Polycule: Chris

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• 2900 words • 12 min •

Happy 11th birthday to our relationship!

Today’s episode of Polycule is going to be special, a slight deviation from the norm. For one thing, it takes place in the past. But for another, it has comments from Chris himself interspersed throughout in purple. I wrote this piece, and read it to him, and recorded his actual commentary. So… enjoy Chris and I’s love story!

[Why don’t I get a fancy nickname??? Why am I just Chris?? I want a fancy nickname!]

You see, on this day, at 2:18 in the morning, eleven years ago, Chris told me he liked me. And I texted back, telling him to call me because “I am not having the most important conversation of my life via text message.”

All of my friends laughed when they heard this story the first time, because I was an incredibly dramatic 17-year-old getting er first boyfriend ever, and wow overreact much? Most important conversation of your life?

But it kind of was. [Hecks yeah it was. You’re with me forever! WAIT ARE YOU GOING TO PUT EVERY SINGLE COMMENT??????? NOOO]

Chris and I attended the same school. He had been there since kindergarten. I didn’t show up until 4th grade. He was a grade younger than me, and we actually shared a best friend, but never really met, heard of each other, or even spoke. (However, the video of my 6th grade Christmas concert has him singing his little heart out less than three feet away from where me and my friend were standing with our arms crossed because we were Too Cool For Christmas Concerts.)

The Chris in question.

The first time I really became aware of his existence was in junior high. He was on student council and ran the StuCo Store. And he was an overweight, babyfaced nerd, who sat at the counter all lunch period looking SAD AS SHIT. I remember people at my table making fun of him, and I glared at them, told them to stop being assholes, that he just looked sad and like he needed a friend. And they accused me of having a crush on him. And I tried not to look at his face too much and think about going and cheering him up. [Yeah how come you never came and cheered me up, then?? Hmm???]

(Chris told me, years later, when I shared that story, that he intentionally looked as sad as possible to get pretty girls to come talk to him. Because he’s the actual worst.) [ I WAS NOT GOING TO ADMIT THAT!!!! I FORGOT I TOLD YOU THAT!!!! OMGGGG!!!!! I was thinking… I better not say that out loud or e’ll write it in there….]

We didn’t actually interact until I was a sophomore in high school, and he was a freshman. We shared a math class, and I sat in front of him. I thought he was the cutest. He had big brown eyes, pouty pillowy lips, long pretty-girl lashes, freckles, and was super shy and quiet.

Me in High School (Circa 2006)

[HOLY CRAP look at that picture] High school me was terrible with boys. I was so freaked out by my own interest, I’d show it by being rude, aggressive, picking on them, etc. I once was so stunned a guy had wanted to dance with me at a party, I spent the rest of the year ruthlessly editing his pieces for journalism class, bleeding red pen until he got into a shouting match with the teacher about how I was making him hate her class. (If you’d like to hire me as an editor for your work, my rates are here. 😘)

[Chris: Did you tell them the story of how you intentionally opened a locker so you’d hit a guy you liked in the head?

Me: Omg they do *not* need to know that.

Chris: YES THEY DOOOOOO]

But with Chris, I never felt that way. He was so easy to like, and let my guard down around. So, I flirted with him… as best as my awkward teenage self knew how. [And I didn’t catch any hints of it at all…]

Several times a class period (like, 15+ times in one hour) I would turn around in my seat and stare at his pretty, pretty face. Especially his eyelashes (which were long and thick, brown with golden tips, fanned perfectly against his freckles). I’d stare, and eventually he would look up, slooooooooowly, like the sun coming up, those lashes lifting until I was staring into warm brown eyes, and he’d say…

Can I help you?

In his honey-rich, boy-deep voice. And we’d be less than a foot away from each other, eyes to eyes, and the moment would hang there for a second as my brain scrambled to catch up and finally ask something like “What did you get for number four?” or “Can I see what you did for the word problems?”

A picture of Chris’ eyes, circa 2006 (I was obsessed). I took this in a wal-mart.

[I look ridiculous]

He’d swivel his paper to me, or, later, I’d just snatch it off his desk, and I’d scribble down the answers, spin back around in my chair, and scream silently inside my head for a few minutes, until I worked up the courage to do it again.

Another super-suave flirtation tactic I had, especially during lectures when spinning around in your chair wasn’t exactly allowed, would be to slowly slide my feet under my chair until they bumped into his. Sometimes I’d just kinda nestle my foot up against his shoe, gently, like a butterfly landing. Other times I’d deliberately tap him, or trace the outline of his sneakers with mine, imagining I could somehow feel warmth from his ankle to mine, until he’d pull his feet away.

Oops, sorry!

