The Chill Zone
Though many girls might be put off or even unnerved by having their first date in a crawl space, I was elated. I’d had a crush on D for some time, and his asking me out was surprising and exciting. At the time, what some people refer to as “red flags” came off as charming quirks to my naive high school self. The space was decorated with stringed lights, B-movie posters and dingy couches; D called it the “Chill Zone” and warned me that it was to be kept secret at all costs.
“We can’t go upstairs,” he explained, “because my mom will ask too many questions.”
A positive start to any relationship. Before I could say anything, D changed the subject, reaching behind my sofa (which was covered in stained crocheted blankets) and pulling out a stack of straw hats and tiaras.
“Take a tiara,” he offered.
In protest I took a straw hat, something D seemed to find unnerving. He sat on the couch across from me, wearing a plastic tiara with pink jewels, his knees pressed up to his chin. The coffee table between us was scattered with drug paraphernalia and sketches of Heath Ledger’s Joker. The conversation flowed from anime to our high school and inevitably to Star Wars. Looking back, I found him interesting and funny – oh hell, I thought we were soul mates. The next day, he messaged me, shattering any illusions.
“I’m just not into girls right now,” he said with finality.
In retrospect, it should have been me saying, “I’m just not into crawl spaces right now.”
But regardless, it took a while to sort the pieces of my bad boy/creeper crush. At the end of it I still cringe and think, “I should have picked the tiara.”