While we're on the subject of boomerangs: what they all say upon aerodynamically resurfacing from the flux of space/time is, "I was smitten, but I was afraid of you Stef."
Which brings me to the eternal question: Just what is it they are they so scared of? Because here’s the thing: I lost my fear of desirable men at sixteen, which is when I accidentally discovered the powers of the female Jedi mind.
Of course, until then I loathed the opposite sex as much as the next kid: in first grade, while in the throes of an unrequited passion for Julian, who was in third grade i.e. remote as a god on Olympus, I ordered my best friend Sheryl to go poke him in the back with a stick during recreation. Sheryl obeyed; Julian turned around briefly at the annoying prodding sensation; and I savored the vicarious, voyeuristic thrill of having somehow intersected with the object of my desire, albeit against his will.
After that I grew into a geeky, bespectacled adolescent whose overprotective, conservative parents, as far as I knew, never partied, never experienced passion, always got up on time, and were never confused about anything.
Plus: how to explain the misery of glasses? I couldn’t stand to be looked at, I didn’t want to look at anyone, I was ugly, I hated the entire world, it went on and on forever. Meanwhile, unjustly trapped within this self-loathing, obedient, unsightly and unsighted straight-A girlduckling, a fledgling swanwoman raged and lusted for release.
Which came at sixteen, in the shape of a pair of contact lenses. In the mirror a new face emerged which, though far from the excruciating perfection of Brooke Shields on the cover of Seventeen, I found not unworthy of representing me to the world - especially after extensive application of eye shadow in three different colors and like, a ton of black eyeliner.
I went to see flashdance, then in unison with every other teenage girl in America ripped the collar off all my boring sweatshirts so they’d fall languidly off one shoulder. I let my hair down, and found it to be ever so long, and shiny, and exciting. My new tight, tight jeans were also exciting: I felt them in my room, where I danced by myself to this cool new song called tainted love. Inevitably, I began to plot.
First on the agenda: getting a boy to kiss me. A tall order for Stef who, clueless as to what hanging out like an American teenager might entail, observed the cool kids mingling in the school parking lot, trading cigarettes, lounging on their cars, and interchanging vital info on the next party location. No individual boy caught her attention per se; rather, they existed for her as a collective entity, a specimen of which she understood it was her mission to somehow attract into her orbit.
Miraculously one night, Stef gets invited to something actually resembling a party - booze, loud music, darkness, no adult supervision. Ignorant of what constitutes proper decadent behavior among the natives, but confident of the way her father’s stolen cashmere v-necked sweater slithers revealingly about her torso, she stands against a wall scanning the room for potential targets, and zeroes in on - Aaron. He's a senior and she's a junior, i.e. they are social galaxies apart; not only that, but Stef lacks the skills she needs to get within range: she doesn't know how to drink, smoke, flirt, or even what band is blasting on the stereo right now.
So instead, she just stands there and kind of wills him to cross the room. She’s thinking, Come here and kiss me now. Five minutes later he's right in front of her; five minutes after that their tongues are making contact. He's a lousy kisser, but this doesn't dim the radiance of Stef's discovery, which is that no guy, not even the most remote, handsome, seemingly unattainable and thoroughly intimidating senior, is immune to the powers of the female Jedi mind.
She gets to test this preliminary discovery later that year, albeit setting the bar a little higher: the prom is looming, and the entire student body is jockeying for dates. Still lacking the right connections, still clueless behind her luscious new exterior, Stef nevertheless nurses certain ambitions - break new ground, test some limits, whatever - which translate into a burning desire to go to the prom with the most badass boy in school. This is Luke, a senior with blond rock n roll hair who wears glamorously threatening motorcycle jackets, smokes, drives a muscle car, runs with a fast crowd, and doesn’t know she exists.
Stef realizes she’s aiming way, way out of her league, and doesn’t even contemplate actually succeeding. But she does sort of... will him to approach her. One day as she’s walking across the quad there he is at her side, and they’re having their first conversation ever:
-Uh... hi, Stef?
-Listen, uh... hey, uh... I was wondering… do you wanna like, go to the prom with me or something?
-OK, cool. So I'll come pick you up around seven?
-OK, so I'll see you later.
And they flee hastily in opposite directions. Humbled by this further dazzling proof of the magnitude of her powers, Stef realizes she’s officially on a roll: nothing now can stop her from claiming her prize, which is to make out heavily for the first time in her life with her wickedly sexy date on somebody's parents' living room floor after the prom, with the lights turned way down and Pink Floyd turned way up. Which she does.
But Luke bungles it: he drools, makes all the wrong moves, acts like a dork – perhaps may even BE one. Stef instantly loses all respect for him and goes home early; he spends what’s left of the school year following her around in a daze of abject lust, while she gets to practice the art of rejection.
As I was saying: I lost my fear of desirable men at sixteen… so why is it they still fear me?
And, the thing about power: it’s designed to engage with a worthy adversary… isn’t it? Sometimes looking back I feel like an over-equipped yet hapless specimen, fated to inspire only petty variations of envy, greed and fear: what’s the fucking point? Unless this is somebody’s idea of entertainment and as per the ancient Greeks, we’re just reality TV for bored, sadistic little gods…