1. I went to middle and high school with a boy with sandy brown hair, square shaped jaws, and deep pockmarks, and I thought I was deeply in love with him. I saved his Valentine’s Day Cards when I was in middle school. Every year, I ascribed romantic significance to the “You’re a great friend” written in chicken-scratch or the character from Snoopy on the front of my valentine, even though his parents made him give all the girls Snoopy valentines on which were written only slight variations of what he wrote on mine, but I loved it anyways.
He wasn’t the captain of the football or debate team, and he wasn’t in the drama club. He didn’t make straight A’s. He came from a family that had money, but I was too young to care about that. He was funny, and that was what mattered to me. He would make me laugh, and he told me I was pretty one time, even though he told other girls the same thing, unbeknownst to me. He had warm brown eyes, and he kissed me on the lips several times, stolen kisses in pool houses and behind bushes when supervising parents weren’t looking, when we went to various friends’ pool or birthday parties. I always thought that he would ask me to be his girlfriend, because I made him laugh, really laugh, but every year, he took a different cheerleader to homecoming or prom. I never went to a high school dance, because I didn’t want to see him with any other girl, and I didn’t want to compare my soft, womanly hips to their size 0.
2. My first semester of college, I was molested by a man 5 years older than me. I was depressed at the beginning of the semester, and I had stopped going to classes. I started falling behind on turning in assignments, and my grades kept going downhill. I was recommended a tutor, a senior guy.
I went to his room, and we were working on molar math problems for chemistry for a few hours, and then he unexpectedly kissed me on the back of the neck. Then he started groping me. It was after dark by that time, and I lived on an unsafe campus, so when he ran after me, out of the hall and into the wooded shortcut to my dorm to offer to walk with me for the 20 minutes it took to go on foot, I had no choice but to tell him yes.
When we were in a secluded spot in the woods between my dorm and his, he then grabbed my wrist, and demanded that I give him a blowjob. I told him no, and he started crying. I froze in shock at seeing a grown man cry, and I didn’t touch him, and he then proceeded to tell me, a girl he barely knew, “What is wrong with you? You are so cold.” I ran back to my dorm as fast as my legs would carry me.
3. In eleventh grade, I changed schools, to a huge school with over 5000 kids, whereas the one that I went to before had an average graduating class of about 100 people. I was assigned to be lab partners with a pretty blonde girl that obviously did not want me as a lab partner. I wore a burgundy fleece sweatshirt and baggy sweatpants to school every day, I had ugly skin, and I spent every second of lunch hour that year sitting in the library by myself, with my nose and face buried in a book, pretending to be okay with it and trying not to cry. She looked really good in yoga pants before they were even popular, and was friends with every good-looking person on the class roster.
Needless to say, we had nothing in common. I finished a whole composition book’s worth of lab projects by myself that semester, and she told me that I could come by her house one day during the last week of class to ‘go over things’ (so she could feel like she contributed). I showed up on the outside of her gated neighborhood, and I realized that I’d need a code to get in. I called her, and she screened my calls three times. When I saw her in class, she didn’t apologize. She acted like nothing happened. I let her share the 100% grade for all the work I did, and I regret it to this day.
4. Again, during my first semester of college, I gained 40 pounds on my already rubenesque frame. I compulsively ate a beef and cheese toasted Quizno’s sub every day during that semester, which was neither good for my cholesterol nor my cystic acne. I even ate my roommate’s food, all of her dried fruit and rice, and I would secretly run to the store, replace it, and then lay around the room in between classes. I guess that you could say that I was self-indulgent to an extreme.
My roommate, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. She was an aspiring model/future med-school candidate, and every morning and night, she would burst into the room, pink and dewy from a workout at the gym and in volleyball spandex shorts that I would never wear, for fear that the underside of my buttcheeks would eat them.
And, every morning and night, as I was laying in a blanketed lump on my twin-size bed, she would take off her gym clothes and strip to her underwear and examine every square inch of her body in the full-length mirror on the back of our door. Every square inch. And, every once in a while, she would randomly ask me a question like: “Do you see that dimple under my ass on the left side?” And when I’d tell her no, she’d look at her face in the mirror, stick her nose in the air, go hhhmph, and declare: “I’ll never be a model if I have ass dimples.”
