The Early Years…
After Reed my heart hurt I lost my friend. My best friend. Lucky for me the neighborhood we lived in was full of working class families like my parents who had kids my age who aside from Thing One and Thing Two didn’t think me being small or having weird teeth was a problem. It might have helped most of those kids were boys. It also helped that my Dad was pretty cool as far as Dad’s go. He listened to his music loud, he was young. The boys in my neighborhood saw an adult who would talk to them.
At one point in my life my Dad had me so convinced he was John Lennon I took the The Beatles Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band album to school and told my classmates during show and tell my Dad was John Lennon. He did have long hair and glasses. Insert whatever emoji you feel this warrants here. I have a couple in mind.
Having the cool young Dad was helpful. Having a stunningly beautiful Mom who baked better and more than most of the Mom’s in the neighborhood didn’t hurt either.
Last but not least my godparents lived close by. Like down the street nearby. They were the first people I knew who had a microwave and I thought I was the shit because they let me cook hot dogs in it. I was a regular Julia Child. They also let me walk their two dogs. Which again caused me to think I was the shit because I was allowed to walk TWO dogs unsupervised. They were weiner dogs. Of course I was. I weighed more than them combined. Keith always called me princess and reminded me daily I was going to be beautiful and amazing. Rene had the sweetest quietest voice. She had this grace I can’t explain but I always knew I was loved when I was with her. I never, ever doubted it.
She died a few years later from cancer.
Heartbreak number two…
Sorry we went there. It’s going to happen ok? It will happen again and it will probably be a lot harder than that. I am sorry not sorry but this is my deal and my story and I can sugar coat it and wrap it up for you. Or I could be honest. I could wear it all out there. Some of it I will. Some of it I won’t. I can’t and that is not to protect you my friends. It’s to protect me.
So where were we?
Oh yup what I like to call my early years.
Aside from Reed and music class boys there were a handful of boys who caught my eye. But it was never reciprocated until it was.
He was a year older than me and it was the summer before Junior High. Some of you young whippersnappers call it Middle School now.
So where were we?
Oh yup what I like to call my early years.
The neighborhood I grew up was working middle class families like my parents, military families and welfare families. It was full of duplexes with carports and garages, full grown trees and a park on every street. But the jewel was our rec center which had a baby and two big pools. Swim lessons were free and the minute the pool opened for the summer we all lived there. It was probably the only time in my life I was tan. I would like to say to you in Middle School I glowed up as the kids say.
That would be untrue. I like most of the girls in the mid 80’s had an unfortunate mullet bob thing going on accented by way too much Sun In. However what I did have was contacts. Life altering contacts. And dentures. My whole life I have always received the same compliment. You have amazing eyes. I do. They are big and a crazy deep blue. Almost all the women and some of the men on my Dad’s side of the family have these crazy doe eyed blue eyes. Gets everyone every time. When I ditched my glasses the family eyes reeled in some attention.
I was uncomfortably ok with it. No one was a creeper. At least not yet. That will come later. Doesn’t it always thought? Doesn’t someone always have to wreck it.
He did not wreck it. In fact he taught me how to take a compliment. To protect us all we will call him Jack. He was about to start high school, was not much taller than me but so many muscles. Which I noticed because I am not a 100% he owned a shirt. If he did he didn’t wear it around me. It all started innocently enough. He and his friends were playing football near the pool. He noticed me and said hi. He introduced himself. Which to this day is ironic because he knew me. His Mom and my Mom worked together. I had even been to his house. However that was before my mini transformation. Apparently now with the contacts I could be acknowledged.
He also invited me to watch them play football. From that moment on I was marked as his. Except what we both didn’t know he had been marked by someone else. Dating is hard. Insert emoji here. Preferably the most sarcastic one you can find.
The rest of the summer he would watch me during my swim lessons. I really wanted to be a lifeguard. I would watch him play various sports. He would always walk me home.
It was really pretty innocent. Until it wasn’t. Which was not his fault. It just wasn’t. But there is always that one guy who gives someone shit because honestly they are broken. So they want everyone else to know what it feels like to be broken so they break things.
Like my heart.
Jack’s buddy also lived in our neighborhood. He had an older brother who was extremely handsome and kind. Everything he was not and made sure to try and make everyone around him feel how miserable he was being his brother. He also was short but he did not have shy brown eyes Jack had or the quite voice. He didn’t look down when he talked to me. His long eyelashes almost touching his freckles. Instead he walked me home with Jack questioning why we hadn’t kissed yet. He encouraged Jack to chew tobacco and commented on the size of other girls breasts in relation to mine. He tried to grab me and once succeeded in grabbing me between the legs one afternoon while we were all swimming in the pool. I never said anything to Jack. I just ran out of the pool mumbling I didn’t feel good. The toad telling Jack I must be on the rag. When we were alone Jack always apologized for the toad, but it always felt too late.
One walk home the toad dared Jack to kiss me. I asked him not to. I mumbled you have been chewing tobacco. Really I didn’t want my first kiss with Jack to be in front of the toad. Yet here we were. I heard Jack stop and spit something out. Then he was standing in front of me. The toad next to him. He kissed me. It should have been great. Instead it was horrible. Not because of anything other than the toad ogling us. Truly. Me being me I yelled out “Jack!” “Gross!”
The toad started laughing hysterically. I ran home. Jack just stood looking at me.
He ignored me for a long time. When I saw him a few weeks later he was with a girl who lived down the street. I was not allowed to talk to her. My Mom would never say why. I’m going to guess it was because her house was a rotating door of men and parties. Her Mom wore way too much of everything. She was actually a year younger than me but was much older than me in regards to everything else. Which even now makes me sad as I type this.
She promised the toad if he set her up with Jack she would set the toad up with her friend. The toad goading us while we kissed hurt Jack. Also, when I wasn’t around he would tell Jack girls like me think they are too good for guys like them. They just end up in the nunnery. Here is the thing I was too good for the toad. Jack was a different story.
Jack started talking to me again. When the girl would show up he would clam up. But when she wasn’t around it was us again. He told me he didn’t really like her but the toad made him feel bad and let’s be honest I was too sweet and too kind for him.
The girl found out and waited for me after swim lessons one afternoon. She and her girl version of the toad started yelling at me. I was stealing her boyfriend. They called me words I honestly had never heard before. Words which I couldn’t be since Jack was only the second boy I had ever kissed.
For once I ran. That didn’t stop it. I got home as my Mom was leaving for work. Which meant I was to stay in the house and watch my brother.
I was distraught and let him play outside as long as he promised to go get my best friend so I could sort this out.
In the meantime the phone rang. In the old days phones hung on the wall. Weird I know.
It was her – the toad had given her my number. She continued her screeching. I couldn’t speak and for some reason did not hang up. I just listened and cried.
This is what Jack wanted?
Hearbreak number three…
I finally hung up shook out of my daze by a knock at the door.
“Sean so help me…” I muttered as I went to the door. I opened it and it there was my brother. Standing behind him was a Corey Haim look alike. Friends that is a good thing in my time.
“Hi my name is Jason. We just moved here. Your brother thought I should meet you.”
With a six year age difference it was rare I tolerated my little brother but at that moment I loved him.
Single Mom of the amazing Dbl G
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