My first encounter with a secret admirer was in fifth grade. A ratty three-by-five card slipped into my backpack, with the elegant words "your so nice will you be by grillfriend love guess who???" printed in childish scrawl on one side, the other decorated with lopsided hearts. Despite the atrocious spelling and grammar (a friend to your grill? Your gorilla friend?), I was thrilled. For the entire ten minutes that the illusion lasted, I felt lifted up. Transformed. No longer just the chubby shy kid who the eighth graders picked on, I was the object of desire.
Until my little sister started giggling manically.
Not the last time I would feel stupid for believing someone might be interested.
The next anonymous communication of love came from me to the cute, curly-haired blue eyed boy in my class. The only one who never called me names or yelled at me for being terrible at sports. We were assigned to write nice notes to our classmates for Christmas that year- again, on 3 x 5 cards. While I DID sign my name, the love was disguised oh-so-cleverly: around the perimeter I wrote, "Caro mio bien, cree deem ya men, senza di te languis el cor" which is terribly spelled Italian for "dear one, believe- when we must part, I must languish in my heart". Awfully strong sentiment for a boy whose best quality was simply NOT torturing me.
Seventh graders have lower standards, apparently.
My next encounter with anonymous affection was a second-hand one. My good friend started getting emails from a mysterious and fascinating "strawberrysprinkles", a boy with a great sense of humor known to her only as "Jerry". She really started to fall for this guy. The relationship continued on and off in cyberspace for almost a year- until she found out that these emails were actually being written by my sister, the serial-fake-anonymous-lover.
My sister, bless her heart, never meant any harm. She's about the sweetest person you'll ever meet, and the best at making people happy. The problem is, the immediate fix for happiness isn't always the best plan for long-term contentment.
Which is kind of a good thing to keep in mind, in relationships. Hello, teenage pregnancy.
The next time I wrote a secret admirer note was the worst Valentine's day I've had so far... and that's really saying something. One of my friends convinced me to write a note to another friend as a joke. The whole thing back fired when he immediately knew who had written the note. Instead of taking it as intended, he took it 100% seriously and that forced him to have a very awkward conversation in which he attempted to let me down easy. The ironic part is, my main fear in giving him the note was that he'd take it seriously and ask me out, forcing ME to have a very awkward conversation in which I attempted to let him down easy.
Few friendships could survive such awkwardness.
Thinking about all of this lately, because my roommate just received a rose for (belated) Valentine's day... It wasn't anonymous, but for some reason it made me think about secret admirers. What's the appeal? Why go to all the trouble and then not take credit?
Cuz we're chicken.
No, seriously, I think it's deeper. There's this kind of basic insecurity mixed with primal pride... we think the object of our affections really WOULD love us back, if they could see US, the inner us, the us that doesn't seem to show itself in English class. If we weren't us, trapped in our routines and habits and stereotypes, we would be MORE ourselves. Somehow. There's always a side of ourselves we don't get to BE, every day. If he could see that... see ME, without the limitations actual appearance puts on me, I just know he'd love me.
Take my advice: if you love someone, just say it. Be honest and let the chips fall where they may. Because if someone's only gonna love you when they don't know it's you, that's really not gonna work out long-term, now, is it? You can't grow old with a mystery date. You can't even DATE a mystery date. And don't fake-secret-admire your friends. It's not as good of an idea as you think: they'll either hate you or force you to have The Awkwardest Conversation of Your Life.
I love you all!