The first time I realized I was at best, a poor flirt, I was 12. I was friends with two of the cutest guys in my school and naturally, I had massive crushes on them both. I happened to go to church with one of them, Zane, and he frequently brought the other, Luke, with him. After church, our families would usually eat out together. I looked upon these outings as an opportunity to get closer to Zane and Luke and hey, if one of them happened to want to be my boyfriend after, well, who could help that?
There was only one thing I liked more than boys when I was 12, and that was orange soda. I loved orange soda, and where boys often failed, orange soda had not once let me down in deliciousness. After church one Sunday, Zane, Luke, and Zane’s family joined my family at Luby’s. For those of you who don’t know what Luby’s is (and you’re worse off for it, trust me.) it’s a casual restaurant in which you go through a cafeteria like line and choose from their many choices of “homemade” American fare. Lots of senior adults eat there. They have delicious mashed potatoes. Naturally, I was drinking my orange soda and trying my best to impress Zane and Luke with my wittiness and devil-may-care attitude, which at the time, I thought was exactly the type of attitude boys the age of 12 were looking for in a girl. Someone, I think it may have been my Dad, told a funny joke. I started to laugh, proud that my Dad was hilarious and hoping it reflected well on me when then unthinkable happened. Instead of a light and breezy laugh, what escaped my lips was a loud and echoing burp. For a spilt second, everyone was silent. I felt my eyes go wide in terror and felt like that burp was punching me in the face over and over again. Then, everyone at the table died laughing. Zane and Luke laughed hardest of all. I laid my head on the table and proceeded to cry my eyes out.
After all of our years together, orange soda had betrayed me in the only way it could, by giving me a major and disgusting case of the burps. How could this have happened?! I knew instantly that something like that would never have happened to Rose when she was talking to Jack (I was in the middle of a massive Titanic phase). And I knew, I just knew that being the cool and cute girl who every guy wanted to be with was not something I was ever going to manage. I sucked at this. For all my imaginary flirting victories, my first real flirting battle was an unmitigated disaster. I was the girl no guy would ever want to date. I was gross. I was….I was….one of the guys.
And though, as it turns out, I was the girl some guys wanted to date, I never dated Luke or Zane, although I knew them for many, many years after that. In fact, they were very good friends. But, in their eyes I was just one of the guys. They talked about their girlfriends to me, they asked me to hook them up with friends of mine, and they always would bring up the “burp” whenever the chance arose. That burp was the beginning of the end for me. It was the first flirtation failure in a long and unending streak of failures. It defined me. For real. That burp defined the rest of my flirting life.
And for the record, to this day, I really hate orange soda. Orange soda is the anti-sexy, you’ve been warned.
* I changed the guys names in this post. It just seemed like the right thing to do.