The first time I realized there was something wrong with me was ninth grade.
My family had moved to a new school district between my seventh and eighth grades. I spent most of eighth grade quietly resenting my mom for fucking up my life by forcing me to learn a bunch of new people. I was a fat and geeky kid who was in the enrichment program and the senior high band by seventh grade. I was a high achiever from a poor family.
The district we moved to was a fucking mess. It was about 20 miles away from where we had lived. It had no accelerated learning program. No advanced band program. It was in a school district on the verge of being sued into bankruptcy in a town where apparently every man, woman and child was on welfare or SSI. Like many rural areas, the folks who had money segregated themselves visibly from everyone else. Except, of course, in the public school district. My mother moved us so she could go to school to obtain a trade she would never use.
In short, I fucking hated the place and I hated everyone who lived there. I lost my special status and I pretty much stopped trying in school -- itself a revelations, because my grades dropped all the way from 99s to 90s -- my first taste of the fact that I could in fact cruise through life with very little effort, a valuable piece of knowledge on my way to acquiring "fuck you" money as an adult.
I bumbled through eighth grade and tried to fit in by engaging in the minor criminal hijinks I saw the other poor kids around me committing. I made no friends that I cared for and I really didn't give a fuck. This is also around the time that I decided it was appropriate to say the word "fuck" every other sentence.
By ninth grade I had established myself among the students as some sort of loner rebel genius. Among the poor kids I ran with after school, I had a rep as someone who could get away with anything. Among the "preppy" and "rich" kids (rich here meaning anyone with clean clothes and both parents), I had a rep as a kid who was so fucking smart he could cruise without trying in the college-track classes. (By senior year this got so bad that I had a racket going doing papers and even illustration work for lazy rich kids.)
It's also around this time that puberty started to work its magic. Now, by this point I had internalized the notion that I was an outsider and that no one wanted to fuck me. This is critical to realizing why I'm still a very aloof person. Simply put, I went from being a fat nerdy kid that no one wanted to fuck to being some sort of sexy rebel that every girl wanted to fuck.
Being a complete social retard from years of geekery and poverty, I had no fucking clue this flipping of the poles had happened. When the first sexual signals started floating in, I figured it was some kind of chickenshit setup. That other people were fucking with the fat nerdy kid for fun -- after all, it was high school.
The first girl who I liked who liked me back
The first girl who ever liked me back was H.
Yes, seriously, the first girl who ever liked me back had the most stereotypical high school cutie name known to man. A name eventually used as the title for a fucking movie about high school politics.
H was this tiny little brunette who came from a good family. She was a cheerleader and a tennis captain and all kinds of great shit. She was quiet and kind. She was cute. And she was considered a serious prize to be fought over by all the guys on the academic track in our school.
She was, in short, everything I was not.
She sat in my home room in eighth. She was also in my Algebra class in eighth. And she was in home room in ninth, plus Algebra and Spanish. In Algebra and Spanish, she sat right in front of me.
Now, as an adult, I'm fully aware that people who spend this kind of time together often develop relationships. But bear in mind this was all going through the filter of a 14 year old whose class friends were geeks and whose out of school friends were fuck-ups, punks, a few drug dealers and two future lifers. That kid simply doesn't live in a world where he gets the perfect girl. That's basically the plot to Good Will Hunting. Which hadn't come out yet.
I had kinda suspected H liked me in eighth grade. But . . . I dismissed it as fevered imagination.
Early in ninth grade, I actually tried the old note-passing trick. It went unremarked forever, but she'd talk to me, so I didn't view it as an all-around disaster.
I remember in the middle of the year one of the junior guys asked me if I realized she liked me. I told him something to the effect of "no fucking way", again figuring this was probably some cruel high school trick. After all, if she liked me, why didn't she reply to my note, right?
She'd flirt here and there and I didn't make much of it. Until January, when we were reseated in Spanish and she got plunked down in a desk directly in front of me.
A pattern that has haunted my entire life started. H decided that subtle wasn't the winning plan. But, like all women, she couldn't just say it. Just about every woman who has liked me has, at some point, simply gotten so frustrated that she did something shockingly forward (except, of course, just overtly ask for a fucking date, because that's a violation of Woman Law -- if a boy likes you, he does the asking).
So, she started laying back on my desk with one arm. And putting her books on my desk. And tossing hair her around where it was brushing my hands. And she'd constantly quiz me on my likes and dislikes.
Again, this is all shit that as an adult, I now completely understand. It's standard female behavior to make a demonstration so obvious that even the dumbest guy on earth will understand what it means.
As the socially retarded nerdy kid who was never gonna be good enough for this girl, I shut the fuck down completely. I started stacking my books where she had been planting herself to discourage her. Her response was to lean back on my pile of books anyhow.
Now, in Algebra, she didn't pay much attention to me, even though she sat to my right. I think she actually needed to pay attention in Algebra. It probably didn't help that I lavished a lot of attention on T (name truncated to protect an innocent person with an astonishingly unique name). T was just a friend, although I think if she had it her way, I would have made a move. H was a queen bee and T was a good enough friend of hers that I don't think they would have crossed each other.
I can remember toward the end of school year, H started to get a lot less subtle. In Spanish class she started using descriptions of me when she was asked to speak. "Que ojos mas azules" still makes me smile. (Trans: what blue eyes.)
She also started walking to school on occasion. My walk went past up the street from her house. I think she thought that a few talks in the morning would loosen me up. In truth, I was never a morning person, and the last thing I ever wanted was to talk at 7:30am.
By May, I think H had largely moved to a "better luck next year" plan.
That was a really shit plan.
The first problem with tenth grade was we didn't see each other outside of home room. I think she had figured we'd just be scheduled together until the end of time. After all, that's how the previous two years worked out.
The second problem was that other guys had had enough of this shit. There were several of them who liked her who decided to start fights with me. One of them was this kid Bill, who had like an elementary school crush on her and whose family was tight with her family. I think Bill was delusional, because I never caught a hint of chemistry between them. Whatever the case, Bill got his ass put on the ground and was told that he was welcome to ask her out.
It was clear that there was a consensus that the poor street kid had no right to jam up the entire mating pool by not making a move. Things weren't progressing and frankly I wasn't going to fight every guy in the fucking school for the right to flirt with a girl I was never going to ask out. This was also around the time that half the school decided I must be gay if I didn't want to fuck one of the queen bees.
And then came N. She was the cute blond who got moved into our home room as class sizes changed with kids leaving for tech. N is an entire separate post full of lolz.
Over time, H and I went from cordial to cold to barely there. She didn't date anyone in HS except to go to the prom with the aforementioned suitor.
I worried for the longest time that I had damaged this girl. A year ago I looked her up on Facebook. It was reassuring to see pictures of her at the beach with a decent guy and a baby. I'm always afraid that girls lives end up completely screwed up from liking me. I was glad to see life had worked out for H.