Embarrassmonth: Crying Because She Never Showed Up

It’s hard to see where you’re going with tears streaming down your face. That’s what made the bike ride home the worst part.

I was in eighth grade and had started playing tennis with friends. For better or for worse, one of those friends was be an attractive girl. Brooke. All along I tried to assure myself nothing was supposed to happen. She was out of my league. Pretty and popular. Miles ahead of me in coolness and music knowledge. Like, one time she asked me my favorite Blind Melon song and I totally blew it. I said ‘No Rain,’ their hit song anyone could say. My chance to be cool was blown. To be different. She was nice and humored me, responding “that’s cool,” but she asked James Parker and he said ‘Tones of Home,’ apparently the right answer. They buzzed about it for 15 minutes while I nervously picked at my Trapper Keeper.

But she still talked to me and soon we agreed to meet for tennis. And now I’m sobbing on my way home from that tennis meeting. Why? She never showed. We set on 6 PM on Saturday, a very social time. I turned down three different hangouts with friends, using a different lie each time. Of course I did, otherwise they’d say “What? You are trying to hang out with Brooke?” they’d ask. “Really? You?!”

No crushing my dreams allowed. But maybe I should have allowed it because then I wouldn’t have made such a fool of myself. It was before cell phones, so I anxiously kick the pavement of the tennis courts, hitting balls over the net while eyeing every passing car and bicyclist. Until 8 o’clock, two long hours after we were supposed to meet. At dusk I finally picked up my bike and started for home.

I imagined Brooke and her friends laughing at me, the geek who thought himself worthy to play tennis with the beautiful Brooke. The sobs only came harder, each tear a reminder that I was never meant to climb that high.

I reached my house and cleaned my tears, hid the tennis racket and kept my head down. I charged into my room, right past Mom. She was one of the people I lied to. I didn’t want her to ask how the movie was.