I remember my first real crush. I was 6 or 7 years old, back in a time when love was sweet, pure and innocent. Untainted by the certainties of the world. All that existed was sweet naiveté.

Her name escapes me, as that was over 20 years ago, but I remember it was love at first sight. Her Ninja Turtles t-shirt (that was the way into my heart), dirty blonde hair (I mean actually dirty, as we were always outside, playing in the dirt), and her propensity for throwing rocks at people were all key elements in constructing the puzzle of…whatever her name was.

Come to think of it, that was her thing, her defining characteristic: throwing rocks. It's what brought us together. I was outside, trying to climb a tree (that's what I did, you know) and there she was, looking up at me, this failed monkey-wannabe, as she shouted insults at me. Remember, at that age, boys and girls were like cats and dogs—sworn enemies for life. But I knew this was somehow different.

I believe she addressed me as "poo-poo head." Not one to back down from a challenge, I informed her that she was, indeed, the real poo-poo head. She then challenged me to a fight, which had me worried because I was a scrawny little thing. However, needing to prove myself as a man, I figured I'd at least humor her.

Regrettably, I climbed down from the tree, swearing to it that I'd be back. As I reached the ground, she balled up her fists. I told her she was a wuss and weak, and she punched me in the eye. Looking back, it was really cute. I was lovestruck. She was beautiful, loved the Ninja Turtles, and strong!

I lied and said it didn't hurt, however, I think my face betrayed me because I was crying when I said it. Threats to tell my mom on her had no effect—it was as if she could see into my soul and knew that I wouldn't dare.

She then proceeded to chase me as I ran towards my home. She was hot on my tail and the next thing I knew she was tackling me. She pinned my arms down, but this time I could tell she didn't want to hurt me. It was all a ploy to get my attention. As she growled at me, through my tears I saw that she truly cared for me. She was just in denial. Her actions proved that. But I realized that her voice was like an angel singing when she said, "I know something that will make you cry even more!"

Falling in love rocks road sign
It's when you jump at love that things tend to go wrong.
As she lifted herself off me, I knew that I had to make some sort of gesture to show that I was interested, but nothing came to mind. When she picked up the rock, I saw in her eyes the fire that burned. An intense, loving fire with room for only one other person. When that stone of love crashed into my face, I felt the daggers of a burgeoning mutual attraction stab me.

Arriving home, I was walking on air. My mother asked me about my black eye, and I knew then that she just couldn't see the love, so I decided to keep it from her. As I informed her that I was beaten up by my best friend, Scotty, I couldn't stop thinking about HER. I said nothing when my mother swung open the front door, walking with a determined swagger, on her way to Scotty's house to tell his parents what he did to me. I couldn't concern myself with Scotty's problems at the moment. I needed advice!

I solicited romantic tips from my grandmother, a hopeless romantic. Brushing off such questions as, "Aren't you a little young to be asking about girls?" and, "What the hell happened to your eye?" I asked what girls like. While some answers were dramatically over my head, some things made perfect sense to my young mind: "Girls like to be surprised" and "they love flowers." Perfect! I was great at taking people by surprise and there were plenty of dandelions in the front yard.

The next day, armed with a great idea and a plastic bag full of dandelions pulled freshly from the ground, I set out to find my true love. It wasn't long before I spied her, beating up a kid named Vince who lived down the street. Jealousy immediately boiled to the surface; I felt betrayed. "That's my girl and that beating should be for me!" I thought. But love is based on trust, so I let it go. I put on my mask and set my plan into action.

It wasn't long before she ceased her attack on Vince—he gave her his Micro Machines as a bribe—and I followed her. She stopped to throw a rock at Vince as he ran away, screaming all the while. While her back was turned, I snuck up behind her.

It's at this point that I should describe the mask I was wearing. Because I was told that girls like to be surprised, I thought sneaking up on her was perfect. But the plan seemed hollow, even with the dandelions. I needed something else. So I dug out my Halloween mask from the year before—a hockey mask smeared with fake blood. I figured it wouldn't be easy walking around wearing such a thing without someone asking questions, but no one said a thing. That's the beauty of being a little kid—nothing you do is strange to an adult. It only elicits reactions like "that's cute" or "awww, look at him!" Wear a hockey mask stained with fake blood around your neighborhood as an adult and you're likely to get arrested or stabbed.

Wearing my mask, holding the bag of dandelions, I crept up behind her. When I got to within a foot of her (she was busy smashing earthworms with a rock at this point) I grabbed her shoulder and screamed "AAAAHHH!!!" There you go, girls like to be surprised.

I'd like to think that she was so taken with my creative, romantic gesture that she was genuinely surprised. And that she was. Her tears of joy flowed freely as she ran, screaming, all the way to her house. I was left standing there, not having had a chance to give her the dandelions I had picked. Girls are complicated.

After what I considered to be a failed attempt, I asked my grandmother once more for advice. "Find out what she likes." Bang. Easy. Throwing rocks, crushing earthworms with rocks, and beating up boys. All things I could do. But how to show her that I could do such things?

I was in such a confused daze that as I walked back outside, I brushed off my best friend Scotty, who demanded to know why I told my mom he beat me up, subsequently getting him paddled. I couldn't concern myself with his problems, I had real work to do!

After two days I finally saw her again, sitting in the sunlight, shouting insults and throwing rocks at yet another neighborhood boy while he was riding his bike. I knew I'd better act fast—there was too much competition in my neighborhood. It was then that I realized what I had to do. Now or never. Make my move now or lose her forever.

She had just begun smashing earthworms with a rock when I walked up. As she looked up at me, I could see in her eyes that she missed me as she threw her fresh, earthworm-smattered rock at me. Anticipating this, I dodged quickly out of the way. Trying to figure out why I hadn't run yet, she was at a loss for words. I broke the silence:

"Nice shirt. I love the Turtles. I want to be one someday."

No response. I was blowing it. Time to bring out the big guns.

She looked mighty confused, but there was a sense of longing in those eyes. I crouched down, looked at the crushed corpses of earthworms, and spied a writhing mass of live ones. Screwing up my courage, I grabbed a handful of earthworms and put them in my mouth. No one said love was easy.

Her smile made it all worth it as I ate that chunk of living spaghetti.

From that moment on, we were inseparable. Our two souls bound as one, throwing rocks at other boys and keeping the earthworm population down. It was meant to be.

When I ran into her about 10 years later, on the way in to high school, I recognized her face immediately. As she was being handcuffed and placed in the squad car outside the school, we shared what they call a "moment." The buzz was that she had thrown a rock at a police car and had graduated from crushing earthworms to attempting to crush the skulls of classmates. However, it was I who knew that everyone was short-sighted and couldn't see her for the miracle that she was.

As I passed by her, our eyes met and my breath was sucked out. I felt faint. My eyes said, "We shared something wonderful." I didn't feel the need to speak any words.

She, however, broke the romantic silence. "What the hell are YOU looking at?!" I know what she meant though. She meant to say that she was glad to see me again and that I was doing well, and how much she missed me. Her spoken words were just a code only the two of us knew.

Yes, love at any age is truly a miracle.


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