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How Not To Facebook Stalk Your Crush
My life is a series of awkward moments, settled together like a set of obscenely sharp teeth in the mouth of a hungry alligator ready to literally bite of my head off at any given moment. I filed most of these moments away in the back of my brain, never to be see again, but there was one, the canine, the longest and sharpest and most horrifying of these events, that I was never really able to shake.
I had been sitting in sixth period chemistry class, a basket of fried deliciousness just settling in to my stomach, next to my lab partner, Gabe Goodson. Gabe was cute. No, Gabe was freaking smoking hot. He had clear blue eyes, perfect blonde curls, and a set of rippling biceps that could easily make any corseted Victorian girl faint dead cold on the floor. Now, I was no corseted Victorian girl, but I happened to have the biggest, girliest crush on Gabe that I could remember. We sat there, next to each other, both of slightly zoned out of Mr. Masterson’s lecture on significant figures, and I would throw the occasional glance in his direction. He almost never looked back, usually since he was either in a food coma or he was absorbed in the ever so fascinating illustrations in his chemistry book, but then one day he did. And I almost died.
It was that single lingering look, those blue blue eyes, that set me off on a record Facebook stalking. We’d been Facebook friends since freshman year, and he would occasionally like my status or comment on a photo, but I’d never taken a second look at his profile until that fateful day. He was listed as being Christian — not the crazy anti-dancing, anti-happiness kind, luckily — and he put his favorite movies as The Hangover and Back to the Future. A man after my own heart. I got a little obsessive. Okay, that might be putting it mildly. I looked at his profile every day, flicking through profile picture after profile picture, and one day I spent hours just browsing through his friends list.
I was in chemistry, slumped strategically over my desk in order to hide my phone, when my formerly private Facebook stalking became public. You know that feeling when your parents walk in to your room and find you reading M-rated Firefly fanfiction? That’s the feeling I got when Gabe leaned over to ask me how much a mole was for the third time (it’s 6.02 x 10^23, for the record), and saw me on my smart phone gazing hopelessly at pictures of him and his ex-girlfriend from our sophomore year homecoming. I tapped my screen furiously, trying to close out of Facebook or open something else, but it froze squarely on his perfect chiseled face.
“Well that’s embarrassing,” he said. I whipped my head around, staring at him straight on. It was more than embarrassing. It was bury your head in the sand, jump of the Brooklyn Bridge, find a cyanide pill and take it mortifying. I couldn’t see myself, but I didn’t need a mirror to know that I was probably turning an unflattering shade of red somewhere between “California coral” and “mango tango.”
“Sh**,” I muttered, fumbling to shove my phone back in to my bag or at least in to my pocket. As much as I loved my smart phone for being able to play Robot Unicorn Attack while on the go, it really sucked when it came time to be inconspicuous. The thing was the size of a candy bar, and not one of those fun sized candy bars you get on Halloween. No, it was a full sized Hershey bar, and it didn’t fit in my pocket. I panicked. What was I supposed to do? Gabe had clearly seen me creeping on him. I could deny it, but then I would go from stalker chick to psycho memory loss stalker chick. No, I would have to face it.
Except that I didn’t. Not that day, at least. The bell rang and I bolted out the door, heading straight for my next class. I left Gabe in the chem room, standing there in a sort of shocked trance, but I couldn’t very well just pat him on the shoulder and say, “Come along, my dear, for our love shall reign eternally in the halls of Roosevelt High,” so leaving him seemed like a better idea. My seventh period class was a study hall, and the supervisor hardly noticed when I was there, so I skipped it and went straight home. I dashed up to my room and flipped open my laptop, ignoring the bouncing icons that informed me that I needed to promptly update my software two months ago, and opened an internet window. The website of my desire was — no surprise — my most visited, so it loaded automatically. I began to scroll through page upon page of status updates, tagged photos and links to videos of cats playing pianos, searching for anything remotely related to Gabe or I. He had told someone, I was sure of it, and it would be on Facebook within the hour. It would probably spread through the school faster than disease, and I would have to drop out, maybe transfer to a private school or become a cloistered nun, when Roosevelt High School discovered that I was hardcore stalking Gabe Goodson.
