The first guy to ever ghost me was a freakishly tall swimmer I met at freshman orientation the summer before college started. I secretly thought of him as Ken Doll thanks to his golden blond hair, intimidating six-pack, and last name (Kendall). We texted all summer, then happened to be assigned to live in dorm rooms across the hall from each other. We made out for three weeks underneath the shelves of protein powder and Velveeta in his dorm, and I completely fell for him. Then he disappeared. I saw the guy who ghosted me in the elevator bank of our building a month later and have never felt my stomach lurch quite so hard.
You know the Tower of Terror ride at Disney, the Twilight Zone-themed free fall that plunges you down 130 feet at a speed of 39 miles per hour? That's like half of how physically terrifying it is to run into your ghost.
I actually spent several weeks living in fear of that moment. The walk from my dorm to my classes took a solid 12 minutes, and I used most of that time to plan elaborate speeches in my head that struck the right mix of self-righteous anger and glossy hair flips. When I got really worked up, I actually muttered the lines out loud and saved the best ones in an iPhone note.
When the actual moment came, it was both better and worse than I could have ever imagined. Here's exactly what it's like to run into your ghost — and emerge victorious.
1. You Feel Shock
Your brain and body go on high alert. This is what you learned about in ninth grade biology — a fight or flight response. Your heart rate goes up, your lungs go haywire, and you freak the eff out.
I spotted Ken Doll just as I was exiting the elevator with my sister on our way to the all-you-can-eat brunch special at the dining hall. He was walking toward the elevator, about to press the button to go up.
Cue the Tower of Terror feels, but worse.
2. You Reckon With The Situation
At this point, it briefly occurred to me that I had a fresh blowout and was wearing a very cute dress, while he was in ratty sweatpants and had, like, six days of scruff (and not in a sexy way). My lip gloss was popping. His eyes were bleary and bloodshot. I looked hot; he looked hungover.
I'm not really a religious or spiritual person, but sometimes I believe in karma — this was one of those times.
3. You Know It's Decision Time
I had a split-second to figure out what to do. All those weeks of practicing Shonda Rhimes-style speeches? Yeah, they did not prepare me adequately. Because while it's one thing to dream up the kind of speech Olivia Pope could hurl at the leader of the free world, reducing him to a shriveled pile of feelings, it's another thing to actually deliver it. That sh*t is scary.
4. You Go For The Confrontation
Ken Doll lowered his eyes and tried to slip past me into the elevator, but he's a big dude, and there was no way he could actually hide from me. Everyone knows when there's an elephant in the room, or an oversized man in a tiny elevator.
Of course, I'd been hurt by the initial ghosting. It sucked to see the closed door to his dorm room every single day. It sucked to get my hopes up every time my phone pinged, only to realize it was never his name on my screen. But his attempt to dodge me in person seemed even crueler.
Like, b*tch, you're really going to ignore me? I see you.
So I threw out my Shonda speech. I leaned against the elevator door so it couldn't close, made my voice sweet as honey, and told him that we were going to talk about what he did.
"B-but I have to go upstairs for a thing," he said, wide-eyed, as if there was possibly anything pressing to do in his dorm room at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday.
"Oh, no, we're going to talk right now," I told him.
I called him a "sh*tty person." I said a lot of other things that I probably can't write here, even with asterisks blurring out the swear words. I told him that Velveeta is the grossest kind of cheese he could possibly stockpile, and also, how dare he ignore me like that?
5. You Emerge Victorious
I sashayed away with a perfect hair flip (karma is real, you guys!) and got to gorge on all-you-can-eat French toast and victory.
Inevitably, I kept running into my ghost throughout the next four years — in the library, between classes, and even at our senior formal.
But he could never make eye contact with me again. I shamed my ghost into a metaphorical grave — and you can, too.
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