I am shown a picture. It is of my youth group at a ski trip. In the picture is a pretty blonde, I’ve seen her around before. I must know her name. “Who is that, I don’t recognize her?”



I sit in church, she’s sitting with her family. 14-year-old perfection in a blue shirt. I do not hear the sermon, I stare. I notice I’m staring and look away. I try to pay attention to the pastor and his message of God, but my eyes drift inexorably towards His earthly angel. I need to talk to her after the service.

I don’t.


I have been roped into greeting people coming to church. I stand near the door, shaking hands and saying ‘hi’. A few people ask me how I’m doing, I answer as I always do, “fine.” My eye wanders expectantly towards the entrance as I hand out bulletins. Finally, I am rewarded. She comes into view. Her top is cut just right; it is modest and wholesome, yet the smallest bit of breast can be seen. My heart skips a beat, literally; it misses one pump, it hurts so good. How can just a square inch of milky-white flesh do this to me?

Never before have I had that strong a reaction to anyone; I did not know at the time, but I never would again.

This vision of perfection walks towards me. I can’t meet those green eyes, I look down. I shake her hand, say something, say anything. Out squeaks a “hi”, she says “hi” back. Say more, just speak, one sentence, that’s all, but my mouth refuses to open. She goes to sit down. My body is still roiling.

There will be other chances to talk with her.


At youth group, she’s there. A card game starts, I join, she joins. I’m good at games, this is my chance. Impress her, talk to her. She speaks, another replies. I stare intently at my cards. My gaze wanders to the face I think of every day, I pull it quickly back to my cards. Over and over again. The turns pass, I continue to draw and play saying nothing. Some conversation is engaged in by the others, but mostly it is silence. The game ends, I win, yet I know I lost.


I am at the mall with my mother. She asks about my life. She asks about girls. I tell her of Jenny, she tells me that’s cute. I say, but she’s 3 years younger than me. My mother says three years doesn’t matter. I hope, but am not sure if I believe her.


I am at youth group. A group is talking. I enter the group and stand beside her. Speak! But what do I say? Anything, just speak. What if I say something stupid? Just say something, I can’t. You must. I turn my head towards her, my mouth opens, and nothing comes out. My mind curses me.


I am newly 18, now a youth leader. We are at a corn maze, I see her and her sister enter. I follow behind. I catch up. We talk. An actual conversation, our first. It turns out the younger girl is her niece, not her sister. We walk through the maze, conversation flowing, awkwardly, but flowing.

“I’m cold.” “You can borrow my jacket.” “No thanks.”

Conversation continues.

“We should ditch my niece and go off by ourselves.” “That doesn’t seem very nice.”

We continue talking and talking through the maze. We get through after an hour and end up at the camp fire.

She sits elsewhere, I stare into the fire, poking it with a stick as I daydream of us. I have a natural high for the next month.


A few weeks later, at youth group. She walks up to me. She’s wearing a Corona jersey that drapes most wonderfully over her perfect breasts. The white highlights her pale skin. She smiles her perfect smile, and says “hi”. Her beauty transcends words.

I say “hello” back. She stands there, looking at me. Say something! what? Anything. Anything? Ask her about her week. How? I don’t know, just do it.

Time passes. She talks to someone else nearby.


I am talking with my mother and sisters. Relationships come up. I mention Jenny, both my sisters go “awwww”.


After church, she stands alone, leaning against a wall. Her lips are redder than usual, her hair in a ponytail. She’s wearing black leather boots and a leather jacket. She looks classy, cute, and sexy, all at once. I need to talk to her. I go lean against the wall nearby. I should speak. I say nothing. We both stand and lean for minutes.

I hate myself, but there will be other chances.


I am on the bus. I daydream of Jenny, as I do every day. I dream of holding her in my arms. I dream of coming home to her smile each day. I dream of the little blonde children we will have. The dreams are wonderful, yet painful and lonely. It tears at me.

I daydream of something less painful, of killing myself, of peace.


At church, she’s leaning against the wall again. So very pretty, I should talk to her. I will… After I help put away the chairs.

The chairs are put away, she’s still there, go talk to her. I will… but first I have to think of something to say.

