I like you a lot, a whole lot. I want you to be my girlfriend. I’ll be the best boyfriend ever. Even though we are both only in the 5th grade, we would make a great couple forever. I promise to never ever hurt cheat on you or hurt you. For real!! Think about it, and pick yes or no. My Dad says maybe is for cowards.
PS. When you say yes, I’m going to treat you to a chocolate shake.
Maria Johnson was in the same 5th grade class as I was, and I loved her (maybe it was strong like). Whatever it was, it felt good! So this was the time to write this letter, this love letter to her, so she would know my feelings. I folded the letter neatly, once then twice. As I was about to place it in the envelope, a thought hit me! Dropping the envelope, I went to my dresser and retrieved the bottle of Grey Flannel that my Dad had given me. Holding the letter away from me, I sprayed the paper lightly, being careful to turn it so all the cologne would soak in evenly.
I decided to read the letter one final time. Took a sniff and was satisfied with the result, so I refolded it, placed it in the envelope, sealed it for good, and placed it in my Batman backpack. Dropping to my knees, I prayed:
“Dear God. Thank you for watching over my family and this house. Thank you for all your blessings and forgiveness. Oh Lord one more thing. Please let Maria say yes to being my girlfriend. I promise that I will treat her good and never ever hurt her. Amen.” I went to bed with a huge smile.
Morning could not come soon enough! After my morning prayer, I hurried to the bathroom to shower and get ready for school. My transistor was loudly playing my favorite song, Rod Stewart’s “If You Think I’m Sexy”, and my off-key singing joined along until my Ma told me to hurry up. As soon as I was done in the bathroom and sat down at the table, my brother Gus immediately started harassing me; saying Bobo (a nickname my Grandma gave me) has a girlfriend over and over again until my Dad told him to stop. Since today was my Dad’s day off, he said that he would walk with me to school. He knew this was a big day for me, and was probably going to share some fatherly advice on how to be a great boyfriend. Yes! As soon as we finished eating, I watched an episode of Flash Gordon until my Dad called me to go. I rubbed my brother’s head, grabbed my Batman backpack, kissed my Ma, and ran outside where my Dad was waiting.
As we walked towards Bradwell Elementary, my Dad began sharing his wisdom. Dad was the best father a boy and his brother could have. He provided for his family, always made time to listen, and could be quite silly when he joked and wrestled. But Dad cheated at Monopoly. Or he was just very good.
“Bobo, you wrote a great letter conveying your feelings. Relax and give it to her. Be cool, and remember, if it doesn’t go the way you want it to, don’t worry. It takes a lot of courage to ask a girl to be your girlfriend.”
“Dad, I got this. I’ve learned from you and the Fonz how to be cool. Besides, I put some of your Grey Flannel on the letter and myself. She’s going to say yes to be my girlfriend, and we’re going to go and have a chocolate shake. Yep.”
My Dad smiled, handed me my book bag, shook my hand (no hug, we were in public), and told me to have a great day. I loved my father because he never pushed what he thought on me or my brother. He just wanted us to be okay. Cool dude there.
Well, it was time to put my master plan into action. This was the day!
I decided that the perfect time to give Maria the letter was right after gym, but before school was dismissed. This way, I wouldn’t have to wait long for her to say yes. If somehow she didn’t (not like that was going to happen), school would be just about done, so I could make a quick escape.
We were playing dodgeball in gym class. Let me say that I was the best when it came to playing dodgeball! Everyone knew I could really play and always chose me first. But today Maria was on my team! I would not only show her how great of a dodgeball player I was, but how a boyfriend should show off for his girl. Hecks yeah!
There were only two players left on the opposing team, while we had close to our full squad remaining. One of the opposing players fired a rocket of a ball directly at Maria. Oh no, I said to myself! I ran five steps, dove, and caught the ball. Only one player was left, but not for long because I threw really hard at the remaining player’s legs and got her out. We won! We won!!! Everyone gathered around me and cheered. Maria walked up and told me how good I was. Yeah baby! She knew that she was going to be my girlfriend. I could feel it.
After gym, our teacher Ms. Jackson would take us to the bathroom. Maria never seemed to have to go. But I had been holding it for the last fifteen minutes. Ran into the bathroom, did my business, washed my hands, and came running out at top speed towards the classroom. Ms. Jackson wasn’t having any of that, and sternly told me to slow down in the hall. This turned my sprint into a speed walk to my destination. Maria! The envelope had been burning a hole in my Levi’s. As soon as Maria was by herself, I walked over and placed it in her hand.
“Maria, here you go.”
“A letter for you.”
“Who’s it from?” This really seemed like a dumb question considering that I was handing it to her. But it’s Maria.
“It’s from me.”
“Okay.” She smiled, and I knew she was mine.
I walked quickly to my seat, pulled out a Batman comic book (loved Batman) and began reading, or rather pretending to be reading. What I was really doing was watching Maria read my letter, noting how her expressions changed as she did. She caught me off guard reading so fast – I was caught in a love stare. We met gazes and were locked there. This sealed it!
Just then the dismissal bell rang. I know it was way ahead of time, but it could’ve been wedding bells.
I packed all my stuff quickly into my book bag. When I looked up, I saw Maria standing a foot away from me, with her arm extended to hand me the letter. My heart was trying its best to come out my chest.
“Bye.” She walked off with some other girls, giggling.
That must have been her signal for me to meet her outside, so I rushed out of the classroom. Maria wasn’t there. Oh, she went outside and is waiting for me there. I slid down each banister to get downstairs quicker. Ran outside and there was no Maria. Hmmm. This was a bit funny.
Instead of worrying, I decided to read the letter and see my new girlfriend saying yes. My eyes scanned the letter, thinking that my Language Arts teacher Ms. Linder would be very proud. Finally, the bottom of the letter came…Maria had said no?
Wait, maybe I read too fast. So I read again, and when I got to the bottom, the darn “no” was still there. Taking my glasses off and cleaning them, I read the letter again, this time rapidly.
Those two letters were still there. I didn’t understand. I wrote the letter very well, with all of my feelings. How could she say no? Damn. Oops, I didn’t mean to curse. The letter was now wet, and the wetness caused some of the ink to run. Good! Stupid letter!
I don’t know how long I stood in that spot, but when I looked up no one was there. Then, a deep voice broke the silence.
“Bobo!” The voice belonged to my father. This let me know that I had been at school too long. Typically no one walks me home, but my Dad was a bit overprotective of his family. The slightest threat made him seem like Batman (love Batman and my Dad).
“She said no Dad. She said no. I wanted her to be my girlfriend, and she said no. Why?” My words were slurred, my cheeks stained by tears. Dad picked up the letter and envelope from the ground, placed them in the book bag, retrieved a handkerchief from his pocket, wiped my face, and put the handkerchief back in his pocket.
“Son, it’s okay that she said no. She doesn’t know how great of a guy you are. Besides, you asked her, and that takes great courage. Now let’s go have a chocolate shake and get one for your mother and brother.” And off we went.
James Gordon b.k.a. G.P.A.(Greatest Poet Alive) hails from Chicago and is the the author of seven books of Poetry and his first novel, The Warmest Winter. He can be seen on the television shows Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Sirens, Shameless, and Empire as well as the movies Animals and A Slice of Life. G.P.A. can be found on Twitter at gr8estpoetalive and on his website atwww.iblowyourmind.net.