Last night I watched American Idol. And if that’s not bad enough, I was reminded of this story.
I was in the fourth grade. I was 10. I had just moved down south from Pennsyltuckey to North Carolina. It was rough. A new place. A new school. And I was dumped in the middle of a classroom, plump, freckled, dressed (often) in brown, trying to figure out a way to get rid of all the frizzy hair and all the chub-a-lub childhood
rolls which (though barely) still clung to my sides. I was miserable, but willing to make the best of it. (I guess).
There was a popular boy, Mike B. (I just had a conversation with Toby about putting full names on line. It’s not fair. So I’ll call him Mike B). He was one of those guys (and even in the fourth grade) future easies would, when in his presence, apply more lip gloss.
Mike B. rode my bus. He did. And no one really talked to me. But I’m not complaining. Not at all. I had a walkman. I had music. I loved music. It took me places. It did. It took me off of that bus no matter what went wrong that day. I often listened to “Careless Whisper” full volume and I would pretend I was level super-cool.
One day, Mike B. handed me a red, construction paper heart which read, “You’re cute.” And I was all giddy with excitement and rewound “Careless Whisper” picturing him singing the part of George Michael. To me. Yeah. He’s never gonna dance again, all his guilty rhythm, got no feet and I was the sudden shit. I was Molly Ringwald. I had a red heart. I had proof of level super-cool.
I rode that Mike B. wave for about a week. And the bus became my favorite class. And the moments to and from bus to classroom.
And then one day, I was talking to a girl. She was of equal status to Mike B. only on the Pink Ladies side. I can’t remember why she spoke to me. This was not normal. Perhaps it was all part of ‘the hilarious plan’. I sort of bragged about it. To her. I said,
Mike B. thinks I’m cute. He said so on a red heart. He gave it to me on a bus, coming home from school.
She looked at me and giggled.
Oh that, yeah. We dared him to do that. He was only kidding. Isn’t that funny?
(Yes. Very funny. HA HA HA).
Years later, I slimmed up, grew tits, tamed my bitchin hair, and gave up on level super-cool. I found friends and punk rock music. I was 14. I was not hot. But Mike B. asked for my number. Mike B. didn’t remember the me he was mean to so he asked my tits out. We said yes. I wonder if he was upset when none of us showed up. I wonder what he’s doing now. I wonder if he’s still playing football and grabbing other man-asses.