You’ve though of something, talk to her. I will!

I walk towards her.

I can’t. I turn.

I walk home, raging at myself.

I get home, I cry.


I am 20, it is Christmas Eve. It has been a half-year since I have seen her. Months of daydreams, yet each month thinking of her less. I think about her only a few times a week. I vaguely wish to see her again.

I get my wish. I see her walk in. Her golden hair wreathes her angelic face. She looks the season in her classy crimson top. So very pretty.

I sit in the back, I can barely take my eyes off her the entire service. What should I say to her.

The service ends.

I walk out and stand in the hallway. She’s just inside the auditorium, I can talk to her. I can’t. I rage at myself. My friend notices me and asks why I am out here by myself, pacing. I tell him. Go talk to her.

I enter back into the main room. She’s leaning against the same wall as before. I stand in the back instead. I muster courage for 10 minutes. While I muster, she leaves with her family.

On the way home, my mother asks me what’s wrong. I don’t tell her.


The day after Valentine’s Day. My mother tells me she saw Jenny, she was at a Valentine’s supper at my church with someone else.

She goes back upstairs. I cry on my bed.


In my mid-late 20’s, reading my facebook feed. Her niece’s profile comes up as a friend of a friend. I haven’t really thought of Jenny in years, but I wonder. I go into her friend’s list. Search “Jennifer”. There’s a Jennifer,  but the last name’s different. I click the profile picture; the girl in the dress matches my vague memories of Jenny’s face. She’s with a man in a suit. More pictures, pictures of children, pictures of her smiling with her children.

She’s aged, no longer the 14-year-old angel of my dreams. She’s now chubby, the perfect curve of youthful hip and breast hidden under a small layer of fat.

And yet, she’s still beautiful. Her smile still glistens and her flaxen hair still glows. I feel a dull ache.

I close the browser, trying not to think.


A couple years later, apropos of nothing, I think of her. I wonder.

What if I had the social abilities then that I do now? What if I had been able to summon my courage then, as I can do now?

Would I have been able to win her heart? Would those children be mine?

What if, instead of an empty house, I came home each day to my beautiful, chubby, blonde hausfraus and our adorable little kinder? If those children were mine?

How would my life be different, how would I be different, if I had been a better man?

I write my memories down.

While writing, I’m curious once again, I search for her profile for the second time. She’s aged, she’s still vaguely pretty, but not beautiful. She has changed, or have I?

Would I still find her beautiful had I been a better man?

She recently celebrated her sixth anniversary. They seem happy in the few pictures of them, but most of the pictures are of children.

There is no dull ache, just a slight wistfulness.

I don’t know what to think, so instead, I share my thoughts with thousands of people I have never met. Hopefully my writing will help a younger version of me; maybe it will only confuse him more. Either way, I feel this needs to be written.


  1. Certainly had a few Jenny’s in my past, and regret being cowardly but that was the cost of knowing what I do now, so be it. If I had settled early with a highschool love, as opposed to playing the field, it is unlikely my knowledge of female/male dynamics and nature would have evolved to where it is now, thus saving me a lot of frustration and heartache for when I actually do decide to settle down.

  2. They say that the things we regret most are the opportunities and chances we never took, even more than the chances we took which turned out badly. Rollo says that regret is worse than rejection and he is correct. This post reminded me of my “jenny” from high school. The girl who I loved from afar but never had the balls to go talk to, Wow, memories…Great Post!

  3. I can still literally remember the first time I saw my Jenny. In fact I remember the entire day. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She went to a cross-town high school and it was pure accident that we ended up at a mutual acquaintances house on the same day.

    Despite it being totally against my nature, I summoned the courage to ask her out. We ended up dating for almost a year, but broke up for the usual reasons.

    24 years later, her husband died, I got divorced to a Bat Shit Crazy woman, a few months later, mild facebook flirting turned into text message flirting, turned into phone calls, turned into a spontaneous visit by her to Alaska where I was stationed.

    We’ve been together for four years now. Life is pretty damn good.

    Every once and a while, I think about how easily I could of whiffed on that initial contact and I would of never ended up with this life, and its a bit scary.

