Embarrassmonth: What Happened When The Prettiest Girl Picked Me
The guys were in the corner of the library. They whispered and giggled and pointed. I sat alone at a table nearby, holding the book I had picked up, pretending to be busy with it. It was a book about baseball history.
Our teacher was busy elsewhere. She mentioned a project to complete before she ran out the door, something about how it was written on the piece of paper she gave us. That was on my table, too. But come on. No one, I mean no one, was reading it. We were in sixth grade and none of us were savants so no one was about to give it the time of day. Only maybe if she stood by to watch. And she was already gone.
The guys, Tim and Greg, were two of the coolest guys in school. By cool, I mean popular. Like, others looked up to them. I couldn’t say for sure why, probably because they were audacious, willing to be loud for the purpose of being loud. Especially Greg. And it got others’ attention. I, on the other hand, was jealous of turtles for their shells for hiding. Sure, part of me wanted to be loud like them so I could be welcomed into their exclusive group. But I was too shy, cautious and clumsy. Too self aware. Too pale.
Well, they kept giggling and carrying on, and I observed it was about the prettiest girl in our grade, Jasmine. A girl who had movie star hair and wore B.U.M. shirts and Keds during the brief period they were cool.
“Hey! Jasmine!” Greg hollered with a library hush. “Tim and I were having a discussion. Says he thinks you’d rather go out with him than me.”
Even Tim looked awkward about this one. He pulled off his thick, brown glasses and started cleaning them. Greg was the ringleader of the room and he’d put Jasmine in a tough spot, too. She was a little shy, too, but she had beauty and fashion to compensate for it. She stood behind the card catalog, nervously giggling between flustered phrases, like “Greg, stop it,” or “Please, just stop!” Too bad that just poured fuel on his fire. Meanwhile, my nose remained in the book and my hands in my oversized purple Nike windbreaker.
“Come on, Jasmine. You know I’ve got what it takes! Definitely more than Tim. Am I right?” Greg said in a mushy voice. He relished in making others feel awkward.
And it was working. Poor Jasmine said “Stop it!” again. But she added a couple giggles to not make it too awkward. Then another couple of bystanders started to toss their hats in as well.
“Greg, stop being mean! Leave her alone!” One girl said.
“Yea, what kind of girl would ever want to kiss you?” another said, making kissy faces and running away.
Sure enough, that also fanned the flame. It was obvious the only way he’d stop was if the teacher walked in and dismissed us. But she was nowhere in sight.
“Come on, Jasmine, make your pick. Me or Tim. And believe me I know I’ve got what it takes!” he said, doing a flex stance like his hero, Hulk Hogan. Still, he wasn’t getting anywhere with her, so he tried something different.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what,” he said. “You don’t even have to say anything. See these chairs? Just sit by exactly who you want to date. Have a seat in one of these comfy chair. That way we can resolve this once and for all.”
The whole room was tense as we watched Jasmine holding herself up with the card catalogue. Apparently this idea was the winner, though, because then she started to move and made a bee line. Straight for me. My table. Mine alone. She plopped her skinny arms on the table and kept her eyes down. And I wanted that turtle shell.
“Matt? Matt Rennels? No way! Are you serious?” Their table erupted like The Hulk just body slammed Jake The Snake. And she quietly remained, not saying yes, not saying no, and not getting up.
Greg quickly regained his composure and set his marks on me.
“Rennels, can you handle a girl like Jasmine?” he said, laughing, while his table buzzed like hyenas. I had no idea how to respond. If I said yes then they’d make fun of me. If I said no they’d really make fun of me. I couldn’t just giggle it off, either, or I’d make Jasmine feel unwanted. I was stuck.
So I returned my attention to my baseball book and flipped a page, pretending to keep reading. The whole room seemed to exhale a sigh of disappointment, including Jasmine. And more than ever I wanted what Greg had.