When I was 17 I was really good friends with a nice boy. I was fairly sure he liked me in a more-than-friends way, but not totally sure. I was sure of my feelings for him, though, and that always makes it harder to see anything clearly. Other than a few lingering hugs and some couch cuddling during a couple movies, there was never anything physical between us. But the way he was with me… He was attentive and caring and sweet. We had a lot of fun together. It was confusing, but unless I had a clearer signal from him, I was okay with just being friends.

We went on like this for about a year. One night, at a house party, he told me he was going to ask a mutual friend out on a date. He asked me if I’d do him a favor and go to the store with him to pick out some flowers. With a heavy heart and a churning stomach, I got into the car and went with him. I don’t remember picking out the flowers or even going into the store. I remember walking out of the store. It was autumn and chilly enough that he noticed I was cold and offered me his jacket. I draped it over my shoulders like a cape. He opened my car door for me and I noticed he was waiting while I got settled in. Then he leaned down, handed me the flowers, and said “Spants, these are really for you.”

Wait – what?

But before I could process or respond, he said, “Just kidding,” and closed my door. My face was instantly hot and tears flooded my vision. I quickly swiped at my eyes with the sleeve of his jacket and dug my thumbnail into my index finger to divert the pain and stop my tears. He got in and chatted quietly during the drive back. I had a hard time opening my mouth to speak so I just sat there trying to control my breathing. There was no way I was going to cry in front of him. Twice he asked me if I was okay. The first time I said “yep” and the second time I looked him squarely in the face and fantasized about breaking his nose. Instead, I quickly nodded. I had so many thoughts, like: Had that really just happened? What the hell? Why would he toy with me like that? And: Spants, you are so stupid. Of course he’d never like you.

When we arrived, I practically jumped out of the car before it had stopped and quickly walked to my car to leave. I turned around and saw him watching me flee, a pained look on his face. He knew how badly he’d hurt me. He watched me get into my car and then stood on the curb watching me as I drove away.

I was hurt, embarrassed, confused, angry, and I cried all the way home.

It took me a while to understand that, in a really messed up way, he’d done me a solid. Sure, it was painful. But it allowed me to know exactly where I stood, or didn’t, and I was able to move on. Plus, I avoided being with someone who apparently would fuck with my feelings on a lark.

However, I think this incident shaped me more than I would like. Seems like I’m always waiting for the reveal, or for me to be the punchline. It’s sometimes hard for me to tell when someone is sincere, and it’s always difficult to believe it. But I keep trying, I guess. I don’t really know another way to be.


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