Does He Like You? A Junior High Guide

[Note: While I'm pulling my hair out house-hunting, long-distance romancing and dealing with the other wonderful blessings befallen on me at this joyous time, enjoy this older favorite, originally published on August 28, 2011]

Let’s face it; dating is never easy.  The first lesson we Virgins to Life all learn, thanks to Head & Shoulders commercials, is you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  When we’re in junior high, we begin to not only become aware of the opposite sex, but we learn there is a delicate protocol one must follow so that first impression isn’t ruined by tomfoolery.  Armed with considerable peer research and an unfortunately high level of personal expertise in the gangly/flat-chested/awkward teen phase, I compiled this standardized guide to finding out and acting on the most important question you will face in your life: Does he like you?

Now, you may think this has a simple course of action.  Your instinct may be asking him for his phone number.  DO NOT DO THIS.  While there is the possibility you may actually get his phone number, this breach in protocol is far more likely to shift the universe out of your favor.  Seas will rise, volcanos will erupt, he will laugh at you and his friends will start a rumor that you are a slut.  If your name starts with an “S” or can even loosely rhyme with a body part, your chance of failure is exponentially worse.  And that will be the end of it.  Do you want that?  Look, I’m going to tell it to you straight: if you fail, you will never kiss that boy you like, let alone marry him.  And you know what?  Junior high school rumors are just like your “permanent record” – they will follow you through college.  You can’t escape them.   So, on to:

Step One: Identification of your crush

The Guy probably said a funny joke to you.  You realize he is kind of cute and seems sweet.  His eyes are kind of dreamy.  Good.  That’s a crush.  On to the next step.

Step Two: Is he looking at you?

So when you’re sitting there in class, look at him.  Is he looking at you?  No?  Well, keep looking.  Is he looking at you yet?  Not yet?  Well keep at it, sister!  Ooo!  Ooo!   He looked!  Now look away quickly.  QUICKLY! For God’s sake, don’t hold his gaze!   Look bored.  Ok.  Now look casually back at him…is he looking at you?  Repeat this process as needed until you are satisfied that yes, he looks at you on occasion.

Step Three:  Determining Astrological Compatibility

The next step is to find out his sign.  This can be pretty tricky, but through proper reconnaissance it isn’t too daunting.  The most common way to get it is to talk about birthdays or astrological signs with a group of people near him, and a trusted confidant can ask him on your behalf.

Once you have secured his birth date, consult the Bible for Teen Girls: “Love Signs” by Linda Goodman.  Yes, your hippie, ceramic-making aunt probably owned this book at some point, but despite the groovy 70s prose, it is quite useful for determining compatibility.  Proof?  It told me I was not compatible with River Phoenix, Brett Michaels, or the drummer from Stryper.  I was heartbroken at the time, but look at me now – was it not correct?  “Love Signs” saved me from a yellow and black attack.

Step 4:  Tarot Cards

So you’ve already dipped a toe into the dark side by messing with Astrology.  Why not dip the whole foot in and try out Tarot Cards?  Yeah, people say you’re summoning the devil, but like, you’re doing it for love.  That can’t be bad.  Plus, you listen to Stryper, so that has to off-set some of that evil, right?  Buy the deck, hide it from mom and dad and get to work!   Go on, shuffle them, cut them, lay them out…

The Death card.  Well… death doesn’t mean death.  It means…rebirth?  The end to something?  It could mean that he’s in a bad relationship and it’s coming to an end.  And you could help pick up the pieces.  Aww.  See?  Ok, keep on flipping.  Okay, yeah.  The Tower looks pretty scary.  But see, this is all about interpretation: maybe those people falling out of the tower represent falling…in love?  Next card.  Oh.  The Devil.  Well… that’s…it could mean… okay, let’s move on to the next thing, shall we?

