Running From The Mob
Throughout the entirety of my middle and high school experience, I was terrified of boys. I did not understand them and the thought of interacting with one who was interested in me was like standing naked in the middle of the school commons. I had 0, and I mean ZERO interest in that attention. Did I have crushes on boys? Yes, but God knows I wasn’t going to do anything about it. One of my most distinct memories of these “romantic” interactions I so feared took place in middle school. One boy in particular had been interested in me for a few years. I was aware, but as I already said, I had no interest in reciprocating these feelings. He was not prepared to take no for an answer. Neither was his best friend.
One day in particular, I remember his best friend repeatedly asking me to “go out” with this boy. Mind you, “going out” in middle school simply meant people would know we were “together”. His best friend repeatedly found me throughout the day and kept asking, “will you go out with him?” Each time I would respond with a strong no. In between classes, while passing me on the stairs, passing a note in class…finally, his persistence wore me down and I said “If I say yes will you leave me alone?” He agreed. We lasted exactly two class periods. I know, we were the modern day Romeo and Juliet.
His friend, once again, tracked me down and convinced me to meet this boy by the bike racks after school. I know, so romantic. It’s every girl’s dream to begin a new relationship by meeting a boy at the bike racks immediately outside of the school entrance. I hesitantly agreed.
As I began to exit the building, I saw through the series of glass doors that my worst fear in the situation had come to fruition. He, and every one of his middle school friends, had gathered at that bike rack and waited for me to approach. Girl, I was not about to walk into that mob of teen hormones packed inside some dumb boys. What did I do? I ran. Literally.
I sprinted across the grassy median separating myself from my mom patiently waiting to pick me up in the family van. I don’t know that I’ve ever run as fast as I did that afternoon. I could see my finish line waiting for me and, without turning around to see if anyone had been watching me, jumped in the front seat of the van and, I kid you not, ducked my head inside the van. My mom looked at me and said,
“What are you doing?”
“Hiding from all the boys over there!”
She laughed and, speaking to my dad on the phone said “Well, Charley, your daughter is running away from boys today. I don’t think we have anything to worry about.” She was right. They really didn’t have anything to worry about.
Friendly tip to any teenage girl reading this: If you ever find yourself coming up to a mob of boys waiting outside a school for you, I highly recommend running away as fast as you can. I found this approach to be massively successful. Just make sure you’re wearing the right shoes – you certainly don’t want to be hindered by some kind of platform or loose shoe.
The next day at school I learned that my budding romance had come to a quick end when I failed to show up at the bike rack. Now, I realize that this equates to standing someone up, but when the relationship began with a negotiation to eliminate a seriously annoying best friend, I don’t think we were destined for the most promising beginning.
What I remember most about that interaction is how massively uncomfortable I felt the entire day. I had been pestered into a “yes” after repeatedly saying “no”. I knew I didn’t want anything to do with that guy, but I was tired of being bothered. Then, when I saw what laid in front of me at those bike racks, I ran with gusto. How frequently do you catch yourself saying yes and silencing that voice that keeps telling you “no”?
Girls who are repeatedly taught to be polite at all costs grow into women who feel massive shame for establishing boundaries, for saying “no”. That pre-teen girl knew how she felt and went with it. It wasn’t about protecting his feelings or being nice; it was about feeling my intuition and listening to what it was saying.
I still laugh about that day, but I’m also proud of what I chose to do. I can still feel the weight of my textbooks slamming against my back as I tried to run with a backpack on. It was awkward but effective. Maybe if I had listened to that voice just a few years ago instead of listening to a sexist society, I would be in a different place. I’ll never know. What I do know is that little girl is still inside of me. That voice of intuition is still there and growing louder each day. And that tells me I’m going to be just fine.