3rd or 4th grade? I can't really remember, but what's the difference anyway? The gossip was thick within the walls of Salmon Creek Elementary school. Morgan Baker was having a birthday party. And I was invited.
Now this was Morgan-fucking-Baker. This was a big deal. The cutest girl in school. A combination of big brown eyes and a spatter of freckles on her nose that would put Wonder Years' Winnie Cooper to shame.
And she liked me. And I liked her. And everyone in the school knew it. Of course, I couldn't tell her that. And she couldn't didn't dare tell me. But that's how shit rolls when you're in love at a time when long division is the most stressful component of your life.
Morgan was having her birthday at the go-to spot of the times; a classic skate rink where the carpet was shaggy, cherry pop was the most popular drink on the menu, and if you leaned up against the wall for too long, you'd get stuck to it. This was Golden Skate.
It was the day of the party and I completely forget to get a gift, which I'm going to blame on the nerves. How could I think strategically about getting the love of my life the perfect birthday gift when I had really needed to focus on how I was going to keep my fries down when I asked her to couple skate?
So when the old man drops me off at the rink, I beg him to make a run to Vancouver Mall to pick something up for her. There's no way I could go into the ball empty handed! I'm already fucking up the most important day of my life.
Dad: What do you want me to get her? What do you kids like these days?
Me: I dunno, get her a book.
Dad: Oh, like a Tin Tin comic?
Me: No, Dad! RL Stine! RL Stine is radical.
After what seems like an eternity, Tho rushes back and hands off a wrapped gift. Whew. Crisis averted. I owe you big time Pops; the next report card won't have a single check-plus. Only pluses.
Fast forward to the opening of the presents. Everyone is peeing their hammer pants in anticipation to see what I got the birthday girl because, I'm the unspoken-but-everyone-knows-it crush. Mrs. Baker reaches for the last present, my present, and hands it over to Morgan.
"I wonder what this could be?" Mrs Baker says with a smile and wink.
I have no idea either. Huh. I'm kinda curious myself actually.
Morgan Baker opens it up and gingerly pulls out two paperbacks. Her brown eyes bulge and her trademark freckles vanish in a wave of blush.
The Girlfriend by RL Stine.
The Boyfriend by RL Stine.
Now it's my turn for my eyes to get as wide as dinner plates. I want to die. I want to fucking die. I want to reach over the table and grab an ice cream scoop and take out my eyes.
My so-called "friends" erupt in giggles and gasps. Mr. and Mrs. Baker have their hands covering their mouths hiding (not very well, I might add) their smiles, their bodies are shaking, barely able to contain themselves.
The deal is off, dad.