I moved to California at the beginning of fourth grade, and it didn’t take me long to find a cute, blond-haired boy to fall in love with. He was the neighbor boy. Two years older than I was. A hottie of a sixth grader.
Aside from Brian, the sweet school friend who brought me a blue rabbit on my no-party-because-I-have-the-chicken-pox 5th birthday, I think this was the first boy I liked. Truly liked. As in a Cupid’s arrow to my heart.
I never spoke to him. I just admired and loved from afar. I would try to sneak a peek at his house as I dashed by on my bike. Or I would hope to see him in the hallway at school. Or maybe even on the playground while I played hopscotch with my friends, I would look slyly over my shoulder hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
Sadly, I never caught many of those glimpses. And the one time I did see him at school and he clearly saw me, it was a complete disaster.
I was a 4th grader in the spring Spelling Bee. Already nervous, I broke out into one of my first Leslie Classic Panic Attacks when I saw his gleaming head of blond hair right in the middle of the audience. I somehow managed to stumble through a few rounds, and then it happened. I caught his eye and he smiled at me. He launched that cute neighbor boy smile arrow, and it traveled all the way up to the stage, piercing me right in the heart. Bulls-eye. Swoon, anyone? That was it. Life as I knew it was over.
Soon it was my turn, and I stumbled up to the mic. My word was yacht. I looked out into the sea of faces, and darn it if that cute neighbor boy didn’t smile at me again. I paused. Then I paused some more. And finally it was awkward. I had to say something. So, do you know what I said? “Yacht. Y-O-T. Yacht.” Yep, that’s right. Y-O-T. I slithered off the stage, hoping my parents would be up for another quick move.
Years later, in high school, I went to a party at the cute neighbor boy’s friend’s house. Cute neighbor boy was marking hands as people went in. Still shy and still thinking he was a tiny bit of cute, I awkwardly talked to my friend as he wrote on my hand. A few minutes later, in front of all the friends of cute neighbor boy, he says, “Hey, Schnauie (a nickname having to do with my older brother, don’t ask)…what’s it say on your hand?” I was like, whaaat? (being teen and all). I looked down at my hand and in big, bold, black letters it said YOT.
Darn it if I didn’t blush. And darn it if I didn’t squeal just a little knowing that the cute neighbor boy remembered our moment.