Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Crushes and more bad teenage poetry

This was a story that repeated itself over and over again in high school (and let’s be honest, quite a bit of first semester of college too).

Mark has crush on girl. Mark awkwardly tries to woo girl. Girl has zero interest in Mark, and for good reason. Mark writes terrible poem about heartbreak and woe to poor ignored nice guys like him.

She, like a flower, gloriously gloriously bright that my tongue may not form words at the very sight of her. As she begins to speak, her lips rolling in sound that I await. She blasts a furnace of bitter rejection and blindness into my face. And I scream because the pain of a broken heart and a trampled soul is too much for a mortal to bear. The heat of her fury burns past the thresholds of flesh and as I lie broken, the shards of my heart tearing through my hands, without feeling, screaming, she laughs quietly and holds another.

See, what I didn’t realize for a long time, is the real meaning of β€œa nice guy”. A β€œnice guy” is not a fawning, simpering, overly persistent, passive-aggressive guy.

That shit is tired and boring and nobody wants to deal with it.

This bit from the amazing essay Your Princess is in Another Castle sums it up.

We are not the lovable nerdy protagonist who’s lovable because he’s the protagonist. We’re not guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick of our dreams as long as we work hard enough at it. There isn’t a team of writers or a studio audience pulling for us to triumph by β€œgetting the girl” in the end. And when our clever ruses and schemes to β€œget girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed.

It’s because other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned β€” they can be given freely, by choice, or not.

I eventually figured that lesson out for myself. And that lead to another lesson. That a great friendship can lead to great love.