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First Crush

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Tuesday

Quote of the Day: “It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one’s thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them.”

- Isabel Colegate

For years I’ve wanted to tell a story to a girl I first met in junior high. Through pure chance, I ended up getting a Christmas card from her and her family in 2004 so I wrote her back asking for her email and indicated I had a story I very much wanted to tell her. As these things happen, I didn’t hear from her and figured she was busy and let my request slip by.

Last year I was contacted by my high school reunion organization committee and started getting involved in helping them by creating a webpage. During the process, I came across the Christmas letter from Eileen and decided to write her another letter to see if she was still living at the same address.

Shortly after I sent the letter I got an email apologizing for never getting back to me the first time and asking how I’ve been since high school.

I had my chance to finally unload this story on a girl I met my first day in junior high and knew as a friend all the way through high school. I think it speaks for itself.


Eileen,

I got your email and have been trying to carve out some time to answer the way I wanted to. Please be patient because I wanted to do it right.

It’s a story I want to write called “First Crush.” I wish I could see the look on your face when you read this.

Don’t worry, you never knew a thing about it and I’ve had 26 years to get over it. Now that we are full grown adults, I think you’ll get a kick out of it. It’s a memory as vivid to me as the day I saw my kids being born. One of those memories that is tattooed to my memory and I can recall crystal clear details about to this day.

You know what, I’m going to take the time now. I’m a writer and I think I can capture this one. In fact, I know I can because it’s been resident in my mind all this time.

Again, you knew nothing of this but I have to smile because it’s something I’ve kept secret since it happened.

It was the first day of 8th grade and I was the new kid. I had moved from Oklahoma to live with my Dad and I didn’t know another living soul at Totem when I walked into the school with my knees shaking.

I was by my locker near the entrance of the school, really scared, and I needed to head toward my first class. I shut my locker, turned around, and headed toward the hall through the opening by the front doors.

That’s when I saw you coming the other way. I can still remember you vividly even now. You were tiny with your skinny little arms clutching a textbook at your chest and walking with your head slightly down in the most painfully shy way only junior high girls can achieve.

When we were a few feet apart, you suddenly looked up and for just a moment, it was like I was hit with a bolt of lightning.

I was not a ladies’ man back then (or ever, truth be known) nor was I particularly girl-crazy. Extremely shy myself, what made the moment more incredible for me is that you froze me with a look and I had never been knocked on my heels in such a manner.

What I remember is that you looked up as you walked by me and our eyes locked. You held my unhidden, gaping, slack-jawed stare for just a moment, just a beat longer than the average social interaction would dictate, before looking back down in your shy manner right as we passed.

I stopped cold.

Then I turned around and watched you walk away with a single haunting thought.

“Who was THAT?”

I was convinced I had just seen THE unattainable girl that all the boys must surely know about. Out of your league, Grose. But it was all I thought about for the rest of the day and for the following months, I kept a consistent watch for you in the halls hoping to recreate that magic moment. I would have never said or done anything about it because like I said, I was too shy.

I don’t want to belabor this to the point it frightens you but I’ve waited almost 30 years to tell you this story.

What completely disarmed me was simple and what I notice you passed along to your beautiful children.

The eyes.

In that moment you looked up at me with the most spectacularly spooky blue eyes I had ever seen, you created for me a memory that became a permanent memory from my childhood. I still get goosebumps remembering it.

Now, I know I likely romanticized the memory over time but that’s not important. It represents a very strong, vivid, and positive memory for me and every time I see anyone with stumbling blue eyes, I think of that brief moment on the first day of 8th grade in that hallway and a name floats to the front of my mind: Eileen. It always gets a smile from me. Always.

I’m completely convinced you had no idea of this (how could you?) but if I’ve learned anything about women over the last 38 years, I figure this should be as surprising to you as it is flattering. Few women, either as a teenage girl or as a full-grown woman, have anything near “good” self-images when it comes to their junior high existence, especially in the looks department. But that day, you stunned me into paralysis and that’s not easily forgotten.

And I’m thankful for that fact.

You never knew it but you set me on a path to be mesmerized by any set of blue eyes for the rest of my days.

And if you are wondering, no, my lovely wife has brown eyes. Growing up, I would have bet you large sums of money my future wife would have big blue spooky eyes but that’s not the way it turned out.

You know what else is funny? We were friends through 8th, 9th, 10th, (I was gone in 11th), and 12th yet I never told you about this. Nor was I holding a candle for you all those years. After we became friends, that’s all I felt. But every once in awhile when you would talk to me in some innocuous social situation, I would find myself caught off guard by catching your eyes close up and them pulling me in. I remember a few times I was terrified you knew and I was caught staring, probably because I was… and stopped talking or hesitated when it was my turn to speak when we were talking.

Eileen, I can’t tell you how cleansing this was to write out. I have waited so long to tell you that story and I will go to bed (soon) with a huge smile on my face. And if you will indulge me, there are two more things I want to mention.

First, I want to warn you that I will want to retell this story to your face at the reunion this year. In the presence of “The Eyes.” (grin). Please indulge me when I do so.

Second, to prove to you that this is far from fiction, the essence of this story made it on a blog entry I did a couple of years ago called 100 Random Facts About Me. You were #66:


My first day in 8th grade I was new at the school and was almost dropped to my knees by a look from a very shy girl with the spookiest blue eyes I ever saw. Her name was Eileen and I can still vividly remember that moment.

Have a good night. I will.

Your friend and 8th-grade crusher,

– Jason


Needless to say, she liked it and returned a very warm response. I think my final response captures the essence of the entire exchange:

… I felt wonderful for the last few days after writing out my story. It even made me feel better that you liked it. If I do say so myself, it’s a sweet story of a young boy’s first infatuation. That the character is me makes it more rewarding but even from an outside perspective, I think it captures a universal experience crossing all generations and cultures. I really think most men have a similar experience in their past and most women would love to know they were that girl. I am just fortunate enough to be able to express it and to offer it to the very person who unknowingly made it a memory.

Free Advice for Today: “Go for long, hand-holding walks with your wife.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

5 Comments - Join in the conversation below

  1. You’re creepy.

    Whenever some guy writes to me to tell me he had a crush on me, first I ask “I’m sorry, do I know you?” Then I say “GET OVER YOURSELF! You think I’m flattered that the biggest, self-proclaimed nobody thought I was cute? NO!” I bet Eileen is thanking her lucky stars you didn’t burden her with all this rubbish 50 years ago when you were in elementary school.

    Poor Claire. How am I going to protect her from guys like you?

    Comment by Killjoy — January 22, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  2. killjoy said it for me…

    stalker! LOL

    Comment by heather — January 22, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

  3. Very warm and in touch, sir. Pay no attention to the cold hearted wretches who represent their side of the species’ cold heartedness well. Jason, you’re lucky she didn’t call the FBI on ya.

    Comment by Jim Burke — January 22, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  4. At my 20-year reunion, Lew and I just happened to be right behind my jr high crush and his wife in the food line. So I thought it would be a good time to confess my long-standing crush. Reactions: Lew – thought it was hilarious; Scott (OMG was that even his name??) – smiled, puffed up about 2 inches taller (in height pervert!); Scott’s wife – tight smile obviously thinking “Bitch!” LOL – I’m glad I got the chance to tell him – it was really good for laughs!!

    Comment by Jeanie from P-town — January 25, 2007 @ 11:52 am

  5. Jeanie, do you ever NOT cause trouble?

    Comment by Jason — January 26, 2007 @ 3:52 am

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