He was cute as the buttons on his size six cardigan. I still remember his name—Bobby Plumbridge. He made my kindergarten heart flutter with those sweet brown eyes until, finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I waited for him under the pussy willow tree and, as he came around the corner, I gave him the wonderful news.
“Bobby,” I gushed breathlessly, “you’re my boyfriend!”
And he hit me.
This will come as news to my husband. All these years he’s been mildly jealous of my first grade love, John Jennings. I was going to marry John because my last name was already Jennings and then I wouldn’t have to change it. That, and he had cool toys, like Gumby and Pokey. But the truth is Bobby Plumbridge was my first love. John Jennings was just a romance of convenience.
I took a break from love when John moved away and Bobby rejected me. But I couldn’t forget those sweet eyes. In third grade I thought it would be smart to think about the short, brown eyed boy next door, Ted Eschliman, because his mother was my piano teacher and he and I were the same age if not the same height. But there was no real spark there. And our religious differences were the final nail in the coffin—you just can’t find happiness with a Presbyterian when you’re a Baptist.
For a while I was content daydreaming about Elvis Presley, although he was my mother’s age. In fifth grade I fell hard for Mark Kostelic. But he used bad language and couldn’t stay out of the principal’s office. I gave him up when we moved out of state the next year. Long distant romances are too painful, and he didn’t know I had a crush on him anyway.
In sixth grade I liked another John, but he had his sights set on a career as a criminal. Seventh grade brought a crush on a brown eyed bad boy with a killer smile. I was beginning to wonder about my choice of men.
I decided to focus on the boys in my Sunday School class, making an extra effort to be nice to a couple of short ones. I knew someday they’d be taller than me, so it was worth a shot at paying it forward. Maybe one of them would ask me to the church Sweetheart Banquet in a couple of years and I could get my hair done at the beauty parlor. Or maybe I’d keep going stag with my sister . . .
Which, of course, is how my love life kept panning out. One failed love after another, including the ex-boyfriend of my best friend. It’s not that smart to be a stand-in for a rebound. And, to be honest, I broke a couple of hearts along the way, too. I officially apologize to that one guy for holding his hand in church and giving him a cold shoulder when my friends laughed at us. He was really sensitive, too. I hope he found a nice girl.
Small wonder, then, that when The One came on the scene and I found out he was from Florida—land of plaid pants golfers—I wasn’t interested. Obviously, I've never had great foresight. By now, I had decided to look for a cowboy like my dad. Particularly a brown eyed cowboy who played the guitar. This guy had hazel eyes and just played a stereo. He was quiet with a nice smile, but was he reckless enough for me? After all, I was a church pianist—a notoriously wild and crazy breed. He liked poetry and rock music. I liked limericks and Chet Atkins. And if I wore high heels, well, some people might think I was a teeny bit taller than him.
He was a Baptist, though . . . oh, I just couldn’t make up my heart. Until I found the thing we shared in common—baseball. He liked playing it and I liked watching him do it. And just like that it was over. I fell hard and he caught me.
Too bad, Bobby Plumbridge. You had your chance. I lost my heart to a pair of hazel eyes from Florida. I’ll never love brown eyes again.