I have a story to tell you guys. You might not believe it. But I swear, it’s all true. Every stinking word of it.
When I was younger, well…I wasn’t really a hit with the boys. I know. I KNOW. This is hard to believe since now I am so obviously ridiculously, ridiculously good looking and charming. But suspend your disbelief for just one minute, however hard that might be and go back in time with me.
When I hit my teens, I was awkward and shy. A bit pudgy, with braces and Jersey hair so big and so wide that it made Medusa look like she was a shampoo commercial model. Friends, it was bad.
But then things changed. The pounds fell off when I ran cross country. A teeny weeny eating disorder didn’t hurt either (another story, another day). The braces came off and I figured out (somewhat) how to work with the mop that God (yes, thank you for that God) gave me.
So around 16, I blossomed. Ok, maybe that’s too strong of a word. I wouldn’t say that I went through a case of the ugly duckling turning into a swan. Nothing that dramatic! But I was a more attractive duckling, which was progress and which helped confirm that a daily dietary supplement of my mother’s samosas was not conducive to weight loss.
I also got the whole facial hair thing under control. SCORE! This achievement involves a serious fist pull. You see, I’m Indian. And I have dark, coarse hair. And it sprouted on my face with a profound enthusiasm that I could not match, much less conquer alone. After a very unfortunate incident with a bottle of Nair when I was 13, I finally became a pro at using hot wax. No easy feat for a young teen with a small forest growing on her face.
So now, I no longer had a moustache that rivaled that of Mr. Kakos, my very Greek AP English teacher. Huge improvement folks.
And so all this happened. And I started hearing the word. Pretty. And people were using it to describe me. ME. Well, sometimes. Again, just roll with me here.
I’m in the second row – 1st on the left.
And yet friends, though I bought the milkshakes to the yard with all these changes, nobody came a-knocking at my door. Sure, we had some Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, but other than that – nothing. My phone wasn’t ringing off the hook either.
I had guy friends who were great, but nobody was romantically interested in me. I use the word romantically loosely, because we were in high school and all I knew about romance, I learned from watching Guiding Light and Fred and Daphne’s obvious sexcapades on Scooby Doo.
Was it the knowledge that not so long ago, I slightly resembled a yeti? Was it the fact that any time someone did call me, my strict, Indian father would interrogate them relentlessly?
“How do you know her?” Um. School, Papa.
“What do you want to talk about?” Math. Like, duh.
“How many girls have you deflowered?” Ok. No he didn’t. But I am sure he wanted to.
I remember being in the cafeteria one day hanging out with a guy I had been friends with for a while who I had a huge crush on. For the sake of this story we will call him Don*, because a few friends from high school read my blog. He said something really sweet to me. Something absentmindedly and God I don’t remember what it was. I think it was something like “Oh Kiran, you’re so great” accompanied by an affectionate nudge on the shoulder.
I recognize now that you say things like this to lost puppies and sympathy crushes. You know, to people you know that like you, but who you don’t have feelings for.
At the time though, I wasn’t that cool. (I know, I told you to suspend your disbelief!). So I mustered up my courage and said, “Well, Don. You know I think you’re great too.” And I could have left it at that.
But no friends. I did not. I did NOT leave it at that. Instead, I added, “Like, yeah. Like, I like you.” Fucking idiot I was. When over 50% of your sentence uses the word like, you officially qualify as a moron.
This is when Don said to me, “Well, Kiran, I like you too.”
“But you know I can’t date you.”
“Why?” I asked, perplexed.
“Because of what you are.”
I paused for a second. Wow. Harsh!
“Wait. Because I’m smarter than you?”
The next thing I know, the bell rings and we are surrounded by friends and apparently the boys aren’t dating me because of my lack of milkshakes but because I’m smarter. Well, at least I knew what the problem was.
When I told my friends about what happened though, they saw things a little differently than me.
“Because of what you ARE?!!”
“Yeah. Because I’m smart.”
“No, Kiran. Because you’re Indian!” my friends informed me. Apparently he had been overheard talking about it with a friend and had been a bit more clear about my unsavory characteristics.
Every other brush with dating in high school ended disastrously. I wasn’t often in the running, but when I was, it was not usually very smooth sailing.
And you know, while it sucked that a guy didn’t like me because I was Indian, I kind of am still proud of my first response. Because that’s who I was. I was a smart little cookie. Sure, I had shitty taste in footballin’ men, but I had some balls to take a chance and tell someone I liked them. It took courage for me to do that. And sometimes having courage is a lot more important than getting to make out with the high school quarterback. That’s the story I’m sticking to anyway.
Stay tuned for more adventures in awkward, Indian teenage dating….
Live from Lisbon, Portugal, where I should have been in bed a LONG time ago.