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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Dangers of 8th Grade Candygrams

Adlai Stevenson once wrote “A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.” I find it strange that the “popular” people in high school were never truly the people everyone liked. The so-called outcasts, geeks and freaks always seemed to be having much more fun. I was somewhere in between, but I remember one year in 8th grade I finally understood the way it all worked. It was Valentines Day and I received a candy gram. A red rose with a poem attached signed Love, Tim Felder. Timothy Felder was in my drama class and no one ever called him Tim because the only time we’d heard his name was when the teacher recited attendance. He was unbelievably random, always wore a long black trench coat and carried some obscure book. He played with Magic cards, had terrible acne and was genuinely liked by no one. I wasn’t necessarily excited to get a rose from him but it didn’t bother me in any way. Mostly I was just confused at the overflow of emotion from a boy I had never known anything about. Immediately after class three girls with perfect hair and expensive clothes cornered me. This was it, my very first personal attack from Lindsay, Lindsey and Sophia. The very fact that I still remember the spelling difference between the two ring leaders might give you some idea of how powerful and feared they were. The scariest thing though was the level of intelligence they brought to the game. Very unlike the mean-girl bimbos you see on television (and surprisingly enough, all brunettes) they were always one step ahead of everyone else. Our conversation went something like this: (oh and you’ll have to forgive the naming details, I swear I was so nervous it seemed like they were all talking at once).

Mean Girl: So who’s the rose from?
Umm… I don’t think he’d want everyone to kn-
Mean Girl: -we heard there’s a poem too.
Other Mean Girl: Can we see it?
Ummmm…. No.
Mean Girl: Why not?
Me: I don’t have it anymore.
Mean Girl: Where is it?
Me: I lost it.
Mean girl: No you
Me: I did. It’s probably still in the classroom.

Insert my attempt to sneak away, looking like a retard as they sneer at me.

Mean girl: We know it’s from Timothy.

I shrugged, trying to play it cool.

Me: Yeah... it was but I really don’t have it anymore.
Mean Girl: Do you remember what it said?

I dared to look at them directly for the first time as they started to giggle. Although they laughed in my direction and fully expected me to feel embarrassed…I knew they weren’t really laughing at me. They were laughing at him. A little piece of me broke off for Tim that day as I saw the amusement dancing in the eyes of those three girls. It both hurt me and pissed me off to watch their lips curl into devious grins. I could tell they had every intention of running off to tell anyone who would listen. And by anyone, I mean everyone. They knew exactly what the poem said.

Me: Why are you asking me all these questions if you already know the answers? Go waste someone elses time.

I didn’t even care enough to wait for a reaction and walked away without another word. The story was out by the next morning but I got off unbearably easy compared to Tim. My friends bugged me a few times but gave up easily when they realized I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed. Tim didn’t show up to drama class for two weeks after that day and even when he did come back, continued blatantly ignoring me. I made the attempt to initiate a real conversation with him a few times over the next few years, getting the usual one-word answers, or nods, or muttered excuses for him to leave. I didn’t really blame the guy although by grade 12 I fully expected him to get over it and for Valentine’s Day, I gave him (as in, handed to him, not in a school organized candy gram) a yellow rose with a note that just said “Thank You.” He smiled, said your welcome and… yet again walked away. I conceded that I had done all I could and at least, he knew it mattered to me. So even though I still have never truly met Timothy Felder I believe he may have been the first boy that ever loved me.

I still have his poem.


Philip said...

This is amazingly thoughtful.
The whole world should be full of women like you.

Any idea what happened to Tim?

Michael said...

I'm a Timothy Felder type. I wish the girls I'd been in love with could've been as nice and as understanding as you.

if you happen to be a billionaire...