Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

How I Met My Muse, Part I: Squeaky Clean

1979

Never mind the seemingly necessary narrative about entering high school as a freshman and the obvious fear, anxiety and awkwardness this entails.

            Forget also the fact that I had been yanked out of the public school system two years earlier due, in large part, to some random jerk fluttering his hand in my mother’s face a la Curley Howard during one of her classroom visits. “They don’t teach respect in the public schools,” my mother said. No, public school was Sodom and Gomorrah in my parents’ eyes, and it was off to Catholic school I went.

            It was as if from that point forward I was unconsciously driven to produce the exact opposite result my parents had intended. 

            During the course of the next two years, I went from being one of the smart kids as a public school sixth grader to being on the principal’s shit list by eighth. It was known that my friend and I dabbled in less-than-legal extracurriculars and a few of the parish parents lodged complaints with the school about some of our publicly drunken escapades. Then there was our long hair and the fact that we played in a band that sealed the deal on our permanent residence in the principal’s dog house. We were not good kids.

            Any of the preceding tidbits could function as segues into many entertaining stories, such as our scathingly brilliant pranks at the expense of teachers, any of several rebellious and animated tiffs with my parents, or the first time I got down a girl’s pants. Though they set the tone, these events are relatively unimportant.

            This story is about Maria.

            As the door slammed shut on the remnants of my grade school career, my little clique was scattered all over the region in separate schools. Much to my consternation, I entered high school life at a large, coed, Archdiocesan campus.

            It was about the second or third day of school that I first laid eyes on her. This cute blonde walked into Father King’s religion class and informed him that she had been added to his roster. I was pleased that he assigned her to the one remaining open seat in the class — the one directly behind me!

            I studied her as she made her way towards me and took her seat. Maria was thin – diminutive, in fact — with tiny little features and itsy-bitsy little hands. Her hair was obviously bleached to a nearly platinum hue. It framed her cheeks in a sort of bell shape not dissimilar to the way cocker spaniel ears drape their faces. She carried her books up against her chest under crossed arms, much like a little girl, adding to her mousy demeanor and a squeaky-clean image, a perception perhaps accentuated by her squeaky voice. All that was missing was a poodle on her Catholic school girl skirt to epitomize a long-lost wholesomeness from a by-gone era.

            The first chance I got, I spun around to talk to her. She seemed surprised and possibly put-off to find this guy abruptly in her face. She backed off as much as her chair would allow, visibly uncomfortable the whole time. Later in the day, I would find Maria in my art and science classes as well. It was as if some forces were at work, though the intent of said forces was yet to be determined.          

            As it turns out, Maria was profoundly intelligent and talented. She played piano and painted. Her talent was evident by her superior work in art class, even with rather mundane projects. Though there was many prettier and curvier girls in the school, and ones certainly more my type, I found myself drawn to this goofy Wunderkind in braces.

            One day we ended up together in the back of the art room. I complimented her on one of her works, and she seemed very pleased to be speaking to me. The door had been opened and I was in!

            As new freshman, my classmates had yet to part with their stereotypical junior-high ways. I was informed by seemingly twenty girls that Maria liked me . . . A LOT. I was stopped by a girl called Tracy who also felt the need to prod me about my feelings toward Maria and my intentions. “Are you going to ask her out to the homecoming dance?” she asked.

            Having already contemplated doing so for a few days, I answered with dramatic resolve: “Yes, I am going to do that today!”

            I am quite sure that this recollection has been entirely overblown in my mind through the years. But I remember being flanked by many giggling, giddy girls after school let out that day as I made my way towards where I usually saw Maria catch the bus. It was as if a wave of excitement exploded from the building and carried me through the lot, which was manifested by this bevy of excitable females on their way to a spectacle.

            I spied Maria with a small group and called out to her. She walked towards me as her friends remained where they were. “Would you like to go to Homecoming with me?”

            She accepted with an air of put-on nonchalance, said goodbye, and rejoined her friends. Mission accomplished! In all likelihood, her reserve gave way to shrieking excitement just as soon as I was out of sight.

            The next day we were sitting on the curb at the Dairy Queen next to school sucking face like . . . . like  . . . teenagers as Led Zeppelin’s All My Love blasted from a nearby car stereo.

            I was so in!

 

to be continued

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