She was beautiful. With perfectly feathered hair, a long, goddess-like neck, and her newly-formed bosom, which may or may not have received assistance from a box of tissues, Trudy was everything an 8th-grade boy could want in a girlfriend; she was a girl. That alone qualified her as an object of desire for this thin, pimply-faced 8th-grade boy.
Our young love affair began when third-parties delivered handwritten notes on lined school paper. We passed them in the hallway after lunch each day. It started with simple flirting messages about the day’s lunch or the color of her sweater; however, they quickly escalated to the ultimate bold and daring query of a junior higher, “Will you go with me? Yes or No?” To my great joy, relief, and surprise, my note returned via the delivery system with the word “Yes” circled in pencil. We were now officially a couple, and I felt obliged to provide a token of my adolescent affection. I offered my John Wesley medallion, purchased the previous summer at the junior high Methodist Church Camp. For the rest of the week, the symbol of my love dangled on a long, gold chain around her graceful neck and against her perfect, Kleenex-padded breasts. The founder of Methodism never looked so good.
Over the next week, more hand-scrawled messages passed in a desperate effort to take our relationship to the next level. I handed my notes to Doug, who passed them on to Paige, who handed them off to Trudy. Finally, a scrap of paper asked Trudy if she would sit beside me at the next Friday’s basketball game. The reply, via Paige to Doug to me, once again had a fantastic penciled circle around the word “Yes.”
After the game, the two middle school newbies strolled to Trudy’s sister’s car. We walked side-by-side across the snow-covered parking lot, holding gloved hands, bundled in our warmest winter coats, trying to gather the courage necessary to initiate the physical contact we both desired and dreaded. Older, wiser, and more experienced, Trudy’s sister offered advice as only an older sibling can, “Hurry up and get it over with.” She then climbed into the car, started the engine, and waited for the rookies to experience their first kiss.
Knowing time was short, I turned to Trudy, closed my eyes, and leaned forward, raising my arms over her shoulders. With her eyes closed, Trudy did not see this romantic gesture and raised her own arms. We clashed mid-air. Undeterred, I lowered my arms to wrap around her waist. Trudy did the same, only to clash again. Up and down our arms flailed in the cold winter night until, after several attempts, we finally found a satisfying configuration and drew one another as close as our puffy down-filled winter coats would allow. With my head tilted and my eyes closed, I licked my chapped lips in preparation for the sublime encounter…and then it happened. With all the passion and enthusiasm I could muster, I planted the wettest, sloppiest kiss – squarely and firmly on the tip of her chin.
In hindsight, it is apparent that I failed to account for our height difference. Trudy was a couple of inches taller than my diminutive frame. With an additional two inches of 70’s platform snow boots added to her towering elevation, I was only grateful that I wasn’t kissing my Wesley medallion. However, having gotten this close, I was not about to give up. I kept my slobbery mouth pressed firmly against her perfect chin and started sliding up to find her lips. Unfortunately, at the same time, Trudy decided to help the situation by tilting her face down. Before I realized what had happened, I was sucking on her left eyebrow, a stream of spittle leaving a wet trail of failure up the side of her face. In the cold, night air, with the car running beside us, we groped and wrestled until our lips finally met in a moment that was at once disgraceful and oddly satisfying.
The following Monday, to no one’s surprise, Paige handed a note to Doug who passed it on to me. It contained my now tarnished Wesley necklace and the word, “No” circled in pencil. I’d like to think it was a mutual parting of ways, based on hours of discussion and a realization that our interests were diverging as we aged those short two weeks. But we both knew the awful, heart-breaking, and embarrassing truth.