In the interest of getting to know who I am, I’m sharing stories from my life. I call them Preliminary Files and I hope you enjoy them.

In the fifth grade Dave Malone liked baseball. John Snyder liked hot-rods. And I liked Sally Howard.

But I didn’t know it until I heard whispered rumors that she liked me. In fact I didn’t even heed the rumors until I saw it written in pencil on the gym wall behind the bleachers. There was a big plus and on the top it read SH and on the bottom it read BB.

There was a period of confusion as I tried to decipher the glyph. I couldn’t tell if the initials were meant to be read vertically or horizontally. Maybe it meant SB + HB. Someone had to show me how it worked. Once I was sure it meant Sally Howard + Bobby Baker, I felt butterflies in my stomach.

Sally had golden brown hair, a sweet disposition, a warm, smiling face and a light smattering of strategically placed freckles. She sat across from me in Mrs. Austin’s class.

Dave Malone was far more excited than I was about the whole affair. Perhaps it was because he already had Bonnie as a girlfriend for quite some time. Maybe he knew about wonderful opportunities and benefits of having a girlfriend that I could not yet fathom. It was Dave who convinced me that I needed to invite Sally to the Swim Party coming up in two weeks.

I was somewhat confounded by his request since this was a school-wide event and certainly not “by invitation only”. Without ever saying it, Dave was trying to tell me I’d receive bonus points in the courting game if I went ahead and invited her as my guest. So I did it anyway. Seemed like sound advice, even if it still didn’t make total sense at the time.

I told Mom & Dad about the Swim Party and they said I was going to need a new swimsuit. Right on! Not only was I going to get to spend time with a pretty girl doing something I loved to do, but I was going to be doing it in a BRAND NEW SWIMSUIT! This felt awful good.

Both Mom & Dad accompanied me on my swimsuit quest. It was epic. I found a neon green and pink striped pair of trunks that looked like it was made from foam rubber. It was the weirdest (and therefore coolest) swimsuit in existence and Mom & Dad (possibly against their better judgement) got it for me.

The party came and went swimmingly except for the fact that girls apparently flock like birds at social gatherings. I therefore saw very little of Sally that day.

But I saw her the following Monday at school and she never looked so radiantly beautiful. We ate lunch together and that’s when she revealed that her father was our landlord.

We rented a house from Mr. Howard that was located smack-dab in the middle of a bunch of peach orchards. He was a peach grower and he was the first person I’d ever met who had polio. He walked with a limp and held a cane.

When I got home that afternoon, I was overcome by an intuitive desire to create something for Sally Howard. Sometimes desire, inspiration, and resources come at exactly the same time and I knew what I must create.

I grabbed an old piece of wood and a bunch of small nails and a scrap of metal. After nailing the scrap of metal to the wood, I used a larger nail to punch holes in the metal in the exact shape of her name. It looked right nice because the small nails had round heads which looked like rivets.

I wrapped it in fine paper with a lovely ribbon and set it aside for the proper time to present it. The proper time was that very Saturday.

She came by with her dad and while the adults talked about grown-up things, we took a walk thru the orchard.

There in the warm shade of the trees, the air sweet with the scent of peach, and Sally Howard holding my hand, I reached into my back pocket and gave her the gift. She opened it like a school of hungry Piranha. She took one glance at the apparatus, threw her arms around my neck and kissed me directly on the lips. It was the best feeling I ever had. We kept our lips together for an extraordinarily long time. Neither of us wanted the kiss to end.

One week later we moved 200 miles away. I never saw Sally Howard again. But I never forgot that look in her eyes right before we kissed.

(My Lesson: Don’t try to build a future with the object of your affection in order to assure more oncoming love. That always hurts when it doesn’t work out.
And; remember to feel love as often as you can while it’s right there “on the hoof”.)


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