When I spotted Jake across the room at a house party I was immediately struck by how bright his blue eyes were. I had never seen anyone like him. I don’t remember how we got to talking or how I wound up on his lap, content making out with him in full view as the party carried on around us. When we decided to leave the party, Jake and I went back to his room and continued our passionate makeout.
Giant fucking mistake.
The rest of the night itself was fine. We fooled around in his bottom bunk. I was a sophomore and he was a freshman. Wasn’t that scandalous? He was sweet to me and showered me with compliments. A few hours later, he walked me home and said he’d call. When my phone never buzzed with a call or text from Jake, I was a little surprised, but whatever. I could deal with a one-time rejection.
The trouble was that within weeks of our hookup, I started seeing Jake everywhere. Our school was small, but I had never met him before that party. Had I somehow just not noticed him before? No. I definitely would have. Those eyes.
Now, he was in the halls between classes. He was at the next table at lunch. He was in line at the bookstore. I started seeing him everywhere I went on or around campus. Every time I saw him, and every time he looked right through me, it was like being rejected repeatedly, another slap in the face.
In the light of day, absent the influence of jungle juice and a backdrop of significantly less desirable options, Jake appeared far less attractive than he had that night. So that was a relief. Except it wasn’t. For all I knew, he felt the same way about me.
What I didn’t learn during my night of passion with Jake (but probably should have guessed based on his amazing body) was that he spent every minute of his free time at our school’s gym, where I worked part-time and worked out a few days a week. When I went in the afternoon, Jake was there. When I went in the early evening, he was there. When I went late at night, there he was again. I even got stuck driving behind him on my way to the gym on more than one occasion. Here I was, trying to focus on my workout, trying to improve my body, when the guy who had seen me nearly naked was a few feet away lifting dumbbells, purposely acting like I didn’t exist.
It wasn’t that I liked Jake. OK, maybe I had liked him, but I sure as shit didn’t now. I just hated that he had this power over me, that he got to see me walking to class, or at the gym, or eating lunch, and to decide, over and over again, that I somehow wasn’t good enough for him. And the more that happened, the angrier I got.
The following semester, I went to another party at the same house where I met Jake. There were a lot more people there, but I should have known better than to think I could have a night off from our awkward run-ins. They apparently weren’t awkward for him, though. There he was, on the steps, making out with a girl I knew from Spanish class. Awesome.
Two semesters later, I walked into my poli sci class, and, you guessed it: Jake again. I now got to enjoy an entire semester of filing in and out of a classroom while avoiding this dude and feeling self-conscious whenever I answered a question. Fabulous.
Months and months of non-confrontation culminated in the one time we ever spoke since our hookup. Jake stopped by the equipment room at the gym when I was working and checked out a towel. “Hey, what’s up?” he said casually, but not in the way someone who actually would like to know what is up, and not looking me in the eye.
If green steam could have come out of my ears, it would have. What’s up? WHAT’S UP?! I thought furiously. What’s UP is that you never called me! What’s UP is that we have run into each other LITERALLY everywhere and you never once bothered to say hi or even smile and I have felt like COMPLETE SHIT about it. What’s UP is that you’re a DICKHEAD and I’m so glad I didn’t let you fuck me because I would regret it even more than I already do, which is A LOT.
I restrained myself and smiled politely. “Nothing,” I said. “Enjoy your workout.”