    I’ve told my story to my teenage son, hoping that I get through to him, take chances, be a man, don’t miss out on your own Jenny.

  4. Yeah I’ve been there too.

    What was odd though…the girls I built up in my mind caused the fear to paralyze me. The girls that I didn’t have that type of fear were the ones I was took a chance on and had something that became a reality. I don’t regret those…but I do regret having that type of fear in my youth.

  5. This sounds like me and just about every woman I’ve ever been interested in. I always wondered how other guys made getting girls look so easy while I was always alone. Thanks for writing this, FN. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this.

  6. Kudos for having the courage to post this!

    It touches the raw nerve of all my high school crushes that ended up marrying well (albeit after dating the bad boys of my time) and not very late in life. I was lucky enough to have a couple friends that knew me well enough to push me, like your friend, to actually go and talk to these gals. Those experiences shaped my early post-high school life incredibly. Keep fighting and keep being honest (and keep those articles coming).

  7. We all have some like that, but in our own minds were built up to be far better than they were and therefore unapproachable…Most of the ones I knew in reality were nothing like the dream I created… they pretty much gave themselves to the Harley Mcbadboys or Billy Bassplayers. I did find my Jenny on facebook a while ago, let’s just say time has not been kind to her at all…Thank God for prayers gone unanswered.

  8. Men seek the ideal. I believe God lets us see, in our youth, the perfect form. It astounds us, at least it did me, into that paralytic fearful desiring. “Our hearts are restless . . .”

  9. Interesting post. Oneitis to be sure, but I can’t say that I haven’t been there before. Makes you wonder how many prayers get a no because you don’t even know what you’re asking for.

  10. Pedestalization writ large in a boy’s heart. Been there, done that. I’m not on Facebook, it’s better I don’t know what happened to them.

  11. As other comments have hopefully made obvious, this is a very common experience for men. God made young women very appealing to men, but mercifully He only gave them that kind of power for a small window of their lives. Hopefully you can take some satisfaction out of the fact that she apparently made the wise choice to pursue marriage and family at a reasonable age, which if nothing else suggests you had good taste.

    There can be a sense of schadenfreude in seeing a woman who once had you wrapped around her finger lose that power with age, or seeing her sabotage herself with promiscuity or careerism, but the Christian thing is to hope other people overcome their flaws rather than delighting in seeing them screw up. It’s good to learn not to put women on a pedestal (VD once posted a great excerpt from a letter JRR Tolkien sent to his son, talking about how he disapproved of old-fashioned knightly chivalry because it idolized women instead of treating them as fellow flawed humans) as long as you don’t overbalance into “heh, those dumb sluts blew their chance for a decent guy like me, have fun getting pumped & dumped!”

    As for wistful daydreams about what might have been, you seem like you have the persistence to keeping plugging away and looking to start a family, while also having the wisdom to see that even if it never works out you can still lead a good Christian life and find other ways to contribute. Speaking of which, you have good practical advice for introverted young guys on your blog on how to deal with situations like you describe in this post, so give yourself some credit.

  12. I know the emotions all too well. Allow me a brief “what-could’ve-happened”.

    I did talk to Jenny. We did end up having a brief relationship for less than a year. It turned out pretty bad. We were young and stupid. She turned out to be something else than what one would hope for. After that, I dated around for a few years. Mostly pointless. And then I found someone.

    And here I sit, another ten years later, and am quite happy that “Jenny” turned out to be mostly a dream. Why? Because reality, while never being as flawless as dreams, is at least real. Sure, there are regrets. The most perfect love is one imagined, but remember that it is only imagined. You are only in love with your own vision of what it would be like.

    Real love is rugged, tricky, and requires sacrifices. It is not being high on love chemicals. It is about dedication and ideals. It is never perfect, but always special.

    So, Jenny might have been the dream. Find real love instead.

  13. Very moving story and heartbreaking. As a commenter above mentioned, “Men are the romantics”.

    Morale of the story? Don’t care about women, because they don’t care about you.

    if Jenny thought you were her one and only she’d have been working for that moment to talk to you as much as you were to her.

