I’m crazy about Alphonse—better known as Owie, because that’s how his older brother, Tony, pronounced his name when they were small and it stuck, and he’s so cool no one gives it a second thought—but he doesn’t even know I exist. But I know where he lives (not far from me), and I know his phone number (by heart).
I groan with muffled desire and slide down in my seat, but before I know it my mom pulls over and gestures for him to hop in.
At Marsha’s slumber party, Terry dares me to call him, and I do. I don’t tell him who I am, but he’s game and, as it turns out, in no hurry to get off the phone. Thanks to the extra-long phone cord, I crawl under the dining room table and we end up talking for about an hour. I think he might have figured out it’s me, but I’m afraid to just come out and tell him in case he’s disappointed or, worse yet, doesn’t even know who I am. For the time being, I’m in seventh heaven.
Diary entry: “Today Owie spoke to me!! He asked me what I got on the Spanish test. Then Marilee told me that when I said something funny and the whole class laughed, so did Owie, and then he kept staring at me.”
Everyone knows I have a serious crush on Owie. On my bulletin board I have a whole collection of signs friends have made for me linking our names in fancy lettering. I also have a fake newspaper from Olvera Street with the headline “OWIE AND BARBARA TO WED, BOTH 14.” Even my dad cuts out an ad for a store called Howie’s and trims it to read “Be Up In The Clouds…Drop in at OWIE’S for the most.”
My mom is driving me to school and there’s Owie walking up the street. I can spot him a mile away—he’s a greaser and wears Sir Guy shirts and Italian shoes and has this really tough way of walking, kind of slow with a slouchy backward tilt. I groan with muffled desire and slide down in my seat, but before I know it my mom pulls over and gestures for him to hop in even though we’re only a couple blocks from school. I could die! But hop in he does, barely glancing at me, and the air fills unexpectedly with the familiar scent of Old Spice. That’s what my dad wears! I don’t know if Owie even shaves yet, but he is just oozing sex appeal. My mom makes easy conversation during the short ride; I sit tongue-tied. The car stops, we both jump out, go through the gate and then our separate ways.
Peggy, in my math class, is friends with Owie, and one day I ask her if she has seen him lately.
“Oh, forget about him, he’s just a prick,” she says.
That day my dad picks me up from school.
“So how’s your boyfriend today?” he asks me.
“Oh, he’s just a prick,” I say looking straight ahead. Out of the corner of my eye I see my dad’s eyebrows shoot up, but he doesn’t say anything. Then we get home and he makes me tell my mom what I said.
“He’s a prick,“ I repeat.
“What? Do I have to wash your mouth out with soap? Do you even know what that means?” she asks me.
“Well, I don’t know what you guys think it means, but to us it just means he’s a pain in the neck, like a pin prick.” And I thought I was telling the truth, because it was the first time I’d ever heard the word in any other context and I had no idea what Peggy actually meant.
I could swear they’re both quietly cracking up as I leave the room, head held high.
I finally give up on Owie, meet someone else, then lots of someone elses. But I’ll dream of him again and again over the coming years and even decades, of our eyes meeting across the quad, or a crowded room, or passing each other on the street. I wake up feeling connected to him, happy to have seen him once more. I want to call him and just talk, find out who he’s become, tell him about my silly crush, ask if he was aware of it, or of me. Maybe we’ll laugh about it; maybe we’ll even get together for coffee.
My closest friend thinks I’m crazy, and maybe I am…crazy about Owie. So I do decide to track him down…but that’s another story.
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.
I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.
As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.