My secret love

When I was around twelve or thirteen I fell madly in love with a girl in one of my classes at school.  Since this was grade school we stayed in the same room all day long with just occasional visits to other rooms, like gym and science.  This put me ever so close to her pretty much all day because her last name began with the same letter as mine.  The teacher loved to have us sit in order because she always passed out test results and marked up homework from an alphabetically organized pile.

My seat was one person behind and to the right of hers.  This meant I got a right-quarter view that drove me to distraction most of the time.  She was always in my field of view and, when she got up, sat down, moved, or twitched my eyes would flick to her instead of where they should have been.  I missed many a homework assignment because of this.

I was shameless in my efforts to attract her attention.  I would try to help her with her coat for recess only to be told she didn’t have one; or push other guys out of the way in order to get paired with her for ballroom dancing in the gym.  This particular activity would cause my feet to grow about seven extra toes and become as big around as a tennis racquet.  Thus, I was armed (or footed actually) to cause real pain when I stepped on her feet.

She would allow me to barely touch her waist while keeping her arm straight out from her side.  I don’t remember ever being allowed to move much closer than two or three feet.  We weren’t going to win any tango championships.

I would daydream through class coming up with elaborate scenarios where I would heroically rush in and snatch her from the jaws of an alligator, or carry her from a burning building.  The inherent problems with my fantasies were that there actually had to BE an alligator about to chomp her or how to arrange a burning building.  Each bizarre thought would smolder, burst into flame, and then be extinguished immediately by a dose of cold water.  What’s that Ma’am?  The country to the south of France?  Denmark, maybe?

As the school year dragged on decade by decade, her defenses began to crumble.  Occasionally she would glance in my direction and almost smile.  At Christmastime I helped rig the name drawing with a little deception (and a big hand from my friend who was picked to draw the names).  I ‘drew’ her name.  Now, if only I had a clue as to what to give her.

I agonized over the present for days; rapidly thinking of objects and just as rapidly rejecting them as not suitable.  What could I possibly get her that she might appreciate?  My little bank jar had exactly seven dollars and assorted coins.  I had no idea how much diamonds cost, probably a lot, so that was out.  Besides, her parents wouldn’t let he wear them anyway.  Clothes?  No, not hardly.  I tried to remember if I had ever seen her with a hair ribbon.  No, that’s not right either – too simple.

I began to ask her friends if she had given them any hints.  One of them told me she needed a new bicycle.  I could barely afford the new inner tube I bought for mine much less buying a whole bike; that was out.  Our ‘mall’ was actually a collection of five and dime, hardware, and grocery stores at the edge of our development but I spent a huge amount of time over the weekend there prowling the stores for an idea.  Finally, I found it.  It was the perfect gift – practical, yet with a certain whimsy she was sure to like.  She would surely throw her arms around me and we would share a kiss.

Finally, the big day arrived.  We put away our books, circled the desks, and loaded down a table in the middle with our gifts to each other.  Slowly, piece by piece, each gift was handed out to the proper person and everyone watched as it was opened.  I could hardly contain myself as the presents on the table were handed out.  At last, the ‘elf’ lifted my gift and called out her name.

She stepped up and accepted it from him, then sat back down to open it.  All eyes turned to her as she ripped the paper off … an ant farm.  A stunned silence fell over the classroom as the kids stared at her.  Oh, how could I have been so stupid!  What the hell was I doing buying her an ant farm?  As I prepared to slink into the coat room, she snickered and began to chuckle.  Through a rising tide of laughter my face began turning a deep shade of red.  She looked around and, once she met my eyes, she gave a big smile and mouthed the words “Thank you”.

Later, when all the gifts had been given, cake cut and eaten, and ice cream slurped she came over to me and asked:  “How did you know that I have wanted an ant farm for so long?”

“I dunno, Deanna, just lucky I guess” I mumbled.

Then she did lean over and brushed her lips along my cheek.  I was invincible and ready to fight off any alligators that tried to chomp her.

T.O.M.

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One Response to “My secret love”

  1. Rocky Humbert Says:

    A nice story, with an O’Henry ending. Most enjoyable !!

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