Step 5: Ouija Boards

Yes, I know you heard that this is also a tool of the devil, but if it were, why would Parker Brothers make one?  Are the makers of Monopoly and Aggravation devil-worshippers?  If they are, why are they so successful?  Huh?  Go ahead, ask the Ouija Board if the Guy likes you.  NO, DON’T DO IT ALONE! HAVE YOU NOT SEEN “WITCHBOARD?!”  Oh, you haven’t?  Okay, go watch “Witchboard.”  If nothing else, it will teach you how to properly say Ouija.  I’ll wait here until you are done.

Okay, okay, calm down.  That didn’t end well, did it?  Yes, I know Patch died and the lady from the Whitesnake videos got all crazy, but she’s all right now, isn’t she?

 

Oh, um.  Yeah.  Okay, we are damaging your chances here with all the dabbling in the Dark Arts; let’s do an emergency next step to undo the bad luck we created from having you ask lesser demons if a boy likes you:

Step 6: Listen to Stryper Music and Throw Away Your Motley Crue Tapes

This is true: reading Stryper lyrics is just like reading a prayer.  It makes the Devil go back to Hell.  No, you don’t have to dress in yellow and black until God forgives you.  To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not sure where that whole thing came from.  Yes, I read the bible verse they put on their logo.  No, the yellow and black thing doesn’t make any more sense.  Just go with it.  Read their lyrics.  Feel better?  Ready to get see if he likes you?  Okay.  Let’s continue:

Step 7: Is he still looking at you?

Does he still occasionally look at you?  Do you casually avert his gaze?  Good.  You’re learning!  On to step 8.

Step 8:  The Amway Approach

This step is really tricky, because you need to have a few confidantes you can trust, and in the world of junior high girls, the odds are against you.  So here’s what you do: have a friend tell another friend that they heard he likes you.  That friend tells a friend, and that friend tells a friend, and it keeps on going until it gets to him, and you can find out if he laughs at the rumor, or is cool with it.  This works best when there is a long line of friends telling friends before it gets to him.  If you have too few, then it’s obvious you started this yourself.  If you have too many, then you risk becoming the class joke.

What?  He actually seems interested in you?  Congratulations!  On to step 9.

Step 9: OMG He likes you.

He likes you.  Oh my God.  His friend told you so.  His friend just walked right up to you and sweetly told you that the guy likes you.  Yes, the friend was really cute about it…he did look kind of shy.  But, hey, your guy likes you!  You’ve achieved success!

Step 10:  His friend is kind of cute.

Yes, he made a really funny joke about how the guy likes you.  Yes, he is good-looking and has chocolaty-brown hair.  But let’s talk about the next step here; the guy likes you, we still have work to do, we…

Step 11:  His friend seems really sweet.  The Guy is kind of a dork, actually.

You think so?  But why did you like him in the first place?  Oh, you feel a special connection to the friend because he talked to you.  You’ve gotten to know him, and now you really like him?  But you spoke to him once… ok… fine…

Step 12:  Is he looking at you?

Janet, Miss Jackson if You’re Nasty (Part I)

Let me go on record as saying Janet Jackson ruled the universe between 1986 and 1994.

For any girl hitting her formative years in the late 80s and early 90s, Janet’s recordings during this time were a soundtrack for life.  She was a different kind of female role model compared to her contemporaries – strong, self-assured and self-efficient.  The three albums in this time frame, Control, Rhythm Nation and Janet represent a coming of age – the awakening that occurs when you see a world available to you that you never knew existed, with each album representing a different stage of this awakening.

With Janet’s name being tossed around as a potential judge on American Idol, this is as good a time as any to do a retrospective on these three albums.  After the Super Bowl brouhaha and a few albums over the past 10 years that didn’t leave an imprint on the music scene, it’s easy to forget how important Janet Jackson was in the late 80s and early 90s.  She not only helped influence and usher new jack swing into the Hot 100, she inspired young women everywhere.  Today we’ll start with her breakthrough album, Control.

