Beauty Queen of Only Eighteen
By Alan Tran


and I don’t mind spending every day. I’m on your corner in the pouring rain, look for the girl with the broken smile. Ask her if she wants to stay awhile. And she will, be loved…

I love this song, Maroon 5’s She Will Be Loved. I guess I love it so much because it’s Linda’s song. No, wait, let me start over. This is a story about a guy who meets a girl. The girl asks guy to the dance; guy says no. Guy falls for girl, and asks girl; girl says no. That is my story for you.

You could feel the anticipation buzzing in the air. Tolo, the formal dance where the girls asks the guy, was right around the corner. As usual I took no interest in it because, lets face it, I wasn’t the best dancer in the world. Normally, these kinds of things come and go for me, but this year was different. As I walked by one of the many green and black posters advertising the event, I bumped into Linda. “Joe, you know you’re going to Tolo with me right?” At the time, I showed as much interest in her as I did for the dance. Who knew? I thought she was kidding anyway. You know how girls like to kid around.

“Um, sure, sure...” I was kidding; was she kidding? She had to be, but I don’t know. Over the next couple of weeks, she had furthered in her attempts to get me to go.

“So, who are you going to Tolo with Linda?” asked Tommy.

“Oh, Joe’s taking me.” There was a tone of playfulness in her voice. I just smiled. Actually, she asked me, well at least hinted to and asked, roughly ten times to take her. Each time I just added the same sure, sure. I was kidding. Was she kidding? All the while, is still believed that it was just an on going joke. Plus, I was definitely not comfortable enough with my dancing skills to take a girl to a dance, a formal dance at that.

The last time she approached me about it was during math class. At the doorway she said to me, “Joe, did you think I was kidding. Now are you going to go with me or not?” She gave me a choice. This was the final ultimatum. Should I go or shouldn’t I? I, being put on the spotlight, had to make a choice right then and there. Yes or no. I was scared, and in that frantic moment of being afraid, I "brushed off a no."

Maybe, it was the right choice; maybe it saved me from a load of embarrassment. Or, maybe I would have had fun. The only thing I know is, I did regret not going almost every day, wondering how Tolo went, wondering what could have happened.

Shortly after, I noticed myself noticing her. I’d catch myself looking back in her direction. She looked prettier, different somehow. Again, I’d have to turn to the second row behind me and just lose myself in her careless smile. It was then I caught myself beginning to break down, and although it was the middle of winter, I couldn’t help but fall for her.

I’m not sure if it’s just me or maybe other guys feel the same way but, when I have a crush, I tend to change. Something about feeling for a girl in return makes me shy away from her. It was like, every time I was around her I would get nervous. I’d be afraid. I felt like, every time she would sit next to me, the butterflies would flow uncontrollably in my belly as I tried to, in my most casual way, give her a simple hello. Every time she spoke it was like oh no, time to hide, because I wouldn’t know what else to do. In my own way, that’s how I tell a person, hey I like you; I avoid them for dear life.

But, it wasn’t like we didn’t talk at all. By no means was I the best at hiding, I mean you can only duck behind a chair for so long before you’re found. We were still friend though, even if we don’t exactly talk to each other all the time. Well, we were at least enough of friends for her to lend me a CD. “Joe you should listen to this song,” she told me as she passed me the Maroon 5 CD. “Oh yeah, and my favorite song is track four; listen to it.” I answered her as I always did with a, "sure, sure", and tucked the album into my backpack.

As soon as I got home I popped in the disk. I fell for the song the way I fell for her. I remember telling myself that wow, this is a pretty cool band. Then I got up and sat myself down, playing my drum set along with the stereo. It was going pretty well for a while until I realized that nobody really knows a song by the way the drums are played as I looked at the dusty guitar sitting alone in the corner of the room. I hadn’t played the guitar actually in quite a while and I figured this was a good as time as any to pick it back up again. So I got on the web and found the tabs for the song. It was a rocky start but I kept playing.

I wanted to impress her. If only I could get this song down, I’d be able to sing it for her, and she’d love it. So, I practiced; I’ve seen the other end of six hours of just playing my guitar. I’ve seen my share of broken strings and raw fingers but I figure it’s worth it. Soon enough, I was pretty comfortable around the guitar. Linda was the reason that I pickedit back up, I still never had a chance to play the song for her.

Junior year was coming to a close, and I still couldn’t bring myself to tell her how I felt. I never did feel as comfortable around her as I did before the whole Tolo ordeal. I miss that, and as summer came I began to miss her.

Summer crept by and somehow Linda had gotten a hold of my e-mail address. I was surprised to have gotten a message from her. Might as well be nice and reply to the letter. This actually became an ongoing routine. We would just send messages back and forth to each other, never talking about much, just the usual asking what the other was doing, who we were hanging out with, where we’ve gone, what we did, the latest movie we’ve seen and so forth; actually, the e-mails were about a page long each. Nearing the middle of summer, I received a jokingly letter from her.

To [email protected]
Are you going to prom next year? Don’t try to start making excuses already. No, I’m not going to ask you to prom, I’ve learned my lesson. It’s like they say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

To [email protected]
Well, if you ask me to something, like another Tolo, I’d say yes. Because I do like you.

To [email protected]
Joe, I don‘t want to lose a friend because he thinks I rejected him. Just keep being the sweet person I know you are. It would hurt if you would stop talking to me, but I don’t want to lead you on. I want to be honest with what I feel, but I want to let the person I care about know, because from experience, I think it’s best to let the person I care about know my truest feeling.

I was relieved when I got this message. By no means was I feeling good about it because I wasn’t. I was just glad that she told me straight. She didn’t try to make excuses or anything and was a pretty good sport about me liking her. After that, we actually e-mailed more often, like every other day or so I’d receive or send a letter. Coming clean made us closer. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not she liked me or not, I knew. She knew. That was when I began writing my first song. It was about how I had been falling for her. I wrote it to impress her, and I even played it for her. She liked it.

School rolled around, letting me see Linda again. My impression? She was the same girl I talked to every other day and that I was comfortable with. But, I couldn’t help but hold back from her, just a little bit. School drifted us apart, but we were still friends. The most important thing is that I still want to be friends; as long as we can hang out with each other I’m happy.

I pursued something I’ve wanted to do. That November, I put together a band as part of my senior project. "Falling," the song I wrote for Linda, is still one of my more popular songs, and it all started with me trying to impress her. Whether I know it or not, I guess I’m still trying to impress her. I joke, I flirt and I sing. I guess, just because I’m over her now, doesn’t mean I look at her differently.


Copyright © 2005 Alan Tran. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2005 J&S Productions. All Rights Reserved