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Monday, February 14, 2005

Kindergarten Krush: Seven Wonders

First time here? Scroll down for part one, two, three, four, five and six. Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Thanks for hanging in there and thank you all for the comments! I didn't respond to them because I was worried I might give something away before its time. Without further ado, here is chapter seven, the conclusion.

Mending a broken stomach with a new love was the only way to go at the age of five. Michael Powells was a good boy and I knew he really liked me. I was taken aback by his feelings because I had been so wrapped up in mine for John Anthony.

As I exited the bus I said, "Yes. I will be your partner in line tomorrow." and we smiled at each other.

When I told my mom and dad what happened, I could tell they were upset. They tried to tell me Michael sounded like a nicer boy and not to worry about stupid John Anthony. That night I had trouble sleeping. I thought about John Anthony and the hurtful word "no". I stared at my ceiling for what seemed like hours and I cried until my ears filled up with tears. I wanted my insides to be all fluttery about Michael but they weren't.

The next day at school, Michael was especially smiley. Every time we lined up, he made sure we were side-by-side. We even held hands when we weren't told to and I liked that. I especially liked how his fingers interlocked perfectly with mine.

Everyday for the rest of the year, Michael and I were partners in line and sat together on the bus going home. I never got as fluttery as I hoped with Michael but the flutters eventually subsided for John Anthony.

After kindergarten graduation Michael moved away. I never saw him again.

By third grade, John Anthony was just another boy. All of my flutters were long gone.

My family moved away when I was in fourth grade. I never thought I would see John Anthony again. His name always came up in conversation at home. If I said a boy was cute, my father quickly reminded me about John Anthony and my broken stomach. I think that was his way of trying to keep me from dating, ever.

When I turned sixteen and was allowed to really date someone, I was thrilled. But damn it if during my sweet 16 party my dad didn't go and tell all of my friends about John Anthony. He told my girlfriends to keep me safe of "stomachbrokeness".

One night all of my girlfriends and I piled into a car so we could watch the high school boys play basketball. I went to a public high school in Franklin Park, Illinois. Our team was playing a parochial team from Elmwood Park.

We took our seats in the bleachers just as the teams were taking the court. Across the gym floor, standing 5' 3" and weighing in at about 165 pounds, was John Anthony.

"OH MY GOD!" My hands started to shake. My insides got hot. My stomach dropped down to my feet.
"What's wrong Lois?"
"You see number 12?"

I was on the brink of vomiting. My hands got sweaty and I couldn't take my eyes off of him long enough to answer my friend.

He must have felt my eyeballs piercing though his fat little body because he looked right at me, as if to say, "Hey, I know you."

As the game started, I explained to my friends that he was the boy my father told them about. My first love. My kindergarten crush. The first boy to break my stomach. They were amazed that I ever thought he was adorable. Come to think of it, so was I.

When the game ended he walked over to me. He asked me if I was "Lois Lang".
I laughed and said, "LaNe".
"Didn't you go to school at St. Whack 'Em On The Knuckles?"
"Wow, you are tall. You were always really tall, weren't you?"
"So, how have you been?"
"Great! You?"
"Good, really good. Is this your school now?"
"Man, we used to have some good times, why'd you move away?"
"I don't remember many good times. We moved for my dad's job."
"What good times do you remember, John?" (I shortened his name trying to get a rise out of him. He hated when people in kindergarten called him that.)
"We had a blast at that school. Well, at least when we weren't getting whacked with rulers."
"Funny, I don't remember anything good about that school except for Michael Powells. He was a really nice kid."
"He moved away after first grade. I'm surprised you remember him."
"Kindergarten, not first grade," I corrected.
"Oh, yeah. That's right. He was your little boyfriend."
"Not really. Mom said no dating until I hit sixteen."
"Well, you're the same age as me. And I'm sixteen. You want to go grab a bite to eat?"
"With you?"
"Yeah! We can talk about the good old days."
"I'm going to pass. But hey, thanks for the offer."

As if on cue, my girlfriends walked up.

"You're a decade late dumb ass," Marilynn told him. I couldn't help but giggle.
"Late for what?"
"Lois, hurry up and tell him so we can get out of here before all the cute guys leave with someone else."
"Hey, John. I liked you in kindergarten. Do you remember that?"
"Of course I do."
"Riiight. Kind of like you remembered my last name. Anyhow, I've outgrown you, which you made really easy because you were such a mean little shit."
"Mean? What'd I do that was mean?"

Nearly eleven years later, those words hurt as much as the word "no". That moment I learned something very valuable. Never say something mean because you never know how much you can hurt someone's feelings, or how long it will stick with them. He was completely oblivious of what he did to me.

"John, think about the candy gram I gave you. Think about our first Valentine's Day party at school. Think about me asking you if you liked me and then think about you saying 'no'."
"Yeah but I was a little kid. I never knew you'd turn out to be such a knockout."
"Yeah, well, I was a kid too and I didn't care that you were rude, short or fat, but I do now. See ya!" I said, with a flip of my hair. And away I strutted with my girlfriends.

A few nights ago, I tucked my dad (who is mostly bedridden with stage IV cancer) into bed, he asked me if I was going back home. I said I was planning on sticking around for another day or so. He smiled and asked what I was going to do while he slept. I told him about my blog and said I was working on a series about John Anthony for Valentine's Day. I didn't know how much he would understand of what I was saying because his mind isn't what it used to be, so I tried to keep it simple, and he asked, "Why would you want to write a story about that little prick, John Anthony?" After 27 years, his brain riddled with cancer, Dad never forgot the hurt either.