My Best Friend Brutally Trolled Me On Valentine’s Day In Sixth Grade And The Wounds Are Still Deep
Sixth grade royalty. Guys wanted her, girls wanted to be her. When she passed in the hallway, the harsh yellow hallway lights transformed into beams of pure, life-giving sunlight. Time came to a screeching halt. Her hazelnut-colored hair somehow blew naturally in the stale air of the hallways that reeked of bagged lunches and Richard Devins body odor. Tara was always a first-round draft pick in the the ‘Name Your Top 5’ gossip game that marks the chapter before ‘Shaving Creaming The First One To Fall Asleep’ in the book of Sleepover Rite of Passages.
I’m not ashamed to say that on more than one occasion I fell asleep with my arms wrapped tenderly around my teddy bear, using poor Snuffy as a portal into an alternate universe–a universe where a mere glance from Tara didn’t turn me into a powerless wax statue and her words didn’t have the power to make or break a young man’s life before he ever got the chance to see what he’d become. A universe where I could shed the heavy armor of adolescent angst and perpetual self-evaluation and just hold her, just like in the movies. I’m not ashamed of this admission because Tara was objectively the type of girl who would make a 12 year old risk it all for a graze of her hand or better yet, a personalized note. I’m 30 years old now, and to this day, I maintain the belief that 80 percent of the Proctor School sixth grade class would have gone to war for her if she just said the word. Boys and girls. Even snot-nosed Stephen Chambers, who was afraid of his own shadow.
Me, on the other hand, I was a relative nobody. My mom still combed my hair to the side so I looked like a paperboy from the 1930’s and dressed me in FILA swishy jump suits so I looked like a miniature substitute gym teacher. I was one of the best athletes in my grade, but in a time before organized sports, that gift was like having money in a different currency. My mom never packed me Gushers or Fruit Roll Ups in my lunch, so the method of acquiring clout from dope ass snacks was off the table. My interests at the time consisted of a wide array of worldly endeavors: WWF Wrestling, basketball, and secretly fawning over Tara McCarthy. Not exactly a viable arsenal of conversation topics to bring to a female, or anyone outside my tight-knit band of lovable losers, for that matter. Moral of the story: unless Tara McCarthy’s pore-less skin caught on fire and I stumbled upon her with a fire hose in hand, there would be no realistic reason for her to waste her forever minty breath on me.
Then came Valentine’s Day, 1999.