Harbor Creek High School’s first block began with the morning announcement program. Students in the A.V. Club praddled off school-related news bulletins to a camera broadcasting to a closed-circuit television system that the whole school watched every morning. They led the pledge of allegiance before launching into what needed to be known for the day. Meatloaf was today’s lunch entree. Our basketball team won the game over the weekend. They and the track team had practice this evening. A few clubs were meeting at lunch and some birthdays were announced. Much I couldn’t care less for as I perused a note my best friend, Jen Conley, wrote and passed me this morning.
“I love her to death…” I think to myself while perusing her gushings about being with her current boyfriend for “five fabulous weeks”! Jen was one of those people who cherished month-iversaries and every odd-number of days she was with somebody. Our prom is open to juniors and seniors, right? We’ll be able to go next year but she’s been imagining eventful prom-posals since we were freshmen. Love is in the air to her all the time when she’s in a relationship but she gets intoxicated with the added flux that comes from Valentine’s season. Blech!
After sapping over the near forty days she’s been with her S.O., she switched between imagining and worrying about how special the weekend could be/should be/might be.
“We actually talked about the Valentine candy-grams over the weekend,” she wrote. “He said that wouldn’t be near enough to show how much he cares! Awww!”
“There’s still time to purchase your Valentine candy-grams!” A.V. Club member Sydney McLean announced about the same time I was mentally retching a bigger blech over the lover’s discourse I just read. “They’ll be delivered this Friday, Valentine’s Day, during fourth block. You can purchase them in the commons between classes and at lunch for $2.50 a bag…” She continued the spiel while showing off the product that was a small, heart-printed cellophane goody bag of candy. My school did these candy-gram sales a couple times a year. They’re “rebranded” in Halloween baggies and called boo-grams in October.
As “sick” as Jen’s outlook on her love life can make me sometimes, I have to admit its more of a sick with envy kind of feeling. Plus Mom and I argued this morning, so I was also in a bad mood as I started reading the note. But I mean, being hopeless romantics is the basis of our relationship; my love life just has an emphasis on hopeless though. Most of the time I relish with many of Jen’s moments and imagine prom-posals, prom nights, and dream dates right along with her in the responses I write to her. One time, I imagined a crush would pick me as a date in a Bachelor rose ceremony-style event --complete with Chris Harrison-- and the hallways filled with confetti and the marching band when he did.
Anyways, from this note, she and I speculate her boyfriend is going all out for her if he’s surpassing a milk money budget. Though, on the contrary, I’d love any kind of gesture, even as small as a cheap bag of candy, from a certain someone.
That someone was Anthony Blake. His hair was a short, wavy dark dirty blond wave and his eyes were a dark, nut brown. That combination reminded me of Matthew McConaughey’s hair and eyes in “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days”. He played on the football team and his features were warmed by the green of our school colors. In biology class last nine weeks, we sat across from each other! Well, across from each other with a couple desks between us in the front row of the room. But still, that was arguably closer than we ever were most other times in the day. Personally, we aren’t close, but I at least would very much like to be!
I pulled the pencil-drop trick on him once to get his attention as he walked by! Oldest trick in the book, right? And my seat was closest to the door, so I was also able to get it for him once or twice when he was on crutches after an injury messed up his leg! Maybe he was a little shy when I did all that but he was certainly kind about getting my pencil for me and grateful for what help I offered. While I’m not the immodest type, as much as I wish he’d make a move, doing those right in class did make the interest rather evident to the rest of the world. Every so often, friends Anthony and I had in common would talk to me about him or us, I got the honest impression the feeling was mutual.
Circle back to love week this week: I’m in a group project this class with mine and Anthony’s mutual friend, Neil Shaffer. I asked him if Anthony was going to send me a candy-gram and Neil said that he was! Anthony Blake was finally making a move! I have something more to write Jen about for one thing! I could only return the favor as well and hope for where it could go! I hurried to the commons between first and second block to buy him a candy-gram.
Fourth block Friday could not come any sooner; a class which I again share with Anthony by the way. I sat behind him in the next row over from him in a room where the teacher attempted a stadium-style desk arrangement with a little over twenty seats. Hardly an ideal arrangement for anymore pencil-dropping tricks…
In the meantime, Jen and I traded thoughts about her weekend date and sappy, romantic daydreams in our notes for the rest of the week. We both thought of how perfect and sweet Anthony and I could be. Reminding me of Gwen Stefani’s latest hit, “Sweet Escape”, I spent half of one morning drawing a stick-figure cartoon comic of myself acting out the first half of the chorus to that song. Stick-figure me escaped from jail, and with magic, created a place that was my own world where I could be Anthony’s favorite girl! My little strip ended with a bunch of wooh’s written in. Jen liked it as much as I did!
I was entertaining the thought of recreating Hannah Montana’s “If We Were a Movie” in the same style when the valentine deliveries finally arrived! Except it felt like being whacked like a ton of bricks!
Valentine candy-grams for Anthony Blake: 2!
Valentine candy-grams for me: 0!
Sure, one of Anthony’s candy-grams was from me but the skinny sleaze in our class, Alessia Greene, claimed she gave the other one! Add in the fact she was pregnant by another classmate and this was a cruelly unfair situation! Anthony wasn’t impolite about anything, but neither was he forthcoming with any reciprocal or sympathetic sentiments as I had hoped and (day)dreamed. Nonetheless, that said it all though. Anthony Blake didn’t like me back in that way. Worst two-fifty ever spent…
Jen's boyfriend, on the other hand, got her one of those big boxes of chocolates and had a great time together that weekend. As for me, the weekend into the rest of winter slogged. I was in so much of a sulk after class that day, I could not bear to watch the holiday specials on TV, listen to the radio, or even go to the drug store after Friday to take advantage of the discounted candy. Though springtime anxiously crept between February and early March until eagerly stepping into the end-of-school anticipation. With the weather change and other things and life, I became distracted and distanced from the scalding downfall of my crush on Anthony. Hedging the stresses of big tests, midterms, and finals were mine and Jen’s sweet sixteen! The rise of a musical trio of brothers was also really helpful in rekindling my broken heart, but more so was the yearbook signing party. Until prom, the yearbook party was the closest I ever got to parties and I could be found dancing my butt off in the gym! It embarrassed Jen sometimes.
I had to bounce between the cha-cha slide and circulating the place to find my friends and favorite classmates I wanted to write in my yearbook too but I’m glad I made the effort! Dade Harrison, one of the most outgoing, popular guys in school, called me the stuff! A few others said I’m a great friend, sooo nice, funny, cute, and sweet! Some acknowledged the good times we had in classes and with projects and called me by a few fun nicknames. Some of them also encouraged me not to change, to hang in there, and keep my faith! Those words were nothing on a cheap candy bag! I love my friends but I hardly think about how much I’m loved!