7th grade was going to be the year of Tiff. I was no longer a sixth-grade baby. I was a 7th grader entitled to all the rights and rewards that came with that title. I didn’t know what those rights and rewards would be, but they had to be fabulous, right? 7th grade was a once in a lifetime occasion, after all.
Tim was a gorgeous blond who made heads turn as he walked down the halls of our middle school. I’m not sure where he got it, but a spotlight followed Tim everywhere he went, making his hair glow with ethereal light. He was a God and we were his unworthy subjects. I would have been happy to fall at his feet and worship him, but that was so sixth grade. This was 7th grade. The year of Tiff. This year I would walk up to this Adonnis and tell him my name. He would smile and say, “I know. I have had a crush on you since the moment I saw you. I was just too shy to say anything to you.” Then he would smile and hold my hand and we would walk down the hall together. No sunset required. We would bask in the adoration of all of our friends as we strolled arm in arm down the hall of our future.
Ugh, right? Too bad that twelve-year-old love is just as brutal as ten-year-old love.
I bided my time, waiting for the right moment. Knowing he was shy and crushing on me, I needed to be careful not to scare him away. As he walked by, I smiled at his back so he would feel the energy of my love supporting him.
After a few weeks of that, I felt he was ready to move on to the next level. I began to cast sideways glances at him as he walked by. Just enough to show him I was interested, but not so forward that he would run for cover.
He seemed fine with that, so I moved my game up a little bit more. I began to smile at him as he walked towards me in the halls. Once in awhile, he would actually look at me. Those were scary times when I would have to remind my heart to start beating again.
After a few careful weeks of that, I felt he was ready for our first word. I waited next to his locker, trying to look as nonchalant and carefree as you can look after spending three hours on your make-up and hair. When he headed my way, I moved past him and said the word he had been dying to hear, “Hi.” I think my voice wavered. It might have even cracked a little, but that would just show him how much he meant to me.
He looked at me and said, “Hey.” Then he began to do his combo so I wouldn’t see him blushing with pleasure over our first words. I could feel the tension in his shoulders as he tried to ignore me. Finally a man who was as passionate about me as I was about him.
I couldn’t wait to see him again. I plotted his classes and managed to make it outside every one of his classes at every break. My teachers didn’t seem to mind when I walked in late every day. I think they said something to me, but I am pretty sure they were congratulating me on the way I was handling 7th grade and admiring the mature way I was taking it slow with Tim.
The day of our first school dance dawned as any other ordinary day. I rubbed my hands on my dress so Tim wouldn’t have to hold sweaty hands. I paced the gym looking for the silver glow of Tim’s hair. Finally I saw the flash of blond highlights and breathed a sigh of relief. He walked over to me with his entourage pulling up behind. He stopped, smiled, and said, “Wanna dance?”
People may say that hearts can’t sing, but anyone who has been in love will tell you this is totally untrue. Hearts can sing and people can walk on air and dance on clouds.
I managed to nonchalantly wipe my sweaty hands one last time before I put my hands on his shoulders. I was careful to keep a yardstick’s length between us so I wouldn’t scare him away. As we danced, I noticed how good he smelled and tried to discreetly smell myself, in hopes I didn’t smell too bad. With all this going on, I managed to carefully look over his shoulder so he wouldn’t get lost in my mesmerizing green eyes. His friends kept trying to push us closer together, but I resisted, knowing how easily he could be scared away from me. Neither of us said anything, but words were not needed for this perfect moment.
The song ended and we went our separate ways, knowing we were meant to be together. I admired the way he didn’t want to rub our love into the faces of everyone around us. We had our dance, and now we could both go back to our friends and be there for them. He was so mature that way.
We went back to saying “hey” in the halls, but he added a smile every now and then so I would know how he truly felt about me. I replayed those moments over and over in my head as I fell asleep each night. “Hey.” It was the most beautiful word in the English language. It was Tim’s word for me.
Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday that year. I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew Tim wouldn’t want to make our friends uncomfortable by doing something at school, so I decided to do something a bit more discreet. I pulled out every poster board I owned and my best markers that hadn’t run out of ink yet. I added some glitter and a little lace, a few pieces of cupid confetti and a spritz of perfume. Just one spritz this time. After all, I was in 7th grade now. Finally my tribute to our love was complete.
Now, the only problem was how to get it to Tim’s house. I could walk my valentine over to Tim’s house, but I was babysitting my brothers and sisters. If my mom and dad came home and found out I had left the kids home alone, I would never have the chance to leave the house again. That could really put a damper on our love. Luckily Tammy walked into my room to see what I was doing. Fate was taking a hand. Tammy could deliver it for me.
“Tammy, will you do me a big favor?”
“Will you take this valentine to Tim’s house and give it to him for me?”
“Please? Pretty please….!”
“I’ll be your best friend.”
“You’re already my best friend.”
“I’ll do your chores!”
“For a week! I’ll even clean the bathroom!”
“Okay. I guess I will do it.”
I hugged her and kissed her and told her she was the best sister ever. Then I told her how to get to his house.
She left and I waited anxiously at the window for her to return. Just as it was getting dark and I was starting to panic, she came up the street. I opened the door and stood waiting for her.
“What did he say? Did he smile? Did he like it? Did he ask about me? What was he wearing? What did you say? Was he cute? Tammy, talk to me. Tell me what happened!”
“What do you mean, nothing?”
“I mean, nothing. I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. He answered the door. I handed him the valentine and walked away. He yelled, “Who are you?”
I started dancing down the driveway and shouted, ‘I’m the Honey Nut Bee!’”
“No!!!!!! You didn’t!!!!”
Although I prayed for the weekend to crawl by, my embarrassment didn’t stop Monday from coming around again.
Monday there was no, ”Hey.” There was only silence and a hurried glance away from me. The death knoll sounded through the halls. I wanted to yell, “I don’t even like the Honey Nut Bee, but it seemed pointless to argue the obvious.
Tim and I continued to ignore each other until our next school dance, where I caught him making out with my best friend, Denise. Love sucks – whether you are a honey nut bee or not.