February 17, 2010

Anonymous Lover

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This past Saturday, something happened that left me simultaneously speechless, thrilled and totally frustrated. Something that has never happened to me in my 22 years of life, nor did I ever expect to happen. I received an anonymous bouquet of flowers with a love poem.

It read: “Tulips are pink, irises are blue, here’s to a unreasonably bright future that ideally involves you. Signed, your totally super secret admirer.” Now I’m not one for mushy displays of affection, but my ovaries got the best of me and I couldn’t help myself. A future with me?! I don’t have or currently want a boyfriend, but the idea that someone has been admiring me from afar and wants to spend a future with me gets me all flustered and tingly.

I concluded that this must be a joke. I immediately picked up the phone and starting calling all the people I could think of who would spend $50 to send me flowers. First, my dad. “Not me, Jess,” he said. “When you’re the sex columnist these things are going to happen. Now you know you have a stalker who has your address.” Thanks, dad.

Next, my friends. I woke up each one of my closest friends up as I frantically asked if any of them were my admirer. Each said no. Then, Jeff K. “Nope, I’m going to woo you by taking you skeet shooting, not by flowers.” After I had exhausted all my acquaintances whom I could reasonably ask, “did you send me flowers?” without it being super awkward, I resorted to full-blown, obsessive anxiety.

Unleash the girl-crazy.

My friends and I sat around the kitchen table taking turns putting the poem back into the envelope — reopening it and experiencing our giddy surprise all over again. We spent the next hour analyzing every word in the poem, looking for clues. At first, “totally super secret admirer” sounds like a girl wrote it. However, our foolproof logic concluded that a girl would have ended the poem with “love” instead of “signed.” The mention of an “unreasonably bright future” could refer to my law school acceptances … Was it my LSAT instructor with whom I’ve had an inappropriately flirtatious relationship for the past year? Could it be my hookup for the past two weeks prematurely displaying affection? My super tall, lanky neighbor?

In an environment like Cornell — where sex comes first and a date comes second (if at all) — such an act of pure romanticism made me a little bit uncomfortable and a lot a bit excited.

On a cam­pus where dating is a rarity, it turns out that such unbridled displays of affection are secretly commonplace. After last week’s article, “Special Delivery: Love on a Paper Platter,” and the advent of GoodCrush.com’s missed connection message board, there seems to be a side of the Cornell student body that desperately wants to date but is afraid to because our social environment doesn’t encourage it. We are willing to anonymously post our crushes online or send them flowers, but when it comes to the reality of confronting him or her, we shy away.

Dates have been socially elevated to a whole other level — we can get drunk and have sex but eating at the same restaurant? Forget about it. We worry that we can’t just invite someone to dinner without it being interpreted the wrong way or being just plain awkward. But, we will never meet our crushes and discover our shared interest of obscure Floridian beaches if we never introduce ourselves face-to-face.

As one Goodcrush.com user posted, “I don’t know if I like you, I don’t know if I’m even aware of your existence, but I want you to let me know who you are so I can see if we can make something happen.”

Everyone enjoys knowing they are admired — that someone finds them interesting, intriguing or even beautiful. So next time you admire that person at Mann, order the same drink as the cute guy in front of you at Libe Café in hopes of starting a conversation, or walk awkwardly slowly to class hoping your crush will catch up with you, ditch the subtlety. Unleash the inner romantic that is lying dormant inside each of us.

Original Author: Jess H.