Happy Independence Day! Enjoy!

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Rule #5: Confession

In a relationship, usually the men should initiate. If the women do it, then it should be done in a way that the men would still initiate.

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As I finish working on my homework and studying for tomorrow's test, I sit at the dining table and stare at my mom cooking. She is so busy that she doesn't even notice my presence. It isn't until she puts one finished dish on the table that she realizes I'm there.

Eyeing me suspiciously she asks, "Why are you staring at me?"

I think about it for a while. I ponder over whether I should ask or not. After much deliberations, I open my mouth as I take a deep breath, "Mom, why is it that a man must initiate a relationship?"

Her eyes start to narrow as she examines me, "Do you like someone?" Her hands on her hips, standing askew, she bites on her lips as she awaits my answer.

The only thing that I'm proud of about myself is my ability to lie without blinking my eyes, "No. I was just wondering."

Even though I know she probably doesn't buy what I say, she just shrugs as she walks to the oven and carries out the baked chicken. She places it on a rack and sets it aside on the table. Trying to help her out, I walk to the refrigerator and pour out two classes of squeezed oranges. I carry them to the table and put one glass on my side while the other on hers. I stare at the food and start to wonder why she is making so much today when it's only me and her. Dad is out eating with his friends today.

"Mom, are you going to be able to finish this?" I ask her as I poke at the chicken and the huge dish of assorted vegetables and meat with my fork.

She takes off her apron and sits down. "Why not?"

If there is anything that I learn, it's probably never to question mom when dad decides to eat out by himself with his friends and leave us at home for dinner. Thus, I just nod and pick up a knife to tear out a thigh from the chicken. I only like chicken thighs.

"So back to what you were asking again." Mom suddenly reminds me of what I asked her previously.

"Oh yeah, I was wondering about that." I nod as I bite down on the meat.

"So you are wondering why is it that a guy must initiate a relationship?"

I nod.

She continues, "It's very simple." She swallows and points with her fork in her hand - please excuse her minor lack of dinner etiquette, "You won't want to feel that you aren't loved in a relationship. When a girl starts to ask the guy out first, it usually probably means that the guy doesn't have the guts or doesn't like the girl enough to even bother asking."

"Why does it have to be that way? Can't guys be shy?" I ask as I pick up a whole bunch of meat and vegetables from the assorted dish. When mom eats a lot, I'm allowed to eat just as much, if not more. I have to make use of this good chance.

"Of course!" She nods and smiles. However, she uses her super quick skill and interferes with my fork, preventing me from picking up more than the amount of food my bowl can hold. "But that doesn't mean that the girl should initiate. Even though it's sad to say this but guys should always initiate!"

Mom doesn't make sense. Of course, I have learnt that mom usually doesn't make sense but it's always better to accept a well-said sophistry rather than a lack of one. "Can you elaborate the "always initiate" part, please? I still don't see why guys must do it. If I were to like someone, I'd definitely ask that person rather than spending all the time thinking to myself if I should or should not. What if he likes someone else during that period? I don't want to let go of a chance just because of unknown set rule."

"No, no, no!" She shakes her index finger at me. "You will regret it." Seeing that I don't believe her, she continues. "Let's think about it this way. When you are going out with him, if you already have the belief that you have to ask him first - meaning you probably like him more - you won't feel enough for anything he does for you later on in the relationship. You will always doubt whether he likes you more or you like him more. This self-doubt and insecurity will only lead to a decline in the development of the relationship. Even if you might think that if you let go of someone whom you like by remaining silent, isn't it better than risking an insecure relationship? What you can do, rather than outright confession, is hint. Subtle hints in courtship is essential to the guys. If they are smart enough and interested, they should catch on."

I ignore the last few sentences she says and dwell more on the topic that spurs my interest. "If I have the guts to ask someone out being that I'm a girl - such relationship sexism is not really sitting well with me - then shouldn't I be well secured in myself to not have such doubt?"

