I was in ninth grade, sitting on a bench with a friend waiting for the first bell to ring. The usual group of older kids walked past us from the art room over to the 600 Building, like they did every morning. There were probably a dozen of them, all friends, boys and girls, with one couple who seemed to be attached to each other as if their limbs were going to fall off and die when they got separated from the host-body of their love.
I always took notice of the couple because she was adorable, like a smiling little elf, and her boyfriend wore one of those hats that guys wore in the early 90s, which probably resulted in a lower birth rate in the early 90s, because those hats were sexually repellent. This one.
About four months into the school year, Hat Boy walked by one day, poured across the girlfriend as always, and leaned over and handed me an envelope and walked away. On the outside of the envelope was written, “To the girl with the beutiful eyes”.
You have no idea how many times I just had to type that to get it to stop auto-correcting the spelling of “beautiful”.
As a professional social leper up to that point in my life, in my stretch denim skirt and turquoise mock turtleneck over my much not-sought-after chest of an anemic 10-year old fetus, I assumed he handed this envelope to me as a joke of some kind, and that if I opened it, a can of snakes would shoot into my eyeballs.
Or maybe it was a case of mistaken identity? Either way, he was just an intermediary passing this card off on behalf of one of his dozen friends.
I opened the envelope and there was a Christmas card inside, with a cute cartoon chipmunk wearing a Santa hat on the front. Inside the card it said:
You’re too pretty to be so sad. I’ve never seen you smile, but I hope you will.
Have a very Merry Christmas!
From someone crazy.
Someone you don’t even know.
Okay, no case of mistaken identity there. In walking past me every day for four months, nobody in that group had ever seen me smile? That sounded about right. I was conceived, gestated, born, and raised with Resting Bitch Face. These are un-retouched progression photos of me from birth to today:
I know, it seems impossible that a person could look so permanently sad and weird and angry and not be in prison for life or at the bottom of the East River after plunging off the Brooklyn Bridge. I know this about myself. Sad and weird and angry is my charm. If I were a man, you’d call it “brooding”, thereby making male-me irresistible to women with perilously low self-esteem.
And I should know. I spent most of my dating-years being that woman.
“This guy seems sad and weird and angry! Let’s date him and then be surprised at how sad and weird and angry he continues to be!”
I spent the rest of the school year trying to figure out which one of those guys had written this card. It drove me crazy. At that point in my life, most guys’ opinions of me were, “I guess she’s kinda funny?” and the notion of any of them desiring romance with me was as laughable as I thought my jokes were. And by “most guys” I mean literally one guy named Mike.
Nothing came of it. Their big group of friends still walked by every morning, and I had no idea who was behind this.
Four years later, I was seated at a table at Denny’s around 3am with my degenerate friends, and guess who our server was? Hat Boy! He took our order as if we had never seen each other before, brought us our food, and eventually the check.
As we went to leave, I found my nerve and said, “You handed me a card from a secret admirer like four years ago. Who was it from?”
He said, “It was from me. Why would I give you a card from someone else?”
I said, “Well, you were with your girlfriend when you handed it to me…”
He said, “And?”