When love was more blind than Helen Keller.
Every now and then…a song will come on the TV or the DVD player that makes my heart stutter-stop-stutter-putter-putter-pfftt….leaving me breathless and gripping my kid’s sippy cup. What really sends me over the edge is when I hear the Phonics chart being recited. A-apple, Buh-ball….
I’m not a freak, okay? I have a perfectly logical explanation. Young love. His name was Craig, we were 5 and nothing else mattered except me, him and chocolate milk. I’m not sure who made the first move…but I DO remember what…or rather who brought us together, like industrial strength magnets. The Glue Sniffer. That’s what we called him. He wore Garanimals and smelled like stale pee-pee and cat food. The wet kind in a can.
We were hanging out at the craft table….me, Craig and a couple of other kids. Cutting, pasting, throwing silver glitter all over the place in the name of creative brilliance. It was at the precise, exact, VERY same moment that Craig and I witnessed what would become the catalyst of our untainted love. The Sniffer. He was all crouched in a corner over by the Puppet Palace with a jar of paste. The kind with the stick attached to the lid. Each time he’d pull the stick up and out the paste, his body would quiver in ecstasy as he’d smear a little on his upper lip…closing his eyes and inhaling deeply.
It was obvious that Craig and I had the same jacked up sense of humor because we fell OWT, ya’ll! Holding onto each other, laughing like a couple of baby donkeys. When we were able to catch our breath, our eyes met. His were brown. So brown that you couldn’t see the black dot in the middle. He said MY eyes were the same color as the underside of a bluegill. That’s a fish. And it was obvious that this pleased him greatly.
We bonded over chocolate milk like miniature crack-heads. Neither one of us was allowed to have the stuff at home because it made us stupid-hyper, so when the milk cart came around at school, we were ignorant and snatchy. When Craig’s birthday rolled around, I was the only girl invited to his party. After everyone else had gone, Craig whispered, “You wanna see my room?”
Oh, did I ever!! He had bunk-beds with matching blue chenille bedspreads. He seemed antsy. I could tell he’d lured me to his bedroom with ulterior motives. I sat on the bottom bunk and started bouncing up and down. He cleared his throat and started fishing around in the pocket of his Sears brand corduroys with double re-enforced knees. He sniffed like Don Knotts and said “C’mere.” So I did. Because how could I resist? Then, like a man holding out a flawless 8 carats, he presented me with my first piece of boyfriend jewelry. A beautiful ring that looked like love and rainbows all braided together. It fit perfectly. Turns out his dad was some type of engineer and had brought home a bunch of multi-colored wires so Craig could construct a token of his affection.
A couple of weeks later, we were busted for kissing in the milk line and given a stern Just-Say-No-For-Jesus speech by our teacher, Ms. Cherry. After that, we were watched like two maximum security prisoners. After graduation, I moved away…leaving a small piece of my heart on the shores of Lake Erie.
I looked him up about a year ago….you know….out of curiosity. He’s in prison now for stealing fish and criminal mischief. I pulled out our class photo, to look at him one last time before sticking him in the attic with the rest of “them”. My god, I must’ve loved the boy. I hadn’t even noticed that half his face was covered with a huge brown birthmark.
So Craig….I’m fist-bumping you through the visitation plexi-glass…remembering my first brush with that wiley, witchy little thing called Love. Up with hope!
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