Communicating with a wife is complicated. In fact, I couldn’t do the whole writer-think thing about that topic without writing a book. But I can successfully ruminate for about 500 words on the that awkward first encounter, the first time I ever was embarrassed in front of a non-sister girl.
In grade school I met my first crush in kindergarten. Alicia Stewart was a honey-sweet little brown-haired girl with a bow in her hair. I was a boy. I was not allowed to like girls. Hating them was the only thing that made sense to my friends and I. But, secretly, I didn’t hate Alicia. In fact, if I was ever to be doomed to be married when I grew up, I would’ve only accepted that horrible fate if it was with her. And in my small town school I saw her practically every school day. In fact, in Miss Malkin’s music class on Tuesdays and Thursdays I sat right next to her in Miss Malkin’s seating chart for six years.
In Miss Malkin’s music class we always did musical stuff like listening to classical records, singing songs for the yearly musical review concert (we did the songs from the musical The Music Man one year… you don’t get more musicky than that), and we did square dancing. Yeah, you heard that right. Square dancing. You had to have a girl for a partner. And one year, Miss Malkin decided it would be cute to have the boys ask the girls to be their partners. Now, as boys… in top secret boy-conversations, we had generally agreed that if such a problem would ever occur, Alicia Stewart was the only acceptable choice. We all hated girls. But we all were secretly in love with Alicia. She was girl-hating-boy approved. When I was twelve, there was another girl that was making me uncomfortable too. Marla Carter was nine when I was twelve. She had big brown eyes and dimples. Her face was somehow heart-shaped, and only Alicia could make my palms sweat any worse than she did. But in top secret boy-conversations it was ruled that she was a booger-eating little girl and totally toxic. Well, I didn’t totally agree, but I was still subject to all girl-hating directives.
“Okay,” Miss Malkin said, “the boys will now pick their partners… one at a time in alphabetical order.”
My last name began with the letter “B”, but my best friend Mark had a last name starting with “A”.
“I pick Alicia,” Mark said.
My heart sank. I had my pick of any girl besides Alicia. Marla was standing about four feet away from me, her hands folded together behind her back, looking at me with those puppy-dog eyes. My throat was too dry to speak.
“Um, ah… I can’t pick anyone…” I croaked. “You pick it, I will dance with it.”
“Now, don’t be like that, Michael. Get on with it!” Miss Malkin commanded. Everyone loved the music teacher, and so everyone obeyed her. I had to submit.
I looked at Marla, dug my toe into the floorboards, and said, “I choose my cousin Diane.”
Talking to girls has always been a matter of embarrassment. The words are always awkward and shaped not by my brain, but by my bowels. This fact has always been a hindrance to my dealings with the female species, but it has been an unending source of potential for writing humor.