Wednesday, January 10, 2007

To All the Girls I've Loved Before
Part III

When I was thirteen, I not only decided I liked Shannadoodah*, but I decided retroactively that I had liked her since I was about ten. Shan and I had known each other since we were wee babies. We weren't particularly close friends, but we had somewhat of a bond because my birthday was in November and hers in October, which meant that when everyone our age turned twelve and moved up to the next class in church, we were the last ones left for a couple months. Shortly after she did turn twelve and left me alone in that Primary class, her family also moved downtown, out of our posh suburb. As fate would have it, my family ended up moving downtown less than a year later, and Shan and I ended up going to church together again.

In my new ward, I quickly made a new best friend, Dandypratt. It was not long before Dandy revealed to me that he was completely and eternally in love with Shannadoodah. We would stay up late into the night, lying on his bedroom floor, talking about the many qualities of Shan, all of which he'd observed from a distance--unlike me, Dandy was somewhat intimidated by girls, particularly the ones he was completely and eternally in love with, so he didn't actually talk to her much. Somewhere along the way, he convinced me: Shannadoodah was indeed the most wonderful female on the planet. In my weird sort of competing/emulating way--I looked up to him and envied him, wanted to be just like him and better than him at the same time--I decided that I too would like her. It wouldn't be good enough to like her in imitation of my best friend, though. I had known her first, after all, so I laid claim to having liked her first, even though that was a shameless lie.

At least I think it was. Tolkien Boy and I were talking yesterday about the phenomenon of lying to oneself so convincingly that one begins to believe one's own lies. It's hard for me to remember the true chronology of the liking now because I worked so hard to change it in my mind. Going back to my journal doesn't help because I even lied there. The truth, though, is that my "liking" of Shannadoodah had everything to do with the odd relationship I had with Dandypratt and very little to do with Shan herself.

Which isn't entirely true either. My freshman year of college, when Shan and I both went to BYU and Dandy stayed in Hawaii, I called her up and invited her out for ice cream on her October birthday. And whether it was a residual effect of having told myself for so long that I liked her, or just that she was a genuinely attractive person (she was), I really enjoyed her company and wanted to hang out with her more. For some reason, though, we didn't. Partly it was that she had other things to do, other people to hang out with, but I think it also had something to do with the fact that Dandypratt had long since moved on, so the prospect of winning that competition no longer held much appeal for me.

*Names have been changed to protect me.

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