All about IT
“I’M IN LOVE” is what I was thinking as I left the barbecue.
I was 8 years old and I had just moved from sunny California to frigid Colorado. My grandmother’s neighbors were moving soon and decided to have one last bash at their old place.
I was doing my party move, where I stand by a group of people who are enjoying themselves and pretend I’m having a jolly good time as well. And that’s about the time she walked in.
Anna J was the first girl I ever loved, which is a nice way of saying my feelings were decidedly not reciprocated.
A few weeks after the party, I began 4th grade at my brand new school. And while it will be of no surprise to the reader, imagine my shock when I walk into the classroom and there she is.
When you’re a little kid, and you’ve never been in love before, you do really dumb things. Like buy candy grams. I swear, every week they had some excuse to sell candy grams. I didn’t buy one every week. 50 cents is a pretty penny to a little boy with no allowance and an expensive Pepsi habit. But I bought one for all the big holidays: Halloween, Arbor Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
There is one that still makes my mother laugh.
Valentine’s Day fell on a Friday and there was no school that Monday. And I was done with all the “what’s your name again?” crap. So I scraped together whatever cash I could and went down to the Circle K and got her a box of chocolates, a teddy bear, and one of those little balloons on the white sticks that said “Bee Mine?” with a picture of a bumblebee that looked like it had a lazy eye and just smelled a fart.
I was so proud of myself I got a bag of gummy worms, but I didn’t have enough so I put the balloon back. I think it was a smart decision.
Back at home I was looking over my gift basket thinking it would’ve probably looked better in a basket and not the gas station bag I bought it in. I even left the receipt in case someone else had already given her that stuff, she could take it back and get something useful like a cigar lighter or a 40.
It still looked incomplete to me though, so this is what I did. I swear to God, I drew over a picture of someone being led away in cuffs that had his hands together because it’s so difficult to find a picture of people holding hands. Now it was perfect.
The next morning I gave her a note to meet me on the playground after school, forgetting that I had a whole school day until then and we had two recess periods. I avoided the playground so that there was no confusion. Finally, the bell rang.
I ran to the jungle gym as arranged. She wasn’t there. Surely she had received my message. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15. They were hours as far as I was concerned.
Then suddenly, there she was. Dragging her feet with the cutest little scowl on her face. I lit up like a Christmas tree and waved like I was about to set off for the new world.
Finally, she was right in front of me. “So what did you want to say to me?” she grumbled. I said…nothing. I swung my backpack around, unzipped it, threw the plastic bag full of crap in the air, and took off like a bat out of hell.
I jumped into my mother’s Trooper and yelled “go, go, go!” And she thought I knew something she didn’t, so she peeled out of an elementary school like armed gunmen were on our six. When we reached a safe distance, and my heart finally slowed down, I turned to my baby sister and said “Damn, I’m smooth.”