Journal entry: May 4, 1988 (age 19) – Puppy Love
“Wait a minute – you mean you like me, too?”
This wasn’t the way it worked. From the first time I fell in love – at age 10 – the pattern has never changed. I become friends with a girl, I quickly develop mushier feelings, I present those feelings to her, and I am gently rebuffed. In between, I listen to a lot of Barry Manilow. (My brothers claim that in and of itself is part of the problem. But even now, they’ve never made it through the rain to try to get the feeling again for a weekend in New England. Or at the Copa, for that matter.)
Most guys have dealt with the dreaded “I think of you more as a friend.” But I’ve dealt with it so many times it’s become my assumption. Let’s put it this way – I escorted girls to five proms and semi-formals in high school, but never went on a real date or experienced a real kiss. I’ve always been the nice, funny, harmless guy dying to eliminate the space between the words “girl” and “friend.”
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have low self-esteem, and I don’t consider myself unworthy. In fact, my general feeling has always been, “When are these girls going to wake up to the fact that I’m awesome?”
Margaret smelled the coffee a few weeks ago. She’s a year ahead of me in the theatre department at SUNY Oswego. She perfectly fits the type I tend to fall for: brunette and curvy, with a round, pretty face and big eyes. I was happily stunned to learn that she liked me back (and me front, apparently). We were in the midst of a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I think she was drawn to the outsized confidence of my character, Bottom. Bottom is extremely untalented, but supremely self-confident. If I was typecast, I don’t care. I’m awesome, remember?
Today is my 19th birthday, and Margaret arranged a little surprise party for me in my dorm room. (Nineteen. Nuh-nuh-nuh nineteen. Sorry – Paul Hardcastle flashback.) The party wasn’t anything elaborate – just a handful of friends with a birthday cake, but I was psyched. I was now “that guy” who had “that girl” doing nice things like, um, “that.” If I wasn’t me, I’d want to punch me in the face. But I am me, it’s my birthday, and I’m busy. I’ll have a double malted with two straws, please.
Margaret said that before the party, she was worried that I would notice how nervous she was. I didn’t say this to her, but I must admit I had been a bit distracted, especially as we walked back and forth from my room in Scales Hall to Lakeside Dining Hall. I was very aware of, and happy about, the presence of Margaret’s hand in mine as we walked. As people walked past us, I couldn’t help looking at their faces and thinking, “That’s right, that’s right. The kid’s doing fine! Uh-huh.”