First Grade Love Sabotage
I wrote my first play when I was six years old. I was in the first grade, and my teacher’s name was Mrs. Wick. She had assigned everyone in class the task of writing a story, and I had decided the story should be told through dialogue, in the form of a very boring play.
The play went something like this:
Teacher: Ok students! It’s time for your spelling homework assignment. Here is what you have to do: you have to go home and, for some reason, ask everyone at home to give you a new spelling word to learn. Tomorrow when you come to class I will ask you what words you learned. Bye!
[Alexander, the main character named after my dad Alex, goes home for the day and walks into the living room of his house]
Alexander: Mom! Can you help me with my spell —
Mom: SHUT UP!
[Alexander writes this down and moves along to his brother’s room]
Alexander: Hey brother! Can you help me with my spell —
Brother [jumping on his bed with a cape on, singing]: Super man! dun dun dun dun!
[Alexander writes this down]
[…Alexander continues through different rooms in the house to ask his crappy family for spelling word ideas that they provide rude or inappropriate answers to…I can’t remember them all, but I remember the last one…]
[Alexander walks into the kitchen]
Alexander: Grandma! Can you help me with my —
Grandma: [taking rolls out of the oven anxiously] My buns are burning! My buns are burning!
[Alexander writes this down, even though this contribution is not a word, actually none of these are, you know, but whatever, right? I’m six you guys.]
[Alexander goes to school the next day.]
Teacher: Alexander, did you do your spelling assignment?
Alexander: SHUT UP.
Teacher: Why Alexander, that’s not nice! Who do you think you are??!
Alexander: [singing] Super man! Dun dun dun dun!
Alexander mouths off the rest of the ‘words’ and gets in trouble with the teacher, who sends him to the school principal’s office. This is 1988, and I am used to corporal punishment, which I make the principal give to Alexander.
Alexander: My buns are burning! My buns are burning!
Ok, this is a ridiculous play. But it made some sense and was a little funny, so Mrs. Wick asked me if I would be interested in putting on the play for the class. I couldn’t have been more excited about the opportunity, especially since I was allowed to cast and direct the play. I said yes, knowing exactly who I’d cast as Alexander.
Jonathan was not my first crush, but was one of the first real stand-out crushes. He had spiked blonde hair and an amazing calculator watch. I was very attracted to boys with calculator watches at the time, and high-tops. He also had high-tops. Whenever the class did things in groups that involved holding hands, I always made sure I was next to Jonathan. Whenever we went out for recess, I stalked Jonathan and asked him totally cool and not-weird-at-all questions all the time like “how tall is your dad” and “what is your favorite fish.” So naturally, I cast Jonathan as the main character in my play.
Now, there was a bit of a problem in my life at the time, and that problem’s name was Julie. Julie, in my class, who had long, straight silky brown hair and cute little glasses. She was in my Girl Scouts group and I definitely sold more cookies than her, but whatever, who’s even keeping track? She was really nice and cool, but I seriously hated her. I mean, quietly, to myself, but really, seriously hated her. For one, she was the girl Jonathan had a crush on. I’m sure there were other super legitimate reasons to hate her, too, but this was a long time ago.
Knowing that Jonathan liked Julie, and recognizing that I had some new power over the class with the casting of my play, I devised a plan to resolve the whole gross problem by having Julie hurt Jonathan. Not emotionally; I had a better plan: I cast Julie as the school principal in my play — you know, the one who punishes the sass-mouthed Jonathan at the end — so that she would have to whip Jonathan, thereby causing him pain and forcing him to hate her forever.
I distinctly remember the rehearsal — it took place in a room next to our usual classroom — and instructing Julie to “just really let him have it — this needs to seem like real life” when it came to the “My buns are burning!” scene. I remember her cute shyness, backing away from him, giggling, saying “I could never hurt him!” and witnessing my future happiness slipping away with every second of her charming sweetness.
“Sure you can! It’s just acting!” I said.
“I — don’t think it’s necessary for Julie to actually hit him, Sherah,” a teacher who obviously knew nothing about art finally suggested.
I was disappointed, but the play continued. We finished practice, which turned out to be great bonding time for Jonathan and Julie, and later performed the play for the class. I was rewarded with a card that students could receive for doing exceptional things in the classroom, for going above and beyond what was expected. This card granted me lunch with the (real) principal of the school, which was a huge honor.
But things changed between Jonathan and I. Now, instead of awkwardly talking to me at snack time, Jonathan and Julie had amazing, deep and loving connected conversations that marked the beginning of their life together. Instead of holding my hand in the circle at music time, he held Julie’s; that same hand that he’d no doubt be sliding a diamond onto before second grade. And rather than sit through some weird conversation I tried forcing him into on the merry-go-round group that I crashed, he now joked and laughed with Julie on the swings while butterflies and fuzzy dandelion seeds floated all around them in the golden sunlight.
I bet they’re married now. I bet Julie and Jonathan have lived happily ever after. My plan seriously backfired and I will never try this tactic again.