When I was 16, I thought the way to a man’s heart was through my stomach. As in, I thought that guys liked girls who surprised them with large, rebellious appetites. Clearly, I was trying on a version of Cool Girl, a trope characterized in part by her ability to eat and drink “like a man.” As I knew it, Cool Girls said “fuck you” to salad-eaters like Gwyneth Paltrow and “hell yeah” to “fries with that?” Impossibly, these women remained in perfect, Kate Hudson shape. I wanted desperately to be that fiction.
My opportunity to make a boy swoon over my gluttony came on a hot summer day when my brother, his best friend (my crush), and I decided to stop off at Marble Slab, the ice cream shop, on our way to a camping trip out of town. Looking over the menu, there was a clear front-runner for Dessert That Will Win Me A Man.
“I will take the Banana Split,” I said, shelling out eleven dollars. I watched a woman carve three jumbo scoops of ice cream out of various tubs and plunk them into the plastic serving boat. She flanked the sundae with two halves of a banana, then topped it with a traffic cone of whipped cream, some nuts, and a cherry. It looked like a mountain range with a warning light on top. My crush’s eyes grew wide. Fuck, I thought.
Half an hour later I’d consumed everything but the plastic boat. I felt a rising tide in my stomach. I made the boys pull over at the nearest rest stop. I got out immediately.
Adjacent the roadside washroom was a large metal garbage can, into which I chucked the plastic shell before leaning over the edge like a rag doll about to burst. I was determined to free myself from the dairy hell I’d created but unfortunately, I’ve been blessed and cursed with an iron stomach. Nothing came up. I stared at the plastic boat and the tiny puddle of sundae soup in its hull. What is love, anyway? I slunk back inside the vehicle, a bloated loser. My crush looked at me like, well, what did you expect?
In homage to the misguided, delusional behaviour above, VICE decided to asks folks to tell us the dumbest things they’ve ever done to impress a crush. There are stories of bizarre gifts, magicians, serenades, and DIY body modification, all of which raise the following question: is it a credit to, or a strike against, our species that we’re willing to do such outrageous things for love? I’ll let you make the call.
I once hosted a huge themed party, and the theme was animal kingdom. I dressed as a peacock, because I was so extra and it was his favourite animal. I looked for him the entire night but couldn't find him because, apparently, he was hooking up with a tiger in my bedroom.—Adrian, 21
During snowboarding lessons in grade 7—which took place on a small bunny hill just outside the ski village—I wanted to go down ahead of my crush so he could see how good I was. This sometimes meant hauling serious ass up the bunny hill pretending I was too impatient for the lift. I was not in good shape. This gesture was very difficult. But it worked! We started talking on those ski trips. We dated very soon after. —Andee, 24
In grade two I was paired with this kid I liked for Secret Santa, and I slipped one of my favourite little cat ornaments into his desk. It was a one-inch-tall, black cat made of heavy plastic. The cat had a nice friendly smile on his face. His name was Pepper. For me this was The Ultimate Sacrifice—I loved that thing—plus I thought it was the smoothest move to give this boy something he would suspect, but not 100 percent know, it was from me. That way I could lurk nearby and gauge his reaction. As it turned out, he could not have cared less. No reaction at all. That little cat that I bought with my saved-up allowance was probably in the garbage by the end of the day. Still one of my greatest regrets. Don't give away your cat ornaments, ladies. He's almost certainly not worth it. —Meaghan, 38
When I was 14 I pierced my eyebrow with a safety pin. I was trying to work an emo/punk aesthetic in a small town and my crush seemed like the type of girl who would dig me for that. This was in 2004 so it was pretty much the height of Hot Topic and MTV emo or whatever that scene was. The piercing hurt like hell because I didn't numb my eyebrow or even sanitize the needle. I'm lucky it didn't get infected. It took about 15 minutes to push it through because I had to take breaks for pain. I don't think I did it right. She said it was cool but she looked horrified when she saw. My mom still brings it up to this day to make fun of me for being the idiot I am. She's cool enough so she probably would've taken me to get it done professionally if I had asked. I also pierced my lip—professionally—to impress a different crush when I was 17. Around then is when I realized putting holes in my body wouldn’t get me laid. —Gus, 27
I was dating this girl and had to meet her father and I was very nervous. He decided to grill some chicken breasts, but when I cut into mine it was one hundred per cent medium rare. So I fucking ate it all. I didn't wanna be a weird lesbian complainer. I vomited later. It’s fine. —Reanna
In grade six, I somehow managed to get my mom to agree to allow my crush’s mom to be our babysitter. Then I proceeded to be way too awkward to even talk to him. Hope life is good, Scott. —Erika, 26
I learned magic. I knew my crush loved magic and so I met a magician in Europe and got him to teach me some tricks so that I could do them for her to make her smile. I practiced for days and then I FaceTimed her from where I was and showed her. She did enjoy it. I worked on some more stuff, and performed the tricks for her at dinner when we met in public. She seemed happy. But then some guy started yelling at me about how the trick was done with elastics or mirrors or whatever. He was heckling me. Anyway, that kind of took the joy out of it for a while, and our relationship shifted after that. Now, I'm left knowing just enough magic tricks to entertain children with for about two and a half minutes. Personally, I wish I had spent that time learning to horse-whistle or shoot snooker or something instead. It would be a better life skill. —Anonymous
When I was 16 I hitchhiked to Florida to try to prove to my teenage crush, Tara, that she was the only girl for me. Strangely enough, my mom was supportive and drove me to the edge of town. Now that I’m a parent I can’t imagine the complex emotions she must have felt. Along the way I got propositioned by a creepy old dude in a Cadillac, stood a long time in the pouring rain, and contemplated infinity at a place called Zion Crossroads. When I finally got there I called Tara’s house and told her I where I was. It seemed like hours but was probably only about 30 minutes until she, her mom and her mom’s boyfriend pulled up and told me to put my stuff in the trunk. I’d made it. Tara told me her mom’s boyfriend was a horse show organizer, and so I ended up doing a bunch of horse-show-related labor to earn airfare back home. What kind of girl is worth all that? Listen to Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young. That’s Tara, and part of me will love her forever. —Eric, 41
My crush said that if I licked hot sauce off the floor he'd give me a kiss. I did it and he didn't give me the kiss. Him and his friends had me do it to embarrass me. It did embarrass me but I got over it. — Sarah, 27
Back in grade 10, he asked me if I had Facebook and I didn't. I quickly created a bare bones Facebook account, with no profile picture, and told him the name it was under. I didn't really understand the ins and outs of it at the time, but I now realize that he added me and he was my ONLY FRIEND. —Morgan, 26
I was a music student in undergrad and I decided a good way to covertly tell my crush, who was also a music student, that I liked him was to write a song about him and perform it at one of our recitals. The song wasn’t overtly about him—like it didn’t say his name or anything—but there were a few hints and he could probably guess who I was talking about when I belted, “for five long years I wanted to be your girl!” Anyhow, after my performance we exchanged awkward pleasantries and I felt like a very sad, very desperate Glee character. This guy and I did end up dating shortly after, though. It didn’t last long and it wasn’t great. I cried in the choir room when he told me he just wanted to be friends, but it was for the best. —Anonymous, 27
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