Erin and I were discussing our head-over-heelsiest pre-high school crushes, and I realized that apparently I’ve been Babysitters Club #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey since birth. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because even when I was younger, I never flitted back and forth between liking a billion different boys: I would set my sights on one and remain steadfast and starry-eyed for a good amount of time, probably longer than was really healthy at that age. I was born to be someone’s true blue girl, evidently. This started as early as elementary school, which gave me pause once I actually sat down and inventoried my early crushes. I can see several patterns emerge that hold fast to this day, some eye-opening and some disturbing, but most of all I have to wonder, what the fuck kind of kindergartner is ready to settle down and get married, and what made me misplace that gene once I got old enough that people seriously started proposing?
Some names have been changed. Others, not so much.
Kindergarten: Boyd Kaiser. One time we both hid under Susan Parkinson’s bed at the same time while playing hide and seek and I remember being really aware that I was so close to him and listening to him breathe in that sort of panting way you breathe when you’re hiding and you suddenly need to pee. Boyd was very tall and polite, even for a five year old, and we shared a locker. One day he rebuffed Susan’s advances in front of me, albeit very gallantly, while we all stood on her back porch eating popsicles. I should look Boyd up.
First grade: Vic B. I’m not proud to admit this one, because Vic came from the most white trash family ever, and grew up to be the sort of kid who had a stutter beaten into him and his eyes would cross and glaze over while he cussed you out, but in first grade, he was cute and friendly and unaware of the horrors life held for him. Both of his parents had hair down to their waist and were that sort of ropy skinny you only saw in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. His mom was the only grown woman who ever managed to get thrown out of our neighborhood pool for life. This was a punishment typically reserved for middle school boys who would sneak in at night and throw the deck furniture into the deep end. Reality set in early for Vic, around about the second grade, and every morning we’d walk into the school building to hear his screams coming from the east wing, and his shirtless father screaming back and spanking him while he clung to the doorframe of Mrs. Klein’s room, refusing to go in until the last bell rang. Sometimes he’d throw his trapper keeper at passersby. We learned quickly to duck. I’m pretty sure Vic grew up to be Snake on the Simpsons. In fact, I was surprised when I googled his real name while writing this that no arrest records came up. One time I wrote him a letter and my mom helped me mail it.
Second grade: Scott F. I liked Scott until he started being really, really mean to me, and then I was just scared of him. Also, it became rapidly evident that something was a little off when he’d start shrieking unprovoked in the middle of class about how his brother hit him but HE DIDN’T CARE, HE LOVED HIS BROTHER, and then he’d run out of the room and out the front door and down the school steps and Mr. Wilcox would have to chase him and catch him. Yeah. However, he turned out fine, and once hit on me at a Me Head event when I was 23. He was very sweet and well-spoken. I didn’t ask about his brother, although I thought about it. I think he has a kid now.
Third grade: Brian Paschal. I developed a crush on my friend Brian, whom I’d known since birth, although our relationship had always been (and would always be) very sarcastic and competitive and brother/sisterly, like racing each other in cursive handwriting drills and being the leads in the sophomore class play. However, I showed an uncharacteristic display of smoothness in third grade by managing to spend extra time with him when I asked him to give me jump rope lessons. Brian was something of a jump rope virtuoso, able to do double dutch while on a pogo stick. His mother was friends with my mother, and she brought him over to my house every Wednesday after school, and we had the driveway all to ourselves while our moms talked inside. Nothing untoward happened of course, because we were EIGHT, and Brian remained one of my very best friends for the rest of my school years and past college. I didn’t admit my ulterior jump rope motives until junior year, and he thought it was hilarious. He’s now married to my old high school best friend Alex.
Fourth and fifth grade: Matt B. After two years of will-you-go-with-me-check-a-box-yes-or-no note passing, I finally agreed to be Matt’s girlfriend, thus launching a two year period of us virtually not speaking. He wasn’t especially cute at ten, but really smart and funny, and he could run a four minute and thirty second mile and had like seven sisters and was missing a thumb. Once he paid someone (Vic B., actually) a dollar to switch with him so he could be my partner when we were learning square dancing in gym. I recall staring demurely at the tape on the floor during this exchange and thinking it was very romantic.
Sixth grade: Tony Layne. He was cute and a very good artist, and one time he carved a pencil like a totem pole for me and I slept with it on my bedside table for weeks. Despite the pencil, he always acted like he didn’t notice me, even though I found out later that he told everyone at a Mollee Rider’s girl/boy party that if he HAD to pick a girl to like, it would PROBABLY be Sarah Brown, which, hello, is sixth grade boy for he dreamed of me every night. I remember that he could imitate George Washington’s signature and wanted an airbrush for Christmas. Also, his family had a pet goat. I bet he doesn’t even remember my name.
Somewhere my diary is crying.