No, I didn't climb a tree because he was about to kiss me. That's just how it happened…
Seven years ago, I went on a sort-of date with a guy I'd had a major crush on in college. I was in my final year then, but he'd graduated already. I forget what exactly was the reason we were meeting, but meeting we were.
It was an evening full of excitement for me. Despite my crush, I'd never said anything to him - he was seeing someone all through college, so it would have been pointless. Besides, I'd not been very good at making the first move - I didn't even know how to! So when our GTalk conversation resulted in an actual meeting off-campus, for a drink, I was thrilled. I'd finally get to hang out with him as an “adult”, so to speak, not just as part of some college group activity thing…yay!
Come that Sunday evening, I put on heels and headed over to the bar we were supposed to get drinks at. And in all my excitement about this “date”, I drank a little bit more than I should have. I was just having such a great time - he was fun to hang out with, and it was nice to talk about things other than our common friends in college, which is what most of our conversations before this had been about.
After drinks, we headed over to an ice cream parlour. I gobbled down about three scoops of ice cream, not realizing that the sugar on top of the alcohol in my system was going to result in me getting hopped up like an energized bunny. But that's exactly what happened. Even as the evening wound down, I found myself wanting to continue doing fun things. There wasn't much to actually do, though - mine was a small town with limited options for “chilling”, and even those weren't available to us since everything shut by 9 p.m. on a Sunday.
We decided to walk home instead of taking a cab to prolong our evening just a little bit. It was about three kilometres to my house, and the evening was cool and breezy. We strolled down deserted, dimly lit streets, talking about random stuff - books, music, life…
He told me that things hadn't worked out with him and his girlfriend, and I made appropriately sympathetic noises. I was just so used to having unrequited feelings for him that it didn't even occur to me that this might be a “signal” in any way. What suddenly caught my attention, instead, was this tree on the footpath along which we were walking. It was tall and sturdy-looking, and in my somewhat tipsy and enthu-cutlet state of being, it looked really…climb-able!
“What's up?” he asked as I stopped mid-step and stared up at the branches above my head.
“I want to climb this tree!” I said.
“Hahaha, you’re so funny!” was his response, and he put his arm around my shoulder.
“No, I really want to!” I was in deathly earnest. I felt all happy about the warmth of his body against mine, and there seemed no better way to celebrate than by climbing that tree!
“I bet you can’t…” he said, and cupped my cheek with his hand.
“Nooo! Let me show you. I CAN!”
I jumped away from him to take a closer look at the tree. In the next instant, he was left holding my shoes and purse while I scampered up the tree.
“Woohoooo!” I screamed down at him from a branch high above a few minutes later. I couldn’t really see his face, but I was disappointed by his seeming lack of enthusiasm about this marvellous feat of mine.
“Are you mad?!” he directed upwards at me. “Just come down before we get arrested or something!”
Okay, fine. He seemed really annoyed, and I couldn’t really tell why. Shrugging, I tried to climb down...and realized I had a problem. A BIG problem.
“Um, listeeeen…” I wailed.
“What?” he said. Boy, he really did sound snappy. He really wasn’t going to be happy about what I was going to say next…
“I’m too drunk to climb down!”
It was just so dark, and I couldn’t really feel my fingers and toes any longer - and all those handy holds I’d used to climb up seemed to have been completely smoothened out in the past few minutes. I could figure out not a single handhold or foothold to trust my weight with and climb down.
“Can you call the fire station?” I said after a while. I didn’t want to have to call my dad about this! And I was really freaking out by this point. I didn’t want to be stuck on top of this tree forever!
“Oh my god, you’re completely insane!” he muttered. “Wait, I’m coming up, I’ll help you down.”
“But you can’t leave my purse on the road! What if someone steals it?” I moaned. “Can you bring it up?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” he said. “Because once I’m up there, I’m going to kill you. You won’t need your purse then.”
That threat didn’t come to pass, though. Because the moment he started walking towards the tree, the branch I was standing on broke.
Yes, the branch BROKE. And I fell off the tree, circumventing the need for any further climbing on either of our parts.
Luckily for me, he was close enough to the base of the tree to somewhat break my fall by grabbing me as I whizzed downwards from a height of about 20 feet. So I ended up only with a fractured foot and not a cracked head. But the branch that broke had landed on my face and I was bleeding like I’d been in an accident. Well, technically speaking, I had been in an accident. Just not the kind that you hear often about!
We both sat on the footpath and laughed for a good 15 minutes after that. I was in pain, he was outraged about what I’d done. But it was the sheer absurdity of the situation that we couldn’t get over!
He dropped me home in a cab after that, and I had to lie to my parents about how I’d managed to injure myself. They were convinced I’d been hit by a car. I let them believe that - because, really, how on earth would I have explained what had actually happened?!
I spent the next three weeks bedridden, unable to walk on my fractured foot. The boy had been scheduled to leave town for his new job a couple of days after our memorable “date” - and so he did. We didn’t speak again except for a text from him to say “Take care. See you someday. Don’t climb any trees!”
I went back to college with a seriously entertaining tale about the history of my broken foot. And over the years it became my go-to story whenever the “What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” question came up anywhere. And it really is a story that has been beating all other stories anyone else has to share, hands-down! Oh well, some things in life are worth experiencing just to make people laugh, I guess…
It was just a few months ago that I heard the boy’s side of the story. When we bumped into each other at our college reunion. At some point during the whole singing-dancing stuff that was happening, we spoke for the first time in seven years, catching up on each other’s lives…
“You know I had a massive crush on you, right?” I said to him eventually, after we’d gone over the tree-climbing story again and were laughing so hard that we had tears in our eyes.
“Yes, you moron, I did. What do you think that evening was about?”
“Huh, what do you mean?” I asked.
“I kinda liked you too - and that’s why I asked you out after my ex and I broke up!”
“Oh.” I needed a moment to digest this. In all these years, it had never occurred to me that he could have seen me as anything other than a (really crazy) college junior.
“I was going to kiss you that evening…and you went and climbed a fucking tree instead!”
Whaaaaaat?! Damn all the bleeding stupid trees in the world for appearing in my line of sight!
As I looked at him, a world of regret in heart about having gotten so drunk that evening, he continued: “And I’m going to kiss you now…”
Then he leaned in and kissed me. And it was the sweetest kiss ever.
I guess some things in life are meant to happen, no matter how much time passes… :-)
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Published on Mar 31, 2016