Just for Teenagers
Macho doesn't prove mucho.
When I was in high school, I liked two types of guys. The first kind included guys like my boyfriend, John. He was sweet and sensitive, good at sports but not a jock, kind, and loyal to me. John was an all around good guy who was a good friend and boyfriend.
The other kind I liked, well ... let's just say he didn't have any of those qualities.
Jason was in the band with me, a saxophone player with a cool jazz mentality, whose dexterous fingers moved swiftly along the pads of his instrument and whose sound was smoothly seductive. He was gifted at his music, something that I have always found dazzlingly attractive, but he was aloof and separate, moody and in his own world. He had a bit of a reputation for experimenting—with girls and other things. He was one year older than me and drove an expensive red car, and when he dated one of my friends I heard more than I ever needed to about their torrid, explicit love affair.
When I was a junior and he was a senior, he and my friend broke up. Newly single, rumors swirled about him, a clarinetist, and sessions in the band closet that soon became legendary. As the marching band season kicked into high gear, we were spending a lot of time together. He was always teasing me, glaring at me with his blue bedroom eyes peeking out from his shaggy hair, making me blush and rendering me speechless. When the bell would ring at the end of the day, signifying that jazz band was over, my heart would ache as I tried to calculate the next time we had seventh period together. It was never soon enough.
For a while, I pushed that ache aside. My sweet boyfriend was all I needed, right? I loved him, not to mention he was the sensible choice. Plus, Jason thought of me as a lame wallflower, who didn't ever have a witty comeback or an interesting thing to say to him ... or so I thought.
One cold October night, the more adventurous members of the marching band decided to do some drinking behind the bleachers at a late-night band competition. Jason was one of them—most likely the ringleader. On the bus back, he crawled into my brown leather seat, practically sitting on top of me.
"You're the prettiest girl in the band," he said, taking me by surprise. "Really." He was so close, closer to me than he had ever been before. "You are."
I shuddered and tried to laugh it off, but I knew. I knew because of the way he looked at me and toyed with me, that this was a moment of alcohol-induced honesty.
After that moment, I could hardly function around him. I dressed in the morning, lying to myself that the reason I wanted to look my best was not for him, but for my own good. If he missed class, I denied the fact that my heart felt like it was plummeting down an elevator shaft.
When Jason went to college, high school lost a shimmer of excitement it couldn't quite regain. I learned to be happy as I was, and I no longer lived in fear that he would—or wouldn't—speak to me.
That all changed one Thursday night during senior year. A message popped up on my computer from a screen name I rarely heard from—Jason's. He said he was in his dorm room drinking with his friends, and he was thinking of me. I knew this conversation was trouble, knew that it would only shuffle my emotional playing cards and make me question everything, but I couldn't help it. For a girl who used to scan the roads just to catch a glimpse of his car, I could hardly stop myself from having this conversation.
He talked to me for a few hours, getting progressively drunker. After the beginning small talk, he said he missed me. My hands shook on the keyboard as I tried to figure out the correct response. Next, he told me how attractive he thought I was.
Finally, as his spelling got worse and the time ticked by, he confessed to me: "I have always wanted you," he typed. "You are perfect for me, and I want you."
The summer after my freshman year of college is when my Jason obsession came crashing down. Through a text message exchange, a few friends and I ended up going over to his wealthy friend's house, where it was just Jason and a few other guys, an empty house, and a swimming pool. I was newly single and this, I knew, was it. This was my chance. I couldn't believe I was hanging out with Jason.
Later, he and I sat on the couch in the pool house, watching TV. It was very late, and it was just the two of us. I snuck looks at him every now and then, confused. After years of back and forth, we were alone and hours had passed without anything. He hadn't even moved to hold my hand. Jason, the guy who was brave enough to flirt endlessly with me when I was in a relationship, who had said such forward things to me online that one night, was now sitting to my right, practically ignoring me. Where was the womanizer I thought he was? How on earth could he just sit there, ignoring the years we had spent building up to this moment?
We sat on the couch, just like that, until the sun came up.
After that night with Jason, I lost it. My self-esteem was a mess, because I wondered how he could like me so much one second, and then have no interest in me the next. I was a basket case, analyzing that night every spare second I got. Why didn't I just tell him how I felt? Could I have changed the course of this story? Could Jason and I have done then what we had always wanted to do?
It took me a year to get over that night. It sounds extreme, but it required a rebuilding of confidence for me to finally realize what Jason represented to me, and what broke inside me when he failed to live up to my expectations. I was enamored with Jason, the fantasy, not Jason, the reality. In reality, he was a skinny, shy boy, who was all talk and no action. My cool fantasy was actually totally lame, and once I saw that, I no longer had any interest.
Today, I'm comfortable enough in my own skin to know that I was too good for the way Jason toyed with me. He was actually more insecure than I ever wanted to believe. I learned a valuable lesson from my crush on Jason, one that changed the way I think about relationships forever: In the end, Jason wasn't a bad boy. He was just a human being.