One of the most embarrassing moments in my life involved telling my elementary school crush that I loved him. To his face. In front of the entire school.
His name was Matt, and he was the dreamiest boy I had ever laid eyes on. Gorgeous brown hair and lovely, soulful eyes. I'm a sucker for pretty eyes. My parents had put me in a private, Christian school (K-8) in third grade, and I immediately fell in love. He was a few grades above me, but I knew that I was mature enough to handle an older man. Sarah was my best friend at the time, and she and I would spend recess arguing — "Nuh-uh, he was looking at ME!" — as we stared longingly at him from the other side of the playground.
The school was relatively small with an average class size of seven or eight children, so everyone knew each other. However, I never really had the courage to say much to him. Sarah was the more outgoing of the two of us, and I grew discouraged every time Matt would flash his gorgeous smile in response to her witty conversation.
One day, however, the whole school gathered for the weekly chapel as usual, only to discover that our guest speakers had a special activity planned. I was petrified already. Group activities usually involve some form of competition, and I can't stand to lose at anything. My perfectionism just won't allow it.
Sure enough, the game was something akin to a massive version of Rock, Paper, Scissors . . . with a twist. Everyone paired up with a partner and turned so that their backs were facing each other. On the count of three, each person would turn to face his or her partner and would say one of three things —
Rawr!, bang!/pow!, or "I love you."
If you turned around as the bear, holding up fake claws and shouting "Rawr!" you could kill the wife. If you turned around as the husband with finger-guns and saying "Pow!" you could kill the bear. If you turned around as the wife, proclaiming "I love you!" you could defeat the husband.
Somehow, I managed to beat every single person I was paired against, working my way around the room until I was one of two people left standing. The other person was none other than Matt. I stared at him. I could feel the jealousy emanating from the other girls. My face was burning with embarrassment. To this day, nobody will let me forget how red my cheeks were in that moment. Slowly, I turned around and prepared to shoot Matt through the heart.
On the count of three, we both spun around with pistols aimed at each other and lamely whispered "Pow!" The tension was mounting by the second. Because we had tied, we had to repeat the process.
We shot each other fifteen more times.
Clearly, neither of us wanted to say "I love you." Armed with this knowledge, I turned my back toward Matt one last time, took a deep breath, and blushed deeply. I would do what I had to do for the sake of victory, whatever the cost.