Thursday, July 26, 2007


It was sixth grade. You were in social studies, getting nervous to get up and talk about your Current Event. You had the newspaper clipping about Clarence Thomas, or the Persian Gulf, spread out on your Formica desktop, with your pens lined up in the long groove along the top. Then, suddenly, as your teacher was writing something on the whiteboard, the girl next to you slipped a folded up piece of lined paper, shaped into a tiny triangle.

You got excited. You looked around and unfolded it. Tiny, swirly handwriting filled the page. A note! From one of your many platonic girlfriends! It may have included Green Day lyrics, or drawings, or nothing meaningful at all. Probably, it cattily analyzed the behavior of another one of your girlfriends, who was caught up in another dating permutation with guy in your small group of friends. Or talked about Ethan Hawke vs. Christian Bale. More than once, it probably contained the following quote from “My So-Called Life”:

"People always say how you should be yourself, like 'yourself' is this definite thing, like a toaster or something. Like you can know what it is, even. But every so often, I'll have like, a moment, when just being myself in my life, right where I am, is like, enough."
You quickly got to work writing your response.

You may have passed only small notes. You may have spent recess time in a corner, avoiding the rope swings and the endless games of Red Rover, scribbling away. It was an effort to get out what you were feeling inside, and a secret way of bonding with your female friends, without getting romantic.

You probably eventually started collecting the notes, in a shoebox or a jar. As the carefully folded pieces of lined book paper began to accumulate, you thought about how fun it would be to read them when you got older, to catch a glimpse into your growing pre-adolescent mind.

Years later, if you did find the notes and read them, you probably did have fun reading them. “Man,” you might have thought. “I was a fag even before ‘White Squall.’”


Anonymous said...

My favorite was "I mean, if you stop to think about, like, chewing -- what it really is? -- how people just do it, like, in public." I haven't eaten since.

bella wilfer said...

Remember how much Red Rover made your hands hurt?


Beautiful post.

Mu said...

I still have a box of notes from high school tucked away somewhere.

Mark said...

I can still remember learning how to fold the notes into triangles....ah the memories.