When someone asks me, do you have a boyfriend, I always refer back to the many reasons why I in fact, do not.
Reason 1: When I was in eighth grade, there was this boy I liked. For the purposes of this story, his name will be Giraffe. So to tell the truth, I didn’t have the best hairstyle in eighth grade. In fact, it was quite appalling. I used to dream about having the kind of hair you see on Head and Shoulders commercials- lush, long and voluminous. Instead my hair was short, coiled up, and by society’s definition, kinky.
It didn’t help that I was too lazy to properly take care of it. That, in addition to my chipmunk cheeks, Lane Bryant wardrobe and lack of coherent sentences in front of Giraffe ensured that he would never go for a girl like me. And when I say a girl like me, I mean I’m the only one of my species, of course.
Reason 2: Tenth grade dance. I had the perfect hairstyle, the semi-perfect dress, and the okay shoes. I was good to go. The whole thing was Halloween themed, my favorite kind of event. I was dressed up like a girl version of Mad Hatter with the green top hat and overcoat, along with a cool patched-up purple dress that I invented myself because I would not be subject to the skanky women’s costumes in Party City. I had standards, thank you very much.
They started playing the latest dance song, you know the kind where everyone congregates in the center of the dance floor because the whole gym knows the dance, and I went right to the front. Big mistake.
In addition to the awesome overcoat and dress, I had on a pair of crazy polka dotted tights. While I was dancing, or whatever takes place when I move my body, my thighs decided to pop the tights, running a line straight down the middle on both sides. Even worse, it was in the back.
Reason 3: In third grade, I was in the school talent show. I was going to sing something from the Cheetah Girls, because it was “in” at the time. In third grade, I was much skinnier. I didn’t have a muffin top or kinky hair, and I had way more friends.
I was all fixed up and ready to go, but just as I was about to start singing, I heard someone say something. It sounded like fat cow. And I just… froze. I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t move— I was paralyzed. And when everyone started laughing at me while the teachers calmed them down, I caught the eyes of the boy I liked. He looked at me like I was the saddest thing in the world. A rain-soaked puppy left in the cold for everyone to pity.
Reason 4: In tenth grade, I liked an Asian boy. Not that this was a major problem, I mean hoorah! for interracial couples and all but, come on. It may seem like something I’m over exaggerating, but breaching the barrier between races is apparently a big deal. I always hear boys saying: Ooh I really like that girl and she’s so pretty, does she have a boyfriend?— but they aren’t talking about black girls. It’s always that blonde girl with the skinny legs or that Asian girl that wears makeup at fourteen. Never us.
And if it is a black girl, she’s light-skinned. And has straighter hair. And she’s as thin as a Victoria Secret model. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when you don’t look that way, it kind of feels like being thrown in the lowest sales pile.
Reason 5: Senior year, graduation day. It was raining outside, I had on four inch heels and tights that could rip any second, and the entire graduating class had this feeling of wow, it’s really over? I saw people that I had passed in the hallways for four years, some I spoke to, some I didn’t. I knew faces, but I didn’t know all the names. And the strange thing was, that in about a year, it wouldn’t even matter. I would never see these people again.
Some of them, sitting in that crowd, saw me rip my tights at the school dance. Some of them saw me confess to a boy I liked, get rejected, and still hold my head up high. Some of them might have even saw me on stage, about to sing, frozen on the spot. But in all those years they witnessed my failures and my pain, none of the people sitting in that crowd ever really saw me. They only saw what they thought I was. I never realized that until that day.
Reason 6: First day of college, as I walked into my Intro to Film class, I met the eyes of someone I thought I would never see again. A certain Asian boy that I had a crush on forever. I didn’t expect him to recognize me, so I just kept my head down and picked the furthest desk away from him. But, as most of my life went, things didn’t go as planned.
I heard him take the seat next to me, and with a discreet whisper so as not to catch the attention of the professor he said, “Hey.”
I didn’t want to acknowledge him. I didn’t want to see anyone from high school, let alone someone I had embarrassed myself in front of. But as I looked over at him I saw something unexpected sparkling in his inky eyes. Not pity or shame or ridicule, but relief. Not only that, but the slightest bit of happiness. And I couldn’t even begin to fathom why. But as I looked into his eyes, not to be some lovey-dovey cliché, I saw what I had searched for in countless others. Something I never thought I would receive from anyone, especially not him. Acceptance.