Not So Romantic

So I’m 32, single, and my encounters with the opposite gender from the time I was little have been nothing short of a Josey Grosey moment in Never Been Kissed.
I haven’t quite figured out what it is that makes me so goofy and awkward around men (I feel like I still have to call them boys), but I know that it’s enough material for a sitcom, stand up routine, or some form of entertainment.
From the time I was little, I fell in love with fairy tales. I was the queen of Barbie’s and Disney princess films. I day dreamed a lot, and imagined my life having a happily ever after ending. It was a beautiful idea that came with a lot of harsh reality the older I got. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with little girls in princess dresses and dreaming of their prince charming. I did, and I’m glad I have those memories and had that experience. But, when you realize life doesn’t usually end in happily ever after’s like the movies, it can be a bit unsettling.
As I got into Elementary school, I don’t think I ever went through the “boys have cooties” phase. I was head-over-heels in kindergarten…maybe even preschool, and I for sure always thought that boys were great!
As I grew up, I began to have so many awkward encounters, and I really think they just built on one another to make me more uncomfortable as time went on. I never had a bad or traumatic experience with men, I was just so shy when I was little, and then it turned into this sort of giggly fear. My friends would say to me growing up “I can tell you like him…cause you giggle.” Even in college, one of my best guy friends told me “I can tell when you’re interested in a guy because you don’t make eye contact and you laugh a lot.” Just picture Drew Barrymore in the cafeteria…”Hi Guy, Yes. You are a guy.” …Life with boys has been about like that for me. If I like someone, I run away because, I dunno, I never knew how to be normal, and maybe I put too much pressure on my fairy tale ideals?
Here are a few examples of my not-so-romantic, yet very comedic life.
I walked into my 3rdgrade homeroom on Valentine’s Day to a pleasant surprise. There was a box of candy with a heart shaped snoopy balloon attached to the top that said “I love you”. The only problem was, I had no idea who it was from! It said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” but there was no name attached. I was so excited, but also freaked out a bit on the inside.
As I looked at my amazing Valentine gift, two of my best friends in my class ran up to me, giggling. “It’s from Kevin but we’re not supposed to tell you, so don’t say anything.” My heart jumped out of my skin and I was the happiest girl in the whole world. Like that moment in Hairspray when she sings “I can hear the bells”.  
Kevin had transferred to my school the year before and it was one of those moments. You know, the moment in the movie when the cute boy walks in and some cheesy Mandy Moore song plays as he enters and looks at you for the first time? Yeah…that was my moment with Kevin the day he came to our school. He was wearing a neon green cast on his arm, and my class was looking at a slide show (before the days of power point), and I just daydreamed my life away.
Then it hit me…I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone?! Yeah right! I wanted to scream it over the principal’s intercom. However, I exercised control…or so I thought. I shared the candy with my class, and played it off like it was no big deal. Later in the day, however, Kevin and I were in a group together outside at recess. This is how I know that my awkwardness with men is not a newly developed thing.
We were standing there in the middle of the playground and I decided to tell him. Or maybe I just blurted it out because I felt awkward and nervous… 
“See those two over there” pointing to my friends, “they told me that you gave me the Valentine.”
He looked like a deer in headlights.
“Oh, uh, yeah…they weren’t supposed to tell you.” 
You would think that all would have clicked and we would have ridden off into the sunset.  Nope. That was the end of our conversation. We both turned around and walked away. 
My mom was so excited for me, and FORCED me to write Kevin a THANK YOU NOTE! For the little shy, nerdy kid who was in love and terrified, writing a thank you note was mortifying!!! So, what did I do? I wrote it, and then when I got to school the next day, instead of handing it to him, like a normal person, I THREW IT…more like CHUNKED it into his cubby!!!! I think I sent some mixed signals saying something to the effect of…
“Thanks for embarrassing me in front of our whole class and giving me an I LOVE YOU Balloon. I’m never going to recover from it. Love, Ashley.”
When what I really meant to say was…
“I’m in LOVE, I’m in LOVE and I don’t care who knows it!”
So, you see, I have never known what to do when I like someone. I get nervous, don’t make eye contact, giggle uncontrollably, and run the opposite direction.
I even was asked to go to the symphony with a guy while in graduate school, and I got so nervous/awkward that I blurted out “I don’t like music, but thanks.”
UM…WHAT?! Hello?! I am a singer, songwriter, and dabble in guitar and piano. Lol Immediately I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I still to this day have no idea why I even said it. It just came out.  

So, my friends…don’t let today get you down. It’s just a day. A Tuesday, in fact. Go about your day, knowing that you surely can’t be as awkward as 3rd grade me or graduate school me. You are awesome…quirks and all…just be you. It’s a great day to remember that so many people love you…Friends, family, and most of all by the God of heaven. This day is a big build up to celebrate a fat/mostly naked guy with a bow and arrow. But nonetheless, a day to celebrate those you love. I may be 32 and single, but I have a lot of love in my life. I have amazing friends, great family, and important people in my life that span across oceans. And, perhaps most important, I have learned to love myself…quirks and all.

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