I was your average 13-year-old.
That’s my 8th grade class photo, and probably the best photo taken of me that year, simply because I have two completely separate eyebrows! Not every girl could say that in 1999, you guys! Yes, my shirt is from Abercrombie; how did you know?
I was also extremely boy crazy. We’re talking balls to the walls, head over heels, shamelessly, dangerously boy crazy.
Exhibit A: As a freshman, my friends and I took a disposable camera to the town pool and took inconspicuous (I’m sure) photos of the hot lifeguard, who was a junior in high school. That is a terrible thing to do when you are about to enter high school and the upperclassman girls are practically foaming at the mouth in hopes of scaring the shit out of you. But what did I know? I was an idiot.
Exhibit B: A hot senior guy once IMed to tell me to tell my friends to stop staring at him during lunch. And I thought that meant he liked me!
Exhibit C: Everything I did between 1998-2008ish.
As well-versed as I was in stalking my prey, I was not very good at catching it. In fact, after my first real kiss, which took place behind the bleachers because I am a John Hughes movie, I went home and crafted a handwritten note to the poor guy I locked lips with. The note was like, “I’m not a slut, okay? You can’t just use me for making out.” What?
I delivered it to him the next day in the cafeteria, in front of EVERYONE, and I was wearing a turtleneck rainbow sweater from the GAP, which I thought I looked amazing in and wore like 4 days a week.
I NEEDED HELP.
Fast forward 14 years. Hello!
I still tilt my head the same way! Neat bags under my eyes! Better hair. Traded in my Abercrombie T-shirt for that Target cardigan I got on sale for $15 and bought three of. And now, only now, when I’m a super cool adult, does Seventeen come out with its Ultimate Guide to Guys.
I wouldn’t say I am still boy crazy (you might though!), but IF ONLY THIS BOOK EXISTED WHEN I WAS A SAD TEENAGER, when I was reading Seventeen magazine for embarrassing stories about periods and breast buds.
This book is huge, and it is sitting on my coffee table right now and I have to hide it when my friends come over. If I forget to do that I just shout stuff like “I’M WRITING A THING ABOUT IT LOL IT’S IRONIC,” and then I secretly read it all night and take notes.
Can it help me? Can anything?
Touted as a “must have” “totally awesome” “amaze” “manual” “for girls” “all about guys” and “featuring the hot guy panel” (who?) I knew Seventeen would be able to help me, who is some 10-plus years past their target demographic.
First of all, who are these “hot guys” on the “hot guy panel?” Where were you all when I was in high school? The majority of the guys I thought were hot wore gym shorts and smelled like dad cologne mixed with old chips. I’m on to you, Seventeen.
What lessons can we learn from this thing?.
STALKING IS GOOD!
Hot Guy™ Michael, 19, says “Every day, a girl would stop by my lunch table to talk. I got used to seeing her regularly and started looking forward to her dropping by. One day it hit me that I want to spend even more time with her.”
Literal boldfaced lie. Oh sure, go follow your crush around. Stop by his lunch table. Walk back and forth in the hallway when you know he can see you from English class. You are super-breezy and no one is weirded out by you at all. How does this apply as an adult? I don’t know. Do I start dropping by my crush’s apartment? Mirror his foursquare check-ins?
“How did you know I lived here?” he’ll ask.
“Google Street View!” and then I’ll do some sort of cool move where I toss my hair behind my shoulder and invite myself inside.
MAKE IT WEIRD ON FACEBOOK!
Another neat way to flirt, the book suggests, is to use the powers of social media. As an avid social media user, I found this interesting. At 13, I just had AOL, and the best way to get attention there was to sign on and off rapidly in hopes that the sound of the door opening and closing would annoy the fuck out of your crush and then they’d IM you being like “why do you keep signing on and off rapidly, it’s annoying.”
So the book’s like, post an inside joke with your crush as your Facebook status. “Your secret shout-out will become a cute way to stay on his mind. Ignore the ‘???’ comments from your friends and wait for his ‘like’ to make the next move.”
Ok, I’ll do it! (But since I don’t have a crush, so I will use a joke I have with one of my heterosexual guy friends who does not know I am writing this story. The joke is a “Grease” lyric.)
Okay, I just put it up.
Let’s see what happens, besides realizing I am FOR SURE going to die alone.
Molly, you’re supposed to be confused!!!
Why doesn’t anyone check Facebook? How long do I have to wait? Okay we’ll circle back on this.
WHAT DOES HE MEAN WHEN HE SAYS “WANNA HANG OUT?”
Next the book helps you with decoding what guys really mean when they say, “Wanna just hang out at my house tonight?” A classic! Except at 13, I would have thought this was an awesome compliment! He is super into me and wants to hang out in his basement making out to a soundtrack of Adam Sandler movies! Also, if we are 13, where are everyone’s parents?
27-year-old me knows the truth: He’s just not that into (buying) me (dinner).
Actually, as you get older, decoding the old “wanna just hang at my place” text gets a lot easier, as it’s meant to be taken at face value. You’re pretty much going to go over there to have sex, fall asleep, wake up and wash your hair with the last squeeze of his months-old Head and Shoulders 2-in-1 in his gross shower and go to work pretending you didn’t wear this outfit yesterday. And then spend the rest of the day NOT faving his tweets and NOT texting him and NOT being green on gchat because you are busy; you have a lot of plans.
OMG THIS IS NOT WORKING.
HAVE A “FRIEND” DO THE DIRTY WORK FOR YOU
I mean honestly, the last tip I’ll cover here before I light myself on fire is the old stand-by of “It’s not like I really want to know how we’re defining what we’re doing, it’s just that ALL MY FRIENDS ARE ASKING ME.” Seventeen thinks this is a cool, low-maintenance way for young women to figure out what’s going on between you and “your guy.”
A few things on this.
Just like the “guy you met at camp” or the “guy you met on a cruise,” the “friends that won’t stop asking you what’s going on between you guys” do not exist. These are people we make up because we feel weird about expressing our feelings and insecurities because everyone knows girls who have feelings and want to talk about them out loud to other people are CRAZY.
Beyond the obvious (no one’s REAL friends care enough/if they do, get other friends), Seventeen has the opportunity and the platform to start teaching women from a young age that if they want to talk about defining their relationships they shouldn’t feel afraid to do it. What, like your 15-year-old male counterpart is so well-adjusted? GET OUT.
Hold on let me pull up a soap box.
I spent half of 9th grade repeating the phrase “ask Ross if he thinks I’m cute, but don’t say I said to ask.” And then when Ross (I didn’t even change his name — ROSS WHERE ARE YOU NOW?) would be like “your friends won’t stop bothering me about you,” I’d be all “omg whaaaaaa, whyyyyy howwww noooo I have no idea whyyyy they’re so dramatic????” and he knew I was full of shit, because we were all full of shit because we were in HIGH SCHOOL.
The point is, you don’t wake up at 19 or 22 or — as far as I can tell — 26, with the sudden confidence and know-how to approach confusing, undefined relationships with a sense of self and you know why? Because magazines and books were always telling us to “make up friends.”
Go after what you want and who you want.
And since I really can’t, in my right mind, end this with LEAN IN, I’ll say what I wish was written in all of the issues of all of the teen magazines I read as a young lady:
“WHY, oh WHY…would you want to do ANYTHING. With a guy. Who smells. Like. Chips.”