Everyone remembers their first real crush, and I’m no exception. Of course, my high school crush also ended up being my first big disappointment with men, so maybe that’s why.
For those of you who don’t know, I went to boarding school. My older brother went, so it just kind of made sense that I’d go, too. The school we went to was in Boca Raton, Florida, which, let’s just say, has a very particular vibe to it that really didn’t fit me, and is why I ended up transferring to another boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina after my sophomore year, when my brother graduated.
I was a bit boy-crazy in my youth, and this definitely started for me in high school (okay, middle school). My freshman year, I mostly focused on my brother’s friends because I thought that I was SO cool because Junior boys knew who I was. But of course, being an older brother, he probably told all of them I was off-limits, plus I’m pretty sure that dating your friend’s little sister violates some kind of bro code rules, so I knew none of them were going to work out. But a girl can dream, right
My sophomore year, I decided to set my sights on the boys my own age, figuring that maybe I’d have better luck with them since they didn’t know my brother very well. This meant they couldn’t be deterred by him or know to be afraid of him.
While there were a few boys who caught my eye and I certainly wouldn’t have been opposed to any of them being part of my little high school romance fantasies, there was one that I was particularly interested in. He was tall, had dark hair, and was French-Candian, which to me at the age of 15, was pretty exotic (despite the fact that I literally went to a boarding school with dozens of international students). You know that he’s French-Canadian because he has two names, and the first name is a common name that’s spelled differently. For the sake of the story, I’ll call him Luc-Arthur, or just Luc.
Luc-Arthur was technically part of the “popular” crowd, but I was a floater in high school, so that didn’t really make a difference in my mind. I had at least one or two friends in just about every clique, plus a few girls that I was very close with and were my best friends. I’ll call the three of them Betsy, Emma, and Alanna.
Luc and I had a couple of classes either together, or in the classrooms next to each other, so we did interact on occasion. I’ll be totally honest and admit that I am absolutely not one of those girls who peaked in high school, I very much went through an awkward phase (like when I read in Seventeen magazine that it was “so cool” to wear two different color metallic eyeliners, so I did that for way longer than I care to remember) but luckily, I had mostly grown out of at least that part of it by this point. I definitely didn’t have very high self-esteem, but I was cute. Not gorgeous (yet!) but pretty enough, and luckily for me despite puberty being absolutely awful to me in every other way, it did help me have much bigger boobs than most of my female classmates. So, at least I had that going for me.
In any case, I’m saying this because I want it to be clear that it was not delusional of me to think that he could maybe have a crush on me, too. And the more we talked outside of class, the more I thought that he did, and also, the more my crush on him grew.
(A few photos of baby Madeline – I still have and fit into that first dress!)
One day, my roommate Melanie was in our room with a friend of hers, Kelly, when I came back after class. I had a class or two with Kelly, too, so I knew her and I liked her, so we all talked for a bit. It’s important to note, though, that Melanie and Kelly – especially Kelly – were very much part of the “popular” crowd. In any case, as we talked I mentioned something about having a crush on someone and after lots of pleading on their part, I finally gave in and told them that it was on Luc-Arthur. They both swore they wouldn’t tell a soul, and, because I thought we were at least friendly, I believed them.
Not too long after that, I got a Facebook (or maybe even MySpace or AIM, I don’t even remember) message from Luc’s best friend, Aidan, basically just telling me that he knew that Luc really liked me, and that he was planning on asking me out pretty soon. I wasn’t dumb, so I refused to believe him for quite awhile until he could give me some sort of solid proof that he wasn’t lying, and basically begging him to please not be fucking with me. I refused to admit that I had a crush on Luc, too, until the next time that he messaged me, which I think was later that week. He passed it all off as basically being a good wingman and making sure that if Luc asked me out I’d say yes so that he didn’t embarrass himself.
After this, I was pretty excited, obviously, but still wanted to play it cool. I remember that after that there were a couple of times when I’d be outside a classroom waiting to go in, and Luc would be in the class next to me and he’d go drop off his backpack and then go back outside and talk to me while I waited to be able to go in, which I thought was a sure sign that he was going to ask me out soon.
You also need to keep in mind that at this time in my life, I was VERY innocent. I think it was the end of my freshman year that I heard people gossiping about one of the girls in our class giving a boy a blowjob at someone’s Bar Mitzvah, and I didn’t know what that was so I had to ask Emma. That’s how little I knew. I had to use UrbanDictionary SO much in high school. I was very much the sweet and innocent one, thinking that even if I got to make out with a boy that would be a big deal. Times have definitely changed, but at fifteen/sixteen, that was absolutely where I was at.
At this point, Luc-Arthur still hadn’t asked me out, but I felt like it was coming because Aidan, and some of his other friends, kept telling me that it was. I remember we all had History together, and one day, this kid Jack F., went up and whispered into our teacher’s ear trying to get him to say something that our teacher refused to say, which made me think it was about me. It made me even more sure when throughout the rest of class, Jack F., Aidan, and Jack R. would randomly get up and walk behind our teacher to “throw something away” while holding up a piece of paper that said ‘Luc likes Madeline.’ I was mortified, but also figured they wouldn’t be embarrassing their friend like that if it wasn’t true, right?
Wrong. A while after all of this started, my roommate Melanie somehow heard through her friend group that all of this – everything Aidan and Jack F. and Jack R. and Luc had been saying and doing to me for the past several weeks – was a joke, and she immediately ran to Emma and Alanna to tell them that they needed to tell me because she didn’t know what they were going to do, or when.
That day, I came out of History class to find Emma and Alanna waiting outside the door. I smiled and said hi, and they both just very calmly but sternly told me to go back to my room and they’d be there soon. I could tell something was up, so I went.
The second I got a few feet away, all I heard was yelling. I clearly heard Emma and Alanna’s voices, but I couldn’t really understand what they were saying. But I was smart enough to figure out that they were yelling at all of the boys, since that was the one class we all had together. I found out later that they both got in the face of this one kid who is actually now a pro-boxer and at the time towered over pretty much everyone, so he was pretty big, but apparently they got so angry when he tried to defend all of them that even he just kind of slid away to escape their wrath.
After that amazing verbal smackdown, they came back to the dorm and told me what Melanie had told them. Emma also told me that after Melanie had told her, she had Chemistry with another guy kind of in their “group,” but that was actually a decent guy, so she asked him if he knew what was going on and he said yes. He told her that he’d only found out what was happening a day or two before, but he did think they were going to embarrass me publicly at some point, and told her to tell me before they did. He and I had a class or something together, so he knew that I was a very nice person who definitely didn’t deserve that, and he told her pretty much everything that he knew so she could yell at them all on my behalf, but also have answers so that I believed her when she told me.
When they told me, I cried. I was really disappointed, like most sixteen-year old girls would be. I had been bullied when I was younger for my weight, but I’d never had someone basically just choose to basically bully me for no reason at all. I wasn’t close with Aidan or either of the Jacks or anything, but we talked in class before all of this happened, so I always thought we would at least be decent to each other because I’d never given them a reason not to be. I was also upset that Luc had let all of this happen, and didn’t really understand why he’d go along with something like that. And I was just mad that he didn’t like me back like I thought I did.
Then, Emma made it even better by telling me that she’d also found out that apparently, Aidan was going around telling everyone that I not only liked Luc, but also that I liked Aidan, too. Which was absolutely not true. This pissed me off even more, and I decided I was too emotionally distraught (aka dramatic) to go to my next class, so I skipped it and stayed with Betsy for my next period. Later, I went to the Dean (who loved me) and told her what had happened and she wrote off my absence as “Excused” and told me she’d never liked any of those boys, anyway.