The names of the people in this story have been changed to provide anonymity.
Bexie was an intoxicating beauty who made me feel befuddled every time I saw her; like Kevin Arnold with Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years.
During Bexie’s time at Hogwarts, she learned those tricky silencing spells, as words were always problematic in her presence. “Silencio!”
My love for Bexi was eternal; lasting three years from 5th through 7th grade. During my 8th grade year, we had a falling out. No one was to blame. It was just fate. Bexie was cursed to be a year older and was forced to attend high school while I remained behind with my own kind. Long distance never works. Neither does dramatic age differences.
However, for two and a half magical days in 7th grade, Bexi and I were an item. The story of how this came to be is still a mystery to all involved, but somehow it really happened.
When you’re an adult, a year is nothing. But in childhood time, a whole year is epic. If Bexi and I had been blessed to be the same age, our love surely would have endured. However, her additional year provided experiences that were beyond my comprehension. Therefore, the notion that we could have had anything in common seemed ludicrous. The situation seemed impossible. How could fate be so teasingly cruel; to mock me with the impossible vastness of a single year?
Fortunately, I had a brilliant best friend, Bason, who was wise beyond his years.
“Just talk to her, dude.”
He made it sound so easy. However, Bason had his own issues initiating communication with the opposite sex. The name of his true love was Benny. She had also attended Hogwarts and apparently done quite well, as evidenced by my best friend’s
“Dude, just say hello. She’s right there, dude.” .
If you are finding the dialogue juvenile, please understand; in those days, a thought couldn’t be understood if it didn’t include at least one “dude.” A thought with more “dudes” always had more credibility. It was a complex formula we learned between English and Math classes, as well as debate club: number of words divided by “dudes” determined the credibility and saliency of an expressed thought. Therefore, the lower the score, the more credible the point. Much like golf, a lower score was better.
For years, I would daydream of Bexi, recounting those rare times when I had incredibly and even accidentally said “hi” to her. Those moments were thrilling. I remember wondering what it would feel like to say more than “hi.” After all, if sheepishly saying “hi” could be so exciting, then any additional words would surely cause levitation. “Wingardium Leviosa!”
Bason and I quickly learned that if we were ever going to talk to Bexi and Benny and eventually marry them, we would need a plan of attack. Therefore, we spent an inordinate amount of time carefully considering and planning options that always ranged from sober teamwork to vicious emasculating attacks; attempting to pressure the other into action. In other words, a “real” guy wouldn’t be such a wimp.
This sort of pressure, while certainly unfortunate, worked quite well when done correctly. Isolate your friend through ad hominem attacks, creating the impression that there was only one way for him to return to your good graces; by talking to a girl. However, we were both secure rocks; completely immune to these sort of emasculating manipulations and shaming.
Eventually, we realized the futility of inspiring action through insults and returned to soberer, reasoned, and constructive possibilities. In these moments, we did our best work. One of our most inspired ideas was to plan our conversations with pen and paper. Bason was a whiz with words, so I had no doubt this was the proper path. A great deal of deliberation was spent anticipating every possible detail.
If I were to say “hi;” what would be her response?
“But what if she skips the usual pleasantry and opts for a more causal ‘how’s it going?'”
We soon learned that there were too many variables; that predetermining a conversation and retaining organic quality were mutually exclusive. It was a tough lesson.
How Bexi ever became my girlfriend for those two and half glorious days will forever be a great mystery to mankind. The most popular theory to this day is that she may have accidentally consumed Amortentia.
The details of the days preceding the official start of our relationship are fuzzy, but I will never forget the morning I asked her to be my girlfriend.
Each generation has a slightly different way of going about this process. The men of my father’s generation usually asked permission of the girl’s father before asking if she wanted to “go steady.” However, my generation was less formal, and more casual; preferring the vagueness of the phrase “going out.” All I had to do was ask Bexi a straight forward question, “will you go out with me?” So simple; yet no words have ever been more difficult to utter.
It had to be One on One
Benny informed me one magical Fall afternoon that Bexi liked me. She also said that all I had to do was ask Bexi out the next day at school. I have never been so
Usually, I could always rely on crowd size as a reasonable excuse not to approach a girl; the idea was perfectly reasonable, to any 12-year old boy, that communication with any girl would be impossibly awkward if there were judges around to judge; their watchful eyes and nosy ears picking up every subtle rhythm of the exchange and undoubtedly concluding that I was undatable for eternity.
Therefore, no chances could be taken. It had to be done one on one.
When I arrived at school the next morning, Bexi and Benny were alone, fulfilling their flag pole duties. There was no else there. It was just Bexi, Benny, and I. The opportunity was perfect. My moment had come. I stood approximately 50 feet away from them; frozen. Petrificus Totalus!
