Every year the eighth grade put on a play and every year the whole class looked forward to it. I mean this was the big time. Real theater. Dress rehearsals, after school practices, set design the whole shebang. I remember the auditions. I walked in full of confidence and left looking at my shoes. I thought I totally blew it. My voice cracked twice and I had to read from the script the entire time. I think it was the second longest night of my life. Our teacher posted the casting list on the bulletin board the next day and wouldn’t you know it, I was cast as the lead.
I still remember the first time I tried on my costume. I thought it made my breasts look huge. Which sucks if you’re a twelve year old boy. To make matters worse, Maryanne Kempler, the prettiest girl in class, announced she was moving to California. This was a particular kick in the pants as she was the Juliet to my Romeo.
I sat in the lunch room eating a burger looking at my tits and feeling sorry for myself when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Can I sit here?” Donna didn’t wait for me to answer before taking the seat next to me. She smelled like ranch dressing.
“I’m going to play Juliet. We should get together and practice sometime. How about recess?”
I had to make a conscious effort to close my mouth. When she smiled it caused her nose to wrinkle. She stood up and giggled her way back to her friends. I don’t remember much of those recesses. My memory is flashes of forgetting my lines and laughing way to hard about absolutely nothing. The only thing that still stands out is Donna.
We practiced our parts together at recess and dress rehearsals. For me it was, “bla, bla, bla, good night, good night, yadda, yadda, parting… sweet sorrow” then, much to my chagrin, the director would remind me specifically, that we weren’t actually going to kiss. Jerk.
I spent the afternoon before the play trying to stretch my costume so I didn’t look like a fully developed young lady and convincing myself that I really didn’t want to kiss Donna. It didn’t work.
Opening night finally was upon us. The air backstage was electric. We were all excited and nervous as hell at the same time. The boys punched each other and joked loudly while the girls studiously practiced their lines. I made clandestine efforts to flatten my boy boobies one more time. It didn’t work.
The curtain went up and we were on. It went OK. For me it was, “bla, bla, bla, good night, good night, yadda, yadda, parting… sweet sorrow” then, much to my amazement Donna kissed me. I tried to pretend it was nothing, like girls kissed me all the time. Against all odds, I was able to finish the play. I think that was the longest night of my life.
My father took a job out of state that summer. Donna and I tried to keep in touch, but time and distance were too much for our freshman love and we agreed to go our separate ways. For years I labored under the delusion that our paths would cross again. My senior year I kissed Tara Tucker under the bleachers. Then again in my car. Then again and again. Donna’s spell was finally broken and the wonderful world of dating was now open. I had plenty of time to find the love of my life. Maybe it wouldn’t be Tara, or Donna. There was even a weird time in college when I thought it might be Steve. But throughout it all one thing remains constant, I still love ranch dressing.