The Weirdest Things I’ve Been Attracted To: High School

I don’t know why I’m thinking about this. Maybe because I’m at a loss for another topic right now and figured that after a month, it was about time to update my blog. That’s when I thought to myself, “Is there is a common thread running through every guy I’ve ever had a crush on?” The answer is yes, and no, it’s not that they are all backwards-hat wearing, lifetime-card-carrying members of the Bro-tary Club. It’s that every one of these guys has had some small idiosyncrasy that intrigued me. Today, we start with high school:

There was a guy in high school I’ll call Carl. You can be sure his real name isn’t Carl because no hot guy in the history of mankind was ever named Carl.

I first laid eyes on Carl in freshman gym class. There I stood, in a pair of maroon boys gym shorts that were too long in the legs and too tight in the waist, paired with an unnecessarily thick, reversible “t-shirt” (it was more like wearing two cotton drapes sewn together into the shape of a shirt). At my high school, this unfortunate excuse for clothing was called a “gym uniform.” Miss Cooper read role call and that’s when I heard his name. Carl. I had heard about this boy all throughout 7th and 8th grade–the most beautiful, perfect guy to attend an inter-school junior high dance. Rumor was he had taken a girl on a date to the Lincoln Park Zoo…alone…and given her a pair of diamond earrings for her birthday. He was a legend in Chicago, and hearing his name was like finding out Stephen from “Laguna Beach” had shown up to your school and wanted to take you to ice cream in his white pick-up truck.

My idea then (okay, and sort of still now…) of the perfect man: Stephen from Laguna, in his shades, in that white truck.

Unfortunately for me, Carl was surrounded by a group of girls. They were the type of girls who seem to skip puberty altogether and move onto being downright hot. It’s like there is some gene pool I wasn’t privy to that dictates you will sprout large B-cup boobs overnight, be a size 0 for all of high school, and never have one pimple. How can I marry into this, by the way? Is there some punnett square I can fill out with my future husband to ensure our daughters will never look like I did from 7th grade to junior year of high school?

Needless to say, Carl took zero interest in me. Instead, I spent the first day of every subsequent school year praying that his name would be read during roll call at the beginning of every class and then, because we always had assigned seats, looking frantically around the classroom for him.

Obviously looking directly at him was not an option, so I had to slyly crane my head around in a sleuth-like manner if I wanted a glimpse.

This is where it gets weird, although at the time, it seemed totally normal. To avoid being caught, I got into the habit of staring at the bottom-eighth of his khakis (he even wore them on free dress days) and his New Balance 991 sneakers. He wore these literally every day of high school, and it was always a momentous occasion when he would show up with a new pair or replaced laces.

My sleuthing skills on full-blast, I realized from staring at his address in the school directory for hours on end (this now seems like a ridiculously vintage activity, staring at a paper copy of a school directory for fun…or maybe I was just that big a loser) that he lived around the corner from a New Balance retail store. Wow, this was a revelation. People, this was before Google was the search engine of choice, and wayyy before Google Earth existed. I figured out from a PAPER DIRECTORY and multiple creepy walk-bys that Carl most likely bought his shoes at this particular store.

For four years I was about one step away from needing to be shot with a horse tranquilizer every time I walked or drove by that New Balance. The thought of seeing Carl outside of a school environment was the most exciting thing I could come up with in my 15-year-old brain.

Carl even wore his 991’s school dances. EVEN PROM. With a suit. Did he own any other shoes? I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. A particularly painful memory I would like to share with you all occurred at least twice every dance, freshman through senior year, as I watched from five or six sweaty couples away as Carl and his perfect girlfriend slow danced to a Michelle Branch song before breaking into a sweet grind during a Jadakiss jam. The night would then end with my dad picking me up and driving me back to my house, or a sleepover with my girlfriends, where we would discuss what it felt like to make out with someone. Only one of us had done it and she was the authority. I took scrupulous mental notes.

To this day, when I see a pair of those shoes, I call them “Hot Guy Shoes.” My friends post-high school have since informed me that these are actually old man orthopedic sneakers.


I refuse to believe it.

Well, okay, I refuseD to believe it until my 80-year-old professor showed up wearing them…


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