I’m a creepy person. I hope that by admitting that upfront, you will judge me less harshly. Also it’ll make me seem “self-aware” and “relatable,” which in turn makes you more likely to accept what creepiness I’m about to write about with more geniality.
One of my most cringe-worthy romance sagas involves someone who I don’t think reads these blogs, so I guess it’s okay to talk about him? Fuck it. He’ll have a pseudonym. I briefly considered switching the gender and writing about him as a “she” but I don’t think anyone would believe that.
It all started in a large lecture hall. I was late to class, so instead of sitting with my friends in our customary spot in the left wing of the auditorium, I just grabbed a seat towards the back.
My mind begins to wander and my eyes drift from my screen to the laptop of the person sitting in front of me. He’s doing a quiz about Legally Blonde. From the angle, he looks cute. He’s muttering with his seat companion, a girl who to this day scares the shit out of me. I don’t know why, but she looks like she could beat me up. It’s something to do with the way her mouth is.
When the class ends, I’m trying in vain to shove my laptop back into my backpack, and I see Legally Blonde’s face as he walks out with his friend.
Fuckin’ shitballs. He’s cute.
Legally Blonde pops up in my social periphery over the next few weeks, and I begin to watch for him in our class. No one I know knows him, so he takes on a host of nicknames. My friends start to notice him too, after I point him out, and we trade stories of seeing him like Yu-Gi-Oh cards. That’s not that creepy because we do it with everyone’s crushes. Legally Blonde isn’t the only one.
One day, I’m leaving the library when my friend texts me.
“LEGALLY BLONDE IS IN CVS. HE’S WANDERING THE AISLES.”
I don’t know what possesses me, but a gleeful claw grips my stomach and I’m suddenly running down the street, backpack swinging from one shoulder and legs churning as I dash across the street and tumble into CVS.
I find my friend and we “casually” peruse the chip selection. Every other second, my heart gives a powerful throb, sending icy oxygen into my fingertips. I feel adrenaline in a very particular way: cold chest and fingers that are pumping and sending off sparks.
Suddenly he’s in the aisle that we’re in and we’re drifting towards each other with the slow momentum of planets caught in each other’s gravity. He’s grasping a box of Ferrero Rocher. I hate Ferrero Rocher. It’s too fancy, too chocolate-y.
I fix him with a highbeam smile, the kind I use when I’m being especially nice to bank tellers because I want them to like me. “Hey, you’re in my BLAHBLAH class, right? Tuesday mornings?”
He looks a little startled that I’m talking to him. “Yeah, I think so,” he says. His voice is slow, deep, soft.
“Cool,” I’m scrambling for words that are suddenly floating out of the open hatch in my head. “I’m Danny.”
“I’m Niall,” he answers, and the name is a lilt on his tongue.
“What’s your major?” I ask. He answers. “Oh, Ferrero Rocher, how fancy,” I say. He looks at the box in his hand.
“Yeah, I’m gonna eat the entire box.”
The conversation ends soon after that, but I feel electric.
Then, little pins start dropping in the map. As I make more friends, I notice the more mutual friends we have in common. I see him around more often. Then I find out that he and my roommate work together. I ask my roommate about him, and he says that Legally Blonde is straight. I’m crushed. But I don’t know if I fully believe him. He ends up being in the same club as me, which I find out when I finally end up going to a meeting for it and see him there.
I find out that he’s funnier than I am. Sardonic and cynical, but funnier. And smart. I find out that he’s quiet but quick.
The semester starts to wind down and the weather drops. It snows more. I’ve debated whether or not to say anything else to Legally Blonde—Niall—and his potential heterosexuality puts a wrench in my planning. Finally, we have our last class together.
I sit with my stomach in knots all class. All too soon, it’s over, and people start to dissipate. He’s walking out with Scary Mouth Girl. “What do I do?” I fret to my friends. “Go!” they say.
I start running through the swirling snow. “Hey!” I half-yell after him. He turns around. Scary Mouth turns around too.
He’s staring at me and I’m aware of everything, the snow catching on my hair and face, his dark eyebrows quirked upwards, the way my heart is forcing its way up my throat and lodging in my mouth.
Scary Mouth leaves us in the snow, going into the building we’re standing outside of, where their next class is.
“Um, do you want to hang out?” I ask around the heart in my mouth.
“Um, sure,” he answers, and some of the pressure in my chest leaks out.
“Cool. Cool. Do you like movies? Have you ever seen Sharknado?” WHY THE FUCK DID I JUST SAY THAT.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Oh. Yeah. Me neither.” WHAT.
He pulls out his phone and I get his number. “Um, I’ll text you. Bye.” He says bye, and we separate. I walk, hood down, to my next class, the snow collecting in my hair. I don’t know if I just asked him out. I don’t know what just happened. But it happened.
We make a plan to see a popular children’s movie two days from now. Thursday. In a panic, I invite six other people and throw everything together to make it seem more casual.
My fingers are sparking as he walks over to me and my friends. We walk to the movie theater. The conversation is stilted, mostly me jabbering and him answering. When I’m nervous, I talk more, and when people don’t talk, I make up for it. In the movie, I nudge him at the especially funny parts.
After the movie, I offer to walk him back to his dorm. He says that’s not necessary. I passive-aggressively insist. He asks me more questions when it’s just the two of us, but he’s still soft and quiet. If he were a fabric he would be velvet, and I would be sandpaper. Finally, we get to the entrance of his dorm.
“Maybe, we could do this again,” I offer. My throat constricts. “Just the two of us?”
He nods, his eyes flicking to the side of me. My throat constricts even tighter, a fucking python ringing around me, resting in the hollows of my clavicles.
The moment is painful, and—wait for it—I offer up my fist. “Bye.” He fist bumps me.
“Wait, we forgot to explode out,” and I make him fist bump me again. After he goes inside, everything starts to unravel and the icy static my brain was under melts and suddenly I’m remembering every fucking dumbass thing I just did in the last two hours.
My anxiety clamps onto my head, making me relive every moment in excruciating detail, and I begin to dissect every small moment until I’ve desecrated the altar of our hangout.
This story doesn’t have a really happy ending. The semester ends, and I have one of the hardest years of my life, battling depression. When I get back in the spring semester, I feel so embarrassed by our “date”—in my anxiety-warped brain—that I don’t even make an attempt to talk to Niall.
I doubt he reads this, so I feel like I can actually be truthful and not bite my words. I really fucked up. I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life because I think it’s pointless to replay the past, but I regret how I handled things with Niall. I don’t know what could’ve been if I had been able to say something.
Other things happened after that, things that fell solely on my shoulders, and our rope became more frayed. I think every connection starts out strong as a rope, but negative outcomes mangle the rope more and more. I don’t know if we even have a rope anymore, or if I can handle having a rope with him.
I don’t know what it is about romance that makes me weak. I can talk to anyone about anything. But I can’t ever garner the courage to take the leap. So take that leap.
There’s an awesome quote by writer Augusten Burroughs. “Just say, “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.” I think that’s something we should all carry with us. I’m always frozen by embarrassment. And if I had burned through the embarrassment, maybe Legally Blonde and I could be friends by now. Maybe our rope wouldn’t be as frayed.
Everyone has a rope. Don’t fray.