From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

What’s on the Inside

To measure the man, measure his heart.

Malcolm Stevenson Forbes

I can still remember that boy in perfect detail. He had beautiful blue eyes that lit up whenever he smiled. And when his mouth smiled, half of his face would light up with shiny white teeth. He was the first boy who gave me that feeling like my heart was going to stop. When he walked by, I could see him out of the corner of my eye and smell the detergent he used on his clothes. My body would freeze, and my brain would stop ticking. Then he would flash that big smile at me and my breath would stop. I can picture myself standing in front of him like a fool with my mouth gaping open and my eyes melting with lust as this beautiful boy charmed me.

There was no doubt about it, I was head-over-heels, madly in puppy love. I might have only been in third grade, but this was real or at least I thought it was. I was constantly thinking about him and ways I could get closer to him. “Eric” was scribbled all over my notebooks with messy little hearts drawn around them. I adored him, and he knew it.

Then one Saturday I got the chance to get closer to him. I was at a birthday party, and Eric showed up at the front door. The whole night I avoided him for fear that I would say something stupid.

As I was pigging out on potato chips, I turned around and saw him staring right at me. My stomach jumped and my cheeks blushed as he walked closer to me. He flashed his eyes at me and said, “Come here, Eleanor. I want to tell you something.” My heart fluttered at the thought of being so close to him. Eric leaned closer and cupped his hand around my ear. He brought his face closer to mine, closer, closer. I moved my head away to give him more room, but he moved closer still. I felt his arm across my back and his hand warming my ear. But I didn’t hear any words. I tilted my head away from him in an almost uncomfortable position and again his face moved closer to mine. I turned to look at him and there was his face, two inches from mine, with his eyes closed and his mouth pursed into a kiss. A wave of shock came over my face, and his expression copied mine as he opened his eyes.

“What are you doing?” he asked. He raised his eyebrows in a puzzled expression

“What are YOU doing?” I shot back. I could only imagine what Eric was thinking right now. I’m sure he was thinking, This girl, Eleanor, is a dork! I desperately hoped that wasn’t what he was thinking.

He looked right at me and yelled, “Geez, Eleanor, I’m just trying to kiss you!”

What? He was going to kiss me? I missed my chance! My one and only chance to kiss this boy of my dreams, and I ruined it.

“Oh, sorry,” I said, very embarrassed.

He gave me a small kiss on the cheek then scrambled off to a group of boys who were laughing hysterically.

Then he yelled at his friends. “I’m NEVER playing Truth-or-Dare again!”

At the sound of his words, my sensitive heart crumbled into pieces. Tell me he didn’t say what I thought he said. But I knew it was true. I could feel a sob starting in the back of my throat, but I promised myself to hold it in. Then tears came, filling up my eyes and spilling over my bottom lashes. My lip started to quiver, and I knew a flood of tears was only seconds away. I flew out of the basement with my head in my hands and retreated to the bathroom to cry alone for the rest of the night.

As much as I would like to, I can’t say that this experience was easily forgotten. That night, I realized Eric didn’t like me as much as I liked him. The next week at school, I would hear groups of kids talking about the incident when they didn’t think I was listening. But I heard them and my feelings were hurt each and every time. While my heart ached for a while, I actually recovered rather quickly. I got over it in a couple of weeks, and the gossip stopped long before that. I did learn a lesson, though, and it still helps me to this day. There are a lot of cute boys out there, some even cuter than Eric, but just because a boy is cute doesn’t mean he is necessarily nice. I still get crushes on boys who are cute, but I find out what their personality is like before I let my heart get involved.

Eleanor Luken

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