Growing up, I never recall the “girls have cooties” feeling. Even in preschool, I’d try have my “nap time” near a cute girl in the class. I’m not sure if — in actuality — no one thought “girls have cooties”, and just pretended to think that so they weren’t ridiculed. Which is what I did – fake it, keep up appearances, hide in plain sight.
In 4th grade, there was this girl Jamie. She had long crimped blonde hair, braces, and looked like a human version of Jen from The Dark Crystal. When the last seating chart for the year was made, I was sat right next to Jamie. We would make jokes about the teacher, swap drawings, things like that. I remember the teacher getting mad at her for getting out of her seat too much, so I started a little notebook of “Times Jamie Left Her Seat” and would look at her and wink when I made a new tally mark in the book. She’d sit down, giggling, and make up some excuse for why “that time didn’t count!”. I liked Jamie. I had a crush on her. We even held hands a time or two in the hallways.
Shit was kinda serious, y’know?
About a month or so before the schoolyear ended, our class took a field trip to a rollerskating rink. Or, as we called it in the day, “a roller rink”. Jamie and I sat next to each other on the bus, she’d ask if I was gonna skate with her, I’d make jokes about “well… we’ll see about that”, and she’d play-hit me in the arm and say “c’mooooooon! it’ll be fun!”. Of fucking course I was gonna skate with Jamie. Couples Skate, even. I was ecstatic. The girl I had a crush on actually wanted to skate with me! So exciting.
Throughout the time there, I probably skated into about 100 walls, fell down about 300 times, bruised up all 3-5% of my entire body, and held Jamie’s hand as much as I could. She was good at rollerskating, so she’d hold onto my hand and guide me around the turns and pull on my arm when I was heading straight into a wall. When I fell, she’d skate backwards (a sexy fuckin’ maneuver in the 80s, lemme tell ya), and wait for me to get up. It was like we were our own little world — no one teased us, no one bullied anyone, it was great. And, yeah, we got our Couple Skate on the first two times it came up. I felt cool, being amongst a select few boys in our class that was even on the rink during Couples Skate, and not as part of a larger group.
We decided to sit and hang out for a little bit. I was pretty beat up anyway, and Jamie was hungry. After our snack, we found this little machine near the arcade that said “Get Your Love Rating” or something. The idea is that you’d put in two quarters, enter the names of you and your partner, then you and your partner would squeeze the little handles they had, and… we didn’t know what happened next. Jamie just thought it would be fun to “Get Our Love Rating”. The machine lit up and buzzed and played a little music and then made a “ding!” noise. Lo and behold, it spit out this little piece of paper. Maybe half the size of standard notebook paper. Jamie started reading it to me and it sounded like a romance novel, but… for our future. Like “Mitcz and Jamie ran off into the hills to soak up the sun …and bla bla bla lovey-dovey stuff”. She giggled, and said “this is so funny!”. We had to hop on the bus shortly thereafter.
On the ride back, Jamie was reading the story to herself, then handed it to me saying “seriously.. this is hilarious!”, and I started to read it. I remember nothing about what it said, but I recall just thinking “this is boring lovey-dovey bunnies and ice cream stuff”. I was bored with it almost immediately. A girl sitting behind us on the bus said “what’s that?” and Jamie told her we got our Love Rating, but, “…it’s this funny little story about Me and Mitcz!”. The girl asked if she could read it, and I gladly handed it to her. Throughout the bus ride home, the story made its way around the bus. I was getting nervous, because apparently the story was really interesting to these kids. What did I miss?
The teacher noticed the commotion, and asked for the paper. She did a quick speed-reading and her jaw dropped – “did you write this?” – Jamie and I shook our heads no. She said “who wrote this?”, and we just looked dumb. I said “there was a machine and it… gave us that when we put a quarter in there”, Jamie quickly backed me up – “yeah, the machine wrote it!”. The teacher said, and I quote, “well, this isn’t a story that should be written about two children, and definitely shouldn’t be READ by children!”.
Awww man. NOW I wanted to read the damn thing.
The teacher confiscated the paper, and called our parents. I wasn’t in much trouble, cause I think my mom understood that I didn’t make the machine type out whatever the hell was on the paper. But, whoa, Jamie’s dad was pissed off. He walked her to class the next day and, when she passed me and I waved, he looked down at her – then at me – pointing and said “is this the boy?”. She didn’t answer him, like a good girl. He said “are you Mitch?”. I figured there was no reason to lie at this point, so I said I was. He said “you are to leave my daughter alone. do you understand me? do not talk to her. I’ve spoken with the teacher, and you will no longer be sitting next to her in class. You should be ashamed”.
After that, Jamie spent time with her friends during lunch, and barely waved at me after a few days. Somehow a rumor had started up that I, personally, had some obsessive crush on her and wrote some filthy fanfic about her and I and that’s when I started becoming known as the bad filthy pervert kid. Ironically, I made it much worse the following year, but at this point in time I hadn’t actually done anything wrong.
Jamie’s family moved away during the summer, or maybe her father had her transferred, but I never saw her again after that year. And I don’t know if she was just following her dad’s orders, or if he’d convinced her that I was actually some filthy little pervert who should’ve known better. Any attempts to talk to her would send her walking away really fast, and sometimes her friends would surround me to block the path.
Still would’ve liked to know what the story was.