Girls, I know you will understand this, and feel the intrinsic, incredible emotion. You have just pulled over your head the worn, warm sweater belonging to a boy. Now you haven't had a passionate kissing session or anything, but you got to go on a camping trip with him and eight other people from school, and you practically slept together, your sleeping bag right next to his, and you woke in the night to watch him as he slept, but you couldn't see anything 'cause it was dark, so you just lay there and listened to his breathing, and wondered if your heart might burst. The sweater has that slightly goat-like smell which all teenage boys possess, and that smell will lovingly transfer to all your other clothes. If you get to keep it for a few days, you can sleep with it, but don't let your mom see because she'll say, 'What is that filthy thing, and who does it belong to besides the trashman?' So you have to keep it under the covers, with you. You can kind of lie it beside you, or wrap it around your waist, or touch it on your legs or whatever, but that's your business. Now if the sweater has, like, reindeer on it, or is a funny colour like yellow – I'm sorry you can't get away with a sweater like that. Look for brown or grey or blue. Anything other than that and you know you're dealing with someone who's different. And different is not what you're looking for. You're looking for those teenage alpine ski chiselled features, and that sort of blank look which passes for deep thought or at least the notion that someone's home. You're looking for the boy of your dreams who is the same boy in the dreams of all of your friends. Now the sweater isn't going fit you of course, so you have to kind roll up the sleeves in a jaunty way that says, 'This is the sweater belonging to a boy, and the boy is a genuine hunk, a hunka burning love', and this is not just some hand-me-down from your brother or your father. Monday, wear the sweater to school. Be calm, look cute. Don't tell him the dream you had about the place the two of you would share when you get older, just be yourself. The best, cutest, quietest version of yourself. Definitely wear lip gloss. He looks at you, and he looks away, and then he walks away, and the smell of the sweater hits you again, suddenly like ape-scent gloriola. And you get a note passed to you by a girl in history that says he needs his sweater back, he forgot that you put it on in the tent on Saturday and he's been looking for it. And you don't have to die of humiliation, you know. You are a strong person and this is a learning experience. You can still hold your head up high as you run from the classroom, tearing the stinking sweater from your body. You look at that sweater, carefully, and realize that love made you temporarily blind. You've got a secret now, honey, and though you would never sink as low as him, you could blab it all over the school if you wanted: The label in that sweater said 100% acrylic.
© Meryn Cadell