"Maybe..." She tilts her head aside, as she chews on some broccoli, and thinks a little before nodding. "Maybe not."

I scratch my ears and take in a deep breath as I wait patiently for a more elaborate response. This should take around five or ten seconds for her to finish chewing on her broccoli. I can make use of this short time and chew on some food myself. Eating quick and fast is probably a survivor skill I don't really need to hone.

"Let's look at it this way. If the girl has such a dominating personality, it might be overbearing for the guys. If you establish the relationship in such terms, it might be harder later to reverse. It's not that there is any special relationship stereotypes between a man or a woman, it's just that sometimes it's necessary or it's sufficient to say a pleasurable feeling to have a guy caring for the girl and the girl depending on the guy's opinions. If you are too strong in personality, the guy even if he is not a pushover will still feel a bit enjoined for certain situations that needs someone to decide. Sometimes, it's a simple questions of where to date or what to eat. In such a case, it's normally up to both to decide. In your case, I know you will have your own opinion of what you like and what you don't like. What you like might not be the same for him and vice versa. Thus, it's good to have an established relationship that, indeed, he can decide for you at certain times. If you start the relationship as being more dominant in that field, what is to say it can last long? Relationship stereotypes might just be role play, but if you think about it it makes sense. Else, how could it withstand the constant changes of society norms?"

"Then shouldn't it work like that for both parties? If guys always have to initiate, shouldn't they feel that the girls don't like them enough?"

"You miss the whole point of courtship. Guys woo girls based on subtle hints given out, that's the fundamental of relationships. If guys aren't interested, the girls will be able to tell. It's also the norm that guys should be fine with rejections. Girls, on the hand, are not usually so good at handling such a situation. Of course, with the change in society, it doesn't really matter much anymore."

"No, that's just unfair." Now that there is only rice left, I put down my fork and use my spoon.

"The world is unfair, hon." My mom sighs, "Just listen to me. No matter how strong of a personality you may have, you will find it hard later to accept that you were the one who asks him out instead of the other way around."

Why does it seems like she is talking about me? I try to shake the idea that my mom knows exactly the purpose of this conversation and concede, "Alright, I understand your point."

"That's right; that's good; that's wise." She nods in agreement and continues eating.

As for me, I'm full so I excuse myself. While she talks, all I do is eat so of course I'd be full quicker than her. As I sit there in front of the t.v. and changing random channels, I begin to think about what I should do.

To listen to given advice or not to, that indeed, is a dilemma.

So the next morning I go to school as usual, smile as usual, and talk to people as usual. The only difference is at lunch I remain in the cafeteria and refuse to head to the library. This change in behavior causes some familiar eyes to look at, question, and subtly hint whether it's that time of the month where hormone imbalance render me indifferent to normal habits. My normal reply, as usual when given such a look, is to smile.

This continues for about a few more days before I decide to rekindle my time with some unread chapters. This lapse in time only works to adduce for those familiar eyes that indeed their pre-established reasoning of hormone imbalance is, indeed, true. I have no qualms in accepting that people are wrong in their inferences as long as it has no negative effect on me. Or rather, it's quite fun to leave people with wrong conclusions regarding me.

As I sit there, at the corner of my eyes I can see that he is also sitting at a table near me. I resume what I intend to do and just focus on reading the book even though I know I have no idea what I'm reading.

When the bell rings to signal the end of lunch period and the beginning of the last period, I grab my bag and begin to exit the library. During this time it's mostly hectic so a wise idea is to wait till half the people's gone. I normally would exhibit such patience. However, today I realize it's best to be temerarious and get out there, for good reasons of course.

A random person bumps into me and my bag falls to the ground. Because he is in such a hurry he apologizes and leaves without helping me. I will forgive such a lack of gallantry since it's not very easy to knock me off my foot unless I choose to fall myself. As I slowly gather my pencil bag and folders to put into my hand bag, a pair of shoes appear in front of me. All of a sudden, a person kneels down and helps me gather some papers that are farther from my reach.

