Toward the end of 1985, I was living the dream of any teenage girl. I had myself a secret admirer. Nobody had told me there was anything stalkerish in this. Had you asked me back then, I couldn’t have honestly told you what a stalker was.
Meanwhile, Homecoming was coming up and, remarkably, so were my grades. Along with the football game there was supposed to be a dance. I was in the Choir and my friend, Mr. P was in the band. This meant that, when Mr. P invited me to be his Homecoming Dance date, I got into the game free and got to sit high up in the stands right next to the band. It was the one and only football game I have ever attended.
Before the game, the Homecoming queen had been announced and I wish I could tell you it was me. I wasn’t even in the running, though, so it would have been a big surprise if it had. Anyway, I wore a very modest dress in white with a red ribbon for a belt. It wasn’t floor-length, but I was rewarded in my choice of dress when I saw Mr. P’s jaw drop on seeing me in it. As usual, Mr. P’s mother picked me up in his grandmother’s crappy old van and she dropped us off at the school. I froze my behind off in the stands seated next to Mr. P. and watched him marching to and fro in his band uniform. When the game was over, I was very pleased to go inside to the dance where it was warm.
I’ll tell you, although the building where the dance was being held was much warmer than the stands had been, it wasn’t much better. The room was dark, with the exception of a series of spotlights and a strobe that hurt my head. Mr. P and I had our pictures taken together (the background the Homecoming Dance planners had come up with was, in my opinion, hideous). Mr. P and I spent the rest of the dance seated in the back of the room eating soft mints off our table and complaining about the lighting. We did get up and dance for one dance, but it was a fast dance because I still didn’t feel comfortable being held by members of the opposite sex, for obvious reasons.
Finally, some time later, I had to go use the ladies’ room. When I came back there was a note from my secret admirer telling me that, if I wanted to meet him, I should come to the front of the building. Suspiciously, Mr. P wasn’t there. So, excited enough that I didn’t notice too much, I went, as directed, to the front of the building where Mr. P was waiting for me. He confessed that he was my secret admirer and that he loved me “deeply.” He wanted me to be his girlfriend.
I was floored. I had never dreamed that Mr. P and my secret admirer were the same person. Also, I didn’t feel the same way about him that he felt about me. I told him so, indicating that I felt about him the way that a girl usually feels about a friend. I told him that I was hoping to marry a returned missionary from my church (Which didn’t happen. I’ll explain later).
The feeling of excitement had more or less died after that. Mr. P called his mother and she took us to McDonald’s for dinner before dropping me off at home. As far as I could tell, things were more or less okay between me and Mr. P. That is, until the next day when I received a letter from him.
It was two pages of standard spiral-bound notebook paper, written in a tiny, crabbed, angry scrawl on both sides of each page. In it, he told me that he hated me for “rejecting” him and that he wanted me to die a horrible, violent, painful death for hurting him. Not just that but he gave horribly graphic details on just exactly how he wanted to hurt me. He avoided me the rest of the day. He didn’t turn up to be brought home. I think he must have called his mother and asked her to come and get him.
(Just so you know, fellas, I was terribly naïve and stupid when I was sixteen. I didn’t know what a curse it is for a woman to put a man in the “friend” zone. Then again, you guys that think of that as a curse need to realize that I later chose my husband from that zone.)
I took the letter to my father. This should show you how much I was beginning to trust him by that time. Confused and more than a little frightened, I confided in him and, not really an expert in the subject of domestic abuse and not a great believer in giving people advice, my dad told me I had two options. A) Give the letter to the Vice Principal or B) Write back to Mr. P and ask him why he had given me such a violent letter.
I can see you cringing over there. Yes, it’s true. I told you I was stupid at sixteen. I chose option B.
Did you ever “friend zone” someone and have them respond with violence? If so, how did you handle it? What would your advice to my clueless sixteen-year-old self be with regards to Mr. P’s letter?