There is a self help book I’ve frequently thumbed through in which at different points in the year you sit down and answer the questions presented within it’s pages. It’s a book to help you pin point defining moments in your life and why you do what you do. There was one section in particular on dating. One of the questions posed is when beginning or pursuing a relationship, if you were to compare it to game of “Cat and Mouse”, would you be the cat or the mouse? Originally my answer was the mouse that turns into a cat. Recently I started thinking again about that question, and was my answer correct? Suddenly today I remembered I wasn’t always the mouse turning into the cat, but sometimes in a constant state of flux between the two. I remember a particular situation where I started as the mouse, became the cat and then quickly in a flash became the mouse again.
Never having dated this particular person I’m about to tell you about; the one who was always the cat to my mouse and vice versa, they probably never would have realized the funny life lesson created in the process of their game, let alone remember it.
I was a freshman in high-school when I first met him in Science class. He was goofy, out-going and talked to everyone at least a desk’s distance from him. The time I recall him first noticing me was during the school’s spirit week. Everyday we were supposed to dress up as something different to show support for our school’s Football team. One day was Biker day. I went over the top, wearing my scrunchy leather boots tucking my jeans into them, a white T-shirt and a red bandana on my head. I probably looked like a very young female version of Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band fame. This particular boy kept asking me if my “hog” was in the shop. This new attention from a cute boy rendered me suddenly shy and quiet, leaving me to look down at my desk and giggle.
The week went on and the last day was the day to sport our school colors which were red, white and black. I wore my favorite black hat; it was my favorite because it was a birthday present from my parents and Janet Jackson wore one just like it. I even went through the effort to paint a small send up to my school’s team on my cheek that morning. It was early in the morning and I very carefully painted a paw print, with our school’s name leading out from it. Because I wasn’t wide awake yet (we’ll blame it on that) I forgot to take note to write it backwards while looking in the mirror. A few hours later when I showed up to Science class it didn’t dawn on me all the letters of the school name didn’t make sense until this particular boy made mention of it. As the people would say today, “Epic Fail.” However, it did get him to notice me…again.
He was a year ahead of me in school, and honestly I hadn’t really talked to him since Freshman year in our Science class despite numerous and obvious attempts at trying to get his attention in and out of school. At the end of my Senior year when it came time for me to search for universities and inquire about some, my mother suggested I call him to ask him what it was like to go to the particular school I had in mind; which he also happened to go to. It was an awkward conversation, just to call someone up out of the blue you hadn’t talked to in a very long time and to talk to someone who also knew at one time you had a crush on them. You have to admit from his perspective, it was a little weird.
Fast forward to Freshman year of college. Starting a semester late I wanted to take some time off to kick back and have some fun with friends. Throughout the first semester and the second he and I had several instances where we ran into each other with him calling my name across campus or a semi-crowded computer lab. Looking back perhaps we were both looking for something familiar in an unfamiliar setting. I found myself liking the attention so much I would purposely time my appearance in the spots where I had previously run into him hoping it would happen again. Suddenly it seemed when one of us was doing the chasing and being the cat, the other became the mouse running from the other.
Our next and final encounter was very strange. It was several months later and very cold. I was bundled in several layers of warm clothing due to the massive amount of walking involved to get from class to class on campus. Heading to my best friend’s dorm I never expected what would happen next.
Going into the dorm I went through the first set of glass doors to enter the foyer where people dust the snow off their shoes. Putting my gloved hand on the handle of the second set of glass doors I looked through to see the boy who had chased me down months prior, the boy who I had a crush on all those years ago; talking to another boy who I had also had embarrassing moments in front of that I used to work with. I panicked, turned around and ran bursting through the first set of glass doors. I had to think quick, knowing he could see me through the doors I would come off looking like a complete goof running down the sidewalk. Instead I swiftly diverted to the side out of sight where I knew the out-door for residents of the dorm was and hoped he hadn’t seen me. A few students came out of the door, I hustled trying to get to it before it closed. I was too late. I started to tug and pull on the door handle praying to God someone would walk through that door letting me in.
