When I was 15, I had a big-time crush on a junior boy who was cuter than a Tiger Beat pin up, played the piano like Billy Joel, and had a voice as smooth as Kenny Loggins. He wore a chocolate brown corduroy jacket, lined with a black hoodie, and he once smiled at me in our high school auditorium, when I turned to see who was seated behind me. I didn’t smile back … because I’m socially awkward that way. I quickly averted my eyes, embarrassed that I’d been caught staring.
If my dreamboat only knew how I lived off that smile for months, well into my junior year. Anyone who would listen knew about this highlight of my life. It was magical. And I just knew if I could meet him, he would see we were destined to be together ― to sit side-by-side at my baby grand piano as he serenaded me with Van Morrison’s Moondance.
So I did what any respectable 15-year-old girl with a schoolgirl crush did back in the ‘70s.
I stalked him.
No, not in that Fatal Attraction, leave-your-pet-rabbit-boiling-on-your-stove way. It was more like an accidentally-being-where-he-was way.
Keith (let’s call him “Keith,” because he had hair like David Cassidy on The Partridge Family) lived three blocks away from me, and he walked down my street on his way to school every day. I used to look out the bay window in front of my house and wait for him to pass, so I could leave immediately and walk behind him. If he so much as dropped a glove, I would be there to say, “Hey, you dropped something,” and our romance would be kindled. He never did. And it never was.
After school, I looked up his number in the phone book, called his house and hung up. The old “hang up” was one of the benefits of pre-Caller ID days. If Keith answered, I knew he was home. I’d hang up and, heart pounding, ride my Raleigh 3-speed up and down his block, hoping he’d come outside so I could meet him.
In time, I did meet Keith ― when he asked out one of my best friends and proceeded to try and fix me up with one of his. I was crushed ― devastated beyond consoling. You see, every boy I liked in high school asked out this same friend. And I could never figure out what she had that I didn’t. (Hmm. Now that I think about it, she wasn’t a stalker.)
I was recently recalling this crush during a conversation on how times have changed … how for years, Caller ID made life much more difficult for innocent stalkers, like me. Heavy breathers that used to call our house had to find entirely new pastimes. Technology put “breathers” out of business.
On the other hand, there are advantages to this new techy age in which we live. If I were 15 now, I could stalk a crush with military precision. Isn’t that what social media is ― sanctioned stalking … legal voyeurism? If Keith were on my radar today, I’d friend him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (that’s kosher when you have mutual friends). I’d know when he couldn’t sleep, because there would be a green light next to his name, or a status update at 2 a.m.
I’d make cute comments on his updates … intrigue him by posting deep and meaningful lyrics … entice him with flattering photos that I’d post of me Photoshopped in with the cool kids.
Thanks to social media, I’d know every concert he was going to, because he would undoubtedly post about how “sick” it is that the Arctic Monkeys are playing at CBGBs. I’d know that he liked grilled cheese better than PB& J … wintergreen Altoids better than peppermint … and that his favorite candy is Rolo’s. I’d have the facts I need to wage a successful campaign.
In time, I could step it up … pretend I sent a chat message to him by mistake … that I really meant to Facebook Kevin (same first two letters). “Oh, sorry,” I’d say. “Hey, I saw you playing Stairway to Heaven at the talent show? You’re really good.”
By studying his profile, I’d know his favorite bands, his favorite books, his favorite songs, his favorite movies. I could say, “Hey, I hear you’re going to the Arctic Monkeys concert. Me too!” And I could insert a little emoticon of a heart, being intentionally ambiguous (does she love ME or the Arctic Monkeys?).
And the next time I “accidentally” ran into him on the way to school, I could offer him a Rolo. And he’d think, “Wow, this girl and I are so in synch. She’s the one!”
Yes, I could have stalked my high school crush in a whole new creepy dimension in this millennium. I’d have the platform I needed for an introduction … an “in.” … just like in those ‘80s brat pack movies where the cute boy meets the unpopular girl someplace neutral, like the record store. Keith would undoubtedly realize how much more substance I have than the bitchy Barbie dolls he’s hanging around. He’d ask me to the prom, I’d make my dead mother’s pink dress into something out of a Cyndi Lauper video, and I’d sail through the rest of high school with the man of my dreams.
And, if I could do it all again, this time around, I’d have one more secret weapon that I wish I’d had in my arsenal back then. A friend of mine recently told me that, many years ago, her sister took a class on how to be more successful with the opposite sex. The relationship expert told her that when you catch a stranger’s eye, if you like him, don’t look away. Force yourself to count to five – five seconds that will surely seem like an eternity. Your interesting stranger will likely look away, but it’s human instinct to turn back to see if you’re still looking at him. That’s when he’ll know you’re interested. And that’s when you melt him with your smile.
Just think of all the heartache I could have been saved with today’s technology and this tiny bit of knowledge. I might never have had to stalk Keith in the first place. All I ever had to do was turn around in that auditorium, count to five and smile back. Five simple numbers and a hidden dimple are all that stood between being a social pariah and a popular girl.
But I didn’t count.
And I didn’t smile.
And the rest, my friends, is history.
Surely I couldn’t have been the only teen driven to insanity by a member of the opposite sex. Tell me YOUR story!