Come with me, back twenty years, to those days of high school romance...
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?
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?)
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.
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!
- I hate to hurt peoples feeling (may not belong in this category)
- I have a crush on T.J. Chandler.
- I have no best friend.
- Do you have a twin brother who needs a girlfriend?
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:
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.
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:
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
2003 — No Fool Most of my free time recently has been spent preparing bibliophilic.org for launch
2002 — Opening Day Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. I should be excited, but I'm too tired and lethargic to muster enthusiasm.