The Blue French Horn Conundrum

The Blue French Horn Conundrum

For all the Ted Mosby's of the world, just looking for their Robin.

I think I may have found the most accurate way to describe unrequited love in this day and age, and that's a combination of pad Thai, coffee and adrenaline all racing through your system. The pad Thai is acting as an agent of indigestion, the coffee is your energy source. The combination of the two, plus the adrenaline rush you get when you see someone beautiful in a room acts as the perfect storm. You're stuck in what I'm going to call "The Blue French Horn Conundrum". The Blue French Horn Conundrum is an homage to "How I Met Your Mother"' and its modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac: Ted Mosby. In the pilot episode of that series, our Cyrano steal a blue French horn from a restaurant, all in an attempt to woo Robin Scherbatsky, his Roxanne.

It was the beginning of the month of January and school had just resumed for the winter quarter. You get to class irrationally early, the constant fear of embarrassing yourself by being super late motivating you to hustle. You enter the classroom, get yourself settled, and then you see her: your Roxanne. Now, Cyrano, you have one of two options. You can either introduce yourself to her and charm her socks off, or you can stare from afar. Since you don't have a constitution made of iron and you get scared of pretty girls and starting conversations (like that one Vance Joy song says), you go with Option #2.

Roxanne is beautiful, Cyrano. She has these eyes that, with one look, will simultaneously make you believe in love and break your heart. And when she laughed, good guv'nor. You're done. Defeated. KO'ed. You have never felt anything like this in your life, and that's not reference to the indigestion that your Thai delicacy is giving you. Your hands get sweaty, your heart starts racing and your mind is in a tizzy.

This is when you enter the realm of the Blue French Horn Conundrum. You want to do something grandiose, like stealing musical instruments. You imagine all of the possible scenarios in your head. Should you be Lloyd Dobbler from "Say Anything..." and figure out her favorite song and play it on a boombox in front of her house? Or rather, should you pull the Don Quixote approach, and try to fight windmills, all in a feeble attempt to impress your lady love. Better yet, you could pull the Shakespeare approach and write grand sonnets and soliloquies about her beauty.

You go with none of these approaches. You stay silent and reserved. You don't tell her how you feel for fear of rejection and inadequacy. And for the time being, you're content with that feeling, Cyrano. You don't want to screw anything up beyond redemption. You go through the normal feelings of jealousy when she's with another guy, or when you accidentally catch a glimpse of her phone and you see her flirting with another dude. But, Cyrano, here's what I wanna tell you.

Spend this Valentine's Day not worried about Roxanne being wooed by some other gentleman caller. Spend the time worried about her making yourself better. No, I'm not saying be like Sandy in "Grease" and change yourself or who you are in order to impress someone. In fact, I'm saying the exact opposite. Focus on the things you love about yourself, your dreams and aspirations, and make that the driving force of how you live your life. People are attracted to confidence, Cyrano, so walk tall. You can make it through this bout of unrequited love, Cyrano. Embrace the Blue French Horn Conundrum that you're in. You'll be glad you did.

Cover Image Credit: How I Met Your Mother

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Family Portrait: A Short Story Parable

She is part of this new family, and she is not mine.


"I can't imagine my life without Kelsey. I am so blessed to have her in my life," I say, dropping the last line of my speech. Standing in front of the crowd of attendees, microphone in hand, I raise my glass of cider and the guests join me in a toast.

"To Mike and Kelsey!" we chant. Tears glisten in the eyes of the guests. I tip my head back to prevent mine from pouring over the rims of my eyes. I already want her back.

Kelsey stands from her seat at the head of the bridal table. My speech is finished, but my admiration for her lingers like sugar on my teeth. The guests return to sipping on wine as strawberry crêpes from dinner plates tunnel down their throats.

Kelsey makes her way toward me. Her feet shift beneath thirteen layers of laced fabric, stark white and delicately shaped to dress her figure like a porcelain doll. Brown curls float to her shoulders. She's never looked so pure.

Kelsey embraces me, softly petting my hair. My eyes close for a moment before two women pull her away from me. I pull back, but I lose my grasp on her.

"Hi habibi! How are you?" one woman, her mother-in-law, says. She draws Kelsey into a warm hug, tracing ribbons along her back.

"What are you going to do now, hatta? Slice the cake?" the other woman, her mother-in-law's sister, says.

I stand beside them during their exchange, but they don't acknowledge me. I glance up at Kelsey, hoping to catch her eye. Look at me. I'm right here. Can you see? Please don't ignore me. She isn't facing me.

Kelsey and the two women begin to move away so I follow behind them, a lost puppy. My head lowers into a scowl. She cared about them now more than she did about me. They didn't care about me at all.

Trekking through the red-orange heat of the summer, Kelsey flows through the rose garden to the cake table. Petals cling to the edges of her dress as it rivers behind her. She sprouts past the flower buds to meet her husband at the cake table, laughing and shaking her curls like a lion's mane. Her skin glows as the sun kisses her face.

A new family, a new language, a new home. I don't understand this language. I don't know this culture. Baklava shimmers in the light of the sun. The mother-in-law says religion is everything in Jerusalem. Kelsey Salameh will be printed on all her legal documents. We no longer share the same family name. I want her back.

Her new family has the sun in their hearts, and they consume her whole. When she chokes on the bones in her throat, I fear she will have forgotten me. I will still want her back.

Kelsey is my sun, my center. Everyone calls her honey when she sits on a throne. She's been my queen since the day I was born. I want to be the one to shape the crown to fit her head. I made sure to stand beside her when the photographer took family portraits so when she crams her wedding pictures on her bedroom walls, I'll be painted beside her in her tiny picture frames. That way I couldn't be erased.

Kelsey will no longer just be a friend to her husband's family. She is their beloved addition, their new daughter and sister. She is legally bound to them. I want my sister back. She is part of this new family, and she is not mine.

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