by Randall Beaird
Nothing was more exciting than that first day of school. I couldn’t wait to play bombardment at recess and see who was in my class. I remember one night before one of those days. Dad did a bed-check and saw my new red striped bowling shoes peeking from the blanket, then my matching plaid pants. Busted! I had to put on my pajamas.
It was Valentine’s Day 1974. I was in fifth grade and secretly liking girls for the past two years. I decided it was time to show my true colors.
Up ’til then, my only display of affection was a simple wish. I loved teachers that had alphabetical order seating. That was my only chance to sit by a girl. The worm on shore at dawn was only as shy.
The white lunch sacks were peppered with hearts and hung on the window sill. Mine had an extra special notice across it in my largest, neatest print. “ONLY LOVERS PUT CARDS IN THIS BAG.”
My rationale was simple. I liked girls. It was a perfect opportunity to find my first girlfriend. I sat through class flashing opossum grins at potential sweethearts. Daydreaming, I saw them wrestling each other to place cards in my sack.
Finally, it was party time, time to deliver cards and fall in love forever. I stood off to the side ready to bust; my grin was gargantuan. I can still see Mrs. Malloy looking at me, smiling and shaking her head.
Some things you have to learn the hard way. I was up for a hard fall, and she knew it.
The line of classmates inched along the sacks splashed with hearts though it slowed especially when it reached mine. After a quick reading, much to my surprise and dismay, they were passing without dropping a thing.
It was my first lesson on cutting your losses. My smile went from big and sure to sheepish as I discreetly made my way to the problem with a large red crayon. Except Mrs. Malloy, no one noticed. I stood inches from the bag, madly marking away. The bold declaration grew into a jagged red rectangle.
I staggered off to deliver my cards, only to tip-toe back later for another look. It was almost like my only eagle on the golf course. A 170 yard blind five wood faded onto a green I couldn’t see. I couldn’t find the ball, so I tiptoed to the hole. In five giant steps I was off the green as my sand wedge and putter sailed high. I jumped and yelled, “IT’S IN THE HOLE! IT’S IN THE HOLE!” Only this time, “They were in the bag!” but I wasn’t about to holler. I already tried eager with a big toothy grin and red crayon.