This blog entry is inspired by a blog entry I inspired at Velvet Sacks.
I thought she was the one.
I really liked the fourth grade. Fourth grade was when I got my first pouch (don’t call it a fanny pack!). Fourth grade was when I met the Eds: Edwin and Edward. And, fourth grade was when I first laid eyes on her. She. Was. Beautiful.
I knew I had to make her my girl. Problem was: I was the kid who thought the pouch around his waist was really cool (I mean, it was cool—where else could I store my hip shades and my pencils and baseball cards). Let me put it mildly: even at the ripe young age of 10, I was undoubtedly of the nerd persuasion… and she most certainly was not.
Day after day, I did all I could to muster the courage to talk to her. Day after day, I would approach her, look into her eyes and chicken out. Day after day, I walked past her without having said a single word, shoulders slumped in defeat.
One night I decided I’d had enough of my cowardice. I would be a man of action. I would write a letter—not just any letter, no—a love letter.
Perhaps most smitten fourth graders moved to draft such an epistle would have gathered some paper and a writing implement (pencil, marker, crayon?). I, however, went straight for my father’s electric typewriter.
I flipped up the paper guide and inserted a blank piece of white paper behind the roller. I rolled the paper into place and, looking both ways to ensure no one was watching, composed what was sure to become my magnum opus. The words poured forth, almost too fast for my then undersized digits. What follows is my best recollection of the content of the composition.
For the sake of maintaining anonymity, let’s call her Susie.
I got this far, and, for the first time since I had begun typing, was at a loss for words. How should I sign my name? First name only? First and last name? I clammed up and began to sweat. What was I doing? Could I really reveal my innermost sentiments? What if she laughed at me? What if she showed the letter to her friends and they all laughed at me?
You are the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen. Your eyes sparkle like the stars. When you smile, I feel like I am in the clouds. I feel happy whenever I see your face or hear your voice. I like you so much. Would you like to be my girlfriend?
I wrestled with how to conclude, when my mother walked into the room and asked me what I was typing. She probably assumed I was writing a story, as I would sometimes do on my father’s typewriter.
I hurriedly concluded:
Your secret admirer
Yes, I see the inconsistency. In the body of the letter, I asked Susie to be my girlfriend, yet I evaded self-revelation. I know: she couldn’t accept my offer if she wanted to. But, don’t worry—I was never in any danger of having missed my big chance for failing to identify myself.
I flipped up the paper guide and slid the paper out of the machine and promptly folded it into fourths and placed it in my pouch.
The next day at school, I waited for my opportunity. All day, I was a sweaty preadolescent shell of my normal self. Every few minutes, I would discreetly unzip my pouch and feel for the note just to make sure it was still there. At day's end, I still had not given her my letter.
Finally, my opportunity arrived. Our end-of-the-day routine was to put our chairs upside down on top of our desks so that the janitors could sweep the floor; we’d then line up for the bus. At the appropriate time, I promptly flipped my chair onto my desk and loitered a safe distance behind Susie’s desk. As she placed her chair on her desk and began walking for the line by the door, I followed closely behind, slipping the note between her desk and chair. My plan was for her to arrive at school the next day and find the note first thing in the morning.
The package placed, I headed straight for the line, feeling at once emboldened and terrified. My inner self-talk went a little something like this: “I did it! What have I just done?!” How I would wait an entire day to see her reaction I did not know. I hadn’t yet thought of a follow-up plan. I guess I would have to gauge her reaction. If she seemed intrigued, I’d reveal myself. If not, then—
Suddenly, Susie realized she had left something in her desk. She stepped out of line and sprinted to her desk. She reached in to grab her New Kids on the Block jumbo display pin when something caught her eye—a corner of white paper between her chair and desk.
She pulled it out and began to read it. I watched but tried not to look like I was watching, my heart pounding somewhere in the range of 300-400 beats per minute. I felt like I might pass out. She finished the letter. I tried to make out the expression on her face. Was it flattery? Was it excitement? No. It was definitely not flattery or excitement. Her reaction was most surprising. Susie instantly burst into tears, somehow seriously disturbed by the notion that a classmate of hers had a crush on her.
“What’s wrong, Susie?” my teacher asked.
“Th-this,” she said thrusting the note in front of her.
My teacher took the note from her hand. She read it and instantly looked at me. It was not difficult for her to guess who the secret admirer was who had written—nay, typed—this love letter. I had transitioned from subtle observation to outright gawking at the disaster unfolding before my very eyes.
Sweat was pouring down my face (it wasn’t the first or last time in my life I had sweat so profusely in response to stress). I knew that this relationship was over.
I never spoke another word to Susie. To be honest, I’m not sure if I ever did speak a word to her before the incident. This, however, definitely ended things between us. My crush lingered in painful suspended animation for the duration of the school year. It took summer vacation to fully recover.
I knew I had to get tough. This would merely be the first in a long line of rejections and misadventures I would have to endure until I found the one. The real one.