One of the answers to my crossword puzzle the other day was Milo & Otis. I read it over again, trying to remember the last time I’d seen that movie, and then it hit me: first grade, in the gym, when Lee tried to hold my hand.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story actually starts in kindergarten.
There was a boy, Gavin, who I had a huge crush on. Or, as big a crush as a five-year-old can have, anyway. However, because of the unfairness of life, he was far more interested in playing “go fish” with his buddies, than sitting on the storytime rug with me. While I was crushing on Gavin, Lee was apparently crushing on me. This was a secret (to me, at least) until one incident in the classroom. An arts and crafts project had left Lee with glue on his hands. Instead of washing it off (or even letting it dry and peeling the pieces off…wait, what? no one else did that? ok…), he decided to Glue. Himself. To Me. Yes, you read that right. He chased me around the classroom in an attempt to stick his gluey hands on me. I shrieked, and managed to duck and cover until we had some teacher intervention. Suffice it to say, he was unsuccessful in his endeavor, but it made me wary of him for the rest of the year.
Cut to first grade, and the day that we got to go watch Milo & Otis on the big projector screen in the gym. We carried our chairs in, and dutifully sat in rows by class. I saw Lee a bit ahead of me to the side, but didn’t think much of it. As more students filed in, we inched our chairs further and further up, to make room and fill in space, and all of a sudden I saw what had happened. While I had been inching up, Lee had been inching over. As “luck” would have it, by the time all the space was filled in we were sitting right next to each other and he was grinning at me. Like it was my idea.
As the movie started, he reached over and took my hand. I smacked it away. He tried again. I smacked again. He was a persistent fellow. Two of my classmates turned around. “Liebchen, just hold his hand!” they hissed. Apparently, the smacking was getting in the way of the movie. Frankly, I was also nervous because I’d gotten in trouble earlier that year for sticking my tongue out at a boy who was annoying me; I doubted the teachers in the room would tolerate me hitting a student.
I pushed his hand away one more time, and gave him what I hoped was a don’t-even-think-about-it glare – one that I’ve since perfected. He just grinned and scooted his chair closer so that our legs were practically touching, but kept his hands to himself.
I sighed, focused on the movie, and thanked God that there was no glue in the gym.