Yes, I was 16. A mass server. My friend was 17. He, too, a mass server. But girls excited us in no small measure. It was that age, where once you were done writing your final high school examination, you became a regular guest at the cafés, a time we kept leafing through the internet, ransacking yahoo chat rooms and uploading new photos to your Hi5 profile. Now, if you don't know Hi5, call me uncle. We rolled together. We had ample time. He seemed to know lots of girls. I could never tell how. I never complained. Why would I? For some reason, all of the girls tended to warm up to me more. I’d never be able to tell why. Perhaps they thought I was shy, and felt good about oppressing me with relentless attention. Head down, I’d assess them only when they were not looking, and if we made a detour to their house next time, I’d have shed the entire weight of my shyness, and spit a good game. I'd grow some balls. Trust, me, I was born funny, and those were days when just being able to make a girl laugh her ass off was enough. They’d honor your visits with chewing gum, share their snacks with you.
But one day, my friend seemed to have had enough of my being too fancied. Not sure I’d blame him too much. I’d be mad, too, but not how he went about it. He was way taller, fair as a fired evening sun, only he was a boy that spoke out of turn. Too direct and no wit. The type of guy that just blurts “when will you come to our place, let’s do that thing?” and when a girl says “what thing?” he’d reply “why are you doing as if you don’t know?”
Too much in-your-face attitude. This, I suspected, made the girls turn to me instead. Me, a free-wheeler. I’d just talk about mundane stuff, make jokes of children whose shorts had two giant holes at the back, of the neighborhood drunk who fell into a gutter the previous night, or kids who were bolting home on seeing their parents unexpectedly come home. He wanted the girls today and tomorrow. Me, I didn’t want them to even see me coming. So, tired of me and my comedian game, he snuck behind my back and went to Charlene’s place. That day, Charlene asked him, “Where is Dave,” to which he answered, “What do you need from that small boy?” Charlene, palpably angry how my friend shut me out, asked him “so what do you want here?” He found out his crush had another crush, and in her naïveté, Charlene mentioned that it was me she liked. I guess this was where she ruined it for both of us. And so the next time I asked my friend we go to her place, he scratched his head instead. “Hmm… I even forgot to tell you,” he began, “if you see what happened there the last time. Charlene said she would tell her father if we ever set foot there again. She said you thought you were funny, but she was just shaking her head at you.”
Damn. That shit burned me, slow. I could endure everything, but being accused of making dry jokes? That one stomped me in the chest. And so, in my childish rage and fragile ego, I made an enemy of Charlene without ever asking her what happened. When I saw her coming on one side of the road, I crossed over to the other side. Yes, I was petty, too!
When she tried to smile at me, I frowned, with all the venom my facial muscles could muster. How dare she try to play nice after what she said? Until one day, Charlene summoned enough courage to approach me. As usual, I jumped to the side of the road, and she followed me. I panicked momentarily. Confused, I froze.
“What have I done to you? What did that demon you call your friend tell you about me? Why do you make all those scary faces when I try to greet you?”
I confront my friend afterwards, and ask if all what Charlene said was true. You guessed right. The fucker didn't even deny it. She never said any of those things. I’d been the stupid one, acting on a concocted, unconfirmed tale. Jeff, my friend, made me make an enemy of a girl who crushed on me like crazy. Never thought he could do me like that. Dude was the first cock-blocker I knew.
I forgave him, but a boy remembers.