Wednesday, December 6, 2006

when i had a crush on a gay boy...

My friends call me a gay man magnet. Every where I go, I tend to make nice with the gays. My boo Jason once said, “Like moths to a flame, the gays are just drawn to you.” Working in retail for so long facilitated this attraction. For some reason, whenever there was a new male employee coming aboard, if he was drawn to me and got along well with me, this generally indicated that he was gay. This was true 100% of the time. Even the employees who had been there for awhile that people suspected to be gay were drawn to me. I was the recipient of many a “finally coming out of the closet” declaration.

Because of my gay man magnetism, I have made many life long friends. But my first experience with the magnetism wasn’t exactly all that pleasant. In fact, it caused my first broken heart.

Way back in the day, I worked at South Coast Plaza (think Tysons but better and in the OC). In the mall was a little store called USC Collections, where they sold nothing but USC merchandise. As a high school senior, I thought it would be in my best interest to work at the store and stock up on USC stuff before my freshman year (having a discount certainly facilitates the shopping process). So, in the fall of 1999, I started working there. Shortly thereafter, I met a boy named Ryan. He was just my type (at the time). Tall. Straight dark hair. Great wardrobe. Socially awkward. Yup, I was into nerds. But Ryan was a cute nerd, I swear.

Ryan was a freshman at Cal State Fullerton. So why was he working at a USC store? Well, CSUF was his second choice school after USC rejected him. And his dad was a huge Trojan fan so he grew up liking them too. Ryan was hoping to transfer to USC. We bonded instantly. I think he was enjoying the excitement of being an incoming USC student vicariously through me. And at the time, I was more than willing to share that excitement.

We spent a lot of time together at the store, goofing around and talking about random stuff. Pretty soon I had developed a full blown crush. And I’ve never been that stealth with my crushes, so Ryan found out about my feelings pretty soon. We started hanging out outside of work, watching movies, chillin’ in his dorm room and umm…doing stuff. We shared a love for the movie Clueless and the music of No Doubt. In fact, he loved Clueless so much that he could recite every word of that movie. He was such a big fan of No Doubt that he knew every word to every song on the Tragic Kingdom album. And he was the only boy that I had ever dated that actually enjoyed shopping with me. I thought, I must be the luckiest girl alive to be dating a boy that likes everything I do.

Shortly after Christmas (during the super busy holiday season), Ryan called me one day after work and told me, “This isn’t working out.” I was completely blown away. It had come totally out of left field. I said, “But I don’t understand. Where is this coming from? What did I do wrong?” Ryan said, “I just don’t like you the way you like me.” What the hell did that mean? It was the worst paraphrasing of “I just wanna be friends” ever.

What did I know about being friends with an ex at 17? Nothing apparently, because I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to Ryan whenever we worked together. It was so uncomfortable that he soon quit and found himself a new job. At Disneyland.

The following year around Christmas time, a girl named Lea came into the store with a job application. On it, she had named Ryan as a reference. We made some small talk while she waited to talk to the store manager. She asked, “So how do you know Ryan?” I told her, “We like dated a long time ago.” Her eyes got big and she replied, “Oh so you’re THAT Liz.” She then spoke to the manager for a bit and I was left wondering, What the heck was that about?

She was hired and I worked with her soon after that incident. On our first day together, Lea told me, “I hope I wasn’t rude the last time I saw you. It’s just when I realized who you were, something clicked.” I replied defensively, “Which is?” Lea said calmly, “Well, it’s just that you’re the last girl Ryan ever dated.” Incredulously, I asked her, “How is that possible?” With all the serenity of someone trying to diffuse a live bomb, Lea said, “Well, he’s gay now.” WHAT!

Lea continued, “Yeah, he met someone when he started working at Disneyland. Apparently there are a lot of gay people who work there. So, he met this guy and started seeing him and now they share an apartment in San Francisco.” Wow. Even typing that now brings me back to the shock I felt that day.

For the longest time, I thought I had turned Ryan gay. It gave me such a mental complex in my girlfriend abilities. I swore off boys until my junior year at USC.

Looking back on it now, my reaction was pretty immature. I didn’t do anything to Ryan to make him the way he is. He just is that way. I regret nothing about my time with Ryan. He was a good guy…a good friend even. In fact, my only regret is not knowing him now.

I’m pretty sure we’d be great friends now.


Sharkbait said...

Can I tell you that this happened to me in college?! Except really I 'dated' him for like 6 months and we never kissed. Nothing. I was like um who dates Sharkie and doesn't make out.

Obviously gay from the get go.

But seriously, he is gay now. So yes, welcome to our lives.

Mad Cabbie said...

Lizzie, If a dude enjoys watching clueless, your gay radar should have gone off screaming!

playfulinnc said...

Oh, I have sooo been there.

And that Sharkie has too? I wish we could all meet and see if we are similar in some way.

I have a feeling we may not want to know the way...


Dennis! said...

Gay man magnets are cool.

lizzie said...

sharkie--6 mo. and no kissing? wow. i think you, me, and playfulinNC should form some kind of club!

mad--i know, honey. in retrospect it ALL makes sense.

playful--see above. perhaps we have a certain coolness factor in common! anyhoo, let me know if you want to start the club. :)

dennis--gay man magnets are cool!