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01 April 2004 — Grasshopper (15)

Come with me, back twenty years, to those days of high school romance...

[photo of 14-year-old Denise]  [photo of 16-year-old J.D.]

1985: It was my junior year. I was playing in a junior varsity soccer game. It was the year of the "No Goal Patrol", the year of our stellar defense (featuring Matt Kelley, Brad Matlock, Paul Carlile, and myself).

"There's a girl over there watching you," one of my teammates said to me during a throw-in.

"Where?" I said. Girls didn't come to soccer matches to watch me.

"Over there," he said, pointing to a cluster of freshmen girls. "I think she likes you."

He pointed to a skinny kid in the middle of the group. She smiled at me. I didn't know the girl, but I soon would. Her name was Denise Demitrakikes.

I began to exchange notes with her. (It'll come as no surprise that I was a huge note writer in high school.)

In fact, I happen to have a huge stack of notes from Denise right here. I wonder what they say? Let's see, shall we?

Jay Dee,

Well, I'm going to tell you all, or mostly, about myself. I have to keep some mystery in our friendship. (Is this the right word? I mean, do you consider me good enough to converse with you on a day-to-day basis?)

Physical Denise
I'm five-foot-five-and-a-half, have two-tone blue eyes, brown-red hair (red tints), skinny, curly hair (when wet), long and ugly toes, short fingernails , and an okay face, not Kristi Brinkley, but I'm only a freshman.

Other details of Denise (Anne Demitrakikes)
I love to write poetry, play tennis, basketball, soccer (I'm not any good), and most sports. I like nicknames, comic strip Bloom County OPUS THE PENGUIN MAKES THE WHOLE THING. By the way, I LOVE PENGUINS. They are soooo cute. I like the way they waddle! I love to spend money, even though I have only $3.45 to my name. I love talking and having fun with friends. And many more things I can't think of right now. I like hot chocolate and mashed potatoes, too. But not together!

Things I dislike or can't stand
Essays, can't stand 'em. Bubbly letters. [Denise provides samples.] I hate Bubbly letters. People who have dirty minds. The group Iron Maiden. Ugg. That's about it.

CONFIDENTIAL!!!

  1. I hate to hurt peoples feeling (may not belong in this category)
  2. I have a crush on T.J. Chandler.
  3. I have no best friend.
  4. Do you have a twin brother who needs a girlfriend?
Why do I feel that way? Because you are such a nice guy and good note writer, I like to feel like I can become good friends and not get hurt or hurt you! If you don't understand that, well, ask me!

Well write back when you can.

Your pal, Grasshopper

When I met Denise, I thought she was cute. More than that, she had a great sense of humor. Which was good, because I was rude — I told her that her legs were so skinny that she looked like a grasshopper.

Before long, Denise and I were "going together". We couldn't really date, because, well, I'll let Denise explain it:

Jay Dee,

The law in our house about dating is:

You can't car (major word) date until you are 16 because if you were a boy you couldn't drive until then, so you wouldn't date anyway.

You see the major breaking pt. is the way my parents define "car date". The mean, I think, a boy and girl alone on a date with him driving. Now I think that if Paul and Tammy and Tom and whoever came along with us, and maybe one of them drove, they wouldn't call it a date. That is, if I work my debate well. I can usually convince my mom, and that's all I need. Dad works nights. Anyway, we can talk about this. It's a lot easier than writing it down.

I think you like my mom more than I do. You see, mom says I'm "at a stage in life where you think your old enough but you're really not". My mom, the philosopher. My dad is not that bad, once you get to know him.

I was proud of you yesterday! Love always, Denise.

I can't remember whether we ever went on a car date, though I think we did. I can remember going to Denise's house on a Saturday morning to pick her up for something. I wasn't allowed in her bedroom (no boys were), so I sat out in the living room, shy and awkward (as I always have been in new situations).

I do remember "watching" The Last Starfighter [also here] in the basement of Denise's house, though. I say "watching" because there was more smooching involved than actual watching. I didn't get to see much of the movie. (Years later, I tried to watch The Last Starfighter at the home of Kris' Aunt Cecily. I was sick. I didn't see much of the movie. I gave up trying to watch it after that.)

Ah, the flower of young love.

Denise wrote:

I'm in a very good mood. OUR RELATIONSHIP: Yes, I'd say your's and mine (lovelife) is both improving. This is a touchy hard thing to write about. Why do you keep calling yourself a wishy-washy, jelloy twinkie? I'm in love with a TWINKIE.

Yes, things looked rosey. Young Grasshopper and Mr. Twinkie were truly twitterpated.

But something soured. Who can say what? Perhaps I had a crush on someone else. Perhaps I was taking too much shit for dating a freshman. Perhaps I resented the fact that we couldn't go on car dates. Whatever, the case, I broke things off. Denise holds the distinction of being the only girl with whom I ever broke up. (Well, except for the brief period during which I broke off my engagement to Kris. That's another story.)

Denise was understandably confused:

Jay Dee,

I would love to go see Pretty in Pink. Sounds like fun.

