Yes, I admit it, I had some serious crushes when I was but a boy. Mickey (himself) always said that he hated girls. He said that repeatedly until he was fourteen and that lie could be twisted into some kind of “you-must-be-gay” sort of insult. Couldn’t have that, could we? Especially since my only experience of sex was violent and with another boy. But how could I ever admit the truth about the girls I loved? It was all too silly for words.
Annette Funicello was someone I only saw in Disney movies. And she was quite a bit older than I was. She was born in 1942, and when I was a lovesick puppy of twelve, she was already an old woman of 26 years. I am thinking about her again now, and she has already preceded me in death. I was able to reconnect to her through her Facebook page here; Annette Funicello. But there was never a chance to meet and pursue her in real life. So, naturally, she is the one I told my friends about as the woman I loved when I was twelve and wise in the ways of the opposite sex.
But the real, secret truth is… ta, ta, ta, taaaah! I really loved another. She was in my class. She was, as my friends and I all agreed, the most beautiful girl ever born into our little community of Rowan, Iowa. She was a farm girl named Alicia Stewart (this, of course, is a lie. I fictionalized the name because we are actually friends on Facebook and she might actually read this post. It doesn’t bother me if she reads this and figures it out, but I want to provide her with deniability so no one else has to know. She has a beautiful family complete with grandkids, and I would never embarrass her in front of them.) To me, she looked like Annette Funicello. I never admitted my deep and abiding puppy-love crush on her to anyone. I loved her never-the-less… and probably still do.
There was that night when I was eleven, and snow was falling heavily after choir practice at the Methodist Church. The walk home was extra difficult. It was becoming a minor blizzard and I was plastered with snow from walking into the teeth of the wind. When I got as far as the Library on Main Street, Mrs. Stewart and Mrs. Kellogg called me into the Library to warm up. They called Mom and Dad to come get me because I really had no business trying to walk home in a snowstorm like that. Alicia was there.
I had my Russian cap with the ear-flaps on and everything pulled down to protect me from the snow, including the front board which was like the bill of the cap, but could be snapped up out of the way. Snow was caked even on that little front flap. My eyes were mostly covered by that frozen and snow-encrusted front flap.
I said, “Gee, I think it might be snowing outside.”
Everyone laughed. Alicia lifted up the front flap and looked me right in the eyes.”Michael, you are so funny!” she said.
I wasn’t really that funny with my stupid little understatement. But her smile was priceless. And I keep it in my heart to this very day. It was the greatest gift any girl ever gave me during my sorry little childhood.