You’re in 6th grade and you’re a dorky kid with acne, a really bad haircut,
blackheads that populate your face like buckshot and the fashion sense of Pee Wee Herman.
Every teacher’s nightmare, you are a somewhat uninspired student that only dreams of playing the guitar
and reading books.
This particular year takes you by surprise,
gets your freak on, because there’s this girl you see when you walk from class to class in that stupid straight line.
She smiles at you and you smile at her.
Yeah, that’s groovy, my man.
Hormones declare war somewhere inside your hideous purple pants with those terribly-coloured maroon pockets.
And although you’re no slave to fashion, these pants are cool.
You want her (or so you think) but you’ve yet to say so much as a word to her.
It seems too awkward.
You, are awkward, too.
Today she’s wearing an emerald green ribbed turtleneck with a matching green tartan-plaid skirt.
There’s a white bow in her dark brown hair and you discover that her eyes are chocolate brown, just like yours.
She has a nice smile and lips as crimson as a sun-ripened tomato.
You almost imagine her sitting in her room, gazing out of her window and wondering if she’s pretty.
And she is.
‘If you could read my mind, love.’ – Gordon Lightfoot
[you throw up in your mouth a little bit at that one lyric]
In one day, you find out that her name is Kathy and that she isn’t going out with anyone.
Her BFF Debbie says to you, She thinks you’re cute.
Ask her if she wants to go steady, you say.
(Does anyone ‘go steady’ anymore? You wonder to yourself.)
The next day Debbie gives you a small envelope and says, “This is from Kathy.”
Inside is a short letter of boyfriend acceptance and a small picture of her from the yearbook
(definitely not suitable for framing)
So, we’re going out, you think.
In that same train of thought, a switch fucks up, trains collide and you think, now what the hell am I supposed to do?
As a 6th Grader you are no good at romance and you’re even worse as a student.
The days pass like honey through a sieve and you see each other several times during the day.
The relationship has inextricably moved to the ‘greeting’ stage.
Hi, you say.
Hi back, she says, smiling.
It’s all good.
This goes on for what seems like two years but in reality is two weeks because you are too damn obtuse to know what to do next, what the girl really wants.
Hi, you say.
Hi back, she says, now sounding kinda pissed off.
You haven’t done anything.
You. Have. Not. Done. Anything.
Debbie stops you in the hall a few days later and says, “Kathy has a message for you. She says, ‘sit on this and rotate’.”
She walks away and you’re left standing alone in the antiseptic smelling and all too shiny middle school hallway wondering what the hell ‘sit on this and rotate’ actually means.
It must be good, you think.
You talk to Bobby Collins, the oldest kid in the neighborhood and ask him what it means.
He laughs, holds up his middle finger and says, “Sit on this and rotate.”
While Bobby pees his pants from laughing so hard, you start laughing too as you slowly begin to understand the absurdity of love [life] [courtship] [and ultimately, the female gender]
You realize you have much to learn about this ‘going steady’ thing.
In your mind, you can hear Beaver Cleever saying to his older brother,
“Gee, Wally . . . girls are kinda icky, huh?”
You don’t really believe that and you just can’t stop wondering what it would have been like just to hold her hand.