Jay Dee, there's something I want to tell you, but I don't want it to "turn off" the friendship we've created. You say you don't want a steady girlfriend, that's okay, I don't care, and I don't have any say on it anyway. It's just that I want you to know that I like the situation we have now, it's just whenever I really sit down that's all I ever think about. It's like a pain that should make me cry, and will go away if I cry, but I'm never able to cry. Do you understand? It's hard for me, but I think I'll pull through. I'm really glad we're still friends. Can we still go do stuff together, just as friends, or whatever we are now? You are tons-a-fun to be around (and I am too when I loosen up!) and I want to have some fun every once in a while. I'm really sorry it didn't work out, and if this note causes you great grief DESTROY it.

Always friends (or whatever), Denise.

In later months, we discussed dating again, and though I think both of us wanted to, we never did.

When I went to college, we exchanged letters for a while. I saw Denise from time-to-time when I came home. (One of my favorite memories is rockin' out with Denise and Tara Deutsch to George Michael's Faith — it was the first time I ever heard the song — before a high school football game.)

Eventually, we lost touch.

In 1993, we regained contact for a few months, but then my flakiness caused us to drift away again. About a year ago, Denise discovered this weblog, and initiated another re-connection. I'm glad she did. We don't see a lot of each other, but we have years ahead of us.

I will always have a spot in my heart for Grasshopper.


This entry is all made in the spirit of good-natured fun. Today is April Fools Day. It's also Denise's 33rd birthday. I hope that twenty years is past the statute of limitations on high-school secrets. It's a lark to look back at our 1985 selves. I only hope that Denise feels the same way.

I also hope that she didn't save the letters I wrote...

On this day at foldedspace.org

2003No Fool   Most of my free time recently has been spent preparing bibliophilic.org for launch

2002Opening Day   Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. I should be excited, but I'm too tired and lethargic to muster enthusiasm.

Comments
On 01 April 2004 (02:11 AM), Sheilah said:

THAT is a cute story!! Way more like the cousin J.D. I've heard about! That is sooo cute that you saved those letters!


On 01 April 2004 (05:04 AM), Dana said:

Man, look at that chin! Wow. JD, I think you looked nerdier in high school than I did.


On 01 April 2004 (08:01 AM), J.D. said:

No, Internet Explorer users, I have no idea why the text is shifting to the left like that. Pretty bizarre, huh?


On 01 April 2004 (08:10 AM), Amanda said:

Wow, that was adorable. Truly. I feel very happy after having read it, which is a very nice feeling indeed.


On 01 April 2004 (08:30 AM), Nikchick said:

That's the JD I knew, back in the day. The passing of notes, the writing of poetry, ah high school.

I had notes from JD, Mitch Sherrard, and Andrew Parker that I saved for years. Excellent note-passers all. Through about a dozen moves, I think they've finally all been lost, though I do still have a box of letters that were mailed to me after I moved to Minnesota.


On 01 April 2004 (08:48 AM), Denise said:

I am both flattered and incredibly embarrassed all at the same time. I was quite the geeky romantic in high school, don't you think? Actually, that really hasn't changed that much, except I like my Mom more now - and I can car date. ;)

Thank you, Jay Dee (spelt that way for nostalgia reasons) for dedicating your post to me! I think it definitely proves that I am an April Fool for sure!

Oh, thank God I don't ever have to be 15 again!


On 01 April 2004 (08:51 AM), Lynn said:

Oh, my goodness. That's gotta be the funniest damn thing I've ever read! The great thing about Denise is that her sense of humor hasn't changed one little, tiny bit. She was/is amazingly witty and inciteful. Those notes are a prime example. I love that you kept them, JD. That's so sweet. Somewhere, I probably have a few too...complete with sketches of our favorite Matt Groening, pre-Simpsons, cartoon character Bongo.

Denise, my friend, you are somewhat nifty. Have a happy 33rd.


On 01 April 2004 (08:51 AM), Tiffany said:

I have to say, I was amazed by your chin, too. Then I met you in your mid-college years, your chin was much wider. Plus, your look is very ‘Miami Vice’.


On 01 April 2004 (08:57 AM), J.D. said:
Plus, your look is very ‘Miami Vice’.

I resemble that remark.

I was just passing from my Miami Vice phase into my "shaved hair and earring" phase. Early experiments in hipness. Or unhipness, as the case may be. :)


On 01 April 2004 (08:59 AM), Denise said:

Two additional things:

1. I really was a toothpick in highschool - I did have grasshopper legs.
2. We never did go on a car date, but my parents would let J.D pick me up and drive me to his parents house...go figure.


On 01 April 2004 (09:12 AM), mac said:

Is that the same sweater that with the famous Kim button on it? :)


On 01 April 2004 (09:19 AM), J.D. said:
Is that the same sweater that with the famous Kim button on it? :)

HA!

This is funny because I just got off the phone with Kim moments ago.

No, I bought that sweater in 1998. The Kim pin came a couple of years later.

In the photo, I'm wearing my ever-dapper sports jacket and a Tears For Fears pin. If I'm true to form, I'm wearing the jacket over a button-down shirt, but am wearing shorts and argyle socks. This was one of my standard outfits for any time of the year...


On 01 April 2004 (09:33 AM), Dana said:
...but am wearing shorts and argyle socks. This was one of my standard outfits for any time of the year...
I thought you were saying something about being hip in HS... =)

On 01 April 2004 (09:50 AM), Denise said:

Dana - that was hip for our high school. :)~


On 01 April 2004 (11:26 AM), Amanda said:

J.D., whatever just happened to make your site disappear made me think that God was playing and April Fool's joke on you (in light of yesterday's post).

;-)


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