Back in high school I was deeply involved with my church youth group. Our youth pastor, Matt, was a little on the crazy side, but always fun. He never failed to make every activity an adventure. It kept us all coming back for more.
My friend Tammy was the rebel of the group. She was always bringing in her latest bad boy squeeze to parade in front of us. We tended to ignore her silly attempts at making us envious, but on this night, she had brought a serious hottie. She had outdone herself. He was perfect. I sat staring at him; mouth open like a fish sucking wind. I saw her satisfied smile when she spied the look on my face. He followed her gaze and looked over at me too and smiled. I immediately looked down, cheeks blazing.
I may be many things, but smooth was not one of them. When faced with a really attractive male, I tended to freeze up, unable to say anything intelligent or make eye contact (I’m speaking in past tense here, but that hasn’t really changed. I’m still not smooth). It bordered on creepy really (Ok, still does).
I kept my head down as Matt, in his usual hyper fashion described the new game (experiment) he wanted to try. He told everyone to pick a partner of the opposite sex. He did this often, so we grabbed our usual buddies, generally safe guys we had grown up with in church. My buddy was Dan. He was almost as competitive as I was, and we made a nearly unbeatable team. Everyone groaned when they saw me and Dan standing next to each other. Normally, I would have taunted them all by saying they could give up and save themselves the embarrassment of a beat down, but HE was looking and my throat felt tight and my cheeks still burned crimson. Thankfully, Dan had enough smack talk for both of us.
Matt’s great new game? He would turn off the lights and yell out two body parts. We had to find our partners in the dark and touch those two body parts together by the time he turned the lights back on. The team with the most matches would win. Hormonally charged teens running around in pitch dark touching random body parts together sounds like a great church youth group game, right? Sigh.
Matt turned off the lights and yelled out “Elbow to ear!” and the chaos began. As usual, Dan and I quickly pulled ahead. We were a machine. I started to feel some of my bravado coming back. Winning is what I do. It’s what I love. Matt announced that we would have one more round before moving on to a new game. Everyone groaned. Dan and I stared at each other across the room nodding silently. The night was ours. Darkness.
Matt yelled out “Nose to belly button.” I was momentarily stunned by that one, but I didn’t want to lose, so I started calling out Dan’s name and making my way across to his voice. I was so close. Not much further. I yelled his name one more time and got cut off by two large hands grabbing my head and shoving me downward. I fell to my knees and got a face full of sweater. Guess I was going to be the nose part. I tried to pull back a little but Dan had me in a vice grip. I made a mental note to punch him later.
I was so focused on winning that it took me a second to realize that Dan wasn’t wearing a sweater. Before I could fully process that, the lights snapped on. I slowly looked up to see that I was kneeling with my face in the very taunt abdomen of Tammy’s hottie boyfriend. He had a wicked smile on his face. My eyes bugged out, and I think I made some kind of garble sound as I back peddled across the room on my butt. Face so hot I was sure I singed his sweater. Smooth. Tammy was giving me some serious stink eye. Dan was looking at me like it was my fault we didn’t win the last round.
Matt announced that Dan and I had won and herded us on to the next activity like my high alert hormones were not just buried in some hot guy’s six pack. Prayer would not save me from my thoughts. I knew I just had to make it through the night, and I wouldn’t have to see him again. I could tell by the look on Tammy’s face that bad boy would not be returning, much to my relief.
The next day at school, I was telling my friends about my horrible ordeal when I heard someone yell my name from across the quad. It was bad boy hottie. I desperately looked behind me, hoping it wasn’t me he was smiling and waving at. I smiled weakly and waved back; proud of myself for managing that. I heard his friends ask who I was. He said “That’s that girl I told you stuck her nose in my belly button.” Sigh. This was going to be a long year.