Control
A story of liberation from family

To give you a little background on Janet, prior to this album, her career was managed by her father Joe Jackson.  Joe Jackson’s “management style” for his children is both well-documented and well-speculated upon, containing lovely vignettes like how he demanded Janet stop calling him “dad” when she was seven because he was her manager.  Her two albums prior to Control were under his grip, containing music she had zero input on.  Ultimately, while still a teenager, Janet made the difficult choice of firing her father.  She escaped his world in Hollywood to join Prince proteges Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in Minneapolis to create an album far from the distractions and hauntings of L.A. Six weeks later, the 19 year-old Jackson gave us Control.

If there was ever a more suitably titled album, I cannot think of it.  From the start, the vision of the album is clear; it’s a statement of believing in your own power and not letting anyone get in your way.  This is a vision that is realized through lyrics and through an infectious sound you simply did not hear on the radio in 1986.  The opening track, “Control,” is the story of declaring your independence from family; it’s a statement that everyone must leave home and find their own way.  The opening dialogue to the song introduces the theme of the entire album: “This is a story about control, my control.  Control of what I say, control of what I do.  And this time I’m gonna do it my way.”  She then sings about the importance of calling your own shots and not letting people make decisions on your behalf.  She wants to  “take you by the hand and lead you in this dance, ‘cause what I’ve got is because I took a chance.”

You’ve got to hand it to Janet – to fire your own father, specifically a figure like Joe Jackson, was probably the hardest and scariest thing she ever had to do.  Fans of Janet like myself are grateful she took the chance, because where would she be if she didn’t?  I’ll give you a hint – you probably didn’t even know she had two albums prior to Control, did you?

Here’s Janet rocking it out in video:

Ironically, during the making of this video Joe Jackson was said to be a holy terror on set.  He reportedly lashed out at several people and physically threatened the producer of the video, Sharon Oreck.

Next up on the album is “Nasty”, a song inspired by men who harassed Janet when she was walking to and from the studio. It’s like “These Boots are Made for Walking” in that it is a rare song about a woman who demands respect and proper treatment – she’s not asking you, she’s telling you.  With a fantastic beat backing it, she lets young women know it’s okay to tell someone to BTFO, and you’re not a prude for demanding someone treat you appropriately.  If you look at the top 100 songs of 1986, I challenge you to find another song that has this level of assertion.

Plus? It has some killer choreography from Paula Abdul in the video (who also plays one of Janet’s friends):

If you did check that list of top 100 songs, maybe you did find one other song on the list to challenge “Nasty”: The third track on this album, “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” This is no “Can’t Help Loving that Man of Mine.”  All too often in pop music we have songs that are about women who oh-so-adorably-tee-hee can’t leave their asshole boyfriends because, OMG, they’re just so cute and amazing when they don’t completely suck.  The most extreme example of this is the worst song Carole King has ever written, The Crystals, “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss).”  Janet turns this sentiment on its head and and puts the asshole boyfriend on notice.

This video has another appearance by Paula Abdul, and again features her choreography.  When you watch and listen to these videos it really drives home how lazy today’s pop music is as a whole – people have their bland voices auto-tuned onto bland, uninspired music, and their dancing is just…well, it ain’t this.

The final song I’ll cover on the album today is “Let’s Wait a While,” although if you are unfamiliar with this album I also recommend checking out Janet’s video for “The Pleasure Principle” – it is another great song, and I particularly love that this video is simply Janet dancing in a studio.  It’s mesmerizing from start to finish.

On “Let’s Wait a While,” Janet makes another important assertion – the song promotes abstinence and waiting for the right time in a relationship.  In the three albums we discover, this is the first song in a series of songs Janet covers about sexual intimacy.  For the final line of the song, she sings “I promise, I’ll be worth the wait.”  You kind of get the sense on Janet that she kinda followed through on that one, because, damn.

But, that’s a story further down the road – next up? We have Janet’s liberation in full bloom and her desire to shine her light on that path for others.  We’ve got Rhythm Nation 1814.