If I was to approach a stranger and tell them to describe what he or she saw in this photograph, his or her initial response would be that there’s a boy and a girl. Following this obvious observation, the stranger would probably then look more closely at the picture and ask if I was the girl in it. I’d nod my head, explaining that I have since highlighted and cut my hair, and introduce the boy standing next to me named Tyler. As he or she begins to pay heed to certain details, such as our attire, proximity, dimly light surroundings, and smiling faces, the stranger might speculate that we were on a date. In that case, I would have to give that individual a gold star because that is exactly right. When this photo was taken, Tyler and I were indeed on a date, but most significantly, it was the first time for both of us going out on one. As we stare into the camera with grins stretched wide across our faces, it does appear that we are happy, and we really should have been in that instant. The both of us should have been absolutely jovial because, only moments before we posed together for this photo, Tyler had asked me to be his girlfriend and I said, “Sure.” It was the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship. Still, I personally could not genuinely smile during the snapshot, and anyone who knows me well can immediately distinguish this. I was yanking on the invisible hooks latched to the corners of my mouth, having to force a smile and feign delight. Why? Well, truthfully, I was really, deeply, profoundly uninterested in Tyler. Unfortunately, the fault fell entirely on me because I was too nice and, at that point in time, unable to reject others.
So before I delve into the whole fiasco that this photograph represents, it is necessary that I provide you with some background on Tyler and I’s acquaintance. First of all, Tyler was far from a bad guy. In fact, he could be very sweet and polite, and he had this natural quirkiness that made maintaining a straight face around him an impossible task. On the other hand, Tyler was also someone that took the label “socially awkward” to the extreme. He wasn’t shy, but you wish he was at times because that meant he’d be more considerate of the things he brought up in conservation. Tyler was exceptionally bright, so whenever he was granted the opportunity, he generally directed the discussion toward topics that would show off his smarts. For instance, my first ever chat with Tyler was in 10th grade Global History. One day, at the end of class, he scurried over to question me about my latest test grade; apparently he had regarded me as competition back then because I received high marks. Confused, I told him that I earned a 97, to which he replied triumphantly, “HA-HA! I got a 99!” Subsequently, he dashed out the door with lots of pep in his steps. Moreover, Tyler would constantly gossip about teachers or broach the subject of politics, which, as you can probably deduce, aren’t particularly great conversation starters. The biggest problem I had in relation to Tyler, however, is that I never felt completely at ease around him. In his company, I was constantly stressing, racking my brain for something to say, but it was as futile as preparing questions for a billboard. Aside from the both of us being high achievers, we weren’t compatible, so I felt absolutely nothing for him.
You must be wondering by now, “Brigid, if you weren’t even comfortable with this guy, why the hell did you even agree to go on a date with him?” Okay, this is going to sound ridiculous, but hear me out: I went into this first date with Tyler thinking it was not a date at all. Instead, I had convinced myself that he had simply suggested we go to Top Bun – the burger joint we ate at – as friends. I mean, when Tyler brought up the proposition, it had been in a super casual environment and manner: we were at a small get-together with our mutual friends when he suddenly took a seat beside me on the couch and started talking. Fifteen minutes into the conversation, I admit, it occurred to me how odd Tyler was acting. Considering that most of our exchanges lasted no longer than five minutes, he was patently adamant on keeping my undivided attention, bombarding me with several dull questions involving our class schedules for the next year. God, I was bored. Nonetheless, I did not think anything of it because I just believed he was feeling awkward. (Everyone had someone close to talk to except him.) He then diverted the subject matter from school to food places, and asked if I’d ever heard of Top Bun. Still, no warning bells went off since I stupidly assumed that he was spurting out random questions to pass the time. After I claimed that I had not, he fired off, “It’s a great place! We should go together sometime.” Finally, my brain turned back on. I realized that he came over with an agenda, and that particular statement was the point of no return. I was stupefied. Tyler, you sneaky, sneaky boy. “Yeah, we should,” I told him half-heartedly, but that was it. Though I was able to put it off for about a month, we eventually made an arrangement to go to Top Bun. The date would be at 5 o’clock… on fricking Valentine’s Day. Can you believe that I still walked into that restaurant denying the fact that it was a date? I kept telling myself, “He didn’t say, ‘Let’s go on a date to Top Bun.’ No, we’re just going as friends. Buddies. Amigos!”
And for a while, I got away with that mind frame to temper my nerves. Bit by bit, I analyzed the sequence of events throughout our “hangout” – this is what I called it – to reassure myself. For example, Tyler showed up about 10 minutes late, and I took this error – hello, you should be on time for your first date, at least – as a sign of the meeting’s informality. If this was a date, he would have wanted to prove his ability to promptly follow through with plans. Since he did not, obviously he doesn’t care. Another snag was this: he gave me a box of Reese’s chocolates for the occasion, but he had not purchased it himself. It was handed down to him from his friend, Matt, whose girlfriend had refused the sweets for some unknown reason. Oh, yeah. He’s not trying to impress me at all. In addition, we behaved as if there were absolutely no strings attached. Neither of us raised any first date-type questions, like our hobbies, likes, dislikes, aspirations, and things of that basic nature. Actually, upon reflection, our converse was superficial and dry; the most fascinating thing that was brought up was Tyler’s Pokémon fanfiction in progress revolving around Ash and Misty. In spite of all my self-encouragement though, my wishes were effectively squashed halfway through our “hangout” during a brief period of silence. He and I were simultaneously picking up our utensils, for our meals have arrived when, out of the blue, it was thrown out there: the reality of our current situation. “So,” he said excitedly, his palms splayed and waving rapidly like jazz hands, “can I make us Facebook official?!” Just like at the party, he had caught me off guard and put me into a position with little wiggle room. Sure, I could have been a total ass and said, “LOL. Nope. I’m out,” but the goofy grin on his face and infinite hope in his eyes undid me. Even though it was the most unromantic, weird way a boy could have phrased the pivotal question “Will you be my girlfriend?” and I was not tempted by the proposal in the slightest, I didn’t have the willpower to shut him down. Minutes later, the photo was shot and our relationship statuses were changed on Facebook.
I will now spare you the monotone details of this bleak romance, and summarize all that was relevant in three short sentences. We dated for nearly 6 months. During that time, we went on a total of 2 dates (which includes that first one). I almost got away with not kissing him, but alas, one day he snuck up on me and literally smashed his lips against mine, ruining my childhood fantasy of true love’s first kiss. Oh, and one last thing: Tyler is gay now, probably because his luck with girls has been less than charmed. Anyway, I know that this photograph is not the best show and tell since it does not the hold that much sentimental value. Even so, it is important to me because it serves a reminder – a reminder of the misery that ensues from submission. I did not want to be Tyler’s girlfriend, yet I did because I felt sympathy for him. I guess I thought I was being noble, but in actuality, I was dragging the both of us down. He wanted more from me, but I couldn’t give him more because I had no motivation to do so. So, what does this photo say to me? It says this: Stop lugging around baggage. It will delay you from obtaining what you truly want.
[Author’s Note: This story was written for my Creative Writing class. We had to write a story to accompany an object of our choice, and I chose the picture that Tyler and I took after we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend. Obviously, for personal reasons, I am not going to actually post the picture on here. But just to satiate your curiosity, imagine a boy and a girl standing side by side under crappy lighting, the boy beaming like a goofball and the girl forcing a smile.]