To: newsletter
From: "Peter M. Rivard"
Subject: More inappropriate conversation


      So, I'm at a citywide English seminar for junior high school kids, and some of my own kids are there, including Alice, the girl who has a crush on me. She's sometimes a bit sad and isolated, though she's been doing much better lately, so I try to give her a lot of attention. She was talking to Cat, another ALT who was leading the group she was in, and when she saw me, she broke into a big grin and waved wildly, as she'd done every time she'd caught my eye that morning, so I walked over and told Cat, in English slow enough for Alice to follow, that this was one of my best friends at school. Cat caught the gleam in Alice's eye--partially caught, rather--and asked her if she loved me. "Oh, yes," Alice purred. Cat, ever so sensitive, then asked me if I loved Alice. Caught in the headlights, I imagined no answer other than yes or no--no clever evasion like "She's a wonderful girl" or "My hair is on fire and I must leave NOW"--and, since "no" seemed like a cruel choice, I answered, "Yes" but tried to make it sound playful. I'm pretty sure it came out in a way that did not make a 14 year old girl think I'm in love with her. Subtly debriefing Cat later ("What the hell is wrong with you?"), I found out that she'd had no idea Alice really did have a crush on me.
      That aside, Alice's crush is getting more obvious--today and Friday, she was glowing and waving at me everytime I looked anywhere near her, even when she was in a crowd of students and might, one would think, want to be a bit more subtle. I've been hoping that as things wore on with me being friendly but obviously not reciprocating--and she must know that's impossible--her crush would fade to just friendly affection. I certainly don't want to encourage her. But, at the same time, having me as a friend makes her feel special (I'm so conceited, aren't I?), and because she's a bit of a lonely kid, that's seemed to be good for her. I don't want to be more distant and make her think I don't like her. I suppose I'll continue as I've been doing, being friendly but friendly only, essentially pretending not to recognize how she feels in the hope that her feelings will fade before they have to be acknowledged. I really care a lot about this very sweet girl, and I'm worried that whatever I do could hurt her somehow. She seemed to make a couple of new friends from other schools today and even exchanged phone numbers with them--that was nice to see.
      My next question is how to direct my apparent animal magnetism toward actual grown-up women.

Peter

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