My First Love Letter
I’d like to pretend that my first love was a) my true love b) someone I genuinely cared about and/or c) went on to have a highly successful career in the public eye until I spilled the beans to the tabloids and splashed our sexual peccadilloes all over the social media.
Sadly, none of that is true.
I was eleven going on forty and all the cool girls had boyfriends that took them roller skating on the weekends and sent them notes in class. Sadly, I was also not one of the cool girls. I was probably born strange, the shy girl, the one with her head in a book and a whole universe of invisible friends (who were, arguably, every bit as cool as the flesh-and-blood girls at school). When Larry asked me, via his friend Bruce, I had a carpe diem moment. I could have a boyfriend. Of my very own. Who actually existed just half a street down from my house and who would take me roller skating and pass me notes. I accepted.
Larry celebrated the occasion by creating an enormous purple construction paper poster on which he had glued Valentine’s candy hearts reflecting his current sentiments for me. If you haven’t eaten your way through one of these bags recently, I highly recommend it. The colors are pastel pretty, there’s an enormous sugar rush, and you realize the world would probably be a much nice place if we all passed each other candy hearts announcing I love you, You’re sweet, and Kisses. He also turned out to be a plagiarist (which failed to bother me much as I hadn’t yet had the revelation that I wanted to be either an academic scholar or a romance novelist… two very different writerly professions on the surface that both frown on copy words that belong to other people). He scrawled Roses are red, violets are blue, and I love you on the poster-card, signed his name, folded it up (committing carnage on several pink and yellow candy hearts), and gave the masterpiece to Bruce to pass to me.
My mother, bless her heart, kept a straight face when I showed her my prize. She even agreed that I could roller-skating over the weekend with my new beau (provided she dropped me off and picked me up). I announced that this was true love and that we would love each other forever. My mother, who had been married for twelve years and probably knew lots more about happily-ever-after than I did, did crack a smile that time. She also nodded sympathetically when Larry broke up with me four days later because I chickened out of the roller-skating date and sent him my regrets. Apparently that part of true love was absolutely non-negotiable.
I consoled myself by picking the non-stale, non-crushed, non-gluey pieces of candy heart off the card and eating them. I wasn’t going to be cool nor was I going to be roller-skating beneath the disco ball to the slow songs, but I was definitely getting the sugar rush. And I suspected I might have got the better end of that deal.