The Game of Love

My First Encounter with Romance

You won't believe this, but when I was in the fifth grade I suddenly found myself with not one, but four different boyfriends, and although I was never a two-timer, there were occasions when I actually managed to go steady with all four of them in the very same week!

But don't get the wrong impression about me. After all, I'm not that kind of girl. Besides, we're talking fifth grade here. I wasn't even in a training bra yet (I mean really, what was there to train?) Nor was I much to look at, unless you have a particular affinity for overbites and limp, straight bangs. But even so, there must have been something about me that those fellows found appealing because they were constantly showing up at my house. And no matter how clunky or awkward I was, whenever I was with them they made me feel so grown up!

Just thinking back on those days makes me smile. We went to tons of class parties and football games, and regardless of which boy I was with, he always paid my way (something I guess I took for granted, until the time I popped into the Soda Shop alone, and was stunned when it cost me a dollar!) I don't remember having classes with any of them, but it really didn't matter. When you're going steady with a cute boy, who cares about academics, right?

Not that it was all sunshine and roses. Into every romance a little rain must fall, and I certainly had my fair share of it back then. My biggest problem was competition. You see, my best friend Gail lived just down the street and we seemed to be constantly vying for the same four boys. Regardless of which one she ended up with, I was always a little jealous – even if I'd gone steady with the same guy myself just days earlier. And the very next week, when she was with somebody else – I found myself wishing he was the one taking me to the dance. Fortunately, throughout the whole ordeal, not only did our friendship survive intact, I don't recall a single unpleasant breakup scene involving any of our dates.

The remarkable thing about these boys is that they were all so different, and yet each had something special to offer. One was knock-you-over gorgeous – he was the guy all the girls seemed to be goo-goo over, but whenever I was with him I always got the impression he was more interested in the mirror than in me; one was burly and athletic, although a little on the dumb side (his favorite subject to talk about – big surprise – was football); one was intellectual and bookish (he quoted beautiful poetry and was handsome even with his glasses on); and one was admittedly dorky-looking but really, really sweet and hilarious.  This may sound odd, but I secretly liked him best of all.

In any case, at one time or another I had huge crushes on all four of them and spent hours dreaming about our futures together. But alas it was not to be. Soon I started junior high, and then high school and college, and finally I got married and had a family of my own. In short, I gradually moved on with my life – and most certainly so did they.

You know, it's funny – I hadn't thought about those guys in years, but then just last weekend I attended my 40th high school reunion, and even though I wasn't surprised that none of them were there, still I found myself sort of wondering about whatever happened to them. I came home and actually searched around on Google and even looked to see if they were on Facebook, but came up empty handed.

It's probably just as well. I think I prefer to remember them the way they were back when I was just eleven. Granted, those four boys were nothing more than paper faces glued onto cardboard, and the "dates” we went on were merely squares on the board of my Barbie Game. Still I guess a girl never really gets over her first love, and I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for that wonderful time in my life, and how special they made me feel.

I'll probably never see any of them again, but I know they're out there somewhere. So, if you should ever happen to run into Ken, Bob, Tom or Poindexter, please be sure and tell them hello for me…okay? 

 

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