Creative | Posted by Emily B on 09/17/2010

How To Be Casual

Eat slowly, but finish everything. When he asks about school tell him it’s OK and then neglect to return the question. Stare at the cheap candle in between the two of you as he talks about himself, unprompted. Deliberately glance around the room at other couples.

Close the menu. Focus on a point roughly three feet above his head. Trace the red and white patterned wallpaper with your eyes. Move on to count the number of lights.

He asks if you like his new sneakers. Shrug. They’re at least two sizes too big. Begin to hate his 3 Days Grace shirt. Begin to realize you have his wardrobe memorized.

He tells you that you look sexy in jeans. Wear a skirt the next day. You hate skirts.

Cultivate a knowledge of empty parking lots. Begin to measure time by the digital clock on his dashboard, by the shifting green numbers marching past resolutely. in church, in math class, neon bacteria crawling along the peripheral of your gaze and the synapses of your thought.

Google “sex”. Google “Orlando Bloom”. Listen to romantic love songs from the 1950’s.

Consider writing to Dear Abby. Consider telling your 7th grade English teacher. Consider telling your parents. Sort of tell the girl at Rite Aid who sells you condoms with a slug of gum in her mouth and cleavage darkened by fluorescent lights.

Go out to dinner with Best Friend. Talk about school. Talk about movies. Best Friend pays the tip and asks whether you are alright, what’s going on, do you know that you’re smart and pretty and worth something, because after all, you deserve to be with someone who really loves you, and you know all this, right? Stare at the salt and pepper shakers. Ignore Best Friend’s calls for a few days. Best Friend always was a bitch.

Tape a picture of him above your desk. Throw it in the trashcan, write a list of his flaws, and hang that above the desk instead.

Renounce chick flicks. Better your film taste to Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarentino. Appreciate good cinema. Begin to understand the repetitiveness of the spectrum of human emotions.

Deconstruct love. Love is a thing of black-and-white movies and varicose-veined parents. Begin to see love as milky-eyed and wimpy, the old couple walking too slowly at the subway. That’s love.

Consider yourself morally superior. Consider yourself feminist. Get drunk.

Laugh when he tells you that he wants to kiss under the stars. Smile because he is genuine. Frown because he is genuine. Wonder when that began to bother you.

It’s his birthday. Consider baking him brownies and bringing them in. Decide not to.

Meet his girlfriend. Accidentally. Get paired for a science lab together. Measure the velocity of a model rocket. Play tic tac toe on the lab sheet paper. Can’t stop staring at her tongue.

Tell yourself that it’s high school. Tell yourself that it’s this town. Tell yourself that it’s the monotony of middle class existence.

Tell him that it’s over. He hugs you. Consent to hug him back even though it is tacky. Go out to dinner. The waitress thinks you two are on a date. He laughs quickly, and you remember the way he does that slight inhale before laughing.

Notice that he’s taking it very well. Look at him as he reminisces about that radio show you two went to. Admire his finding a PG memory to talk about. Admire the platonic way he hugged you earlier. Sort of admire the 3 Days Grace shirt you’ll never have to see again.

He asks apologetically if you can split the cost of the meal. Apparently your company doesn’t merit free food. Take your coat, your leftovers. Sort of take your pride. Walk out of the restaurant and to your car. Buy a box of Kleenex on the way home. Stay up all night crying. Apply lots of concealer the next morning. Give him a big, cheesy wave in the hallway for the next week.

Be casual.

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  • Holly @ at 11:43 am, September 17th, 2010

    holy hell, this is good.

  • Ren @ at 2:00 pm, September 17th, 2010

    I loved this. It feels like I know a lot, and only a little, at the same time.

  • Katherine C. @ at 3:04 pm, September 17th, 2010

    That was good, but really depressing :)

  • Miriam @ at 3:49 pm, September 17th, 2010

    This was my life in high school. It’s so sad, but true.

  • Josie @ at 4:00 pm, September 17th, 2010

    this was really brave. And really well written.

  • A @ at 5:39 pm, September 17th, 2010

    i agree with holly.
    that is sooo excellent. i love the tone of it.

  • Katherine C. @ at 6:26 pm, September 17th, 2010

    Also, I just realized that the whole “passive-aggressively do whatever you can to not please him” thing, especially with personal appearance, reminds me a lot of my relationship with my fairly socially conservative dad. If he likes long hair? Shave it off, even if you miss your hair. Likes seeing you in put-together outfits with skirts and blouses? Go funky with ripped jeans and butchered t-shirts, even when you thought that outfit was actually kinda cut./rant Thanks, Emily. This piece actually made me realize what the big problems are in me and my dad’s relationship. :/

  • Sarah @ at 7:02 pm, September 17th, 2010

    Awesome, I feel exactly the same. Reminds me so much of my first “relationship”

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 9:35 pm, September 17th, 2010

    Thankfully I was a lesbian in High School but that was after my first boyfriend.

  • Brenna H. @ at 10:58 am, September 18th, 2010


  • Brenna H. @ at 11:02 am, September 18th, 2010

    That was supposed to be a heart.
    I really appreciate this.

  • Rabha @ at 1:49 pm, September 18th, 2010

    This is the first time I comment here :)

    I love this! This is soo well-written, and I love how her emotions shift, and all the little details. So good.

  • Becca @ at 3:19 pm, September 20th, 2010

    This was beautifully written, and very painful to read. It definitely made me think of the pressure teenage girls are under to conform to male expectations.

    Although I know it’s easier said than done, I think this helps serve as a reminder that no two women are the same, and every woman needs to be comfortable expressing her own needs and desires. Wonderfully done!

  • Phil @ at 6:15 pm, September 22nd, 2010

    There are many good guys out there (like me) who you can take the initiative to ask out. By only going out with those guys who ask you out instead of making the first move yourself, you’ll end up with guys who will want you to conform to their expectations. Better to take control in the beginning rather than end up in relationships in which you don’t have much control at all. Instead of letting that dominant, tall, macho guy, go for the shy guy with a personality.

  • Mulheres @ at 12:47 pm, March 7th, 2017

    This blog is very good, I liked it!

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