Friday, January 07, 2005

 

Love's Labour Lost and Found (A Random Anecdote)

We're hard at work on the February issue right now, and while I'm generally not a big fan of Valentine's Day, there have been times over the years where an errant Cupid's arrow actually manages to burrow its way under my armor and I find myself suddenly reflecting on the loves of my life. At times like this, I always think of The Waterboys song, And A Bang On the Ear, in which Mike Scott sings, sadly and fondly, about all the loves of his life.

If I was precocious about anything, it was about girls. I liked them from second grade. They smelled so much better than we boys, they were way smarter, and (this was the cruncher) they laughed at my jokes. Which was important for a boy who, for most of his life, was not the paragon of manhood he is now (see, right now, the girls are laughing, but the guys missed the joke), but was instead more like the skinny guy in a Charles Atlas ad, plus bowl-shaped head of hair and ugly glasses.

Liz was the first (no, you perverts. This was elementary school, for crissakes. Give a guy a moment of sentimental, chaste love, will ya? At least til we get to my teens, okay???). She was the older woman, the smartest in the class. We used to line up at recess and walk the two blocks from our school to the local park, and one day Liz grabbed my hand and announced that I was henceforth her "steady" line buddy. So I was. At first, it was just one of those things, you know? Someone bigger and more domineering tells you what to do and--hey, you're just a kid--so you do it. But then I got to looking forward to recess and the touch of that hand.

By third grade, Liz and I were cast as Hansel and Gretel (not respectively) in a school play. Here was the odd thing: it was all in French. Which meant we cavorted around the basement lunchroom in some kind of makeshift lederhosen but had to speak our lines en francais. In our first rehearsal, the teacher/director (who was a French exchange student working at the school, so that would explain the language shift) improvised a scene where we slept in the woods and awoke the next morning to find the witch's house. I was already looking forward to the moment (for so my teacher promised) when I would get to push Lisa Jo Gibson (who played the witch) into the fire (a cardboard box painted red) in Act III.

So I wasn't really paying attention when the teacher said, in her sing-songy English-is-not-my-first-language voice, "Bon. Now zee brozair and seester, zay kees good morning!" I turned and said, "Huh?" and Liz planted one on me, right full smack bang on the lips.

Bon matin!

We were supposed to kiss each other on both cheeks, which is the custom of French relations, so we had to do the scene all over again, which was just fine with me, let me tell you. So THAT'S why they show this stuff on TV so much, I thought. I mean, even the Six Million Dollar Man kissed Jamie Sommers a time or two. Incidentally, that became my pet name for her. She was my Bionic Woman.

And then, the end of that year, my parents transferred me to a Catholic grade school closer to home. Liz's mom and my mom promised we'd all get together over the summer, but it never happened and I never saw Liz again (although we wrote to each other right up into 8th grade--a long time for kids that crushed on each other in 2nd and 3rd). She found me a couple years ago through classmates.com and we shared some lovely e-mails, but after I started this job I e-mailed her once or twice and never heard back. Still, it was nice to hear from her and to realize the moments I remembered were just as important to her.

At first I was pretty miserable at the Catholic school, although one of my best friends from home was there. And I have to admit that I missed Liz. That is, until I saw Maryanne...

Comments:
Can't wait to hear about MaryAnn!
Very funny story.

Sharfa
 
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