In high school I had a crush on a girl.
She was funny and bubbly and outgoing. I was serious and self-deprecating and reclusive. Perfect match.
15-year-old Sean had no idea how the whole dating thing worked (likewise 25 year-old Sean has no idea how the whole dating thing works), but he did know from Asian dramas that the best way to ask someone out is not to just -- you know, ask them out -- but instead to do something romantic that implies your affection, so that without anyone saying anything you'll both end up on the same page and in a long-lasting relationship until Asian drama disease, etc. etc.
So Valentine's Day came.
And my school had a chocolate rose fundraiser.
And chocolate roses are something romantic for sure.
So instead of buying an Uncrustable after algebra I put my $1.50 down and bought a chocolate rose, hiding it in my backpack until after school.
I'm not sure how but we ended up alone. The lights were down low as the school day had long ended. The sun filtered through classroom windows as the faint hum of our busted heating system lingered in the distance.
We walked down the hall in silence. I stopped periodically to adjust my cargo pants as my Discman was weighing them down. My heart was beating out of my chest. What if she said no? What if the rose melted and she was like 'Gross, what is that?' What if she was lactose intolerant and couldn't eat chocolate?
My ears grew hot. I had to just do it. No words. Just pass it to her. That's all I had to do. She will know what it means. She will see it, and we will make eye contact, and we will smile at each other, and then we will walk down this hallway hand in hand. That's how it works in Asian TV shows.
I had to do it now.
"Hey," I said abruptly. I tried to play it cool. "I have something for you."
I fumbled with my backpack zipper. My heart was about to burst through my throat. I dug in and managed to produce...the chocolate rose.
I looked at her. She looked at me. I handed her the rose, giving her a knowing glance that this was the moment that would change sophomore year forever. Knowing that this was the story we would tell our friends. Knowing that perhaps yes, this could be something that lasts a lifetime. Maybe even until college.
She took the rose in her hand, examining it. The hallway seemed to glow brighter as I prepared for her glance to meet mine in the weird public school lighting. Her eyes traveled from the rose...she took a breath....looked at me....and....
...was like "OH COOL! THANKS SEAN!" then gave me a big hug and kept walking.
It was another two or three minutes before I realized I should probably say something like, you know, "Hey I like you" but by that point she was already halfway through the rose. We got to the end of the hallway and, wiping chocolate from her mouth, she issued a loud "THANKS FOR THE ROSE! SEE YA TMRW" then threw away the wrapper and waved goodbye.
And then we both went home. To our own homes.
There are two lessons to be learned here.
a) Asian dramas are the worst
b) If you like someone, just ask them out.
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY.
[Editor's note: This post is modified from the original, which appeared on the author's Facebook page on 2/14/14.]