I had just mowed our 1-acre yard on a late-April Saturday in 1987. Suddenly, I dropped my ice water. A blond-haired, blue-eyed 6th grader was pedaling her Schwinn bicycle by our house. I was pretty sure I recognized her from school–she was the new girl…Julie Scott? Yeah, that’s right…she’d just moved from Colorado. I wondered if she’d recognize me, too. She did. Slight, quick waive. Blush. I looked away. My Dad smiled and went on pulling weeds in the nearby planting bed.
Me: “Dad, am I done with the yard?”
Dad: (smiling wryly) “Sure. Why, you got something better to do with your afternoon?”
Me: “I do now.”
I tore off to the garage, hopped on my blue Mongoose, and followed her, catching up after half a mile.
Me: “Hey…I was…uh…riding a bit and…don’t you ride my bus?”
Julie: “Yeah. I decided to see the new neighborhood a little. Wanna follow? I’m headed back to get some lemonade.”
Me: HELL YEAH! Sure! Thanks!
We got to her house and leaned our bikes on the garage door.
Julie: “You like baseball?”
Me: (lying) “Sure!”
Julie: “I’ve played softball for years; both my brothers play baseball for the highschool.”
Me: “Yeah, I, uh, played t-ball one year with my church in kindergarten.”
I borrowed a glove and stood in her backyard, the two of us tossing a softball back and forth while talking about our families’ moves, our siblings, music we liked to hear on 96 Kiss and Y107, and how great “Top Gun” and “Back to the Future” were at the theater.
Julie noticed that I stopped throwing the ball when I talked about our family’s many moves and my frustration with making new friends every couple years.
Julie: “Could you go back to throwing the ball again?”
Me: “Um, sure.”
We stopped playing catch and went into the kitchen for the promised lemonade. Her older brother walked in.
Giant Big Brother: “Hey, I’m Chet. How are you (extending hand)?”
Giant Big Brother: “Are you in Julie’s class?”
Giant Big Brother: “‘Cause you’re kinda small for a 6th-grader…”
Me: “Maybe, but I’m strong for my size. And fast, you big oaf!”
Giant Big Brother: “Small but mighty, hmm? That’s good. Well, see you guys later.”
Julie: “I’m gonna run upstairs…hey, wanna see my room?”
Me: “Is a frog’s ass water tight? Okay.”
She went into her bathroom and started brushing her hair. I stood in her room–my first time in a girl’s bedroom–and looked around at stuffed animals and softball trophies. Y107 was playing Crowded House. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” was the only sound.
Julie: “Come here. I want to brush your hair, too.”
I stood in front of her bathroom mirror, the clock radio continuing with Crowded House’s instructions about our dreams, and she lifted her comb to my curly blond hair.
I figured this was a great time to initiate our first kiss.
Julie: “I don’t even know your last name…”
Me: “Daniels.” I moved in again.
Julie: “Maybe we should go back outside…”
I hung my head and followed her out her room, down the stairs, across the deck, into the back yard, and onto my Mongoose; I headed home.
The next several weeks were busy with achievement tests and elementary school graduation activities, so I never quite got another chance to take our relationship past sitting next to each other on the school bus or sitting across from one another at lunch.
A couple days after sixth grade ended, I got the phonecall from an unidentified male voice telling me Julie wanted to break up and go steady with David Simon instead. I called Julie to ask if it was true.
Julie: “Well, like, you didn’t call me for two days. I didn’t know what the deal was.”
Me: “We had a thunderstorm. My Mom doesn’t let me talk on the phone when it’s lightning out. I figured you’d understand.”
Julie: “Um, well, I already told David I was going to go with him now, so, I guess I…I’m sorry.”
I then realized she’d be spending the summer tossing softballs with David, brushing David’s hair, and pulling off David’s stupid fucking Wisconsin badgers sweatshirt to Crowded House on Y107. And I hated the both of them indefinitely.
Before I turned to the bottle, I turned to humorous blogs for lifted spirits. So should you!