I wasn’t perpetually unpopular, but I did have this pathetic infatuation with the super-popular girls at my middle school. I went to a private school in an affluent area so there were some baseball player’s kids, some Euro-trash kids, etc. To compensate for my simple life, I would make up stories to impress them which never ever worked. I even went so far as to read poems I stole from a book and claimed they were mine. It was a Little Golden Book simply titled “Dogs” and contained short poems describing breed-specific characteristics with accompanying illustrations. The Great Dane is a gentle giant, Collies are protective, Labradors are fun, etc.
The night before Show and Tell, I copied the poems down furiously onto ruled paper. I was mad with excitement over my plan and thought, “These are so good and they’re going to think I wrote them!” I scribbled faster and faster, stopping only to brush my hair out of my face and turn the page. I went to bed that night fantasizing about how much praise I would receive.
It wasn’t until half-way through my recitation I had the suspicion that someone might realize that these poems were above my skill level, although my kind-hearted teacher didn’t call me out. In hindsight, it wasn’t a very crafty sham. After all, what 3nd-grader uses the word “keen”?
One boy said matter-of-factly, “I know you didn’t write those.” Without faltering I replied, “Oh, yes, I did,” looking him straight in the eyes. I was confident, but oddly offended. How dare he think I didn’t write those! What kind of loser did he think I was?
Fortunately, this behavior stopped and I didn’t turn into that kid who lies about everything (come on, you knew one or two), but I didn’t let go of my need to impress.
Do you remember this album?
Of course you do, it was super-hot in 1986. In that year, I was still in the single digits but I heard “How Will I Know” over and over again. I used to sing it to myself, to my mom and to my dogs. I loved this tune; it was my jam. It was the perfect song in my mind until one thing happened… When Whitney sings, “How will I know if he really loves me? / I say a prayer with every heartbeat,” for some reason I thought she said “…with every pu-ppy. Yeah, puppy…I say a prayer with every puppy. I used to sing to my dogs; is it so weird that I thought Whitney might be praying for love with puppies?
It was a tragic day when I joined into a crowd of the more popular girls rehearsing for the talent show. I was thinking, “Oh my God, I LOVE this song” and then belted out puppy instead of heartbeat. Stunned silence.
“Oh my God, did you just say puppy?”
I believe my response at that time was to run away crying.
I still have that book and will post poems from it in later blogs. But, I will have you know that the puppy Whitney said her prayers with over that boy was a dachshund puppy, a very keen breed indeed.