Jimmy's strategy was sound. Why did his plan always fail?
| THE LUNCHTIME PLAN
To Jimmy, the new girl in class, Carmina Serrano, was the prettiest girl ever made. She had lustrous dark hair, flashing brown eyes, a bright smile, a bubbling laugh, a fun personality. Everything about her was, he thought, just absolutely perfect. Except for one unfortunate thing: She didn't seem to know he existed.
"Okay, man, get a plan," he told himself after school as he idly kicked a pebble down the sidewalk. After some thought, he decided that he wanted to have lunch with her. He pictured it: just him and her, sharing the contents of their bag lunches in the far corner of the school yard, under the willows. Perfect. Now, how to accomplish that? How about, just ask her? The pebble rolled into the gutter and down a storm drain. That probably said something about the likely result of his plan.
Next day when the lunch bell rang, Jimmy grabbed his lunch out of his locker, and looked around for Carmina. He found her surrounded by girls. He edged up to their little circle and tried to get Carmina's attention. Priscilla "accidentally" stepped on his foot. As he hopped in pain, the giggle of girls meandered out the door and set up lunch around the swing set. Carmina was on a swing, so he went over to where she would see him. Josie, who was digging at the edge of the swing area, threw sand into his lunch. What was this, a conspiracy? Frustrated, he wandered off to the side where he sat, munching sandwiches that gritted in his teeth, and watched pretty Carmina on the swing. From time to time he glowered at Josie, just on principle.
For the next two days, he tried unsuccessfully to break into the girly-ring, an activity that did not go unnoticed among his friends.
"Hey, Jimmy-girl, how come you don't play with us guys no more?" called Jose.
"You be doin' hop-scotch and skipping next, dude," taunted Mike. "We see you all the time looking at Josie."
Bill started chanting, "Jimmy and Josie, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g!" and they all joined in.
Wrong girl, but too close for comfort. He was forced to abort the mission for the remainder of that week and partway into the next, and stick to touch football, soccer, and tag with the guys, just to keep the peace.
On Wednesday lunch, to his amazement, he spotted Carmina walking alone across the playground. He dashed after her, and again to his amazement, she turned and looked at him. He felt suddenly filled with anxiety and tension.
"Uh, hi," he said. Brilliant and articulate, that was him.
His heart almost stopped. She actually knew his name! The music of her voice glued his tongue, and he struggled desperately to think of something to say. "Just ask!" he thought.
"Would, uh, I mean, could, uh, you know, ah," he stumbled.
She tilted her head and looked at him for a moment. "Bye, Jimmy. Nice talking to you."
Jimmy wandered dreamily back to his buddies. "She said hello. She talked to me. She knows my name. Oh, wow."
Mike whacked him on the shoulder. "Wake up, Jimmy. You're It. Hey, guys, Jim's got Carmina on the brain!"
He was It, of course. It being Stupid. He had missed his opportunity; he hadn't been able to make his stupid mouth work. "Hey, Carmina, let's have lunch together tomorrow." Easy to say in his mind, tougher in real life. He shook himself and took off after Bill to tag him.
He endured two more days of teasing from his buddies before he dared to try again. Another week shot.. He had only one week left, one week before summer vacation started, and his parents took the family off for a month of lakeside holiday. Even if he could find out where Carmina lived, he wouldn't see her for four whole weeks. And how could he ask her to eat lunch with him during summer break?
Lunch bell, grab the bag out of the locker, look to see where Carmina was. Surrounded by girls as usual. But the girls all seemed to be looking his way. He turned around, nobody behind him. Definitely looking at him. And giggling. Zipper down? Nope. T-shirt on backwards? Nope. Shoes tied? Yup. Something on his face? He checked the locker mirror. Nope.
He turned back to the giggly bunch and moved forward with determination, his eyes fixed on the goal. He took two steps and the bottom fell out of his lunch bag. His sandwich hit the floor with a splat and the container popped open. His milk carton burst on the sandwich box and flooded the sandwich. His apple rolled towards the girls, who were laughing themselves silly. Josie kicked it back at him, raised her arms in victory, and yelled, "She shoots! She scores!" With that, they all headed to the playground.
He picked up his soggy sandwich, nursed his bruised apple and his bruised ego, filled his broken milk carton at the drinking fountain with as much water as it would hold, and sat with his back against his locker for a lonely lunch. Who was it that said no plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy? Such a simple plan. Ask Carmina to have lunch with him. Seemed so easy. Why did it keep going wrong?
He thought for a minute, reviewed the plan, reviewed his tactics, reviewed the disastrous results. He noticed a pattern in his behavior that might be causing the problem. Maybe, just maybe.
The next day, instead of waiting for the lunch break, Jimmy watched Carmina come into school before class. She was not surrounded by girls. Good. He stepped up beside her as she stowed her lunch in her locker.
"Morning, Carmina," he said cheerfully.
"Hey, my mom makes the most scrumptious brownies ever, and I've got two of them. If you'll join me for lunch, I'll be happy to share."
She smiled. "That sounds good. Meet me here by my locker at noon hour, okay?"
Yes! Yes! Yes! She walked off, leaving a dazed but delighted Jimmy staring after her.
Of course! It's not just the plan that matters. It's the timing.