It was just after Thanksgiving of my sixth grade year. For about a year and a half, I had had the worst sort of crush on a girl in my class named Wendy Ford. When I was 11, she was my dream girl.
I was terrified for anybody to figure out that I “liked” Wendy, of course. And the absolute worst thing would be for her to know it. This is confusing to adult logic, but it made perfect sense back then. Somehow, she was going to “like” me first and let me know — and then I could confess that I “liked” her, too. And then we would get married. Or something like that.
Instead, one of her friends came over to me — in music class — and asked, “Do you like Wendy?”
My face must have turned bright red. I felt as though everybody was looking at me. My heartbeat raced. And I denied it. I assured her that it wasn’t true, but I doubt I was convincing. I just wanted to be anywhere but there.
“You should have liked her,” the friend said, “because she likes you.”
Thursday evening, I remembered what that sort of conversation felt like — and I didn’t like it any better than I did when I was 11.