Being in high school, Miles had no idea there were girls in the world who might be nice to some boy who’d suffered the misfortune of falling in love with them, even when they couldn’t return the favor. Charlene Gardiner was such a girl. Instead of seeing Miles’s crush on her as an occasion for ridicule – by far the most effective cure for a crush – she managed to convey that both Miles and his infatuation were sweet. She didn’t encourage him to persist in his folly, but neither could she bring herself to treat his devotion as something shabby or worthless. Mockery and contempt Miles would’ve understood and accepted as his due, but affection and gratitude confused him deeply. Gratitude for her kindness clouded his judgement, and the proximity she allowed him was simply too intoxicating to give up, so he convinced himself that her fondness was merely the beginning, that if given the opportunity it would metamorphose quite naturally into love. He made no connection between Charlene Gardiner’s kindness to him and his own kindness to Cindy Whiting, an analogy that might have proved instructive.