Talk about living in the future! I couldn’t wait to graduate from high school so that I could attend my first reunion. I remember listening to my mother talk about the reunion she and my father had recently attended. She’d skipped a grade, and was a year ahead of herself, in the same class as my father, whom she’d dated since the 8th grade, but I remember her telling me with great delight about a man who told her at that reunion that he’d been in love with her.
And that was what I wanted and what I was looking forward to when I was still in high school; I wanted to attend a future event and have some classmate tell me he’d always had a crush on me. Somehow that would make me feel better about the crummy dating experience high school had been. A savior to restore confidence to the past me to make the future me happier.
Happened to everyone I knew. They’d go to a reunion and return with the story of a man telling them they’d been in love with them in grade school/junior high/high school. They’d been in love with them their whole lives. They still loved them. Or, those girls who started sleeping around at a young age, or the ones who had been the homecoming queen candidates would talk about an old boyfriend who’d told them how they remembered them with a grin that made them feel good. In most cases, little changed, although the woman telling me would seem surprised or touched or happy. Even my husband had a classmate tell him at his twentieth reunion–the only one he relented to attend–that she’d had a crush on him.
But no one came forward at my tenth reunion. Or the 35th. And more than likely, no one will if we have this 41st, either. Being needy, I keep hoping, but being a realist, I wonder why I think this is even likely? Who might have had a crush on me? The clown from 6th grade who senior year wrote in my yearbook that I was the most ravishing creature he’d ever met? I assumed he’d been joking. Ravishing was not an adjective I’d think to apply to my skinny, bad-skinned, stomach growling self. His pal, one of the cutest boys in our class who was beloved by many wrote an arrogant rant to me he signed “A heartbreaker.” That made me giggle, too, because of course I never was in love with him although I thought he, too, was extremely funny. My most likely candidates were the handsome boy who wrote, “Why did it take you so long to give this to me?” in my yearbook or the boy who drew a mustache on himself and said he really liked me very much. Of those men, only the arrogant one made either of the reunions. At the 10th he maintained his arrogance toward me, although he later called to make sure I knew he was kidding, which I did. At the last reunion, he was dignified and quiet, still sought after by half the women in the class.
There was the young man who sat behind me in sixth grade who always asked me to dance. (Okay, this probably happened once but in the many recountings in my mind, it’s multiplied into a full dance card.) He had white-blond hair in a crewcut that made him look bald, but he wasn’t Doug and I didn’t want to dance with him. Jamie sat across from me in 7th grade and picked out choice passages in his James Bond books for me to read, but he appeared to be in love with my friend, Debbie. He spent hours drawing pictures of her and the gap between her teeth. Years later I wondered what might have happened if he hadn’t moved . He is one of the few people who found me and contacted me pre-Facebook.
I have to make do with the scraps, the almosts that I do have. Tim was a tall skinny, silly kid who I remember as having a pimple on the end of his nose. He was girl crazy, and not someone I was interested in. He chased me down the street one day in junior high. I didn’t really notice when he disappeared, but he transferred and didn’t graduate with our class, but he found out about that 10th reunion and attended. He was still tall and thin, and handsome! I don’t know why that surprised me. His father had owned a dry cleaning store in town and I’d always thought he was handsome. Tim had a pretty wife and was a pharmacist. He said he wanted to dance with me, and although we never did, as he left, he said “It’s the thought that counts.” Not many years later it was reported he’d died of cancer.