Non-fiction piece looking back on an embarrassing incident at age 14.
Number one: I was an undiagnosed Aspie, so social skills were most definitely not my forte.
Number two: I was bullied so badly in fifth grade that my loving parents took me out of the public school system so I could be homeschooled along with my younger sister, also an as yet undiagnosed Aspie, whom the special ed teachers were somehow convinced could not and would never learn to read (she is now 27, engaged to a fellow Aspie, and reads whatever the heck she wants).
Number three: As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was actively involved in both the Young Women’s organization and a weekday religious education program for youth in grades 9-12 called Seminary. And since this was not Utah, where you can attend Seminary as part of the regular school day, that meant Seminary was held in the teacher’s house at six am.
Number four: There was a sixteen-year-old guy in the ward that I was head over heels crushing on. His name was Ryan Honeycutt. Or was it Hunnicutt?
Regardless of how his last name is spelled, I was crushing hard on this guy. Like, daydreaming about how I’d date him once I turned sixteen until he left on his mission and how I’d write him every week and we’d date again once he got home and he’d propose and we’d get sealed for time and all eternity in the Orlando Temple and good grief I’m getting nauseous just remembering it all. Teenage me was so sappy.
Ryan was nice to everyone, was handsome with blond hair and blue eyes, and even claimed to be quarter Cherokee. Though as I currently understand it, even actual Cherokee Nation members are whiter than you might think (thank you, Andrew Jackson). Honestly, though, he could have said he was quarter Klingon and I wouldn’t have cared. I thought he was an amazing human being who exemplified everything a good Mormon boy should be, a “Peter Priesthood,” if you will excuse the pejorative term.
I tried to get the confidence to talk to him, but alas, my anxiety overpowered what I thought was true love.
And then, early one morning in the January of 2003, our seminary teacher decided to play a game called “Scripture Mastery Go Fish.” A Scripture Mastery is just a passage of scripture in the section of the Standard Works we were studying in that school year (Doctrine & Covenants for the 2003 school year) that we were required to memorize. And yes, they came on flashcards for our convenience, as the smartphone was still far in the future. Sister McAvoy came up with the idea to buy extra sets of said flashcards and use them to play the
classic card game Go Fish.
Everything went rather well with the game, up until a certain point. Namely, the point when Ryan asked me if I had a certain verse in my hand.
I don’t remember the exact verse. I don’t remember thinking about how I might sound if I said what I was about to say. I don’t even remember being all that nervous about saying anything to him. The words just burst out of my mouth like Diet Coke that just had Mentos put into the bottle.
“Go Fish, Sweetheart.”
And then the laughter started. Ryan was probably blushing at the hilarity and trying not to laugh, I honestly don’t remember. All I remember was the echoing in my mind of what I had just said and what that meant for my meager social life.
Gone were all the dreams of a perfect life with the perfect guy. In their place, the harsh reality of having put my foot in my mouth. Of having exposed my heart in such a casual and not at all romantic way.
And yet, there were no tears as far as I can remember. Sure, my face probably turned a million shades of red and I stayed quiet for the remainder of the class that morning. Sure, I told my Dad when I came home, hoping for him to never bring it up again because of how embarrassing the whole thing was. And I most definitely got mad at him over the next few months when he would bring it up at the dinner table just to be ornery. But I never cried.
The years went on. We moved to Walla Walla, and I went to high school and graduated. Shortly afterward, we all moved to Utah. I went through some pretty major ups and downs emotionally. The “Sweetheart Incident” was brought up less and less often. I don’t believe anyone
has even related the whole story in years (although knowing my dad, he will bring it up once I start a serious relationship with a guy).
I don’t know what happened to Ryan after we left Florida, where he is now, whether or not he went on a mission, whether or not he’s married, etc. I’ve never been really good at keeping in contact with people, even with a Facebook account. I know more about what the crush before him is doing these days, and we were more like siblings even then.
My crush on Ryan has ultimately turned out to be a rather insignificant part of my life, including the Sweetheart Incident. The most I get out of it now is nostalgia and a funny anecdote that will be told by my family for generations to come.
Not at all the world-shattering experience I first thought it to be, really.