The First Time

This story takes place in that lost era where alphanumeric pagers, party lines, six digit phone numbers, and phones with large rotary dials were the arsenal through which boys paid court to pretty girls.

If I could actually talk to one: I had failed miserably in my previous, albeit aborted efforts.

That was high school for me: an otherwise normal little boy who suddenly turns mute in front of the pretty ones. Being mute, I was prone to gawking at girls from the convent school across the street. My ogling usually led to nothing, mostly because I had nothing substantial to say. What was I supposed to say? “Hi. I’m your friendly neighborhood stalker from that group of creepy geeks watching you across the way.” I don’t think so.

You see, I developed this rather large but harmless crush on this girl I would often pass by on the way home. To my hormone-addled mind, she was Aphrodite reincarnated. She was possessed of a diminutive, feisty, baby-faced cuteness. Her hair, skin, and cheekbones betrayed her Castillan ancestry. Her soft eyes and dewy lips quelled speech and obliterated any good judgment. My beloved was pretty. I’m sure she knew it.

Since my crush was rather large, I did little but think about her all day. Since it was harmless, I was content to do nothing about it other than doodle her name on my notebook. I thought no one would notice. Not that I wanted anyone to know. I quite enjoyed being quixotic.

Only this friend of mine, Ben, had any idea at all. We did many things for the school together, and worked off each other many times after hours. Being a quick study, he readily noticed my face grow long if I failed to get just a glimpse in the afternoon. I never heard the end of it.

Despite all the teasing, Ben was always giving me advice. The advice usually came out of nowhere: whether we were serving at choir or shooting hoops after class, it didn’t matter. I guess it wasn’t such a pretty sight to see me mope after some unreasonably pretty person.

“If I don’t get the girl after three months, that’s it for me. I’m out,” Ben said one afternoon while shooting hoops.
“Three months?” I was incredulous. “Isn’t that a bit short?”
“My dignity can only take so much.”

Eventually the hopelessness of my crush became a running joke between us. What hope did I dare have? I had no experience talking to a girl I really liked, let alone approach one. As far as she was concerned, I might as well be the little boy trying to sell her garlands after class. I didn’t exist, and I didn’t matter.

Such was the level of humor associated with my futility that I didn’t think twice when someone answering to the name of my beloved rang my house one day asking for me. Only one guy could be so low as to pull off a stunt like this.

“Fuck you, Ben!” I screamed into the handset. I was sure this was yet another of his many pranks.
“Ben? Is that his name?” A woman’s voice was on the other end. It obviously wasn’t Ben.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else. I was told that…”
“This is Kate,” she cut me off. “I guess Ben’s a good friend of yours.”
“I guess you could…”
CLICK. She cut me off again.

A week later, Ben tells me he saw Kate hanging out with a huge specimen of a man. Not that I cared. Cross my heart.


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