Sunday, September 25, 2011

Memento mori

I hadn't thought about his name in years. But when I saw a facebook update from a mutual friend that he'd died, well, I've been thinking about him ever since. I really don't know anything about the man he became and so I can only grieve his death for the boy I knew, the one I had a serious crush on one year in high school, the one I kissed not once but twice, the boy who seemed far too cool and fearless to have a clue who I was (those two kisses notwithstanding). About his adult self, I only know the tiniest bits I just now gleaned from his Facebook page: that he has at least one daughter, that he owned a business, that his listed interests suggest that he was still fearless. But I really don't know about all of that. I remember the boy and I'm sorry that he is no longer in this world.

I wasn't your garden variety giddy high school girl giggling over every boy. I was a fairly even-keeled, straight arrow, teacher's pet kind of kid. I had my fair share of high school crushes, most (all?) of whom had no idea I had any interest in them at all. The funny thing is that I didn't have an interest in C. until one December when the junior class' annual "Kissing Elves" fundraiser happened. This is the sort of fundraiser that I'm sure would never be allowed now. Frankly I'm a little surprised that it was allowed then. In any case, the juniors sold messages to help finance the junior senoir prom. Each message had a recipient and a deliverer. The recipient had to kiss the deliverer in order to receive the message, hence the name kissing elves. So if you had a huge crush on someone, your friends would send you a kissing elf to be delivered by your crush. Yes, it was as mortifying as it sounds! But there were twists as well. Your friends could be truly diabolical and have the thing delivered by the "Monster Elf." I don't know what the school administration thought the Monster Elf was but in kid terms, it was known to be not just a chaste little smooch in exchange for your message, it was a full on kiss, tongue and all, delivered by an unknown (identity theoretically kept secret) person. At least that's what I was told it was (did I mention I was also very gullible?--although I've never been told that my interpretation was wrong even lo these many years later).

So that December of my freshman year, a friend told me she was going to send me a kissing elf and wanted to know who I wanted to have deliver it. I told her that I didn't want an elf under any circumstances. She threatened to send me a Monster Elf if I didn't give her a name. I didn't believe her. My friends were just as straight arrow as I was and I never would have had the guts to send a Monster Elf. Imagine my surprise when delivery week rolled around and she admitted that she had indeed sent me the Monster Elf. Once the panic subsided a bit, I had to find out who the Monster Elf was that year so I could avoid him as assiduously as possible. It was C. He was a year ahead of me and most likely didn't have a clue who I was even though we went to a very small school. Surely if I skulked through back hallways avoided common areas, I'd be safe, right? Nope. C. tracked me down right outside the lunchroom doors where a third of the school all stood waiting for lunch to start and planted a heck of a kiss on me. I don't think I have ever blushed harder to this day. I suspect that I blushed every time I saw him for the following year too. You'd be forgiven for thinking that I developed a crush on him because of that kiss but I didn't really. I think the crush came about because I had expended so much mental energy thinking about him (and the best ways to avoid that kiss). In any case, in the following year, I found myself trying to be wherever I thought he might be too.

It thrilled and horrified my little soul when he knocked on my car window after school one day when I was sitting in the ever so cool (NOT!) Student Driver car for a behind the wheel lesson. My instructor was not terribly impressed, I might add. After I got my license, I did convince a friend to drive with me past his house a few times in hopes that he was outside. He never was. I had a few brief conversations with him in school when a friend of mine started dating a friend of his. And the friend who had sent me the Monster Elf sent me one specifically from C. the following year. So he kissed me again. And that was really that. Nothing much of interest ever happened with my crush on C. It just sort of faded away. I admit that I did note where he ended up going to college even though by then I had a boyfriend, but my interest was just a small echo of that once consuming crush and after I noted it, I forgot until I saw it listed on his Facebook page.

I haven't thought about him in years, yes, but he held a small (strange) piece of my history, even if, as is most likely, he himself didn't remember one tiny bit of it. 41 is too young to die. RIP C. and may your family take comfort from their memories of you.

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