It's so easy, they boast! Paint your face a certain way, change your hair, change your clothes. Then walk into the room, and he'll be stunned, his jaw dropped, eyes wide, staring at you, you, only you, why had he never noticed you before?
Well, the truth is because he doesn't give a shit about you. If you want the REAL truth, and not the Hollywood John Hughes version of the truth, the boys that didn't notice you before you caked your face in makeup aren't going to notice when you do.
I know this for a fact, because I've tried it. Several times over, in fact. It could be argued that my entire high school career had been spent attempting this or that beautification trick: Rag curls, new mascaras, getting contacts, dying my hair, braiding my hair, getting new shoes, letting Kate Eckly give me a makeover, getting a full beautification for prom night at the salon, making my own clothes, etc.
Nothing ever caught his eye.
I'm sure being his best friend didn't help. If the friend-zone is a real thing, the best-friend-zone is a worse from of torture. I was always there. Listening to the horror stories of crappy dates. Watching the string of dramas as he spent a year with Becca, a girl entirely unsuited for him. Backing him up when he decided to break up with her, kicking myself for getting my hopes up again when he never did.
And yet, I decided to try one last time, because hope springs eternal, whatever that means. I like to imagine hope is some chick with pink hair, perpetually bouncing on a bright orange pogo stick. Seems more colorful that way.
But when you've only got one day left of high school before you're plunged into the uncertainty of your future "real life", colorful hope is all you've got. It's certainly all I had. I sat impatiently through the graduation ceremony, willing it to go faster. It felt like slow motion. A billion introductions no one cared about, followed by a billion speeches no one cared about, followed by our names called one by one. Seated in alphabetical order, so instead of sitting with my friends, I'm surrounded by fellow end-of-the-alphabet kids. People I've collectively said maybe twelve words to over the past four years.
He sat two rows in front of me. I tried to catch his attention a few times, but for once in his life, he was actually practicing decent behavior.
Walking the stage felt surreal. My robes fit funny, they were hot under the stage light, and I felt like a moron in that stupid hat. I took a rolled-up piece of paper from my principal, shaking his hand while knowing full well that this entire thing was just for show; our real diplomas would show up in the mail a few weeks later.
Finally, after more "Y" and "Z" names than could have possibly been in our class, our principal spoke some final words, and it was over.
I searched for my parents in the sea of faces, finally locating them. Of course, mom wanted to take pictures until my face ached from fake-smiling. I knew as she took them that they would be the last of the "old me".
"Hey, mom, when we get home, could I take the car for a few hours?"
"Sure, what are you going to do?"
"I have some money saved up, I'd like to go get my hair cut."
She gave me a stunned smile. "Really?"
She glanced at my father. "Okay, if that's what you want to do!"
For years, I'd refused to cut my hair. I'd put it through all sorts of trials and tribulations in the styling department (usually only lasting a day or two before I went back to my default ponytail), but I'd never once cut it. It hung down my back, nearly reaching my butt.
A few hours later, I found myself sitting in that chair that's always just a little too big for my short legs, with the stylist running her fingers through my hair.
"So,” she grinned at me. “What are we going to do today?"
That night, our school threw us one last hurrah: An all-night lock-in, just the graduated seniors.
I had hoped my new haircut, a shoulder length bob with thick bangs and deep red highlights, might turn me into a Gwen Stefani-esque bombshell. Instead, it made me look like a very tall seven year old.
"Whoa, do you have your student ID?" Mr. Philson, my history teacher from last year, stopped me as I walked through the familiar doors.
"Yeah," I said, pulling the plastic card out of my purse, feeling odd. Here I was, on the verge of freedom, yet still needing proof of my student-hood.
"Oh, wow, I didn't recognize you...sorry!" Mr. Philson handed the plastic card back to me. "Have fun tonight!"
I nodded and smiled, making my way into the party.
He wasn't there yet. Or if he was, he'd taken off to another part of the building. None of my other friends had wanted to come tonight. So I wandered the hallways filled with people I knew but didn't really know, feeling increasingly nervous about my new look. A few of them did double takes; some said they didn't recognize me, like Mr. Philson had.
No one told me they liked my new haircut.
Three hours in, I began to wonder why I came. If I should just go home. If a haircut didn't make these people see me in a new light, it certainly wouldn't make him see me any differently.
I sat down, leaning against a wall, my arms wrapped around my knees. Some kids sang karaoke in front of me. I pretended to watch, but really, I just wanted to hide. I tried to shove the bangs behind my ears, but they wouldn't stay. They felt strange, in the way. I hated them. I wish I'd just saved my money.
"Holy shit, what did you do to your head?"
I looked up.
He smiled at me. "You look like you're twelve years old."
I shrugged. "I figured it was time for a change."
"Well, it's a change, all right. I almost walked right past you. You look totally different."
"Different in a good way?" I hazarded.
"Um. I'll have to get back to you on that.” He reached out his hand and pulled me up.
For a few moments, he just stared at me. I waited for him to say something, or maybe say nothing, and just place his lips on mine, and let that be the end of it. Or the start of it. My heart thudded in my chest, feeling the ache of longing, just wanting to be with him. The night felt thick with hope, pounding away on her pogo stick, springing away through eternity.
Finally he spoke again.
"So they have these giant tricycles in the cafeteria. I want to take them to the gym, lug them upstairs, and ride them around the indoor track. Want to come?"
I nodded. "Yeah, that sounds awesome."
This entry is based on true stuff that actually happened to me, but some of it has been tweaked for the good of the story.