Nothing says loving like something from the oven, apparently.
When I was thirteen I had a crush on the only guy brave or dumb enough to take Home Economics as a subject. For weeks I looked forward to sitting at the Formica-topped kitchen table that we shared as our desk. I would flirt with him and he would make a point of showing off his fish cakes or scones or table setting that inevitably turned out better than mine.
One afternoon I went to his house after school, instead of enduring some extra-curricular activity – probably the mandatory sports afternoon that I hated. We milled about in his kitchen before he offered to show me his room, where I sat nervously wondering what I was doing there – feeling guilty about being somewhere I shouldn’t be, with a boy. A boy who seemed interested in me! I sat next to his bed, nervously glancing across at the window, in between fixed looks at a Rubik’s Cube or some similar distraction that kept my hands conveniently busy.
He slowly took his shirt off, and threw it on the floor. I held my breath and continued to play the distracted girl – too afraid to look at him, and too afraid to leave, my heart pounding in an anxious chest.
I eventually breathed a quiet sigh of relief when his older brother came home, giving me an opportunity to make some excuse and escape back to school in time to catch the late bus back home.
A day or two later he was sitting two desks away in the Biology class laboratory, and he pointedly asked me “When did you stop?” I didn’t know what to say, I wanted to not-know what he meant. But I knew, and I guess he felt I owed him an explanation for the cool way I’d disengaged – when all the signals I’d been giving him before then had pointed at my being attracted to him.
He didn’t understand what had happened between us. And neither did I, so there was no way I could explain. Instead I casually tried to minimise my awkward embarrassment and play dumb, pretend that nothing had changed. He wasn’t buying that though, because everything had changed. So he stopped giving me the time of day.
I was confused by his reaction, but I really didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I was feeling, apart from overwhelming guilt for having been interested in a boy. I still liked him. But I was scared, way out of my emotional depth – and he had made it clear he wasn’t interested in playing games.
Of course, I couldn’t be sure that I wasn’t just playing a game, so I though it was probably for the best that it turned out the way it did. But Home Economics was never quite as much fun after that. What a flop.