    Truth is, Jenny was an american princess. After all, her parents and society raised her to believe that. When the next guy came along, she hitched her wagon to that passing star. Now she’s got brats and isn;t as beautiful as you once remembered. No kidding?

    Pedestalization = death of the male identity. you merely exist because “she” exists.
    Reality? –> We are a dime a dozen and they are a dime a dozen.

    (the above is spoken from a guy who had to go through 3 “one & only” situations to finally wise up). I wish it were otherwise and the true love hollywood bullshit you see in The Princess Bride existed….but it really doesn’t.

    Sorry to be downer on this one, but this is what the red pill is all about. No one said ingesting it would ease the pain….

  14. @warrior_savant

    red pill. blue pill, [rincess blah blah blah blah. Watered down terminology by some new moron in the whatever movement.

    Morale of the story is jenny did the right thing, how will jenny be swept away by fn, if fn never went up to her and swept her away. So the fact that this one woman did what nature intended women to do and women have done since time immemorial, get courted by men is itself wrong according to your illogically butt hurt statement. Be a man worthy of getting a girl, the right kind of girl for long term investment/marriage. If anything this girl marrying early goes to show she wasn’t running around with mcharly speedfuckerson, and did the chaste thing by marrying early and having kids. And i know its a shock to you but yes people get old, that beautiful fleeting youth of women served this girl’s purpose, netted her kids with a seemingly high value man, IOW she wasn’t likely the girl princess that was slutting up in college campus. And even if she is not as hot when she was young, she is still pretty and when you are still pretty to bang and have the kids of your man, her man is in a pretty nice situation.

    rant over.

  15. Elsid tries to be right, and almost is, but ends up missing.

    The brutal truth is that women are not what a young man imagines them to be.

  16. Cheer up, we’ve all been young and inexperienced. In the long run, it’s better not to marry young for a man. And there are plenty of Jennies out there, waiting for you. Just take your pick.

  17. I guess the upside of intense psychotic breaks with reality and resultant barrage of psychotropic medication is that it tends to significantly dull or even erase the memories of Jennys.

    Not a course of treatment I’d recommend for everyone, mind you.

    The older I get, the more I come to appreciate my bachelorhood. I haven’t known much else or what to compare it to. I watched my mother shit all over my father growing up, so that wasn’t great. I made poor choices and awkward maneuvers in high school with various Jennys, but I did end up having a girlfriend for 6 months (an eternity when you’re in high school) and the break up was a lesson in female communication patterns.

    The next couple of years (17-21) saw me, internally, quarantine myself from women. But I was still a young man with all of the accompanying hormones and desires. So, I’d play this game of courting them and pushing them away. I’d make them care intensely about me but then find some kind of minor BS quibble to levy at them as to why I wouldn’t let them get close. Because I felt I wasn’t good enough for them I wouldn’t ever let them be good enough for me.

    If you know who I am and what happened to me (which is possible if you remember me briefly from In Mala Fide or before then) then you would know when I turned 21 I flew way too close to the sun and had the first of 5 aforementioned psychotic breaks. There hasn’t been much in the interim (I am now 26) in the way of even trying to FIND or CARE about the opposite sex. There was a lot to figure out about myself, truth, spirituality, religion, psychiatry, medication…

    One moment of weakness led to a brief flirtation with OkCupid for maybe two months until I had contacted virtually everyone in my area I had felt would be compatible based on the questions and their profiles, with no luck. Either they were ready to immediately settle down and marry (and I was not) or I was too serious about what I was about for them.

    Now, having been around a few different spiritual men, I am noticing the ways in which they can sometimes be tied down or impacted or held back by the obligations they have to their wives and families. This is not to say that they do not love their wives and families (or that the wives and families do not love them back), nor is it to say that I think they do not derive any sort of benefit from the arrangement.

    However, I reflect on the Epistles, where Paul writes he would rather we all be like him, and warns of exactly what I just spoke (that spiritual things may end up having to take a backseat to familial things). I am not burdened in ways that my current (earthly) spiritual father is, for instance, and he has expressed that he sometimes wishes he was as free as I am in order to do something similar to what I am about to set out to do in the new Gregorian year.

    Either way, thanks for this piece.

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