What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I'm back, and I've almost made it through the 525 not-automatically-sorted email messages, caught up on my blog reading, and so on.  There are a number of interesting technical questions in my backlog that I'll start getting to later this week once I dig myself out of the pile of bug reports that accumulated during my absence.

Until then, again, this was just too precious to not share.  If you only want technical stuff, stop reading now.

One of the highlights of my twice-annual return to my ancestral home is spending time with my cousins.  My five-year-old cousin Zephy takes great delight in taunting me.  Every year she teaches the small army of munchkins that she hangs out with some ditty which is to be shouted repeatedly whenever I come into view.  This year it was "Eric is evil!  Eric is evil!  Eeeeevil!"  It's quite the experience, believe me.  I suspect that the root of this behaviour has something to do with the fact that I once convinced her that Lake Huron is chock-full of Great Canadian Beaver-Sharks -- giant buck-toothed, flat-tailed sharks which subsist on a diet of driftwood, canoe paddles, wooden sailboats and little girls -- and then repeatedly threatened to throw her in the lake. In retrospect, maybe that wasn't such a good idea.

Her older sister Victoria does not believe in Beaver-Sharks.  At one point she and her friend Kelsey ran up to me (ten year old girls run everywhere) to ask if they could borrow my pair of kayaks.  "Sure.  You can always borrow the kayaks even if I'm not around as long as you tell a responsible adult that you're going out on the lake," I said.  Kelsey got a slightly worried look -- "Is my mother a responsible adult?" she deadpanned. 

For future reference: unless otherwise noted, all mothers are responsible adults

And finally, Vic has a "mad crush" on a boy, who will remain unnamed.  She wasn't sure what to do about that, and since apparently I'm an internationally recognized expert on getting boys to like you, she asked my advice.  I wasn't sure what to say -- the first girl I ever had a mad crush on I ended up dating for seven years, which is probably atypical -- so I've started surveying every 8-12 year old girl that I meet as to what they do about mad crushes.  I met an eight-year-old girl named Heather at a barbecue over the weekend and asked her.  Her detailed off-the-cuff reply showed that she'd already put a lot of thought into this question, though she had not actually needed to test her theories yet.  Allow me to quote from memory:

"There are two things you can do if you have a mad crush on a boy, you can ask him to propose marriage and if he won't, then beat him up, then send him to an island, then surround the island with huge rocks so that he can't escape, then send him Valentine's cards that say 'I HATE YOU!' but if he does propose marriage then you can kiss him and marry him and move into an apartment and have a baby and bake him a cake that says 'YOU ARE MY FAVOURITE BOYFRIEND' in the icing."

Sounds like a good plan! Any current or former 8-12 girls out there who have additional advice for surviving a mad crush (who I suppose happen to also be interested in programming language design if you're reading my blog…) please leave comments and I'll forward them on.  Run-on sentences are fine.

Comments (31)
  1. Alex says:

    I think we need an artist’s rendering of this "Great Canadian Beaver-Shark."

    As an added bonus, you’ll have the perfect cover art if you ever decide to write an O’Reilly book.

  2. KC Lemson says:

    This was just precious reading =)

  3. Sathyaish Chakravarthy says:

    He..he.. Cute! I’m glad you’re back, Eric. Hope you had a wonderful time. So, where’s this ancestral home of yours? I followed the link to your previous post, titled "Riddle me this, Google" and that was just as cute as this one. Do you read Urdu, then? And you’ve really been asked ways of breaking one’s own foot?

    This one surely cracked me up.


    Ques: I see things with my eyes.

    Eric: No kidding? Me too!


  4. Eric, this was just too cute (we ran into it last night). Thank you, you made Valorie’s evening.

  5. This is great. I actually did laugh out loud when I read "apparently I’m an internationally recognized expert on getting boys to like you".

  6. Eric Lippert finds out what they are.

  7. Eric Lippert says:

    I’ve been asking this question to my female friends. Some of the suggestions from them include:

    * "beat him up" is a popular choice

    * keep it a secret, then when he doesn’t ask you to the big dance, get all mad and tell him that you’re very disappointed and hurt. This will cause maximum confusion.

    * spread a rumour that you hate him. Use "reverse psychology" to get him to like you.

    * spread a rumour that he has a crush on you. Hope that he gets the hint.

    * chase him around the playground at recess yelling "girl germs! girl germs!" Note that this technique can be effectively countered by either the boy failing to run away — what do you do once you’ve caught him anyway? It can also be countered by being chased back. Therefore, only do this on boys who will run away.

    * etc.

    After analyzing these results, I’ve come to two conclusions. First, girls are weird. Second, I’ve got to tell all you ten year old girls reading this: girls, ten year old boys are insufficiently subtle to deduce from any of the above that you like him. They will just be confused.

    Forget this subtle emotional nonsense. Boys like the direct approach. My advice: send a note that says

    "I love you. Do you love me? Check one: [] YES [] NO"

    Then you’ll know.

  8. Centaur says:

    Shouldn’t those be radio buttons? 🙂

  9. no one. says:

    Well I was knee high to a grasshopper my note said something like this

    "I love you. Do you love me?

