The Right Way To Rank Boys

by Matthew J.X. Malady

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer and @TIMENewsfeed editor Jessica Roy tells us more about an approach to assessing boys that she used in the eighth grade.

fyi boys according to my 8th grade diary “plays hard 2 get” is a PRO

— Jessica Roy (@JessicaKRoy) February 4, 2014

Jessica! So what happened here?

I’ve kept a diary since I was eight years old; I’ve also been embarrassing myself in writing since I was eight years old. This photo is of a page from the diary I kept in eighth grade, when I was 14 and boy crazy and just learning how much power having boobs gave me without really knowing how to wield that power gracefully or responsibly. The complicated-looking matrix pictured is a pros and cons list of the three boys who had crushes on me (I have never been, nor will I ever be, as in-demand as I was at 14). Each column represents a boy — the first one a ninth grader, the second one a guy from a private school in my town, and the third one a vaguely creepy 17-year-old who was always hitting on me via AIM. The top half outlines the pros and the bottom one the cons.

I remember feeling really mixed up and borderline cry-y when I sat down to write this — not sure who to like, or who really liked me, or if I even knew what liking a boy meant. I was really into this trashy YA series called “The Clique” at the time, and the sassy teen narrator was obsessed with making lists, and this appealed to my OCD tendencies. So when it came to boys, I approached it the way any overwhelmed writerly tween would: by creating a dorky pros and cons diagram in my diary, as if I was making a grocery list and couldn’t decide exactly what I should make for dinner. Pros include: “Plays hard 2 get” and “Shy (easy to seduce).” Cons are “Cheating (?),” like I wasn’t sure if he was a player or not (he was), and “Prude JK.” These are still cons IMO.

What are your favorite entries, and how would the traits you focused on back then compare to the traits you would be looking to chronicle if you were to make a modern-day version of this thing?

I think my favorite is “Shy (easy to seduce)” because I was 14 and had barely even kissed a boy, so obviously I had no clue how to “seduce” anyone, unless “seducing” him included luring him into my parents’ basement with my sick clarinet skills, or bringing him to Limited Too so I could get a cheap suburban thrill from shoving low-slung flare jeans into my bag while he distracted the sales clerk. (Note: I still do not know how to seduce anyone.)

Some of the other entries still ring true, though: being smart, sweet, and charming are all important traits for a Mr. Jessica to have, and being super moody or having condescending friends are fair cons. If I were making a new pros and cons matrix for 25-year-old Jessica, an additional pro would be “good sexter” and a con would be “calls cats ‘it.’”

Lesson learned (if any)?

Never unearth your middle school diaries unless you are equipped to deal with the fact that they will sound alarmingly like Thought Catalog posts. Also: My parents really should’ve locked me in my room until I turned 18.

Just one more thing.

I eventually did end up making out with the guy from column three on the sofa in my parents’ living room, and it was TERRIBLE. Remind me to add “bad kisser” to his list of cons.

Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.