Throughout high school I kept hearing of this rumor of a short blond-headed girl that had a crush on me. At first I dismissed it, but enough unconnected people mentioned that this girl mentioned me that I figured there had to be some truth to it. The problem was that I didn’t know who it was.

My primary fear was that it was a girl named Andrea Carmine. She was a friend of mine that was short, blond, and strikingly unattractive. I met her while pursuing her friend, but when things didn’t work out with her friend I became friends with Andrew instead. It was a good experience as she was the first female friend I’d ever really had. I wanted to want more, but there was just something spectacularly unattractive about her face that made the thought of kissing her entirely unappealing even though I liked her a great deal otherwise (a lot more than I liked the friend I initially befriended her in pursuit of, actually).

Andrea may or may not have felt that way about me, but I discovered somewhere along the way that even if that was the case she was not the only short blond-headed girl whose attention I captured because Mystery Girl was still riding the bus. Andrea rarely rode the bus at that point and there was no way she rode the bus in particular that my informant rode. I went through the yearbook looking for someone fitting Mystery Girl’s description that I might know and had no luck.

Then one day my senior year my best friend Clint pulled me aside. “I found out who your admirer is. Get this, it’s Jessical Lambrey.”

I’d never had a class with Jessica Lambrey in high school and I hadn’t spoken to her in years. When I looked through the yearbook I must have just glided over her name because of what she said to me the last time we spoke. “I’m sorry, Will, I can’t go with you. My parents won’t let me see boys.”

Jessica Lambrey was the third girl I ever asked out. She said no, giving the exact same excuse that Number Two gave. Number Two, it turned out, was a liar (she was “going with” another boy less than a couple weeks later). I don’t remember what I said when Jessica gave me her excuse. I was probably polite enough to her (I was too scared of girls to be mean to them), though I had some choice words about that liar afterwards.

Though she dropped from my consciousness almost immediately after I asked her out, I didn’t drop from hers. As I would find out years later, I would be the only boy to ever ask her out (at least up till her run-in with Clint). Her father really did forbid her from becoming too close to boys and she hated having to say no. And being sheltered and dateless, she harbored feelings for me for years afterwards. Never enough to approach me or say a single word to me, however. Of course, by the time I found out about it I was spoken for.

There’s a conversation over at Bobvis that’s detoured briefly onto the subject of what exactly happened to some guys to make them feel unworthy of approaching a young woman and asking them out. I commented that the fact that the first seven (or nine, if I could just remember the other two names) rejected me. It reminded me of this little story.

The Nine Strikes when I asked out the first nine girls had a profoundly negative effect on my self-esteem, as one might imagine. Looking back I can see all sorts of things that I missed at the time. I was asking out the wrong girls in the wrong manner. I didn’t realize what exactly was required to get from Point A to Point B. Number One was out of my league by any measure. Number Five was too popular, even if she was fat. Numbers Four and Six were just weird. Number Seven thought I was playing a cruel prank on her by asking her out. And, of course, I was even more clueless than most kids are at that age.

If I had only believed Jessica when she told me why she couldn’t be my girlfriend, I would have been mad about it (“Stupid parents!”) but that alone would have put a serious dent in the hopelessness I felt for the longest time was me. And if nothing else I could have made my first female friend years before I did, learned about girls, and maybe have actually gone out with her whenever the time might have been better.

If only I’d believed what she told me and understood what she never found the guts to later tell me.

Category: Ghostland, School

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7 Responses to The Girl Who Would Have Said Yes

  1. Bob V says:

    Why didn’t you believe Jessica? Was it just that someone else had used that excuse before? Or were you trying to fit her into the same box as the other 8?

  2. trumwill says:

    A combination of the two, probably.

  3. Bob V says:

    It strikes me now that a lot of people say the key is trying. That works really well if you try and happen to succeed. If you try and fail, you may feel worse off than you started because now you have a justification for feeling un-loveable.

  4. Barry says:

    Sometimes the false hope is more attractive, after the long haul, than the taking the chance on being shot down.

    Eventually you become so comfortable in the self-pity, feeling appropriately maligned by the forces of female unfairness in the world that you subconsciously prefer that nether-world of not trying/not succeeding to actually going out and risking the status quo.

    If you ask a girl out she can either accept or reject you. If she accepts, great. If she rejects, it can be devastating. Not even initiating a conversation keeps you safe in that, “maybe someday when the time’s right” mode. You may not be blissful, but it’s a damn sight better than crushed.

    And it can be the same when the female in question is your wife…

  5. Spungen says:

    How sad.

    One sentence jumped out at me, about the one girl who was fat, but still too popular. Most people don’t seem to admit that happens — that popularity is its own thing, not just a calculation based upon looks and how good one’s personality is. There are lots of other factors, such as who your older siblings are; are your parents social and permissive; where you live.

    I had that happen several times to me, especially in college. There’d be some guy who wasn’t particularly good-looking and was physically interested in me. I’d want to be his girlfriend. But he’d have some giant crowd of friends that was always partying, lots of female options, and felt no particular need for a committed relationship. I noticed that guys with more money were more likely to be like that.

  6. Webmaster says:

    “The key is trying” – as in, if you don’t try, nothing will happen.

    The problem is that it is not a necessary win, and there is another side to it – “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, but also “nothing ventured, nothing lost.” Putting yourself out on the line is a risk; there’s the risk of getting shot down, the risk of someone saying mean things (e.g. “didn’t he know she’s too X/Y/Z for him?”), and the risk even of being attacked physically if you happen to ask out someone and rile up a possessive rival. (Been there. Join the club. We’ve got jackets.)

    Getting past it – like most relationship issues – is rough.

  7. trumwill says:


    An odd thing about the overweight girl (“fat” may slightly be an overstatement, but she was more than “thick” or “big-boned”… maybe I should have gone with “heavy”). After I asked and was rejected, a number of her friends came up to me and said that they didn’t understand why she said no. It was really weird because these were popular girls that barely said word one to me unless they needed to borrow a pencil or something like that. If they’d at all encouraged me to ask her again I would have figured I was being cruelly set up, but it never went that direction. They just said that they were surprised and sorry. I never entirely knew what to make of it. I figured it was just female group dynamics and internal clique politics.

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