6th grade was awful. I’d rather have a never-ending yeast infection, than relive the emotional intensity of early junior high. But to be fair, it wasn’t all bad because the year ended with my first boyfriend.
I was out of the wheelchair. Thank fucking god. (See earlier blog post). I crushed easily back then. So if a boy even smiled at me or honestly, if he just didn’t refer to me as “thunder thighs,” which was my nickname for two years straight then, I was basically in love. Even with that pretty low standard, it was still slim pickings. But there was one, the new guy at school. He name was Jeremy Doodler and he was dorky as could be. He wore tight jean shorts and had buck teeth. Not only did he not call me “thunder thighs,” he like...flirted with me. He would asked to play pencil war during class. In my head it was pencil kissing, and I loved every second of it. Even though he was making battle noises and was absolutely playing pencil war, I felt our chemistry. Yes, he was a complete nerd and quoted “I Dream of Jeanie” and “I Love Lucy” on a daily basis. I mean, who watched those shows other than old people? Apparently Jeremy Doodler did.
For the first time, a boy didn’t look at me with disgust, irritation or as a target. For some reason, I was at the bottom of the pecking order at our school. Even the less popular boys who would get bullied for being bad at flag football would then turn around and call me “thunder thighs.” Some of the those boys were way chubbier than me, but I guess that didn’t matter.
I attended a private school in the suburbs of New Orleans. It was the most expensive school in the South. A lot of the kids came from old money and their last names meant something. (To me it just meant that they were dicks). I was able to attend due to the money that my brother and I inherited from my mother after she was murdered. I was one when that happened. Since my father never troubled himself to get any sort of job, he lived off our inheritance too, and so by this time, the money was dwindling and things weren’t looking so great. Our beautiful, modern-looking house which my parents bought (with my mother’s money) just before I was born, was getting uglier and dirtier. There were rats and flying roaches. The year prior, my dad had kicked out my grandmother who had been watching over me and whom I loved dearly. She was the one who got me dressed and fed me. So after she left, I’d often go to school wearing unwashed clothes paired with greasy hair. Our bathtub was so plugged up and moldy, you felt filthier after taking a shower. So a lot of the time I wouldn’t even bother. I guess all the kids saw a weakness in me, and they were right. Well, all but one…
Jeremy treated me like I was one of the pretty ones. He would stare at me across the room in Mr. Evan’s English class and whenever I would glance his way, he’d immediately look to Mr. Evan’s and nod as if he just explained the meaning of life or an alternative ending to an “I Love Lucy” episode. I think Jeremy was just as smitten as I was. Whenever we were together, all that noise melted away. I mean, literal noise since kids would shout at us. Jeremy would nervously laugh after they ridiculed him and pretend that he was in on the joke. He’d then turn right back to me and continue to tell me more about another Nick at Nite TV show that I had never heard of.
One afternoon, Carson Platte, a kid who was one of the meaner bullies in school and always had long bangs in his eyes which apparently kept him complacent and on the dumb side, approached us as school was letting out. The last time Carson came up to me he called me “ugly.” I was alone on the swing set when this happened, already feeling lonely. I didn’t want Carson to call me “ugly” in front of Jeremy. I was afraid that he might convince Jeremy that I was actually ugly after all. I started to get really tense.
“Have you guys kissed yet? You have to kiss. I kiss my girlfriend all the time. Just close your eyes and do it, ” he said and then walked away, surprisingly without muttering the words “ugly” or even “Porcupine Perkinson.” Weird. Was he fucking with us? Why was he so adamant about Jeremy and I getting it on? I was confused, but more than that, I was embarrassed. Jeremy and I both turned red. At that moment, we were incapable of looking at each other. We were both in shock and equally weirded out.
Jeremy and I walked home from school together that day. Since both his parents worked, my dad offered Mrs. Doodler to pick him up from our house. My dad wanted to sleep with Mrs. Doodler, so he would use any excuse to have her closer to his bed. I loved it because we could finally be together without anyone interrupting us with insults.
We took the secluded short cut to get to my house which meant walking down empty railroad tracks. Jeremy and I usually talked a lot, but today was different. It was hot that day but our 13 year old fear was way thicker than the humid air. We shuffled our feet in the railroad rocks in silence until he cleared his cracking pubescent voice, “Did you like… want to kiss?”
Time stopped. Well, I wanted it to at least. This was it. This was the moment I had always fantasized about. My first kiss. No, I wasn’t in a field in Italy with a cute 19 year old young man who was painting me nude, but I was on empty railroad tracks with a boy who thought I was cool. And that was good enough for me.
“Ummmmm..sure.” I said hesitantly. Although in my mind I had already been making out with him this whole walk home.
We stood in the middle of the railroad tracks nervously shifting our bodies while darting our eyes, figuring out who the hell was going to do what and what body part went where.
“Yeah, let’s do it.” Jeremy said, stalling for time.
“Okay.” I said, reassuring him that I was totally down with this game plan.
We repeated this 2 line conversation a few times word for word until he came up with an actual plan.
“So let’s just close our eyes and count to three.”
“Okay,” I said. Again, I was down, dude.
I closed my eyes. And in that blackness there were nerves and excitement and of course that tingly feeling. But mainly nerves.
“One. Two. Three, ” Jeremy counted.
We both leaned in and kissed. Just a quick kiss to the lips. I’ve kissed my grandmother for longer. But this was obviously different. We opened our eyes. Jeremy had the biggest smile showing his big buck teeth. And well, I was smiling too.