A 13-year-old girl, of mixed ethnic heritage who had the sublime combination of an infectious personality infused with physical features, that were seemingly moulded by the hands of artistically gifted angels. Jennifer had hazel eyes, olive brown skin, perfectly displaced freckles and curly hair that bounced to the beat of its own rhythm.
It was a warm summer’s day when Jennifer said to my 10-year-old self “Tyrone if I give you some money can you go to the shop and get me a mint flavoured ice pole (aka icicle pop) from….” I answered before she could finish the question, I was so awestruck that Jennifer even knew my name. I would have attempted to capture light from the stars if she had asked me, but getting a mint flavoured ice pole was within the realm of realistic possibly and if it meant she noticed me, then it was worth it!
I literally skipped to the first shop, which had sold out of mint flavoured ice poles “No problem, I’ll just get it from the next shop” I thought to myself as I energetically walked down to the next convenient store, but strangely the second, third and fourth shop I entered had also sold out of the mint variety even though they had other flavours such as orange, cola, strawberry, blackcurrant, lime and raspberry in stock.
So, you can imagine how elated I felt when I walked into the fifth shop which had the mint flavoured element I was looking for. I quickly made my purchase and ran back because I couldn’t wait to bask in the glow of Jennifer’s 100-watt smile once she had received her order.
When I eventually found Jennifer, the joyful light in her eyes was swiftly reinforced with a gleefully tinged hug of appreciation. “Thank you so much Ty, would you like some?” At this point I couldn’t believe the girl of my dreams had casually abbreviated my name and was also willing to share the ice pole that I had searched far and wide for. In a magical moment of innocence, I decided to roll with the momentum and said “Jennifer, would you like to go on a date with me?”
Looking somewhat amused, confused and bemused Jennifer sympathetically turned to me; although this time her hazel brown eyes felt like they were piercing into my soul, as she said. “I like you a lot Ty, but not in that way.” And even while rejecting my naïve romantic offering, I could feel an empathetic warmth in her tone. The rejection had shattered my already fragile confidence in such a way, time seemed to simultaneously slow down and speed up; needless to say, I could almost hear the shards of my broken heart hit the floor.
It hurt like hell.
To the casual reader it may seem I have attempted to write this entry like a Nicholas Sparks novel (and I have) but I don’t want too much sympathy given to my 10-year-old self because there is nothing wrong being romantically rejected, in fact there is an inherent value in it.
Since that experience I have gone onto feel romantic acceptance and rejection in many forms and I wish the elders of society would teach its young that unfortunately, we can’t always secure the emotions of the individuals who capture our hearts.
It is nerve-racking asking that special someone on a date, you do feel vulnerable and emotionally exposed because rejection is hard to take and I sincerely wish no one would experience such hurt.
But raise your hand if you want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care for you as much as you care for them? Who wants to be involved with someone for reasons other than free will? Why would you want to be with someone who only engaged with you because they were too drunk to know better, scared, too young, intimidated, too afraid or felt powerless?
I wasn’t entitled to Jennifer’s affections just because I ran over a mile to get an ice pole, not to mention rejection at the age of 10, helped me to cope with rejection at 15, which then assisted me in dealing with the devastating heartbreak of my first relationship ending at 19…and so on.
It’s okay to be told no, it’s okay not to be the first choice and the sooner modern culture can tackle these concepts the sooner we can live in a Weinstein/Spacey free world where an individual understands that once an advance has been declined, the only entitlement a man has is the right to accept the feeling of rejection rather than attempting to coerce or manipulate the illusion of consent.
Jennifer, if you’re out there I thank you for allowing me to walk the road of rejection.
Until next time.