Benny looked at me; gently motioning me to come over to them. She was nuts. There was no way I was going to leap that 50 ft. chasm. I couldn’t. I nonchalantly waved Benny to come over to me, as I worked on a seemingly insurmountable issue with my belt. I needed to talk to Benny first. I needed reassurances.
“What?” she asked incredulously.
“Ummm…. So… will she yes?”
“Yes!” but her expression said, “moron.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes!” but her eye roll suggested what all eye rolls suggest.
“Can you go ask her to make sure?”
Easy for her to say. Her fragile sensitive heart wasn’t the one on the line. Mine was and it new all about the trappings of love from copious time spent listening to the Broadway recording of Les Misérables. I would not be Éponine and Bexi would not be my Marius. On My Own would be sung somewhere else by someone else on this day.
“Yes. I just want to make sure,” I reiterated.
Benny quickly walked back to Bexi who was examining a perplexing issue with the flag raising process. They exchanged some brief words. Finally, Benny turned to leave, looked at me as if to say, “yes, you idiot,” and left.
The Perfect Opportunity
Now it was just Bexie and I. Terror gripped me. But there was no turning back. The only prospect scarier than asking Bexie to be my girlfriend was to face the rest of my social existence as the guy who completely blew the perfect opportunity. No one gets a chance like this; to approach a girl who has been separated from the herd with fresh intelligence (confidence astronomically high) from the most inside source possible confirming that the answer would be “yes.” This was going to happen. It had to happen.
I approached, Bexie. She looked up at me.
“Hi,” I said nervously.
Dramatic pause. Silence. Awkwardness. More silence. More awkwardness. Bexi squirmed.
Clearly, we were not at the comfortable silence stage of our relationship. Something had to be done. Something needed to be said. I needed to say something. I needed to say those scary words; “Will you go out with me, Bexi?” So simple! Just do it, dude! But it didn’t happen. I just couldn’t. What came out instead was an embarrassing variation.
I finally uttered the following barely audible phrase;
“So, you wanna?”
Not my bravest moment.
Fortunately her response was more confident; “Sure, I guess.”
Never have such indifferent words made me feel so overjoyed. Sure, it wasn’t like my dreams where she had been jumping for joy, wrapping her arms around me with tears of joy, and exclaiming, “Yes! Yes! Of course, Yes!” Sure, her response was slightly more tepid than my expectations. But I quickly rationalized that she was just protecting herself emotionally. After all, she didn’t know me that well. She was just playing it cool; not wanting to get ahead of her skis, only to be emotionally shattered by the mogul of my Casanova ways. It all made sense.
The bell rang and we were off to our respective classes that morning; our potential love limitless; plans for marriage dancing in our heads.
Relationships are Difficult
At lunch, Benny encouraged me to hold Bexie’s hand. My mind reached but my hand remained frozen. Holding hands? It was way too soon. I needed an emotional respite from the excruciating experience of asking her out. I was exhausted. This was all beginning to seem like too much.
Over the next two days, our relationship began to stagnate, probably because I didn’t talk to her at all. But who knows? Love is a mystery. Over the years, Bason and I had spent plenty of time planning for the events that would lead to a relationship, but had given zero thought to what would make that relationship blossom. This was completely uncharted territory. I was bound to make a few mistakes. In retrospect, maybe I should have tried using my words. Alas, hindsight.
Two days after my proposal, I had an orthodontist’s appointment to have neckgear applied to my teeth. If you know anything about neckgear, you probably understand that they don’t accentuate the best features of your face. Later that night at the school dance, I was feeling weighed down from all the metal, rubber bands, and straps. My confidence was low, thinking Bexi might not like my new metallic look, but I was also hopeful that she might find the sparkling contraption intriguing.
The boys and girls naturally separated into their tribes; the boys on one side with the girls on the other. The school dances were always a stand-off; as each side waited to see who would be brave enough to traverse the abyss. Bexie was standing with her friends on the girl’s side of the dance hall. She looked beautiful. She and Benny were conversing vigorously about something. However, they looked happy. Everything was going to be ok.
Finally, Benny came over to the guy’s side of the dance room. Some of the guys were excited that this might start a wave of potential followers that would eventually lead to awkward dancing. But alas, Benny was there to chat with me.
“Hi,” she said.
She continued. “So, Bexie doesn’t want to go out anymore.”
And just like that, it was over. Benny returned to Bexie, and they both ran off; happy as can be. My heart sank. The tears flowed uncontrollably. Bexie as gone. There would be no tomorrow.
I was Éponine. It was time for me to go home and sing On My Own. Cue the music, please.