By Jazmine Mendoza, 17, Social Justice Humanitas Academy (San Fernando)
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Jazmine says that all guys and girls should have the confidence to make the first move.

One day during sophomore year I heard my guy friends complaining about how it was hard to get girls to talk to them. They said, “You girls are so complicated” and “I don’t understand them!” I told my friend Andre that it was simple to approach a girl—just be yourself. But he said that wasn’t good advice because girls would always reject him because he wasn’t good looking enough.

My guy friends told me I had it easy. I just had to stand there and be pretty and guys would want to ask me out. I didn’t see it that way though. What if I didn’t want to wait for a guy to ask me out? I asked them, “Why isn’t it acceptable for me to ask a guy out?” They replied that it was a man’s job, just like he pays for dinner.

So that summer I decided that if I got the chance I would try making the first move. I got that chance a few weeks later. There was a hot guy I saw every day on the bus on my way to summer school. He was tall, with Nick-Jonas-like fluffy hair and a sweet smile. He seemed sensitive too. He always gave up his seat to anyone who was standing on the bus.

I tried grabbing his attention by wearing dresses every day to look extra pretty and wearing my favorite perfume. He didn’t seem to notice. Since he would always wear a hat, my friend and I would call him the “hat cutie.” And we made sure to mention it when we were near him so he would overhear us. “I wonder what ‘hat cutie’s’ name is?” or “I wonder what ‘hat cutie’ looks like without his hat?” He would look at us when he heard “hat,” so I think he knew we were talking about him. But he never talked to us.

My friend forced us to talk

One of my friends found out his name through her friend who knew him. We were on the bus and when she told me she knew it, I tried to guess it. “Joseph.” “Ricardo.” Then my friends starting guessing with me. We weren’t getting it and she was laughing and said she was going to scream out, “Steven, there’s a girl here that would like to meet you!” I didn’t think she was serious, until she actually did it. I wanted to slap her.

Illustration by Rachel Chung, L.A. Youth archives

He walked over slowly, looking confused. All my friends were giggling and staring at him. He sat down next to me and we introduced ourselves. His eyes were wandering like he wanted time to go by faster. I was giggling along with my friends. Fidgeting with his fingers he asked me, “What upcoming movie are you excited to see?” 

I felt bad that my friend had put him in such an awkward position, but I felt excited to be talking to him. I felt my cheeks flush and I couldn’t think of a movie. I told him that I didn’t know any upcoming movies. Every time I looked at him I felt the sweat running down my forehead. 

I kept thinking that would be the last time he would talk to me because my friends and I kept laughing the whole time he was there. After a few moments of silence he just said he’d talk to me later (even though we had hardly talked) and returned to his friends.

Even though I wanted to die, it actually worked. After that he said “hi” to me every day as I boarded the bus. We started sitting together, talking about school and family. Before school we would go to the donut shop, after school we’d go to the park and we’d IM every night. We were sort of dating at that point. But by the end of summer we ended things. We were both taking summer school at a community college, but we went to different high schools. We weren’t sure how often we’d get to see each other. I didn’t get discouraged, though, because I thought I totally knew how to talk to guys now.

At the beginning of the school year I decided to try to make the first move on a guy at my school who I had been interested in for more than a year. I had never had the guts to say anything before, but I didn’t want to regret not doing anything.

He wasn’t getting my hints 

I tried flirting, if you could call it that. I let him use my notes in English class but he didn’t seem to get that I was interested in him. I told him almost every day that he had gorgeous hair and that it looked really soft and I wanted to know if it was so I would run my fingers through it. He probably thought I was weird for focusing so much on his hair and running my fingers through it, but that was better than running my fingers through his hair without explaining why. He blushed a little but went on as if nothing happened. His blushing made me think he liked me a little but was too shy to say anything. That motivated me to keep flirting.

When I got bored in class I would rest my head on his shoulder, hoping he would take it as a sign that I liked him. I even tried holding his hand by drawing hearts on his knuckles, but he would rub them off right away without saying anything. That made me feel like I was bugging him. But I didn’t stop because I wanted him to know I liked him. Sometimes I would just stare at him and tell him he had nice eyes or a nice smile (one time I even complimented his ears). I spent so much time admiring him that I realize now why I didn’t have an A in class. 

I told one of my guy friends that my hints weren’t working. He laughed and said those flirting techniques wouldn’t work. He said I had to be more “alluring.” I didn’t bother asking him what he meant because it sounded ridiculous. To me acting “alluring” sounded like acting desperate. I wanted things to be like what I’d seen in movies like The Notebook and Pretty in Pink where girl likes boy, boy likes girl, they go out and love prevails in the end. Seeing that it’s 2012 I thought people were over old-fashioned gender roles.

But even though I had tried so hard to get him to notice me, he never seemed to respond. When I was about to give up on him forever I decided I should give it one last try. 

I was too scared to ask him out face-to-face, so I wrote a letter telling him that I liked him. I tried to be funny and not make it too awkward. I wrote, “Hey, I really like you and I was wondering how you feel about me.” I listed a bunch of answers with boxes he could check off and then he would return the letter to me with his answer. The choices were: I think you’re cute; I like you, but as a friend; I really like you; I love you (this is where I tried to make it humorous); and eww, you’re weird. I was really nervous to give it to him so I put it in one of his shirt pockets and told him to look at it after class.

He never replied to me though and we both acted as if nothing ever happened. It was finally clear to me that he wasn’t interested in me romantically but we’re friends to this day.

I realized I didn’t have the magic touch to get whatever guy I wanted. But I didn’t get discouraged because it wasn’t my fault that he didn’t like me. I would’ve regretted not trying anything.

After that I got back together with a guy who I had been dating before the summer. When I look back at all this, I don’t see it as a failure. I see it as a learning experience. It was nice to try something new, but maybe I put myself out there too much. I learned that I should focus on friendship first and then let a relationship grow from there.