"Are you alright?" He asks.

I look at him and nod. "Thank you."

"You should be careful. It's hectic around this time."

"I know." I simply reply.

"You usually wait until it's not so busy. Why are you in such a hurry?"

I look at him and smile. "I'm in a hurry today."

"Why? Class won't start in ten minutes. You have plenty of time to walk to class." He questions me, naturally. I wonder if this person likes to question strangers.

"I just feel like going to class earlier." I simply reply.

"That's it?" He asks, still won't give up on a topic that is of minimal importance when first encounter with someone.

As we walk, I turn sideways to look at him. "I want to see how it feels to rush to class. Good?"

He turns a little red. "I'm sorry if I might seem impudent in questioning you. I've a bad habit of asking a lot of questions."

"That's fine." I say as we walk. I never know he has class in the same direction as I. "Do you have class in the third hall?"

He just suddenly realizes and blushes a little. He pushes his classes a bit and says, in a low tone, "Well, you always sit at a table next to me so I forgot and became familiar with you. Sorry, I have class in the first hall. I'll see you later."

As he walks away, I look at his back and wonder, has he always has such a personality? Opposite to what he seems, he is awfully more friendly than I imagine. Aside from his good looks, he is more shy than I would have thought. I let such thoughts escape me as I run to reach my own class.

The next day, as usual, I finish lunch and excuse myself to head to the library to read for the last fifteen minutes or so. As I expect, he smiles at me. Seeing that he looks up as I amble to my table, I change my mind and choose to sit as his table.

"How are you today?" I ask.

"I'm good." He replies.

"What are you reading?" I ask.

"Just a book about insects." He replies.

I look at the cover and just nod my head and sit down. Without saying much, I take out my book and start to read. I have a feeling that he is not used to having someone sitting near him so he seems to be fidgeting a little. I look up from my book and smile. "I normally see you here even before me. Do you not eat?" I ask. In a situation like this, I guess it's probably best to initiate a small conversation. I'll let him continue it, though.

He slightly closes his book and replies, "I just don't really have an appetite. I typically eat very little so as I walk I already ate a sandwich."

"Prepared meal?"

He nods.

I return to my book. Naturally, I'm not a person with a lot of words. I typically only say what I want or need to ask. Usually, I won't act as indifferent during a conversation to other people but somehow he brings the natural me out.

Seeing that I suddenly return to my book after an abrupt question, he asks me back. "What about you? You come here around fifteen minutes before lunch ends. How do you have time to eat?"

So, he knows when I come to the library?

"I bring my own food. My mom is a nutritionist. She hates it when I don't eat right."

"That doesn't explain how you can eat so fast."

"While people wait in line to get food, I'm eating mine." I answer simply. It's really easy to infer.

"I see."

Seeing that he really wants to continue the conversation, I help him out. "So what do you normally like to do?"

Catching on a drift in conversation, he easily replies. "I like to swim. What about you?"

Even though the correct reply should be I also like to swim, I decide against it. "I don't really have any sports I'm good at."

He seems a bit disheartened but suddenly his face glows a little, "Do you want to learn how to swim?"

I know how to swim. "Why?"

"I can teach you." Seeing the sudden change in the way I look at him, he quickly explains. "No, I just really like to swim. I thought it would be fun if someone also likes to swim with me."

"I know how to swim." I honestly reply.

"Really? I thought you said you aren't good at sports."

"That doesn't mean I can't do it. I can swim but not well. It's that simple." I say as I look straight into his eyes.

"I see..." His voice trails off a little.

As soon as we finish our conversation, in such an abrupt and unfinished way, the bell rings. I look at him and smile, "It's time to go. See you later."

As I walk outside, a smile begins to form on my face. I'm trying to heed to social norms, albeit in my own ways. There shouldn't be a problem, right?