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My heart was pounding out of my chest. I could not believe he came over and sat next to me in the lunchroom. Our table was where most of the soccer team sat and a few cheerleaders. That cute soccer player would normally sit at the table but never next to me. He was so cute and funny and smart and…everything else that made him popular. I didn’t act like him sitting next to me was a big deal. He knew I liked him…a lot. He knew when he sat down what he was going to do…but so did they. I wasn’t popular but due to the closeness of friendships I was accepted into that crowd as one of their own…I knew I didn’t really fit in. I did not drink or smoke pot like most of my “friends”. I was not anywhere cute enough for someone to be interested in me. This helped my virginal status. I had no interest in giving anything up to anyone.

My skinny body, not so great skin, bad eyesight and braces made sure no one wanted what I had. Or so I thought…he did sit next to me…maybe he sees me and not

this temporary, bad exterior.

Everyone was laughing and doing their thing when he turned to me and smiled a closed mouth smile. A few girls at the table knew how much I liked him. I didn’t really trust those girls but I wanted them to like me so I played their games hoping one day I would win them over. They noticed when he sat next to me and I thought I saw one elbow the other but shook it off as nothing. His smile curled like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. My heart pounded even more. Then….it happened….The guy I liked so much…. the guy I thought was the greatest person alive… spit a mouth full of corn in

my face…in front of everyone…and laughed…and so did those girls. My gut was right when I thought I something up.

My hearing powered down. It was like I couldn’t hear anything. I watched everyone’s face change from laughing and fun to pity or pathetic. Was this happening? Was this happening in front of everyone? I had to make a quick decision because otherwise this would write how people viewed me for the rest of my time at this school. I mustered up a quick laugh and croaked out, as I choked back tears, “you’re so silly…ha ha ha ha.” I felt a thousand eyes on me. The girls I wanted so desperately to be friends with were staring at me. They laughed and pointed in what felt like slow motion. My face burned with embarrassment. I stuck with playing it off like it was no big deal…but girls know. Girls can read other girl’s motives, emotions and needs. They saw my vulnerability. Those girls were in my homeroom. I started each day with them and had most of my classes with them. They would circle around me and say things like, “I think he really does like you. He only did that to flirt with you.” They would encourage me to keep pursuing him. Each time, wanting them to like me and him

to like me even more…I would do whatever they said because I thought…what if they actually are my friends. They know better. They are so pretty…they know how this stuff works…I don’t.

Those girls invited me to parties. They invited me to their houses. One of the girls got a job for me where she worked. I soon realized it was so she could get all the days off she wanted like Homecoming, Prom, Friday night football games. But they kept introducing me to really cute guys….guys I would never have met on my own. One night after work, one of the girls arranged for this really cute guy to give me a ride home. It didn’t go well. In fact, it went really bad, but I fought and used my brain to escape a terrible situation. That night it seemed my vision got a little better. I could see things clearer. I saw those girls and their intentions better.

That car ride home was where I realized those girls preyed on me. They knew I wanted to fit in, to be liked and be accepted. They knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything I wanted on my own…a cute guy to notice me, popularity, the right clothes, the right hair, to blend in but stand out. They saw how vulnerable I was. They decided to play a game with my life, my reputation, my feelings, all for their own game. They used me. The months after the “corn spitting episode” were filled with what I now know as grooming. It was much more humiliating than the actual spitting event. I felt so stupid. How did I fall for this? We are taught to watch out for the creepy guys. Those guys do not have to be a 50-year-old, catfishing as a 17-year-old on the internet. They can be cute guys at our lunch table. No one really tells us to look

out for other girls. They see our weaknesses and wants. Those girls have an agenda and know how our brains work. There is something they want and the only way to get it is to find a sacrifice. These girls often “work” for the creepy guys…of all ages. They lure you into the life you think you want and are about to get. It never works out that way. You don’t get what was promised. They know what you want, and they use it as bait to get what they want. Use your brain. Trust your gut. Girls lure other girls into all kinds of bad situations. If another girl is telling you, “all you have to do is….” let those words serve as an alarm to wake up. If your gut is telling you not to trust someone, no matter what you think you might gain, do not trust them. Most guys use the very thing you want most to lure you into a situation you might not be able to escape from. They use another girl to tell you how great it is. They do not give up

easily. Sometimes they invest months in getting what they want. Be smart. Know who your real friends are and never be afraid to tell someone you really trust that you need help. There is no reason to be ashamed or worry about being judged. There is always someone to turn to for help. Tell that person they are your escape person. Love is greater than a mistake. You are loved. Be smart.

By Jennifer Whittaker

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