7th Grade Valentine's Day

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I saw it coming from a long way off, but I couldn’t do anything about it.  The warning signs increased every week of that spring semester of seventh grade.  In such a small private school no puppy love could remain hidden for long; not long after had Logan confessed his crush on me, every single person in our class knew about it.  His friends had been playing Lover’s Advocate every few days of January, approaching me on the playground and between classes to ask if I would go out with him.  Every time, my answer was the same:  I wasn’t ready for a boyfriend yet.

Even though other girls had been dating for some time, I was still ambivalent about the male sex.  Boys had been The Enemy for so many years that I wasn’t quite comfortable with the uneasy hormone-driven truce that had been implicit in the latter half of middle school.  That very year, Logan’s friend Jonathan had raised his hand during a discussion about the intellectual benefits of reading, protesting to the teacher, “But if reading makes you smarter, how come Claire is not as smart as Rory?”  Adding injury to insult, the bell rang before I could even respond to the allegation.  Little jerk. 

So when Jonathan came forward on the playground to woo me on Logan’s behalf, I wasn’t exactly disposed to respond positively.  It wasn’t that I disliked Logan, it was just that I didn’t really know him very well, the small size of our class notwithstanding.  We were both fairly quiet and our circles of friendship rarely overlapped.  Nevertheless, our entire grade had gradually taken up his cause, and soon even some of the girls were dropping hints for me.

I awoke the morning of February 14 with butterflies in my stomach.  I had never dreaded school so much.  I confessed my fears to my best friend Samantha and she agreed to protect me.  We almost made it through the day with no blow-ups. 

Then, just as I was beginning to relax, the knots in my stomach starting to slacken, the terrible moment struck.  Samantha and I snuck into the gym, hurrying quickly toward our last class of the day.  Suddenly, we were sidelined by Jonathan.  He grabbed us both and shoved us into the wall.

“Stay right there!” he commanded.

He needn’t have bothered.  We were both frozen in place, unable to speak, let alone move.  I started to tremble as the rest of the class gathered around us on all sides.  They had been waiting for this show all day.

The doors at the other end opened, and in strode Daisy, a mountain of a girl on the basketball team.  Her hands were gripped like pincers around Logan’s ankles, the poor boy lying supine as she dragged him inside and across the floor of the gym.  The entire class was in an uproar by the time she plopped him down in front of me.

Daisy looked down at the kid trembling on the gym floor.

“Ask her!” she barked at him.

But Logan was hysterical and in no position to ask me anything.  So Daisy turned her attention from him to me and asked, with all the delicacy of she-bear,  “Will you go out with him?”

Being only slightly more composed than Logan, I managed to stammer, “G-g-go out where?”

“Will you go steady with him?  Will you be his girlfriend?”

The entire class grew quiet and I suddenly realized that everyone was staring at me in anticipation.  I looked across their eager faces, from Samantha’s frightened expression to Daisy’s bossy one, then down at the pile of skinny limbs and beet-red cheeks belonging to Logan.  I was cornered.

“Yes,” I whispered, wondering how on earth I had gotten myself into this situation.  Whoops erupted from my classmates as the bell rang.  We were all late, but no one cared.

I spent the entire next day in a fishbowl.  The whole school had heard our “love story” before I even arrived.  The entire seventh grade class seemed determined to make sure I stuck to my word.  Logan and I endured a morning of giggles and congratulations.  Lunch was nearly unbearable.  Logan sat next to me at a table full of girls.  My friends tried to make conversation with the intruder in our midst, but try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything to say to him.  In the end, we settled into an uncomfortable silence, nibbling side by side on our PBJs.  I felt sorry for myself, but even sorrier for him.  After all, what do you say to a guy that you’re dating out of pity?

By the time the last bell rang, I had resolved to end this intolerable situation.  I was going to have to be brutal with the boy, for his own good and for mine.  But as it turned out, I didn’t have to face him after all.  In the grand tradition of middle-school politics, my friends broke the two of us up on my behalf.  Word trickled down to me at the end of the day that Annabel had cornered him by the lockers and told him that I had just said yes to get out of the situation.  Coward that I was, I took advantage of my friend’s cruelty to escape the relationship.  Twenty-four hours after our romance had blossomed at gunpoint, the entire affair was over.  Aaah, middle school.  Who wouldn’t go back?

Created: Jan 26, 2012


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