Embarassment trading cards. That's how I think of them. And let me tell you, I have quite the collection.
Some of my best came from my 8th grade year forward. Eighth grade was when I picked up a best friend we'll call Jasmine.
Jasmine became my best friend, because she was one of the funniest girls I knew. We could just look at each other from across the room, and start laughing.
I blame that friendship on the power of laughter. Because, other than that, it had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Unless you count constant humiliation. And even that was better than sitting in the lunch room alone.
In fact, it was more like the relationship between Charlie Brown and Lucy. Jasmine was always encouraging me to kick the shit out that football. And she was damn good at it.
"Come on, Sal," she'd say, "I promise I'm not going to pull it away at the last minute. Just kick it, and then we'll go to the laughing part. Okay?"
And like that naive, trusting soul I was, I'd go for that goddamn football everytime. And afterwards, she'd laugh. Laugh, and laugh, and then laugh some more.
Our freshman year, I had a crush on this boy named Brad. I'd get up every single morning, look at myself in the mirror, and check my outfit to see if it was Bradworthy. I'd even stand on the tub in the bathroom so I could check my outfit from head to toe. I mean, you never knew if maybe the Nikes I was wearing would seal the deal with Brad or not. I couldn't take the chance that they might throw him off. Maybe he was an Adidas man. Anyway...
Somehow, Jasmine got the information out of me about Brad. She promised not to tell anyone. She even pinky-sweared. Which meant that she probably waited all of an hour before telling someone else.
She even offered to go up to bat for me, to see if Brad had any interest.
After a long conversation about it in gym class, where I admitted every look, every moment of eye contact, the time he held open a door for me, and oh yeah, that one time he said "Hi, Sal," but probably meant, "Hey, Sal, I love you," she agreed that yeah, he probably liked me.
This investigative process of hers took all of about a week. Jasmine was good. She even spent time with Brad, what looked like flirting, but was probably her just doing a good job. She even went so far as to spend time with Brad's cousin, who was his closest friend.
She'd keep up the encouragement, too. She'd say, "He's looking at you, Sal, I can see him!" And we'd giggle, and I would deliberately not make eye contact. Because the way to show you really like a boy is by pretending that you do not like him at all. Right, fellas?
So, Thursday morning, after my first couple of classes, imagine my complete surprise, when I found a note in my locker. From Brad.
My heart just about stopped. When I could breathe again, I opened the letter as if it was made of butterfly wings instead of a sheet of college ruled paper. He even tore the edges off. After I noticed his attention to detail, I opened the letter, my heart beating so loud I thought everyone could hear it.
I even looked behind me to make sure no one was reading the Brad letter. When I opened it up, the first thing I noticed was that he spelled my name right. My face immediately went red hot. I crushed that letter to my chest, swooning. He spelled my name right....sigh.
When I was finally able to read the rest of the letter, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was Brad asking me to be his girlfriend. Me, Sal! And he wanted me to leave a note in his locker with my answer.
Before I started drafting my reply (on pink paper, no less) I showed the letter to Jasmine. She grabbed it out of my hands and read it, then started jumping up and down in excitement for me. She even managed to find out what Brad's locker number was, since he didn't put it in the letter.
So, after I'd written a very gushy acceptance letter, I walked over to Brad's locker, and slid that note in.
Then, for the next two classes, I practiced writing our names together. With hearts.
Sal and Brad. Brad and Sal. Mr. and Mrs. Brad Sal.
I even started this little daydream where Brad pulled up to my house (neither of us was old enough to drive yet. I dreamed big, even back then) in a convertible, and we drove off to the Sonic, and we had a brown bag special. Because a) I live in Oklahoma and that is the epitome of redneck romance, b) two burgers and fries in one bag is pretty much the sign of commitment, and c) they made fancy drinks. With vanilla and cherry and shit.
My daydream was rudely interrupted, when Brad came over to me during class. He sat in the desk in front of me, turned around and told me that he wasn't the one who left that note in my locker. And that he didn't want to be my boyfriend.
That burn was so epic, I'm still buying aloe for it.
When he said those words, I looked over at my best friend, who had somehow pulled off this terribly embarassing prank of epic proportions. She was hands down, the queen of manipulation. She'd masterminded this whole thing, and then just sat back and enjoyed the show. My best friend, who was now laughing, and even managed to choke out a "I can't believe you fell for that, Sal!"
Yes. I fell for it. What's worse, is that bitch talked me into kicking that fucking football at least two more times.
Two more times was all it took, and then instead of the football, I kicked her ass to the curb. Dropped her like a bad habit. And I did not relapse.