be able to identify until 4-5 years later. You will learn to call this monster by its true name: anxiety. Your nose is buried in your book; you are concerned. Your eyes run over the text but you don’t read them. Your feet bouncing in attempt to channel your nervous energy. Anxiety. Anxiety. Anxiety. It taps its tune to your bouncing legs.To be honest, you haven’t messed around with females much back in K-8 because you never really had anything in common nor were you ever attracted to any of them (except one, whom you told a supposed friend about and he told everyone: betrayal is a powerful oppressor if its sting is left to fester), but of course, on this day, in this Theatre 1-2 class, there is this cute girl for whom you have a ridiculously huge crush on just hanging out while the first 15 minutes of class dedicated to SSR tick away. Her name is Chelsea. This was the fourth class of the day, you were in the same last 2 classes or so and will be for this one and the next (if memory holds true). After that, it’s one period until the hopefully not shameful walk home.
The day you ordered the gram is flashing through your head, replaying over and over again relentlessly dragging down your confidence and peace of mind. It’s shattering your curiosity. You try to slump in the hard-back desk chair. You have no where to go. The day you ordered the gram begins its dreded repl[a]y:
It’s a bit hot out, there’s those same two-faceless people who are cheering and exclaiming to the world why you should pay attention to them while they chill in the shade of the lunch area at a plastic table near the iconic Blue-barred Fence–no one really knows why it’s there, it just is. Typically Student Government activities, well-trained members with well-trained smiles and rehashed lines about throwing your money into something. Not that they aren’t good people or anything, just after awhile, you realize that the human element and their interactions motivated by their fundraisers and what not aren’t as genuine as they’d like you to believe. But all is fair. You walk up the steps to the lunch area mindlessly, you should eat because now is the time where you usually eat and you’ll be here awhile. Instead of running through the same logistical progression of thoughts about whether or not you should get a gram, you just veer out of the cattle march to the cafeteria to the table. You stand in line and try not to think about what you’re about to do or how much of a colossal mistake this is or what everyone may be thinking (which is nothing. They’re thinking of nothing. They’re not thinking. For this is high school and if they some how cared about what you’re doing, this would last maybe 5 seconds and in which case, they’d soon forget and mindlessly move on). With a meek smile, you give ’em your money, and meticulously write out the message portion of the flower-gram because you’re self-conscious about your legibility and would like to make a good impression (this will eventually prove to be the nail in the coffin, which later in life will prove to free you from said coffin). You expedite this process to the best of your abilities because your strength is waning, your smile is getting weaker by the pen stroke.
With hand tremors, you eat lunch, as per usual, alone on the big steps unless you were going to sit with one of those sporadically placed tribes eating out at the tables like you do occasionally when you feel recharged enough to interact and have fun. Fast forward to delivery day. You can’t tell if you’re experiencing tremors, something you didn’t learn to identify by the name of tremors until 4-5 years later, because your neck is too hot and it’s staring to crawl up the sides of your head, digging right into your grey matter. You’re an oven. You’re an akward, lifeless potato-oven sitting in a chair with a programming book in front of you and a pair of thick signature vic firth drum sticks hanging out of your backpocket, the same pair one of your old friends would get on you about because you’re not “cool”–who cares? All you had to do was reach around if you ever felt the Urge. Fuck what “they all” think. Whatever. They’re probably percariously hanging out of your pocket, but you’re not concerned with that. The delivery girl/guy just walked in.
You don’t even turn around. You’re quite discouraged at the moment but you don’t acknowledge it: she’s been getting grams all day. And that upperclassman blonde-hair blue-eyed guitar/actor kid was sitting between you two, one seat back chatting her ear off. HE got her a “real flower”, bought right out of Fry’s. Whatever. You were gonna get one out of the rose bush your mom had in the front yard but you didn’t want to have to brutalize it by dethroning it and hoping it wouldn’t bleed so much that it got everything that touched its cut stem all sticky and “gross”. You thought she’d be weirded out, getting one like that. Looking back, you would’ve liked that, I think. A legitimate thorny rose, preciously separated from its bush.
At this point, you notice you’re one of the only one’s still participating in SSR (Silent Sustained Reading), the air’s too supercharged. Too bad you were using it as an escape, poorly might I add. You start to feel like these are the circumstances for a perfect storm. Your detached director/teacher is making small talk about the festivities, adding to the static of the background, as the delivery guy/girl is listing off names, handing the grams out. “Kyle…Johnny…Chelsea-“. You freeze. It’s not dramatic or anything, you weren’t really moving at all except your feet at this point. The world spins on.
Some chatter, blah blah blah, Chelsea mumbles the gram to herself, you strain to listen. Kyle (the one enticing Chelsea’s attention about someodd topic or another, the one between you and Chelsea, the singing guitar boy, the charmer), being the guy that he is, grabs the gram from her, mumbles a bit reading it to himself and then proceeds to say rather loudly: ” Haha, what the hell?! Who wrote this? Looks like a fuckin’ five year old wrote this! Pfft, haha!” Fuck.
Well, to no relief to present you but to past you, she figured out the bit at the end where you signed it. You didn’t sign your name but a title, in hopes that she was clever enough to figure it out. She figured it out, all right. And she knows about how she “stole your heart”. Okay, you can cringe now.
But wait! There’s more!
She calls out to you. You turn around, the feverish heat now encapsulating your entire body. You feel stupid. You probably look stupid. Everyone is cooing and awwing, but you try not to pay it any mind. You look straight back, past Kyle and his aura of dickery, at that cute girl you’ve been trying to work up the courage to talk to. She smiles, laughs, and tries to confirm whether or not you sent it. You confirm. She thanks you, and places the letter and rose to the side, NOT in the bag where she puts all the others. You do not know whether or not that meant anything (and never will), and cynically decide in an attempt at creating peace of mind, that she either ran out of room or placed it there while you watched her do it out of pity. Whatever. That meek smiles makes a comeback and you twist back around, practically sniffing the words off of the page as you nonchalantly wrap the book around your face. Other people are trying to get your attention, asking about these weird turn of events and making comments as to how cute it is. Cute, I don’t want to hear that word. But the director/teacher comes up to you, drawing even more attention to your quasi-paralysis and says, “oh my, why didn’t you SAY you liked her? Haha. That’s so CUTE!” Fuck.
After remembering this, I feel like my life is just a series of cringe moments. Yup, that sounds about right.