My 8th grade English teacher had all of my devotion that year, the one where all the middle school boys seemed so disgusting and unattractive, as they would remain for several years to come. But Mr. Hale caught my breath the first time I entered his room, looking like a model and speaking to us of the literature that had become something of a best friend to me.

Mr. Hale. Jonathon Hale. Jonny for short once we were dating, maybe? JonJon when we were acting silly, playing footsie under the breakfast table... This fantasizing I would do during my other classes, getting a little dyslexic with Humbert Humbert and his little Lo. Regardless of how silly I sounded in my mind, he did take a liking to me, as a student, and that was all I needed to keep my crush afloat.

He liked my writing, and was impressed to find me reading Wuthering Heights during quiet time. (Oh be my Heathcliff Mr. Hale. Meet me after school Mr. Hale. Work some night moves on me. Don’t be impressed- this is my third go at the novel- be impressed when we act out Abelard and Heloise!) He would ask me for my advice on stories he was writing. He’d hum “Summer Breeze” walking by me down the hall. (Oh that waft of cologne just as lovely as the smell of books.)

The first smile he gave me in the lunchroom made me spill my milk. So disturbingly slapstick I wanted to keel over. His zealous, convivial attitude in classroom discussions kept me enraptured... tickled my impressionable mind with fascinating thoughts on The Lottery, The Most Dangerous Game, Flowers for Algernon. Where oh where did this man come from? I’d never seen one of his glamorous ilk before.

Mr. Hale, Mr. Dreamboat, I’m sorry my so-called friend Amy (that twirp) left a silly, immature message on your answering machine (I almost killed her I promise really) but I am so upset you decided to marry another in the middle of the school year. What’s all this then? So sweet to me, honoring me as teacher’s pet, and then getting betrothed to that scangy head of the cheerleaders? What’s she got that I have not? (Oh yeah, years.) No, I won’t tell you why I’m so sad as we’re getting lunch. (Please hold me, mumble sweet nothings like we’re on the moors as we walk our way down the lunchline. Give me a little romance to make the tears go away, so I may have memories of something more than a Mamet play and you telling us all how much you love Jake and Elwood.)

You disappoint me. Now Amy says “See?” (Where did I put that butcher knife? ) I’ll go back to my books and pretend I live in the world of Madeleine L’Engle. No forbidden romance at 13? Thanks a lot. Now I have to grow up close to normal or something.

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