Picture it: 1987. I was a freshman at Northwest High School. I was painfully introverted in those days. That lead to many awkward moments from my youth. Readers have commented they like these stories so I’m going to share the tale of the Christmas Crush. Hopefully, younger people reading this will know they’re not the only ones struggling during the high school years.
I was 14 years old in December of that year and had undergone a transformation of sorts since middle school. I no longer had braces, a retainer, or a bionator mouthpiece that I wore over the course of my three years at North Jefferson Middle School. Gone too were my glasses. Over the summer, I got contact lens. I felt a bit more confident in my appearance and was ready to try again with the fairer gender. A few girls in junior high had said “no” when I asked them to go out. But it sounded more like “HELL NO!!!” in my under confident teenage mind.
There was a girl in my third-hour biology class that I had quite a crush on. For the first three months of the semester, I thought about asking her out. But I couldn’t muster the courage to engage in a conversation with her, much less ask her on a date. Then on the night before Christmas break was set to start, I got a bright idea. I would win her over with gifts and let that be the icebreaker. But being a 14-year-old without a job or a clue, I didn’t have a whole lot of resources or time to come up with something perfect or even good.
I looked in my closet and found a bright purple teddy bear on the shelf that I had won at a carnival the summer prior. Don’t ask me why I still had it. But I fashioned a festive necklace for the bear with some red and green yarn from my mom’s sewing basket. I also came across an ice skating snowman pin and an empty jewel box. I put the pin inside it but felt like I needed something else. I asked my dad to take me up to the local drug store and bought a giant peppermint stick.
Remember, I said I didn’t have much money (or sense) and added the three poorly selected gifts into a big, brown grocery bag. Yeah, I didn’t even spring for some kind of Christmasy bag or at least tie a bow on that drab bag, I just headed to school with the paper sack.
I was a ball of nerves when I walked into class that morning. Thirty years later I can still remember the butterflies I experienced. I was one of the first ones to get there and I scoped the room to make sure my crush wasn’t there yet. She wasn’t. Another girl asked me what was in the bag and after I explained she advised against my plan. She convinced me that she would give it to her and as I debated this in my brain, what little confidence I had left had vanished. I handed her the bag and said: “give it to her, but don’t tell her it’s from me.”
At that moment, it made sense, but looking back, there was no card in the bag, so how would my crush know it was from me? I couldn’t even look at her the rest of the period, fearful she would figure out the gifts were from me and she’d deliver the knockout blow to what was left of my self-esteem. The class period ended and nothing was said. Christmas break started hours later and my family was headed for Florida. The entire time we were there I thought about my actions, wondering if she’d figured out the gifts were from me. This was long before social media or the internet, so there were no posts going up that I could read into.
I never talked to the Christmas Crush about the gifts. But I tried in vain again to ask her out our junior year. That’s in my Promposal blog. That was a face to face encounter but with less than desired results too. The lesson learned three decades later, don’t be afraid to go for something (or someone). Fear is your worst enemy. While a “no” can sting, it’s not the end of the world.
I'm a former TV news guy turned marketing manager. I like to blog, podcast and watch pro wrestling.