After reading this post by Aussa at Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy, I had to write about an obsession I dealt with in high school.
It should come to no surprise, given my nerdy ways, that I wasn’t part of the popular crowd. As a matter of fact, I like to say I was second to last in terms of the high school hierarchy. My clique was made up of all the people who didn’t belong and some of the people who managed to belong everywhere. I was part of the former. An awkward kid who always had a book in hand and always wanted to dive deeper into topics than others. When a teacher assigned a 3-page paper, I was the freak of nature who raised her hand and asked “is there a page limit?” #nojoke
On the very bottom of the totem pole was one man. I’m going to call him Philip, because I have the Maleficent trailer stuck in my mind. It doesn’t fit at all because this guy was anything but a knight in shiny armor.
He was really creepy. You know they guy who always looks greasy with shifty eyes and ungainly way of speaking? That’s this guy.
I thought I was going to avoid his advances. Throughout high school, he was always around my group of friends. I can think of two or three people that he seemed interested in for a period of time. The height of his obsession came when he set his eyes on my best friend at the time. He must have asked her out every other day for over a year. She couldn’t bear to just cut him off with a “no, I’m not interested,” so she made excuses. “I’m too busy,” she’d say. “I’m just not looking for a relationship now.”
That was all a lie because she did eventually start dating someone. During on particularly awkward encounter (for her), Philip sat across from her and her boyfriend, looked at her and asked “What does he have that I don’t?”
I forget what her reaction was, but I can tell you that, if I were in her shoes, I would be horribly embarrassed. What do you say to that?
Her boyfriend answered on her behalf. “I have her.”
Well, that’s kind of sweet if you’re into all that romantic
Then, it was my turn.
I was involved in the publications class which produced the school newspaper and yearbook. To this day, I am 99.9% sure the only reason he signed up for the class senior year was to be closer to me. I knew what it was like to be a loner and have people laugh behind your back, so I wasn’t about to act cruel. All the same, there are not words to describe how uninterested I was. Creepiness aside, I felt like the last choice. He had gone through my friends and failed.
It’s too bad. If he would have approached me during my freshman year, my self-esteem would have been low enough that I would have said yes to anything. Instead, he waited until I was a senior. By that point, I had gained enough confidence to say no. I’d rather be alone; sorry man.
He tried really hard to engage me during the class. He’d have me review his articles and I took no mercy with my critique. If you’ve ever studied journalism, you should know that the red pen is an editor’s best friend. Honestly, I felt bad. I tore some of those stories apart. That’s how you get better though. Someone has to tell you what you’re doing wrong so you can figure out what to do right.
Then, during P.E. one day, I saw him pull out a folding chair at the end of the gym with a camera. He was in charge of the P.E. page in the year book, so this wasn’t really that big of a deal. I admit, his creepy nature may have made me more susceptible to discomfort in this situation. That said, I am 90% sure he spent more time just watching (with the camera on the floor beside the chair) than he actually did taking pictures.
I quickly told all my friends the secret of avoiding yearbook publication: Don’t show him your face.
In the publications class, we weren’t allowed to use photos if they didn’t have faces in them. No backs allowed! Soon, it seemed like everyone was turning their faces away when he walked down the hallways, camera in hand. If you followed a few feet behind, you would hear a chorus of “I hate that guy.” “I hate that guy.” “I hate that guy”. “I hate that guy.”
I felt bad, but I also didn’t want him to have any photos of me. If other people didn’t want their pictures taken, they had a right to avoid facing a camera, too.
This resulted in some pretty harsh criticism when I was asked to review his yearbook pages. Word must have spread fast because it seemed like none of his photos had faces in them. I wasn’t beyond saying “Well, you need to rework this text and get new pictures. You know we can’t use ones with no faces.”
I think I was wearing him down at this point. I’m really bad at sugar-coating things. I’m just going to say it as it is. He tried really hard to be cute and flirt in that creepy way of his, and I wasn’t having it. Also, I had no idea that’s what was happening. If you come to me with puppy eyes begging me to review your work, I’m going to rip it apart and watch as your puppy eyes turn as red as the paper I just marked up. Do you really think I’d tell you that bad writing was good just to flirt with you? Even if you were Prince Philip himself, I would have sent that page back bleeding with red ink.
At the end of the day, it all worked out, because he took this one awesome picture. He walked into a class one day and everyone laid their heads on the desk as if sleeping. *snap* That picture made it into our yearbook. Apparently, nothing says high school like sleeping in class.