Every single time. He’d apologize, sit up in his chair and try to yank his enormous feet on the end of his absurdly long legs back to fitting under his square foot of space he was allotted in the classroom aisle. [You were a little creepy with your sneaky-sneaky tactics]

This went on for a year and a half. Honestly, it went on for three full years before I graduated, because our crotchety old lady math teacher (who *hated us* dating, by the way) kept putting me in front of him. Only, for the last year, he knew I was doing it on purpose.

A MONTH AFTER WE STARTED DATING – JULY 2006. (WE’RE NOT THERE YET IN THE STORY, BUT I WANTED AN EXCUSE TO SHOW OFF CUTE PICTURES)

There was some Drama™ with my friend group Sophomore year, and I found myself without a place to sit at lunch, so I sat with the grade below me, with that former elementary-school bestie and two girls from band. This group also included Chris, but that was more of an afterthought. I was always crushing on at least ten people at one time (I would count them off on my fingers when someone asked. If people accused me of “doing crushes wrong,” I’d explain that every single day, at least one of them did something I could be giddy over, and I was blissfully happy with my HOARD of crushes, thank you very much. Basically things have just never changed). Chris wasn’t my One True Crush or anything. [Your OTC]

It was common knowledge that Chris had had a crush on my friend from band – let’s call her Horses because she was obsessed. [Mm-hmm… *whispers* but she was also really pretty] The story around the school was that he had a crush on her for something like two years, but was a sweet, shy ball of nerd (he was) and never acted on his feelings [Wait wait wait, the story around the school? How many people knew about this?? Are you serious??]. Until he finally got up the courage to ask her to homecoming.

[Chris: No, wait. Hold on. Are you serious right now?

Me: Yeah? That’s why I messaged you. People were gossiping about how cute it was you finally asked her out.

Chris: O. M. G. I had no idea. *grumpy face*]

The first-ever outside-of-school contact we had was through AIM. I got his username from his Xanga, naturally, and sent him this message.

Hey! I just wanted to let you know I think it’s really, really sweet that you’re going with [Horses] to homecoming!

[How do you REMEMBER THAT???] I have records of everything squirreled away like the sappy romantic creep that I am.

AN AIM profile, circa 2006, when our story takes place.

We started chatting almost every day. Originally, it was with the intention of helping him making homecoming as magical as possible so he could then move to confessing his feelings and asking her to be his girlfriend. I had, like, his entire life planned out for him. I told him what to wear, what to say, what to bring. When things at Homecoming didn’t go as romantically as planned, I had a backup plan. He was going to invite her somewhere, and play a very specific song on his car radio, and ask her for the dance he was too shy to ask for at homecoming. After the song ended, and they’d been slow dancing for a while, he was gonna tell her he liked her and ask her to be his girlfriend.

Yeah, exactly 0% of that happened. Chris was too shy. [Me: Care to comment??? Chris: NO.] 

And eventually we were just talking every night because we liked talking to each other.

[Chris: Plus I knew that if I went out with her, my life wouldn’t have been as good as it is with–

Me: You remember what the next part of this story is, right?

Chris: YES. LET’S JUST END IT HERE. LET’S JUST SKIP THAT PART.]

When tragedy struck, and Horses got herself a boyfriend, the mischievous wheels started turning in my head. Of all my crushes, I had never had one who was actually my friend, who I ate lunch with and talk to everyday. This was so exciting! I could probably make him an Actual Friend who I see outside of school! Then I would get to hang out with him in the summer, too! I honestly didn’t think he was going to like me back, or want to date me. A boy wanting to DATE ME was completely outside of the realm of possibility. Boys didn’t even want to spend time with me in a platonic fashion, or even flirt with me (because I was mean to them.) But an actual guy friend? Like in books??? Aaah!!

So I asked him to hang out with me on the last day of school. Our band final was not a real thing, and everyone skipped it, (if you showed up, our band director made you watch old movies and help clean) but I had to be back at school to pick up my little brother. So we had about two hours to kill, and I invited him to go to a park with me and walk around.

Honestly, these might be the exact shoes.

I wore what I called my “Helen of Troy” dress, because it was an empire-waist dress in a sort of linen-y hippie fabric, tan with darker brown lining the ruffles. It looked classic, old fashioned, with green stone beads on the tie under the bust. I thought it was the prettiest, most romantic piece of clothing I owned. I probably paired it with clear jellies, which had momentarily made a comeback. And I remember the anxiety in my chest as I put on mascara and lipgloss in the bathroom, [Oh no] trying to avoid anyone who knew me well enough to know I didn’t wear makeup, who would ask me what exactly I was doing wearing a pretty dress and doing my makeup on the last day of school. [We can just stop now… you were so pretty…]

I went to the parking lot and sat on the trunk of my car and texted him.

