My first serious relationship with a member of the opposite sex was back in the 2nd grade. This was before I ever got nervous in front of girls. They were not yet the threat that they would one day become. Don’t get me wrong, of course I kissed a few girls before that point. Yeah, that mountain got climbed way back in kindergarten during nap time. But 2nd grade was when I took the next step and plunged into a committed relationship.
I don’t remember too much about that whirlwind romance which took place in the halls of Madison Cross Roads Elementary, but what I do remember was incredible.
She sat next to me in Mrs. William’s class and she was beautiful. She was more of what you’d an uptown girl, living in her uptown world while I was more of a rough bad boy type that was too busy running from Johnny Law to be bothered with keeping myself presentable.
I think that natural rebellious attitude is what drew her to me initially.
I asked her flat out one day under the monkey bars if she wanted to be my girlfriend. I didn’t beat around the bush with something like, “Would you like to have a milk with me at lunch?” or “Maybe we could catch a game of kickball at recess.” I asked flat out “Would you like to be my girlfriend?” I was all about the commitment right up front with her, and it did not go unrewarded.
She responded with an enthusiastic “Sure.”
From that day forward we were inseparable, except when I needed my space. We ate lunch together every day; except when I wanted to hang out with the guys. We would hold hands during recess; except when I was called off on an emergency game of ‘King of the Ring’. The boys needed their champion otherwise the match didn’t count.
Frankly the biggest hurdle in our relationship was that she wanted to hang out with me all the time.
The first signs of trouble started right after I saw the Joe Dante Christmas classic “Gremlins.” Next to Die Hard, Gremlins is the greatest Holiday movie of all time. It’s is about a little creature called a Mogwi who is named Gizmo. Gizmo gives birth to a couple other Mogwis who are real assholes. They develop an eating disorder and turn into reptilian monsters with a penchant for mischief and they kill so many people. (Seriously, watch it again. A lot more people die that you might remember.) It ends after Gizmo kills the very last of his off spring. The message appears to be about how Gizmo’s owner will one day be responsible for keeping a pet, but it sounds like Gizmo’s the one in need of learning some parental responsibility if you ask me.
Anyway, I decided that I wanted to get my hair cut in a mo-hawk to resemble Stripe, the head gremlin, first born and chief nemesis to Gizmo.
My parents would not let me have a real mo-hawk, or even a faux-hawk. So I was forced to settle for some un-godly half-hawk. This meant that the sides of my head were shaved down, but not all the way. There was still about half an inch of hair on either side. From the back of my neck to the front of my hair line was a strip of hair. It was a 3 inch wide near perfect rectangle.
I looked like a Klingon.
My girlfriend was pissed.
She actually uttered the phrase, “No boyfriend of mine will have a haircut like that.” Even back then I thought we were a little young for that kind of conversation.
Well I wasn’t going to take that. We may have been too young to be having that kind of conversation, but I was too old to be taking that kind of crap from a girl. So I kicked her to the curb.
We were through.
Like many relationships that end, the aftermath is the worst part. We kept bumping into each other the whole rest of the day. We were forced to make pleasantries at the pencil sharpener and the milk line not to mention we still sat next to each other.
It was difficult to process all the emotions. It was my first big break up after all.
The rest of the class wasn’t taking it too well either. We were Mrs. William’s Class’s golden couple and without our relationship, the class felt just a little bit emptier, a little less devoid of meaning and direction. Sides were chosen and friendships were ruined.
Such is love.
By playtime though, I moved on and was already on the lookout for my next conquest. The note was written in hand. It said:
Will u be my gurlfrend?
All I needed now was a name to put at the top. There were plenty of choices. All the girls in class saw that I could handle a serious relationship. They knew I could go the distance. Plus they saw that I was strong and that I would stand my ground, and we all know women are attracted to power.
Out of nowhere, Gregory handed me a note.
We need to talk.
I wrote in the space underneath her words and handed it back.
What do we need talk about?
Our relashun ship
This ship has selled
You r mean.
You r ugaly.
I tossed it back to her emphasizing that I was adamant about my decision to cut loose and be my own man, stupid haircut and all.
When she read the words her face changed in a way I did not plan on. She was hurt. Not in the way I was used to seeing on the playground. This was different.
In my time as King of the Ring I hurt other boys and had been hurt a few times myself. That we got over with as soon as the blood stopped or the ice showed up. I didn’t know that my words could have that effect on someone, even poorly spelled ones.
What had I done? Here I was insulting the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I regretted everything, the note, the breakup and the stupid haircut.
But was it too late? She was already writing back. She handed me a not that said:
You r a jurk.
I ignored the insult and thought not of defending myself, but of protecting the relationship.
I’m sory. Will u b mi girlfriend again?
When she received the note back her hurt was gone and replaced with the seething anger of seven year old woman scorned which Hell hath no fury as. She blew past my written question and began angrily writing down her own response. But then grace and mercy shone upon me. She paused and I could tell she was rereading my apology, my emotional confession that I did her wrong.
She turned and mouthed the words “You’re sorry for calling me ugaly?”
I nodded and mouthed quietly, “You are pretty.” She smiled and wrote back.
I’m sorry I was mad at your hare. I think it look nice.
I think you look nice.
At that point we ran out of paper, but no more words were needed. I got a second chance.
That day at lunch we talked about all the things that had happened during our break. It was great just talking to her again, and I told her I would never let anything come between us ever again.
A week later I moved 600 miles away.
*William Turbyfill was born in Lickskillet, Alabama. He enjoys Doctor Who and the idea of Ben Affleck as Batman and he once met the Queen of England. He thinks she enjoyed it.