The news hadn’t broken yet, and I couldn’t tell if that was good or bad. Maybe no one had posted about it because they hadn’t heard about it, but then again, maybe they weren’t posting about it because they were all too afraid that if they posted anything, I would start to creep on them, too. But I sat there for hours, glued to my chair and my eyes frying from unblinkingly staring at my computer screen, waiting for something — anything — to be posted. A status update, or maybe something subtly posted on Gabe’s wall, but there was nothing. He wasn’t online all night. It was making me even more paranoid. There was only two ways this scenario could go, really. One, I could be humiliated now and become Roosevelt’s resident Boo Radley until the next crisis hit, or two, the process could be long and drawn out, with Gabe dropping terrible hints at my inevitable demise on a daily basis. I don’t really know which was preferable, considering they both ended with me living alone in a cave eating my own hair. My Facebook stalking was going to be then end of me, that was a given. How could I have been so incoherently stupid about it? I mean, sure, Gabe was maybe the most beautiful man ever, but I could have at least waited until study hall to memorize every facet of his profile page.
I was on Facebook all night, checking my chat every four seconds to see if Gabe was online. He wasn’t. But I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I refreshed the page, a little green dot would magically appear next to his name. So I did it. I gave in to temptation. Mother Theresa would have been ashamed of me as I indulged myself, hitting the refresh button. The page went blank, then began to reload slowly, one piece at a time. My family’s disinterest in anything remotely technological meant that I was forced to steal my neighbor’s unprotected WiFi, and the distance between our houses meant it was painfully slow. The chat bar was the last thing to load, and when it did, Gabe’s name was still naked, no green dot to be found.
“Jesus Christ on a stick,” I said, my voice muffled by the pillow I’d just shoved my face in to. Things in my life hadn’t gone this dramatically wrong since the sixth grade talent show, when Justice Scales, my somewhat unintentionally ironically named dance partner, had been kicked out of the show because of her incessant insubordination and I’d been forced to perform our dance number as a solo act. Don’t get me wrong, doing half of a dance routine to “You Make Me Feel Like A Star” was pretty embarrassing, but it was nothing compared to the entire school discovering that I had a penchant for Internet Stalkery. I stared at my computer screen, hoping for a miracle, when Gabe’s name jumped from the bottom of my friends list to the top, the prophetic green dot materialized next to it. I sighed a string of religiously-addled profanities and clicked on his name, opening a chat window.
I sat there, staring at the blinking cursor, waiting for words to materialize on the screen. I didn’t know what to write. What do you say to someone who has, just hours ago, discovered you in the act of Facebook stalking? I settled on the universal greeting of teenagers, the unfailing catalyst of conversation.
I twisted my hands nervously. There was no way of knowing what he was going to say. Or if he would even say anything. He might just ignore the chat all together, pretending that it was just a fluke that he was online, that he’d left his computer on Facebook by accident. But then it pinged, his name showing up below mine.
Me: What’s up?
I typed my response faster than was probably necessary, but I was bouncing with adrenaline. I was both terrified that he would be so completely freaked out by me that he would humiliate me, and nervous that he might do something unpredictable. What if he decided to hold this incident as blackmail until he needed something from me? What if he took advantage of our mediocre public broadcasting station and decided to tell every person lacking basic cable of my foray in to light stalkery? Cr**. This was bad. This was all very, very bad.
Gabe: nothing much. what about you?
Was he serious? Was he really making small talk while the elephant in the room was crushing my chest?
Me: Um. Not much. The usual.
Gabe: hahaha. okay. you left sixth period pretty fast today.
Me: I was just ready to get out of there…
Seriously, Gabe? Seriously? Was he actually going to make me say it? Jesus, he was really milking this.
Me: Uhh… I just wanted to get home. Y’know… with what happened.
Gabe: what are you talking about?
Oh God. He was really going to make me say it. Good lord. I was going to die. I was going to have an aneurism right then and there and die of humiliation. On a scale of jerkiness one to ten, Gabe was scoring about a solid nine right now. The only way it could have been worse was if he had told my dirty hippy parents first and they made me write “I will not use the internet for things that will disturb the balance of the Earth” two hundred times on the back of my bedroom door.
Me: You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Gabe: the thing with your phone? on Facebook?
Me: Yeah… Sorry about that.
Gabe: haha, dont worry about it. It’s not a big deal.
Not a big deal. Gabe clearly did not have the mind of a sixteen year old girl.
Gabe: as long as i dont find you sitting outside my window with a zoom lens camera, i dont really care. It’s facebook, if I wasnt ready to be creeped on, I probably shouldnt have made a page in the first place.
I then breathed the biggest sigh of relief since the Berlin Wall was demolished. He really didn’t care. I made a mountain out of what was probably the most common molehill in the modern technological world. I shut my laptop without signing off, without even giving Gabe a sayonara. I collapsed on to my bed. My life wasn’t over. I could show my face at school again. Next crisis please.