I am reading Tina Fey's memoir Bossypants right now and she is me and I am her. Or maybe I'm closer to Liz Lemon from the hit television show 30 Rock. Or a combination of the two. An awkward feminist who is a hot-but-endearing mess when it comes to relating to men. And someone who likes to eat.
Tai told me today that I'm one of those people that tends to be a bit "accident prone" when it comes to men I like. "You're going to say or do something ridiculous Jess, you might as well embrace it." Though these words may be difficult to swallow, I've known they were true ever since my first crush back in the 5th grade when everyone in class knew I had the hots for Johnny Smith (name has been changed in the event that he changes his mind somewhere in the future, decides he DOES in fact love me and googles me and finds this blog), and one student decided to scream it to everyone right before gym class. "SHUT UP MICHELLE!" which of course validated that what she said HAD in fact been true. My crush pretended he hadn't heard. And unfortunately the pattern has continued ever since.
As we have already learned, I generally am not in control of anything I do or say when I like someone, and it goes without saying that I WILL at some point in the conversation say something dumb. Sometimes people say things like, "There's no such thing as a stupid question" to make others feel at ease, i.e. this is a "safe zone," but let me tell you there are really stupid things you can say in front of people (a.k.a. cute men) because I have said them. And usually my defense mechanisms go up and I go into "flight or fight mode" (i.e. sweating profusely, perhaps turning the color of the tomato I ate earlier today, getting extremely chatty) and I do things but I don't know why I do them, or even that I'm doing them until it's too late. I lose all the qualities of a thinking, rational human being. I will inevitably get advice from others like, "Just play it cooooooool." I scoff at this, because then I have to wonder if the person I'm talking to has met me prior to this conversation.
This takes me back to my senior year of high school. My high school crush and I had been hanging out under the guise of friendship for the last nine months. Yes, nine lonnnngggg months of pure hormonal teenage TORTURE. We often shot the breeze on my brick of a cell phone and I used up all my minutes for the month (Mom: "Why can't you just talk to him on our land line?" Me: "That is SO not cool!"), and sat at opposite ends of the couch in my parent's basement. Most high schoolers probably would have been making out or at LEAST cuddling, but no, I kept it G rated. Leave room for Jesus. We had met at church, so I imagine that's what contributed to most of the problem. He had finally professed his love for me over a game of Rummy, so one would assume my confidence level might have gone up a few percentage points but as you can probably guess from the tone of this blog that is NOT the direction we are headed. Which leads me to the Barnes & Noble parking lot where we had spent the evening, because that's apparently the cool place that high schoolers like to loiter. There I was. There he was:
Teenage Dream: "Can I kiss you?"
And then all of a sudden he got really "busy" with "football and school and stuff" and I didn't see him until about two years later.
I don't know why I said it. I think I was just scared. Maybe scared I was a bad kisser or that I would have bad breath? Nope. It was because through his lips were the gateway to all sorts of sin and debauchery and would lead me right down the path of unrighteousness! I had learned in church that God didn't like impure Christian girls and I was a RULE FOLLOWER! Or at least, that's how I interpreted it. Let me be clear--I really WANTED to kiss him--it would be very anti-feminist of me to not support the decision of someone who wants to say no to physical intimacy, but I wanted to-BAD. In my defense, this was my first real pseudo/almost-boyfriend, so something awkward was bound to go down. Embarrassingly enough, I'll admit I told Teenage Dream that I wanted to wait until I was married to kiss someone. This was a cute (though in hindsight a VERY lofty goal) idea at the age of eighteen, but when you're twenty five and have had a really long dry spell, one's patience admittedly runs very thin and you begin to regret these decisions. The thing is that if you're not raised in the church culture, these things don't make sense (as I've found out from convos with people who live outside it), but I had been TRAINED to live a life of purity, so it made sense in my high school mind. I don't want to blame church or say that there is a causal relationship here (nor that purity is a bad thing), but I will say that it did aid in a bit of phobia regarding sexuality, and ultimately led to the Barnes and Noble Parking Lot Fiasco of 2004.
This tragic experience has stuck out in my mind the last few years. When I've recounted the story to others, it is usually met with some variation of "What the HELL would possess you to say no when you liked him?!" I decided that I would NOT let it happen again and mine would be a life of no regrets!!! But as it turns out seven years has led me to a big fat path to NOWHERE in learning ANYTHING. Awhile ago there we were, painting the town red, having a grand time, and he asked, "Would you like a piece of gum?" This either implies "please take this gum dear god because you need it," or "I want to mack on you." Either way, I said, "No." I don't know why I said it. Immediately after the word escaped my mouth, I realized my transgression. Because logic would lead one to believe that in any capacity nothing bad could come of the gum. Rob's question: "Who says no to gum?" Touche. What this is really leading me to believe is that whatever my first instinct is I should just go ahead and do the opposite. Because had I said, "Yes," it would have been win-win. I would have long lasting fresh breath or I would have gotten to kiss a cute boy. I didn't even try to remedy the situation with a, "WAIT! NEVERMIND! GIMME GIMME GIMME!" Nope. I remained silent and watched life pass me by. I do not know why I do the things I do. I really don't. Maybe I fear intimacy. Or maybe just communicable diseases.
Which leads me back to Tina Fey/Liz Lemon. Because what I love most about Tina Fey is that she embraces her awkwardness and turns it into a humorous sitcom episode. Like when she writes about a guy she tried to kiss who literally took off running away from her. I'll bet he regets THAT decision. Mainly, she doesn't seem to take these things so seriously. I was admittedly down for a few days about the whole situation--IN NO WAY ARE YOU NORMAL! Which was confirmed by multiple people. WHY CAN YOU NOT GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER?! HOW DID YOU MISS THIS SOCIAL CUE?! But I will look onward and file it in my catalog of hilariously awkward experiences which I will one day turn into a best-selling memoir that will then be turned into a Broadway musical starring Lea Michele and will then eventually become a movie or perhaps TV sitcom in which Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Garner will play me as they are the two celebrities I am most compared to. Idina Menzel would also be acceptable. I won't even dare to dream because this WILL be reality. And someday someone WILL find my awkwardness endearing... (fingers crossed).