Awkward Things I Say To Girls


A Pair of Awkward Stories from Childhood and Adolescence

Age like 4

I wanted my mom to follow her car to their house to see where she lived, but she wouldn’t. She was the cutest girl in pre-school. All I remember are overalls and brown hair. I didn’t really feel like coloring, so we just kissed instead.

That was before we got caught. Now that I think about it, it’s astounding that between all the school buses, parked cars, parents’ houses, and non-private-areas in college in which I’ve made out, the only time I got in trouble was when I was in pre-school.

“Justin! No kissing girls until you get to big-kid school,” the woman said. I figured that’s, what, a year? I can wait a year to kiss girls again.

Age 15

I looked up from the science worksheet our teachers made us do to justify to themselves that taking kids on a field trip was actually contributing to our learning, and she was totally checking me out. She was a leggy brunette with clear, big eyes and freckles sprinkled around her incredibly cute and slightly upturned nose. Suddenly, as though drawn by emotion long suppressed, we both drew closer.

I had always suspected she had had feelings for me. It’s hard not to be noticed when you’re in the school marching band, on the academic team, and your school’s eleventh best long distance runner, but she’s never been nearly so forward. I understand, though. If you’re as popular as she is, you can’t be as open as you’d like to be with your hidden yet deeply felt emotions.

Leaning ever so slightly towards me, her lips purse as she thinks of what to say.

“Justin,” she begins.

“Yes?” I say. I incline my head towards her, though by only the faintest of degrees. I feel dizzy and in danger of stumbling, though I’m standing flat on an allegedly immobile ground.

If possible, her eyes get even bigger without widening. “Justin, I have to ask you something.”

My heart’s so high in my throat, it’s impaled on my tonsils.


I’m paying very close attention to my facial expression, begging it to please be remotely normal and cool.

She licks her lips and steps toward me again slightly. Our faces are now about 8 inches apart.

“Justin, will you do my science worksheet for me?”

A lightbulb slowly begins to illuminate mentally, but at this point we’re talking about an extremely low-watt and dirty lightbulb at like the thoraco-lumbar level.

Well, look, it will only be better for her in the long run if she does it herself. That’s just the truth, and regardless of your personal feelings, you have to make sacrifices when you care deeply about someone. I blink and coo, “No” softly, with the approximate tone of what I would later learn to be pillow talk.

She stepped back and said, annoyedly, “Oh. Nevermind,” and walked away.

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