My longing desire to date was fed by the popular Christian Slater romance films of the 1990s. Like most teenage girls who like boys, I crushed on unattainable ones, particularly the letterman basketball player (a junior) who was in my upper-division “Great Books” English class, (he did a brilliant report on Thomas Mann). The seats and tables were arranged in a hippy circle, so we all faced one another. I spent the better part of my sophomore year staring at him.
Despite my lack of coordination, a friend encouraged me to join the basketball cheerleaders. Cheering didn’t affect my social status or lack there of. Nobody cared about cheer (it was only in its second year at my school), but I got to ogle, I mean cheer, during his games. Cheering for the team by extension brought me closer to him.
For Valentine’s Day, I decided to make gift bags of Hershey’s hugs and kisses, sealing each with curling ribbon. I gave them to the friends (that I barely spoke to) and saved one for the letterman. I carefully crafted the words that would accompany my gift, but shyness overcame me each time I could have given him the chocolates.
The big game against our rival was that night. It was heated. Players on both sides were ejected, including the letterman. I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was completely within his right to throw the ball at the face of the opponent; the other guy fouled him first! I don’t remember if we won or lost. My heart ached from sadness because this ejection meant he’d be benched for several games.
After the basketball game everyone piled into cars and hitched rides to the hockey rink to cheer on our classmates and watch fights that wouldn’t end in ejection.
He was there too… huddled amongst his teammates and mere feet from where I was standing. I was emotionally and physically frozen. How was I going to do this? I gave myself a pep talk.
First period ended. The chocolates remained in my coat pocket.
Second period ended. I inched closer.
Somewhere during the third period I managed to hand him the bag of un-melted chocolates with crimpled ribbon. My carefully crafted message escaped my memory, and I blurted out, “I’m sorry you got ejected!”
He took the chocolates; said, “thanks,” trying to stifle laughter and passed them out to his friends, who clearly were amused by my lameness.
I didn’t regret giving him the chocolates. My only regret was that he was a junior and the greater embarrassment came from having to see him for another year and a half before he graduated and got out of my life.
CRUSH YOUR HEART VALENTINE’S DAY RECIPE
Put Hershey’s Hugs & Kisses in a baggie. Tie with decorative ribbon. Serve to an un-attainable crush in front of lots of people. Wait for laughter. Embarrassment soon follows.