The first thing I ever remember writing, I wrote for someone else. It wasn’t a cute little story I composed at school for my parents. That first moment I set pen—or more likely, one of those big fat pencils because I remember the paper was from one of those extra wide-ruled tablets—to paper and realized that I could get a reaction from someone occurred way back in kindergarten.
My first schoolboy crush was this first grader with long, golden hair that I would see at recess. I do not remember if I asked my father how a young boy captured the attention of an older woman. But I somehow thought poetry would work magic.
Scribbling away with that big fat pencil of mine, I crafted a love poem only a five-year-old could—I imagine. I do not remember much about the verses other than the fact that it mentioned her hair. It must have captured my eye like something shiny does a bird. The words just came, and I just wrote them as the muse sang them to me.
Marshalling all my little boy bravado, I marched up to her while she was playing with her crowd of friends and handed the carefully folded poem to her. My jaw must have ached from the smile that stretched across my face. I guess my bravery wilted a little because I hurried back to my classroom.
I recall standing just inside the classroom, waiting for everyone to come back inside. Recesses in Southern California were always spent outside. In fact, I do not remember a single recess being spent inside because of rain. The lines of students passed by. I waited with my cheeks puffed as I held my breath. What would she say? Did I make a friend forever?
That was not the case. I watched her as her class line came down the hall. But she wasn’t looking for me or at me. Instead, some brute of a first grader stopped in front of my classroom and deliberately wadded up the poem and tossed it at me.
“Nice poem,” he said. The line of students drifted past, and I have no other memories of that young blonde-haired beauty. What I do remember is that my words evoked emotion. In her, I cannot say. But the sneer on that boy’s face told me enough. I have had the bug ever since.
I wonder if she even remembers something from 40 years ago. The name may have changed, but today, that school is Chesterton Public Elementary School in San Diego, California. My family moved to Chicago for my first grade year, where I wrote my first short story: The Peanut with Measles. Seems I have had a penchant for dark stories my whole life.