It was your dark spiky hair. and those stylish acid-wash jeans.
Plus, your blueberry Mr. Freeze Pop eyes.
My heart pounded as you were introduced to our grade six class. The new kid. What was it about the new kid? I stared at you like a hungry animal. You became my next victim … I mean crush.
Wherever you went, I trailed behind you like a lost puppy. Then, the chance. Our desks were moved into groups of four. Imagine my disappointment though when you weren’t in my quad. I expressed my disappointment to my future ex-boyfriend, *Joshua, who sat across from me.
Joshua rolled his eyes. “What’s the big deal?”
“Like you wouldn’t want to sit with *Nadine if she were in our class?”
“Whatever,” he said. “I play hockey with the guy. He sucks.”
“Yeah,” as my eyes fluttered. “I know he plays hockey.”
What was it about a guy that played hockey? It turned a girl’s mind into mush.
Your team played after my skating practices. I’d whip off a couple of waltz jumps and single Salchows, then I’d race to the changing rooms to rip off my skates, then I’d dash to the gallery. I’d casually pass you. Saying, “Hi Wicky,” in my Elmer Fudd-style way.
But you weren’t into me. You wanted *Stella.
Stella: Tall. Blonde. Beautiful. Two eyebrows. No, Stella didn’t sport a unibrow. Or have an overbite, girl-stach or speech impediment. But I had thick brown hair? And I made really good brownies and prize winning dioramas. And I was an “A” student. I can really nerd it up, can’t I?
I remember the last day of school before Christmas break. Stella was wearing a emerald green short skirt and standing on a chair taking down the decorations. I was wearing a dorky yellow jogging suit, watching you help her remove the red and green construction paper rings from the walls.
I suppressed my urge to push Stella from that chair, only because she and I were best friends.
Remember the Christmas concert? The Nutcracker? I wanted to be Clara, but I couldn’t tryout because – at the time – I was a Jehovah’s Witness. You won the part of the Mouse King. The part of Clara? Went to *Jocelynn.
Jocelynn: Short. Blonde. Cute. Two eyebrows. Rumours flew that you liked her – and Stella. Choices, choices. But I didn’t set up a bucket of pig’s blood over Jocelynn ala Carrie the night of the concert.
Because Jocelynn was also my best friend. We studied and skating together.
I wanted you to notice me. I thought, maybe I should call. When the new phone books came out, I looked up your number. I wrote it in my diary. In purple.
I’d pick up the phone, dial and hangup. This went on for months. I worried you’d never like me. I was beginning to feel below average. Awkward. Uglier than I felt before. I even bought bleach for my stach.
Then my *Uncle Jacob gave me advice. “Tell him how you feel. Or you’ll never know, and you’ll wonder forever.” Those words still stick with me. I thought of calling you on New Year’s Eve. To wish you a Happy New Year. But I lost my nerve.
I finally told you … okay, a friend told you how I felt before the September dance in grade seven. So you’d dance with me. I though it’d be a magical moment, and you’d realize we made the perfect couple.
We did dance. And a friend snapped a photo of us. At first, I was thrilled. But you put your hands up. Shielding your face. As though you didn’t want proof of the moment. Our moment.
The next day, I confessed my feelings. And you said, “Maybe we’ll go out.”
Ricky, saying “Maybe we’ll go out” to a pre-pubescent girl whose had a mad, raging crush on you raises unimaginable hopes and dreams. I pined for you throughout the fall. Asking my friends, “Have you heard anything? Does Wicky like me?”
Then you told me – on the last day before Christmas break – you couldn’t date me. You said people were bugging you because you wanted to date me.
I was crushed. I poured my heart out to Joshua as he sat on my desk. He said you lost out. As we spoke, we were caught off guard by a friend’s camera. Joshua practically fell into my lap as he wrapped his arm around me for the photo.
I still have those two photos. One reflects embarrassment. The other – giggles and playfulness.
That’s the difference, Ricky. Even though we’re now friends, at the time you didn’t want me because of my unibrow. Which I painfully plucked. My overbite, corrected by braces. My grade seven bleached hairy lip. And slightly improved speech impediment. Both now eradicated.
Sure, Joshua and I didn’t last. But he showed me the difference between wanting someone for their personality verses appearance. Interior against exterior.
The irony is I fell for you based on your looks. In hindsight – whether he knows it or not – that Christmas Joshua taught us both a valuable lesson.
When people receive a gift, they generally toss the paper. No matter how nice the gift is wrapped.
And they focus on what’s inside.
Even if it’s short-term.
*Names changed for privacy