5. I had lost nearly 50 pounds when I was a sophomore in college, and was skinnier than I’d been since middle school. I was a year deep into a relationship with a wannabe frat guy that didn’t like me to interrupt his weekend “guy time,” nor spend any time with my own friends, so I was a loner unless I was with him. I’d spend my nights at home, watching series on Netflix or hugging my dog. I didn’t want to eat, because I had an aversion to my own fat as a result of seeing my fratty boyfriend gain 50 pounds of beer belly and McDonald’s muffintop. He also compared me to every girl he knew and saw.
One time, we were with a group of our mutual friends, and he said, “Megan Fox? Yeah, if I met that bitch, I’d bust a nut.” I was so embarrassed that one of his friends pulled him aside and said rather loudly and brusquely, “You’re an asshole.” And, it didn’t get better. We pulled up to a RedBox one night to rent a movie, and there was this beautiful, tall, thin girl, near my boyfriend’s and my age, right by the RedBox machine.
I still had a fat-girl complex, so I didn’t want to get out of the car until she was gone. I really didn’t even have to worry about getting out, because he leapt out faster than I could ask, “Comedy or horror?” And he stood behind her, eyeing her lecherously right in front of me. He came back into the car with a wide, smug grin on his face, and he told me, “She even smelled good.” I have never stopped comparing myself to other women, even when I was at my thinnest.
6. That same boyfriend got drunk one night, and yelled at me. He tried having sex with me, and I told him no, but he did it anyways. I was young, and he had told me he wanted to marry me, so I told myself I was okay with how awful he could be, as long as he called me “Baby” at the end of the night. On the night of our two year dating anniversary, I turned to him and cooed lovingly, “Can you believe that we’ve been together for two years?” His response was a flip, “Yeah, baby, that shit cray.” Don’t worry, we’re not still together. I don’t let my boyfriends call me ‘baby’ anymore.
7. My senior year of college, I was still at my thinnest, and there were these two girls that sat next to me in class. They wore leggings and their hair and makeup were always perfect. I made a joke in class one day, and they both laughed loudly. I looked over at them in surprise. After class, one of them came up to me and said, “I’ve always thought you were really pretty and kind of stuck-up, but you seem like a really cool girl. We should hang sometime.” When she flipped her hair and walked away, I noticed that she had taken the time to match her heart-shaped hairclip to the heart-shaped decals on her shoes. That conversation was the moment of validation that I had been quietly wishing for since I was old enough to try out for cheer squad, but in that moment, the only thing I felt was superficial.
8. Years after leaving college, I was at a dive bar, and I had been heavily drinking for a few hours by myself near my apartment to get tanked, get courageous and meet new people. I remember laughing at this 30-something guy who was dancing on a table singing the words to some Neil Young song. Why that was on the radio, I don’t know, but the girl next to me was laughing, too. She had dark hair and friendly green eyes, and she yelled in slurred words, “Show us your tits!” I doubled over laughing, and she doubled over laughing, too, and then she said, “I think I’m going to throw up.” I helped her hobble to the bathroom, and she nearly lost her cookies on the floor. I petted this random stranger’s back, held her hair, and I told her it was okay as she puked her guts out.
Her eyes were vacant when she finally turned around to look at me, and I knew it was my moral obligation to stay with her and help her find a way to get home. I asked her where she lived and how she usually gets home, and she said “Right down the stttrruuhheeet. Walk meee.” And I did. I gave her a piggyback ride so I could carry her up the stairs and to her bed. I spent the night on her couch, bringing her water every now and then. We woke up the next morning, and her eyes were still slightly glazed over, but had been restored to their friendly state. We both started laughing about that Neil Young guy.
I told her that we should go to that bar and scope him out again. We laughed some more, and she said, “You are the first real person that I’ve met in a long time. Thank you for taking care of me, stranger.” I’m not sure why, but that interaction was the first time that I’d had in my adult life where I talked to someone who didn’t remind me of someone I knew in high school. And it was a good feeling.