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Don't Hate The Player.
“The girl that beats that hat sure has to be someone special,” her friend remarks. She nods her head in agreement as she watches him work his magic while he walks towards them. He smiles at one girl, waves at another, and actually stops to talk to yet another. She sighs in pity as he walks away with a slight smile. All three look on wistfully as he sits down with them. If there was one thing she could say to each of these girls, it would be: don’t trust a boy with a hat.
Or maybe it was just this boy. He claims he wears it because he’s balding but everyone knows better. No one knows exactly what it is about that stupid baseball cap but somehow it gets him the attention he wants. It’s an object of scorn and teasing by all this friends, ridiculed for being worn by every girl in three countries, and even compared to Bob Marley’s hair because everyone’s sure you’ll find new species of bugs in it. Yet girl after girl falls for it. Maybe it’s because he’s always fidgeting with it, either arrogantly, playing hard to get, or nervously, playing innocent. But that’s all it is, playing.
“You’re disgusting,” she tells him when he sits down.
He laughs, unfazed. “You know what they say, don’t hate the player…”
“Hate the game,” she finishes, waving her fork around. “Whatever. You’re still a pig. You’re walking around a trail of wishful thinking behind you and that, my friend, is just plain repulsive. I’m embarrassed to know you sometimes.”
He smirks. “What does it matter to you? It’s not like you’re part of that trail.” She gives him a look. “Well, you’re not. I would never do that to you guys. You’re my friends. I would never try anything with you if I didn’t mean it. I would never mess with one of you.”
“Yeah, okay,” she replies. “Even if that’s true, that doesn’t excuse you. You’re still a jerk.” She gets up angrily. “So I guess I’ll choose to hate the player.” She starts walking away while he rolls his eyes, accustomed to their usual bickering.
She storms away to her locker. Who cares if he would never do it to her? It’s not right! And what’s going to happen when he’s actually in a relationship? Any girl worth liking for him is smart enough to know what he’s like. No one’s going to put up with that. She always thought that once he gets his girl, he’ll stop; it’s just who he is. He was always the kind of person that’s good in the end, never one to truly play a girl if he was with her. But now? She’s not so sure. She hated to admit it but she had a feeling he liked someone. Nothing concrete, just a sign here or there. How he’s randomly happy or gets thoughtfully quiet. Maybe she was just overanalyzing but this is how he usually is. But the one thing he hasn’t done is toned down. Whenever he’s around someone he likes, he tends to be less open. He becomes genuinely shy, somewhat sweeter almost. That is, until he loses interest. But no matter how short it lasts, he holds back more.
She goes through her day going back and forth between whether or not he likes someone, why he is the way he is, and what she’s going to do about it. Normally, she’d just let it go, laugh it off like she had been doing for so long. But she was tired. She was tired of watching it, tired of seeing heartbroken girls, and tired of looking out for him. It was about time he learned his lesson, she thinks to herself grimly. And somehow she was going to teach it to him.
She closes her locker in the nearly empty hallway. A throat clears behind her. She turns to see him. He coughs nervously. “Look,aboutbefore,atlunch,Ijust,wellI’msorry.” He says everything in such a rush that she can barely understand what he meant.
She looks at him for a moment before she shrugs nonchalantly. “It’s whatever. I mean it’s your life.” She turns to go but he grabs her arm before she can.
“No. Really, I’m sorry.”
She’s a little taken aback. In all the years she’s known him, she’s never seen him so genuine, especially when it comes to apologies. It’s unnerving. She feels a rush of guilt. “And really, it’s whatever. It is your life, and you are who you are. And I’m friends with you. I wouldn’t dare try to really change you.”
He nods slowly, taking it in. She gives him a small smile as she turns to go again. She takes a step away before he blurts out, “But I don’t want you to think of me like that.” She spins around, confused. He plays with his hat awkwardly, genuinely nervous. “I mean, yeah you say it’s whatever, but that doesn’t mean you don’t look down on me for it. I don’t want you to think of me badly.” She opens her mouth to feebly protest but he doesn’t let her. “No, don’t. I would hate that even if it is true that’s the kind of person I am.
“It is true. I hate the way I come off sometimes.” He sighs. “I mean it works out well for me…”
She bursts out laughing and he gives her a half smile. She shoves him gently. “Kid, you’re fine just the way you are. Annoying as he** sometimes but good nonetheless.” He gives her his signature grin, which she has seen girls swoon over.
And then without any prior warning, he kisses her.
She keeps a straight face, not showing any emotion as they break away. In one fluid motion she takes the cap off his head, puts it on her own, and turns away. She catches a glimpse of confusion on his face mixed with overall relief and joy. To him, she taking his hat is the equivalent of taking a sweatshirt of his, a clichéd symbol of a relationship. She hurries down the hallway, forcing herself not to look back. And as she approaches the end of the hall, she finds the perfect lesson. A semi-friend, her type, and girlfriendless. Without spending too much time thinking about what she was going to do, and the consequences of it, she kisses him. Short, maybe not simple, but done as soon as it began. The guy raises his eyebrow but something in her face must’ve told him not to ask anything. She turns to leave but not before she sees his expression. Shock, anger, and pure sadness are strewn across his face. She pulls the cap down and walks away. Despite the growing guilt, she can’t help but smirk to herself.
Who hates the player now?