    []Yes []Yes

    But then I would get the note bad with []No written and checked in. oh well. =)

  10. Robert Hahn says:

    Um, Eric.

    You dated the girl for six years, not seven.

    Seeing that I married the same girl, I would know. 😉

  11. Eric Lippert says:

    Hmm, now that I count it off on my fingers, you’re right.

    Off by one errors are common amongst computer programmers.

  12. Eric Lippert says:

    More good advice from http://www.thatothergirl.com: stalk him, then pretend to hate him, then accuse him of stalking you.

    Ye gods. It’s hard to be a kid.

  13. sitnmjfjg says:

    hey eric –

    i’m a 12 year old girl in 7th grade and I don’t do any of that stuff. although I’m young, but I’m searching for love, I know that a boy my age is not looking for the same thing and I know an older boy wouldn’t want to go out with me, so what the heck do I do?

  14. Eric Lippert says:

    (I knew this would turn into an agony column.)

    Hey sitnmjfjg,

    > I don’t do any of that stuff


    > I know that a boy my age is not looking for the same thing and I know an older boy wouldn’t want to go out with me

    First off, you know those things how exactly?

    And second, hold on a minute, you’re twelve years old fer crying out loud!

    You’ve got LOADS of time to figure out what you want out of your life and how to achieve it.

    Don’t try so hard. If you’re confident and secure in yourself and open and friendly, something will happen in its own good time. Be patient. There’s no rush.

  15. sitnmjfjg, says:

    well I’m also looking for a long term relationship. sure I don’t know those things exactly, but I do know that my school is huge and I hardly see older guys anyway.

    so now what do you have to say?

  16. sitnmjfjg says:

    plus you don’t know exactly what goes on in a girl’s head, so how do you know what to say?

  17. Eric Lippert says:

    Two monks are walking through the woods. They see some ducks. The first monk says

    "I like ducks. They are always happy."

    The second monk says

    "How the heck do you know whether a duck is happy or not?! You’re not a duck! You have no idea whether a duck is happy or not!"

    The first monk says

    "How do _you_ know that _I_ don’t know whether a duck is happy? You’re not me!"


  18. osb says:

    Behold, an apparently independently evolved specimen:


  19. There were a lot of good comments and questions posted in the last two entries which deserve answers….

  20. Upanishad Morning says:

    I tried both the check-box note method and the chasing (both with plenty of help from a good friend – he had a side-kick too). The crush lasted about four years and there was flirting but we never dated. We chased them into the jungle gym and held them captive until they could sneak out, or the bell rang.

  21. Newt says:


    I am a twelve year old girl and i have some good advice to get guys to like you, don’t dress like you are a prostitute. The guy will just think you’re looking for one thing, and i don’t mean love. some other advice is, compliment him. guys have HUGE egos. no efense, Eric. i’m pretty sure that you shouldn’t pretend to be someone you’re not cuz that can just get too complicated, first you’re just doing it to get a guy to like you, next thing he thinks you’re a fireman. way to complicated. so, girls, take my advice and don’t be a slut and don’t lie to your crush.

  22. Valkyrie says:

    Hi Eric,

    I am not a twelve year old girl, but I do have a mad crush on a boy.  My tried-and-true "one week time limit" method seems doomed this time, since the week is nearly up and I won’t be seeing the boy any time soon.  Any advice for me?


  23. Eric Lippert says:

    Hey Valkyrie,

    Letting your crush know about it within a week is definitely a good idea.  Letting it drag on can be uncomfortable and weird.

    I think it is better to do these things in person when possible, but when people have busy schedules and complex lives sometimes you’ve got to send a note, email or blog comment explaining how you feel and what you want and hope for the best.  Just remember to be honest, clear, frank, direct, respectful, affectionate and enthusiastic.

    And patient. Yes, it’s hard to be patient when you have a mad crush on a boy, but if it is going to turn into something great then its worth waiting for.

  24. Felicia says:

    0_o Okay, I’ll take her advice. If it doesn’t work, you’re in trouble =) Joke.

  25. Jeff "Coding Horror" Atwood has many nice things to say about my blog and one not so nice thing. Thanks

  26. Rayne says:

    Flirt madly; they’ll figure it out. But as it so happened for me, that didn’t work. They knew about the crush, but felt it better to be "just friends" anyway. Of course, they didn’t seem to mind the obvious flirting…guess it was good for their ego. This lasted almost all the way through grammer, middle and high school…same guy too. I guess we just weren’t meant to be. LOL!

  27. Tanveer Badar says:

    Eric, how about trying this?

    "I love you. Do you love me? Check one: [] YES [] YES"

    This should work for both genders.

    And for the reference, I am 23 year old and no girl! 🙂

  28. There were a lot of good comments and questions posted in the last two entries which deserve answers.

  29. Itisha Dubey says:

    Hah..!!! It was awesome reading another side of a Coding Geek….I wish to be a coder like you Eric..:)

    I've been following your answers on stack overflow n trust me my teacher now calls me the Coder of the Class..;) all thanks to you…:)

  30. Itisha Dubey says:

    Oh!! n yea sorry for being so damn late to comment here…but just can't stop myself from commenting 🙂

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