Here I am, pulling with all my might on the handle, everything short of leveraging my feet on the wall trying to pull the door open, when suddenly the boy walked out of the double glass doors in the cold. He looked over with a puzzled look on his face saying, “What’re you doing over there?” All I could do was look at him, look at the door and say, “Uuuhhh…I was trying to get in?” He smiled, laughed and said, “You can’t get in that way.” I didn’t know how to tell him I knew it was an out-door without looking like a stalker, so I had to settle for looking like an idiot. He asked suspiciously, “Why are you here?” His question was the prompt to tell him I knew all along that door was an out-door thus blowing my cover as an idiot. I honestly told him, “I’m here to visit my friend.”
“Who is your friend?” he asked. I told him my friend’s name which is when he said, “Well lets find her on the sheet here.” At that time apparently the University we attended didn’t see a concern for posting student names with their dorm room phone number in the foyer of the buildings. He wanted to call her to see if she was in. This is when my “Spidey” senses started tingling. His actions made it official that he thought I had been stalking him and wanted to know if I was telling the truth. I called my friend, and there was no answer. It was embarrassing, because at this point he really thought I had possibly made everything up. Suddenly he said, “Want to come up to my dorm and hang out?” I had previously met one of his room mates when we bumped into each other at the library my first semester there, so I didn’t see any harm in it, I was cold anyway and desperately needed to warm up.
Suddenly with every step we took up the hallway instead of feeling like this was something fun, something I would have wanted to happen several months prior, I realized something wasn’t right. We headed up to his dorm where we sat in the common area of the suite he was living in with four other guys. There were two leather lazy boy recliners with some dim lighting. Just behind the chair he sat in was a bookshelf where the top was littered with Corona bottles and beer bottles. Suddenly his squeaky clean, fun-loving demeanor was rapidly diminishing in my mind. The campus was a dry campus; absolutely no alcohol was allowed and if caught you could not only be cited but also kicked out. I wasn’t one to judge others for having fun and doing it in their own way, but something alerted me to a change within him. He wasn’t always like this, had this been something indicative of his nature, there wouldn’t have been any worries. I didn’t dare move from the chair I sat in. I wasn’t scared, but I knew something wasn’t right.
From my chair I could see into his fellow suite-mates’ room where he had a Shania Twain poster of her in a Cheetah print bustier corset surrounded by some Cheetah print scarves. He claimed every night he and his suite mates would go into this room and bow down to the Shania poster every night before they went to sleep. I thought this was either odd, or his sad attempt at humor. He then told me he and his other suite mates would purposely prank his roommate by putting the roommate’s computer home page as a “rude” website just to mess with him. As I sat there absorbing this situation and the surroundings, a sudden realization was setting in this guy no longer should stand on the pedestal I put him on and I desperately wanted out of his dorm suite. I wanted my friend to get back to her dorm so I could escape and be in her familiar comfortable room decorated with her inspirational mementos and her roommate’s Winnie the Pooh decor.
Quickly I asked to use his phone, called her, and luckily she was in. I said, “Yeah, do you mind if I bring a friend and we come down?” Later she admitted she was a bit befuddled by the question because usually I was coming up to see her, not coming down. This Shania-Twain-loving-boy and I made our way down a few floors where finally he saw proof I wasn’t stalking him, and indeed I had a friend who lived in the building. We all sat and talked for hours, finally the tension eased and he realized he didn’t have to put on this act of being a rude guy just to get me un-interested in him.
Many years later he had a class at a different college with another friend of mine. He found out (at the time) I was engaged to be married and told my friend, “Tell her congratulations, she’s finally getting everything she’s ever wanted.” The way the comment was conveyed to me by my friend had a biting edge to it. It was as if he still felt like I had been stalking him like a cat because of our last encounter, despite introducing my friend to him to prove once and for all the genuine run-ins I had with him were happenstance.
When has someone in your life constantly called your attention only to reject you later for no reason? What lesson have you learned from someone you had a crush on? Who was the cat to your mouse or vice versa?