It was the summer before my freshman year in high school. I was 14 and he was 16. I wore oversized glasses and a reputation for being smart. I was comfortable in my intellect but awkward in my appearance. I struggled between wanting a guy to notice me and being too shy to respond to a boy’s advances.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to worry about my response to boys’ advances; it hardly ever happened. And when it did, I would be enamored for a second, and then I’d notice that the boy was only trying to sweet talk me into letting him copy my paper (which I never allowed).
This boy, to my surprise, was not like the other boys. He showered me with compliments that I had never received before. He would wait for me after class and would walk me to my next class, and sometimes, he’d even carry my books. In between classes, we’d talk about musicians and recently released albums. Sisqo was our favorite artist at the time and he’d let me listen to his “Unleash The Dragon” album on his portable CD player.
At the tender age of 14, I had my first real crush.
One day, as he was walking me to class, he grabbed my hand and said, “Come here. I want to show you something.” The butterflies in my stomach, the alluring beats of the “Thong Song” playing in my ear, and the smooth touch of his hand was too much for an innocent soon-to-be-ninth-grader like me. I was smitten.
We walked to the far end of the building – to a dark hallway that was in need of some serious maintenance: paint peeling off the wall, lights flickering, creaky air conditioning. He explained to me that “The Dungeon” was built back in the early 1970’s when the school was built, but unlike the rest of the building, it needed had not been renovated. It’s history – I found fascinating, but what intrigued me even more was the fact that in all the times that I’ve been lost within the building, I had never noticed “The Dungeon.” My thoughts were interrupted.
“I want to ask you something,” he says.
A big smile crept up on me. I knew what he was going to ask me. He was going to ask me to be his girlfriend! And of course, I would say YES! I thought about all the time I’d get to spend with him, all the fun we’d have together. I thought about the movies we’d see together. I even imagined what his blue and orange jacket he wore to school everyday would look like on me. I hadn’t realized I was smiling until he said, “You have a beautiful smile.”
I was practically planning our wedding when the school bell interrupted my thoughts and zapped me back into reality. “I have to go to Geometry class,” I told him.
“It’s okay,” he said and gripped me tight around my waist.
The hand holding was sweet but the tight grip frightened me. The butterflies that were flying around in my stomach a few moments ago had vanished. I guess it fell to the floor with the rest of my stomach.
I wanted to get out of his presence. Something wasn’t feeling right.
“I have to go,” I said firmly, ” I don’t want to miss Geometry.” I snatched my hand from him and pulled out of his tight cold embrace and started walking briskly in the opposite direction – towards the well-lit hallways that felt safer to me.
He called me, “Come back. You’re not going to miss anything in Geometry. Stay with me.”
I started running. Something wasn’t right. I just had to get out of there.
Ten minutes later, I was sitting in the 2nd row of my Geometry class staring at my teacher who wore smiley faced ties to work everyday. His lecture on 30 degree angels was going in one ear and out the other. How could I be so dumb and leave him like that. He’ll never talk to me again.
After class, I heard news that would forever change the relationship between my crush and me. He had molested a girl in the location that he had taken me. It was a he-say-she-say matter, but there was enough evidence provided by authorities and other girls to expel him from the program. I never saw him again.
No one knows for sure what really happened in the dark hallway of the school, but I was grateful that I wasn’t there to find out. The girl who accused him of committing such a cold-hearted act could have been me. But thanks to that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, that girl wasn’t me.
He and I never spoke again. And I learned a valuable lesson before my first year in high school: always listen and trust to your intuition.