Smitten with a girl. Envious of a boy.

In Grade 6, Peggy Munroe was the first girl I actually became infatuated with. Peggy and her sister Darlene had lived in up the lane from us in Peacock Court Motel for a little while, and I’d taken a shine to Peggy, who was the younger of the sisters, and close to my own age. I’m not sure now exactly what the attraction was,except that she was pretty, and had a very bright smile and energetic personality. I think she liked me too, because she seemed to encourage my attention in little ways. Truly, almost 40 years later, I can only remember a little about her appearance and personality. However, I do remember clearly how I felt being around her. I was going on eleven, and she was a real infatuation for me.

My sister Kim and I slept over at Peggy and Darlene’s place once, (probably to the delight of my parents, I suppose). I don’t know where I slept, but perhaps the couch, because that’s where I remember laying the next morning. To my surprise and secret delight, Peggy spooned up in front of me, laying on her couch, and watched TV. Maybe she was emulating something she’d seen between her mother and her mother’s cop boyfriend, but all I knew then was that I was stunned, smitten, and absolutely on cloud nine!

I became friends with Mike Louie, a chinese kid with a gregarious, outgoing personality and a great sense of humour. I also thought he was a very good cartoonist. In fact, I envied his drawing skill and overall confidence. (As a kid, anybody who was very confident or self-assured tended to piss me off. It was envy of someone else’s confident personality, when I never felt I had much confidence. But, that was just my own deal.)

One day after school, me and Peggy were over at Mike’s house and we started clowning around in the basement outside of his bedroom. Peggy threw a blanket over Mike’s head and climbed under it with him. I could only guess what they were doing and it made me jealous as hell. I was sure she was kissing him. When she threw the blanket over my head, I discovered her trick: nothing happened. She just crouched under the  blanket, snickering, and waiting just long enough to get a reaction from Mike. I thought this was a very cruel disappointment and quite shameless of her, but then hey, we were just kids.

Later on, we sat on the edge of Mike’s bed in his bedroom talking, and I looked on his wall and saw a poster of two shirtless sexy men, standing one behind the other with bright smiles on their faces. The guy in the back had his hand part-way down the front of the other guys jeans. The poster said “If it feels good, do it!” I wondered if Mike liked boys instead of girls. He had all the luck. Girls just seemed like too much mystery and bullshit to me.

“Blinded by the Light” by Mannfred Mann was playing on the radio. I had been blinded by Peggy, but it all seemed to wear off after she moved away at the end of the school year.

About a year later, Kim and I were in Parksville, staying with our Aunt Lorrainne’s family for a couple of weeks while our Dad got a hernia operation. We went to see the movie “The Black Hole” at the local movie house. Darlene spotted us in the line, and I was amazed at how jubilant Kim was to see her. I had completely forgotten about Peggy by that point.

A few minutes later in the theatre, before the lights went down for the movie, Kim kept prodding me to go say hi to Peggy, who was sitting down near the front row with her friends. I knew I wouldn’t know what to say to her. I couldn’t do it and I begged off, which Kim didn’t understand. She wondered why I didn’t want to say hello to an old friend. To her, Peggy and Darlene were neighbourhood friends, but in my head, Peggy used to be something else.

I sat there awkwardly, waiting for the lights to go down, staring at the back of Peggy’s head, noticing how her hair had changed from straight to curly, and how brightly it shone under the lights in the theatre.


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The memoir and family history of E. John Love