For as long as I can remember, I’ve been kinda boy crazy. And for all my shyness and introversion, I have usually been the aggressor.
My earliest crush dates back to when I was three years old. I was in the bathroom of my Jewish preschool, sitting on the toilet, swinging my legs, which did not touch the floor, back and forth. The metal doors in the bathroom were a drab gray. Looking at them I thought to myself, “Gray. That sounds like Greg. I love Greg,” Sigh. Greg must have been some three-foot high sproglet, oblivious to my yearning. I don’t remember him returning my affections. In fact, I don’t remember him at all.
I had my first requited love when I was seven. Alan was a skinny wet-lipped, Jewish boy who shuffled his feet when he walked. I can’t for the life of me remember what the attraction was. Perhaps it was simply that he was game.
One day, when lining up at the door, another classmate, Kristin, sang, “Melissa has a boyfriend!”
“I do not!” I replied, indignant. I hadn’t been ashamed of it, until that moment, when she called me out, and made it sound like a bad thing.
“Well,” said Kristin, “he’s a boy, right?”
“Yes,” I admitted.
“And he’s a friend,” Kristin added. I saw where this was going, and would not concede this fact.
“Then he’s your BOY-FRIEND!” It seemed that everyone else around us had chimed in, teasing, “Melissa has a boyfriend.”
In truth, Alan was my boyfriend. He came over to my house. Up in the spare room I suggested that we might try kissing. We hid deep inside the walk-in closet that runs against the side of the house. The bare bulb was turned on, but the door was closed. The air was dusty and the closet was filled with bags of my mother’s nursery school materials. Alan kissed me over and over again with those wet lips of his, until mine began to chap.
“Can you wait a second?” I asked him, running to the bathroom to fetch a wad of tissues. When I returned, we resumed kissing, pausing every few seconds so I could wipe my lips clean.
I do hope he’s improved his technique.
So, thirty-five years later, I find it completely unsurprising my daughter Sophia, at six, has a thing for boys. Not just boys. A boy. Anthony.
“I love Anthony,” she tells me dreamily.
“What do you love about him? I asked.
“He’s cute, and he’s smart, and he’s fast.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“He’s the fastest boy in the class. He’s even faster than me.”
“How do you know?”
“We had a race.” They may have arranged this, but from what I have observed in the playground, it’s more of an ambush than a race. The kindergarten girls gang up on a few unsuspecting fellows acting like power rangers or spider man and declare, “GIRLS CHASE BOYS.” The boys then run for their lives.
I interviewed Sophie about this.
“So Sophie, tell me about “Girls Chase Boys.” What happens?”
“Well when I chase Anthony, he just runs away, but he doesn’t scream.”
“What happens if you catch the boys?”
“We hug them…and kiss them.”
“Where do you kiss them?”
“Wherever we can find a spot.”
“Why do you run after the boys and try to kiss them? Why do you want to kiss them?”
Sign. “Um. I don’t know. We just like them.”
“Do you ever catch Anthony?”
“What do you do if you catch him?”
“Tackle him.” She pauses. “We don’t actually tackle them. We just plop on top of them and kiss them.”
I laugh. Sophie gets annoyed. “No, not like that. Mom!” What did that mean? I wonder.
“I just think it’s funny. What do they do when you kiss them?”
“Just run away again. They try to run away. “
“They escape? These poor boys. Do they want you to kiss them?”
“I don’t know. They never told us.”
“Are they smiling when this is happening, or do they say ‘no, please don’t do this.’”
“Mmmm….It’s a game we do.”
“Yeah, but do they know it’s a game?”
“I think they don’t know it’s a game.” is her somber reply.
Like mother, like daughter.