And texted him again.

He wasn’t responding.

Finally I called him (on my hot pink flip phone). He answered but there was noise in the background, like people talking loudly. “Where are you?” I asked him. He rattled off some muddied, unintelligible response, about how he was with three of our friends going… somewhere. Doing something. That wasn’t with me.

I don’t remember hanging up or deciding to go back into the school building, but I spent the next two hours in my Spanish teacher’s room sobbing about this stupid boy who stood me up. She asked me who it was and I hedged, but she was very “Come on, who am I going to tell about your crush. I’m your teacher. Spill.” Haha. So I told her, and she was shocked that Chris – shy, sweet, adorable Chris – would do such a thing. “Talk to him, hear him out. I’m sure there’s something going on. Maybe he was scared. Maybe he forgot. But intentionally hurting you doesn’t sound like something he would do.”

It turned out he was scared. And suuuuuuper sorry, but he chickened out at the last minute.

Five years later in the exact same park (2011).

Eleven years later and I still give him shit about this, and he is still sorry. [So very very sorry]

He asked to make it up to me by meeting me at the park about a week later. I was excited and happily skipped off to my car to drive out there… and about halfway there it suddenly sunk in that I was going to meet a boy. Alone. To hang out. I considered maybe half the guys in my class some degree of friend – we’d hang out in groups or do class activities together and get along really well – but I’d never spent one-on-one time with any of them. [I was freaking out, too. I was all sweaty but you probably couldn’t tell cause it was summertime.]

I can’t even remember that first day at the park. But we hung out the next day. And the next day. And the next. Every morning we’d wake up and message each other on AIM until one of us was like “sooo wanna go to the park?” and then we’d go. We spent every single day together, sometimes for 12+ hours at a time. When we got hot and tired, we’d drive to Sonic and get free water and hang out in our air conditioned cars.

Chris’ parents once asked him what he did all day. “You just… go to the park? And… walk around? And that’s………. fun?”

This went on for a month and a half until one day, Chris had a sleepover with some of his guy friends – and forever solved the mystery for me of “what do teenage boys do at sleepovers. Because apparently they just sit around talking about girls the way girls sit around talking about guys. (Or in my closeted bisexual case, feigning interest in other girl’s guy talk while thinking about how pretty the girls’ hair is.)

Chris’ guy friends were like “You spend literally every single day alone with this girl. There is no way you don’t like her.” And they egged him into texting me to let me know he liked me.

Literal, actual picnic basket

Which is why, at 2:18 am on this very day eleven years ago, a sixteen-year-old Christofluff told me he liked me, and I demanded he call me. And he invited me on a picnic at the park the next day (as if we weren’t going to go to the park the next day anyway). And he and his friends drove to Wal-Mart and bought bread, peanut butter, and jelly. [No, I stole all that from his mom!] And they packed a cute literal actual picnic basket. [INCLUDING THE BASKET! The picnic wasn’t even my idea. It was my friend’s mom’s. I was like.. oh no. I told her I liked her. NOW WHAT. And they were like HOW ABOUT A PICNIC.]

We crossed a cute tiny bridge to a little island in the middle of a small pond and ate our pb&j lunch at a little picnic table under the trees. I say ate, but actually I was so nervous and talkative I cut mine into four triangles and only ate one of them. I couldn’t stop talking. I told him the entire plot to the 2006 Omen remake and made up elaborate interpersonal drama for the geese swimming around us. [And I couldn’t eat my food because you didn’t eat your food and I didn’t want to look weird so I just starved. I was so hungry. I hadn’t eaten in like 12 hours because I’d been up SINCE 2:18 IN THE MORNING and hadn’t even slept.]

Engagement photo taken at the same park, same island, same table we had our first date at.

Chris had something to do that day, so our time at the park was shorter than usual. We packed up but had about ten minutes left, so we sat on another picnic table closer to the cars. I remember this part so distinctly. I was sitting cross-legged on the actual table, while he was on the bench. I was looking down at his face and those same eyelashes and soft freckles I’d always stared at. He couldn’t look me in the eye. Instead, he stared at his hands as he traced patterns on the soles of my shoes. I could feel it tickling my feet and making my entire body snap to attention to the fact that the boy I liked was touching me, wanted to touch me. That this was our first date. “I don’t want to go,” he said quietly, fiddling with my shoelaces and making my heart feel awake and wide-eyed and so so so so happy.

And he still makes me feel like that all the damn time. [There’s nothing I can add to make that moment better… 💖 I love you so much, Gaven.]

[Now when do I get a cute nickname???]

We return you to your regularly scheduled Polycule programming July 12th! 😉

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