No one warned me that getting a boy’s attention should not include temporarily blinding him. But I did get his attention. And I doubt he’s ever forgotten me.
After a few moments of hasty deliberation I opted to become a beatnik instead of a saloon girl. Blame the career move on my infatuation with Maynard G. Krebs—a character on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis; he made beatnik-hood too appealing for me to resist. With no surf-side beach to hang out at, I contented myself with pseudo-finger-snapping. Unable to produce a snap, I solved the problem by simultaneously making a snap-motion and clicking my tongue, a method still used today. The beatnik language of cool, hip, and Daddy-O became interspersed in my vernacular.
I was a fickle admirer. Maynard soon sat on the back-burner while I dreamed of riding through the night with the Swamp Fox—a miniseries on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. He was as ruggedly handsome as Davy Crockett, and unfettered with a wife.
And then one morning I watched Little Lenny’s Tree House, and discovered Tommy wasn’t the only cute boy hiding up in the branches. Lenny appeared to be around fifteen years old, but was probably twenty-five. He spoke to me before and after commercials, while introducing upcoming cartoons. Rebelliously wearing his baseball cap sideways, he sat with his legs swinging off the platform of his tree house. I was smitten. And I bet he wouldn’t throw pinecones at me.
During Little Lenny’s days of fame, Uncle Edward got a new hired-boy. Lo and behold, his name was Lenny. My focus switched to the more attainable, flesh and blood Lenny. I used every trick in the book to get his attention. I somersaulted in his vicinity until too dizzy to stand up. I talked nonstop until he begged me to be quiet. I poked him gently with a stick until Dad asked, “What in tarnation is wrong with you?”
Momentarily deterred, I went in search of puffballs. For those not in the know, an unscientific description of a puffball is a mushroom-like sphere that is aged until it emits a semi-lethal puff of dark smoky spores when squeezed. They’re fun to jump on, but you have to wipe your shoes off afterward.
I sat on the edge of my grandparent’s stoop, examining my collection of puffballs. Lenny came over and sat by me.
“Hey, what’ve you got there?” he asked.
Happiness and panic set in at his positive attention. For the first time in my life, my lips froze shut. How could I show my devotion?
I grabbed my biggest puffball and squeezed it into his eyes.
“Aghhhh! My eyes, my eyes!” he yelled. “I can’t see.”
My mother and grandmother flushed out his swollen red eyes with water. I made Lenny cry … a lot.
“Why would you do such a thing?” asked Mom.
I would rather die than admit it was because I loved him, so I repeated, “I don’t know.”
“Mary Barbara, I swear, one of these days you’re going to give me a conniption fit,” muttered Mom.
Sorry, Lenny. I hope your eyes healed up.
Lesson learned: Actions speak louder than words; Lenny would have preferred words.
Now it’s your turn: How did you show a boy/girl that you liked them?
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