Thursday, December 18, 2008

Self Depreciating Childhood Nostalgia pt. 5

Something awesome happened in 1991, at the beginning of fourth grade. The girl I'd had a crush on since first grade Sunday school transferred to my regular, secular school and was placed in my class. Holy shit! Overnight, I went from seeing her one day a week to six. Damn hard to strike up a relationship if all you've got to work with is a half hour after church. But six solid days? Almost 40 hours during the week? That little taint of time on Sunday becomes just the icing on the crush-cake. It was time to enter a whole new realm of crush-dom with this girl.

I'm not all over her at first. One must give the most delicate flower plenty of light in which to grow, you dig? So I play it cool, making small but sustainable progress. Little by little, the days tick by, and by the end of fourth grade we're totally friendly with one another. She's not just that girl from church anymore, and I'm not just that kid in the back of the class drawing pictures of our stick figures kissing at Six Flags. Fifth grade comes along and we're both chosen to be class monitors for the third grade teacher. Holy Shit Again! Now we've got an hour of one-on-one time, three days a week on top of everything else.

Things are going great, I'm "the funniest boy in the class", we talk and gossip together for what feels like hours at a time. Needless to say (since I'm such a Don Quioxte with the ladies) when her fifth grade birthday party came around that December, I'm on the invite list, which happened to be rather exclusive. Only the brightest stars of P.S. 153's class 5-313 made the cut, and as far as boys that were invited, it was just me and a couple of my best friends. Holy Shit 3: Shit United!

It was a theme party, the kids were supposed to come dressed as 50's era greasers. My mom came through in the clutch, and I looked great: slicked back black hair, sunglasses, plain white tee and bright blue jeans. I even had a box of Sun-Maid raisins rolled into my sleeve like a pack of cigarettes. Teeth are brushed, shoes are shined, I am ready for this fucking party, right?

As soon as I arrive, something is amiss. I could be wrong about this, memory being what it is, but I recall being the only one that dressed up. It's more likely that all the other kids (and their moms) didn't take it quite as seriously and had just tiny little 50's era flourishes attached to their usual early 90's garb. But no matter: my crush gives me a big hug and says I "look great". Whew!

So like I said, as far as boys, it's just me and some of my best friends at the time. One of them is my buddy Drew, who I'd never really considered a threat to my romantic aspirations. Just my bro, one of the boys, a dude of his time, shit like that. He had a fake tattoo on his forearm (WHY THE HELL DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT) and a pair of sunglasses that he wasn't even wearing, they were just hanging from his shirt. Damn.

The Pepsi had been flowing all night, so it wasn't long before the conversation turned to that topic of topics: Who likes who? (we didn't know the proper usage of "whom" back then). Drew is sitting there looking nonchalant, while I'm starting to squirm under the weight of my anticipation. Does she like me too? I bet she does. Jesus Christ, maybe she'll confess to it in front of all our friends, tonight, and we can smooch above the bowl of cheetos while the others thunderously applaud. That would be incredible.

The girls decide to go first and sacks upon sacks of giggles come blorpin to the surface as they confess their crushes. One girl says it's my friend Justin (who gives a flying fuck about Justin?), another actually starts to say my name, then turns red and goes into the bathroom (she looks like shit though, so I pretend not to hear her). Then the unexpected. The next four girls, one after the other, all say their crush is Drew. Wow! Good for him! I don't really see it, as he's shorter than me and not nearly as funny, but whatever. I'm no hater. Good for Drew.

I'm pondering this, what all those girls find so alluring about him, when my crush takes a sip of soda and starts to blush. "Oh boy...", I think. "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy..." I am so confident in this moment. I rolled a box of raisins into my shirtsleeve for fuck's sake!

"Drew. I like Drew too."

All the girls giggle. Drew (fucking Drew) starts to smile. He's likes her too, has all along, never breathed a fucking word of it to me.

So, I'm pretty destroyed. I'm sitting on the couch plowing into a bowl of Utz trying not to cry when her mom comes downstairs to announce that there would be a pie eating contest in five minutes. WAIT JUST A SECOND! Competitive eating! Before it was even a thing! I can totally kick Drew's ass at eating, and in front of my crush, no less! When she sees me scarf down a pie like a billion times faster than Drew, it's all going to become crystal clear to her. It's me! I'm the better choice! Look how fast I eat pie!

We line up at the table and put our hands behind our back. I'm standing right next to Drew, and I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything to him before we started, but if I could do it all over I'd look him cold in the eye and be all like "Eat your heart out, son" before launching into my pie. You're in my house now.

The whistle blows and I slam my face right into the pie. The girls are nibbling around the edges, trying to stay clean - fuck that. I'm in it to win it. I finish the pie in like 30 seconds flat, just biting and gulping, biting and gulping. It's in my hair and all over my face when I raise my head and triumphantly ring out: I'M FINISHED!

Daniel Plainview has nothing on me in this moment.

With cherry filling burning my eyes, I see that Drew never even started on his pie. He and my crush are painting on each other's faces with blueberry sauce from her pie while her mom laughs and takes pictures. The following week, I would see them holding hands on the playground and kiss underneath the monkey bars, kicking me in the balls once and for all. But for now: My shirt is ruined, the shit is in my hair, all they care about is each other and I just...ate...a whole!

Red barf everywhere. In my nose, in my shoes. My belt buckle.

Now the tears come. It's all way, way too much.

My Dad is summoned to pick me up, with green(!) sweat pants and a new shirt for me to wear. Drew says he's sorry I'm not feeling good, do I still want to come play Sega tomorrow. No, I don't fucking want to play Sega tomorrow. I want to go home and drown myself in the tub.

Drew and Lori (did I never say her name? It's Lori). Drew and Lori are the big, beautiful power couple for all of fifth grade. He even tries to tongue kiss her at Jill Rockwitz' birthday party in the spring, which produces a slap on his cheek and a big blush from her. You motherfucker.

I can't say if she ever knew how much I went through that night. Probably not. As far as she knows, I was just embarrassed from throwing up on myself. I mean, I never told her how I felt, so how would she have known? I caught up with her on MySpace last year, she's married now and lives upstate.

Not to Drew, thank god. Boy would that suck!