For most people my age, Grade 7 represents a dark time in their life. (As to what exactly is ‘my age’, lets just say I have only a handful of years left before going to cougar clubs will no longer be ironic.) It is best shoved deep into the recesses of the mind, hidden away from the damning light of acknowledgement. No one wants to reminisce about being annoying as hell and having blood come out of their vagina for the first time. Although both those things were part of my own Grade 7 experience, I have the fondest memories of that time. The peak of my romantic prowess was in Grade 7, a slightly unfortunate time to peak because well, Grade 7 boys. Nonetheless, it was a peak, and a glorious one at that.
There were two boys, Eric and Kiran. They were best friends and, as is often the case, a pair of opposites. Eric was tall and lanky. Kiran was short and buff. (I use the term buff very generously, calibrated for the demographic of Grade 7 boy). Eric had short, wavy hair cropped close to his scalp. Kiran had long, sleek hair styled in an ‘’M’’ a la Nick Carter. Eric was sensitive and shy. Kiran was outgoing and suave. The one thing they had in common? Me. Their intense, undying, unrequited love for me.
I can’t recall the specifics of how I came into the knowledge that I had two boys competing after me. Most likely it involved a combination of folded notes written on torn pieces of our agenda and thinly veiled questions posed by their wing women-’’So…do you like Eric or Kiran?’’. The competition culminated in one special day when they each made their extravagant declaration of love for me-Valentine’s Day.
I open my locker to find a small, white teddy bear lying face-down, butt forward on the top shelf. Whoever placed it there was evidently in a hurry. It was the kind of bear you find in the dollar store: slightly misshapen, uneven tufts of low-pile hair, a face that is not quite cute but rather, unintentionally evil. It held a heart across its chest that said ‘’I love you’’, and when you squeezed it, it said ‘’I love you, I love you’’. My girl friend tells me it’s from Kiran. He wanted to surprise me on Valentine’s Day with something special. He got my locker combination from her, who got it from me by asking for it, stating her reason as ‘’It’s a secret’’. This kind of infiltration strategy doesn’t work when you’re older, but in Grade 7, it does.
I visit my locker again later that day and find a letter tucked into one of the slits. It’s from Eric. Incidentally, he didn’t get my locker combination because, as stated previously, he was less suave than Kiran. The letter was written on two sheets of lined paper, folded into thirds. In it contained Eric’s professed feelings for me, along with his feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. There’s no way he could compete with Kiran and his money, he says. Considering the low quality of bear purchased by Kiran, I feel like he really could have, but I digress. He knew he had no chance of winning, but he had to tell me how he felt, because that is what you do when you’re in love.
Secretly, I had a crush on Eric. I thought he was sweet and I fantasized about slow dancing with him in the school gym to KC and JoJo. So after school that day, me and my girl friends go outside, laughing, and bury the letter in the snow. I made fun of Eric and hoped he would ask me out and cried when he didn’t. Grade 7 is a confusing time.
As for Kiran’s teddy bear, I brought it home and showed my older sister. She laughed at me. I tossed it in the upper reaches of my closet and tried to forget about it, and when that proved to be not enough distance, I put it in a garbage bag and donated it to Salvation Army.
I didn’t end up dating either of them, but the damage was done and their friendship dissolved. It’s a bit sad, but mainly very flattering, so on the whole, it’s a good memory. I do wish I kept the bear and the letter. They would have been fun souvenirs to laugh about, without malicious intent this time. I could look at them and think ‘wow, someone liked me once, isn’t that nice’. This is all a roundabout way to tell you that the boy I currently like is slowly phasing me out of his life, one infuriatingly delayed text at a time. It’s absolute bullshit. I’ll say this much, this kind of thing would not be going down if I was in grade 7.