This essay was originally published in 2017 in the now defunct literary humor magazine Neutrons Protons.
1. Ashley R., at age 11,
For having a gaggle of girls who gathered around her at recess, edging the chain link fence in their plaid skirts, rolled at the waist so that the hem fell high above the knee, (even if it meant detention at a private Christian school like ours),
And for her ability to simultaneously ignore and flirt with the boys who catapulted wood chips at her until the bell rang.
2. Lindsay S., at age 13,
For having a sister, two years ahead of her, who could introduce her to her older guy friends, (calm my beating heart),
For wearing a bikini at the Young Life Camp all the church youth group kids attended, while my parents only let me wear my old glittery one-piece,
And for not needing braces.
3. Meredith D., at age 14,
For being allowed to date whomever she wanted, (all the many pimply boys who slipped notes on lined paper through the cracks in her locker), while my parents had forbidden me from dates until further notice,
And for being long-legged and still nice to me.
4. Angie R., at age 16,
For having a boyfriend with whom she could make-out after marching band practice, even if she felt guilty about it afterward, (which is how I heard about it),
And for continuing to be friends with my ex-boyfriend Karl after we broke up.
5. Lauren D., at age 18,
For being the sister of Mikey, a guitarist with blue eyes, for whom I signed onto AOL instant messenger every day for a year and a half, just in case he might maybe possibly want to chat with me, (no luck),
And for being in college, (which made you cool back then).
6. Stephanie K., at age 21,
For liking Jonathan at the same time I did (how dare she!) during our college summer abroad trip to England,
For always finding a way to sit next to Jonathan on the tour bus,
For convincing him to play two-person card games with her (I never could figure out how to play their favorite, Eucre),
And also for her dark curls.
7. Erin, at age 21,
For being the girl who had caught Jonathan’s attention even before our summer abroad, the girl who Jonathan could not find the courage to ask out until the next fall semester, in the college cafeteria, near the tray deposit, where she promptly squinted at him, asked what his name was again, and turned him down, (comic justice?),
And for being an athlete.
8. Kristin W., at age 22,
For being the competition before I even knew her:
For being one of Jeremy’s best friends in high school,
For taking him to her Valentine’s day dance,
For turning him down when he asked her out in college,
For dating him for two weeks after college before she dumped him over burritos, no explanation given; (thank goodness all this happened before I fell for Jeremy myself),
And for her lean figure.
9. Rebecca G., at age 22,
For trying to catch Jeremy’s eye right along with me when a few of us would go out to Denny’s for cherry-limeades after Bible study (awkward), that is, until I had to tell her that Jeremy had asked me out (more awkward),
And for her shiny blond hair.
10. Sarah S., at age 23,
For having dated Jeremy for six months in college, (even if they never did kiss),
For Jeremy’s note penned in an old college sketchbook, where he writes that he missed Sarah so much over their summer break,
And for being small and straight instead of curvy like me, (though Jeremy says he likes my curves).