How earwax can end a teen-age romance.
| 1066 words/
Oh, to be fourteen again!
I’m not sure if I can accurately recount my junior high school year when I toyed with the idea of going steady with our class president, Bert. He was an honor student, popular, bookish. Not too bad looking; not necessarily my type but what the heck, he can certainly help me understand mathematical problems and solve algebraic equations. Right you are, girl -- Go for it.
I wasn’t necessarily shy or timid at fourteen. I was just reserved because Mama engrained in my psyche that girls should be modest. Behind the veil of modesty, I could not deny myself some slack as I was drawn to him because of his intelligence and being a class leader. I wanted to hobnob with the topnotch in class and be identified a topnotch on my own right.
“You are who your friends are,” my mother reminded me almost every day. That was her way of pulling the reins in monitoring with whom I was hanging out. She had dreams for me.
Let me mention that in my junior year in high school, my 17-year old brother and I were in the same class. It was because he was held back three years in a row due to ill health. I caught up with him at fourteen and we were together that year. Along that line, I found out Bert was also seventeen. I never asked why he was held back except that starting first grade around eight or nine was common then. What was unusual was to enter first grade at six, which applied to me. For this reason, it seemed as though I was always one of the youngest ones in class.
Let me also mention that although I was strong in English, World Literature, Social Studies, Biology and History, I was weak in Math. It was my downfall. I hated Algebra and those Algebraic equations with a passion. Expressions like Δy/Δx , √(a^2+b^2 ),π/2? What are those? Would I use them after attending school is but a memory and I’m raising a family? That was my thinking. I used it as my argument and my excuse for not exerting an effort in learning Math. My brain refused to stretch an inch no matter how much I tried when it came to mathematical problems.
One day, we had a quiz in Math. The teacher’s procedure to correct our papers after the quiz was to exchange it clockwise by counting to eight. The paper in your hand at the count of eight was your classmates’ paper you’re going to correct. To prevent doctoring and helping each other raise our scores, we were required to put our name by the score indicating, “Corrected by” so and so.
After our papers were corrected and the points marked, they were returned to us. My heart was racing. I knew my paper landed in Bert’s hand. How embarrassing because out of the ten problems to solve, I missed four.
Bert was so nice or should I say patronizing? I didn’t look at it that way though because I was flattered that he offered to swing by my home after school to help me.
Wow! He’s going to come to my house and help me solve my Math homework? No. no, no. Papa and Mama would not want to see a potential boyfriend snooping around.
And, I told him so. Did I say he was smart? The way he went around it, he budded with my brother, enabling them to hang out together. This opened the door for him to come to the house on the pretext of looking for my brother to do homework together. Soon, I found myself joining the study session without any protest from Papa or Mama. They thought we were diligent students and they did not see anything wrong with it. We quietly solved problems and shared our answers by passing notes.
Actually, Bert was writing love notes, inserting them in the book. We were passing the book back and forth. Mama discovered those love notes in the morning.
“What’s going on between you two? He left so late last night,” Mama couldn’t contain her anxiety any longer.
“Nothing,” I said.
“Nothing? What are these?” she said as she waved pieces of papers in my face, handing them to me. My eyes almost bugged out of their sockets.
“Oh, Ma, don’t worry. I just want a boyfriend because everybody has one. Besides, I’m just using him to help me with Math,” I said.
“Then, tell me what SFTL means,” she continued.
“Sincere, Faithful, True in Love. That’s what he tells me all the time and signs off that way,” I said.
Between a half-smile and a frown, Mama calmed down. I knew I had earned my mother’s trust for my truthfulness. I always confided in her. She and Papa left me alone going steady with Bert, knowing that I wouldn’t do anything to dishonor or fail them.
Well, she was still cautious though. Every time Bert came around just to hang out, or to take me out for a stroll in the park, she sends my six-year-old sister along to chaperone. As soon as we get back home, Mama would relentlessly question her regarding what she witnessed. She did not miss a beat either. We could never be by ourselves. The most he ever did was hold my hand and I pulled it away quickly fearing that the word will get back to Mama and Papa if my sister caught a glimpse of us holding hands.
Well, anyway, this is the miracle of miracles. Papa and Mama allowed me to go with him to our Junior-Senior prom. I felt like a princess in the arms of my prince, all dressed up and spiffy. I had mixed feelings about dancing to sweet music when he suggested it because I knew I‘d never hear the end of Papa calling me Beelzebub once he finds out. Inside me, there was also a desire to be held close. Thus, I gave in to the temptation because of the ambiance of the moment.
As we were dancing, I happened to spot wax in his ear. Eheew…How disgusting! That turned me off completely but I was too polite to say anything. The following day and succeeding days -- until the last school day, I evaded him. I didn’t want to have any part with him any longer. He never knew why.