Lemme ‘splain. (I swear the quotes stop here. But I can’t help it. I just can’t. Look at him – can you blame me?)
Back when I was in college, I spent a semester in Austria with about a hundred other students from my university. Unlike most study abroad programs, we all knew each other, with the exception of a handful of Europeans and even fewer first-time students. In spite of what I am about to tell you, it remains one of the best semesters of my college experience. That’s the wonderful thing about growing up – that which you think really and truly might kill you seems so trivial when you’ve gone on to survive, well, that which might have actually killed you.
During the first few weeks of the semester, I would spend a lot of time playing the beautiful grand piano in one of the many ornate rooms. Our campus was a restored Carthusian monastery and wasn’t short on impressiveness. As it happened, a boy kept appearing and silently listening to me play the few Beethoven and Mozart pieces I’d thought to bring along. I assumed he was one of the European students because of his appearance as well as his lack of speaking, but it turned out he was just a transfer student.
And as my obnoxious little 19 year-old self was wont to do anytime I was paid the slightest bit of attention, I developed a massive crush. Which, in my defense, was also reciprocated.
We spent many weekends traveling together with groups of our friends. As one might well imagine, traipsing about Europe together does precious little to damper a college girl’s romantic daydreams. We sat together at meals, during class, and stayed up late at night talking and talking.
Until one day, we didn’t.
I wasn’t the quickest bunny in the field, and I wasn’t catching on to the fact that dreamy boy had moved along. Sure, we still spent time together, but something had changed in our interactions. So I did what most college girls do – I dug in my claws a bit deeper.
Always a solid move, right?
Late one night, he and I were studying for a Philosophy midterm with a mutual friend. I must have dozed off on the futon mid-read, what with it being around 2 AM, because the next thing I knew, I was hearing my crush and our other friend talking. About me.
Now, I should point out the obvious fact that they were being completely foolish to have this conversation literally in front of me, but it was happening. And I was assumed to be still sleeping.
So there I was, frozen, unable to escape, as the boy of my dreams of the moment was carrying on and on about how he used to like me but was now head over heels for a someone better, someone brighter, a sweet Slovakian angel of a girl. How I was alright and all, but not nearly as lovely as the heavenly creature who now occupied his every thought.
Humiliations. Galore. And I was trapped.
This carried on for what seemed like an eternity but probably more likely ten minutes, until they meandered back into Plato’s cave. At that point, I pretended to rouse from a deep sleep and hauled ass to my room, fighting off the urge to scream and cry.
I’d love to tell you that I held my head high, knowing this was a learning experience, and that I moved on gracefully, realizing I was better off, alas, I carried on in my unrequited idiocy for a couple more months until the semester’s end. And then we went to Greece together for two weeks.
I can decidedly say that while this remains one of the most cringe-worthy moments of my younger days, I now laugh along with you, dear reader, and that has made all the difference.