I spent the majority of the year in sixth grade on one subject: Eddie.
My Eddie Teddy.
I spotted him the first day of middle school, dark eyes, dark hair, mischievous smile, and decided right then and there that he would be “The One”.
I mean, he would be “The One” as far as real, regular people were concerned. Obviously, Jordan Knight from New Kids on The Block was “The One One”.
I was realistic, though, so I knew I needed a backup “The One” in the event Jordan Knight found fault with me for some reason and decided to not marry me, a decision that should continue to haunt him to this day.
I wasn’t nearly the confident (pushy) woman (asshole) that I am today, so I didn’t want to come on too strong with Eddie Teddy. I was a kid, after all, and I had no “moves”.
In later years, my patented “move” was to find the most unemployable/leather pants-clad guy in the vicinity and say, “So do you want to ‘do it’ or what?” while making the in-out motion with my index finger through my thumb-hole. There’s a 100% success rate with that move, especially if you’re 17 years old and tend to hang out and drink malt liquor with a bunch of losers behind the dumpster at 7-11 on Saturday nights. Feel free to jot that down that tip in case you need a date in a pinch.
Eddie Teddy’s and my romance would require something more subtle. A slow burn of desire would need to smolder between Eddie Teddy and I before the flames of our awkward tween passion could be lit and envelop us in its heart-shaped flames. Our love was to be respected.
I kicked off this slow burn by never directly (or indirectly) speaking to Eddie Teddy, never accidentally-on-purpose bumping into him in the hallway, and immediately turning away from him any time he realized I might be staring at him. I further demonstrated my devotion by talking about him for hours on end to anyone who would listen, provided that they weren’t friends of his, or friends of friends of his, because it could never, ever get back to him that I liked him or I would die.
For Valentine’s Day, the school civics club was selling single carnations, hand-delivered to your recipient of choice for just a few dollars each. Just what I needed – an old-timey gesture! I stared at Eddie Teddy from across the room when the carnation I had sent him was delivered, and nearly died watching the corners of his mischievous smile turn even more upward as he opened the card, signed simply with a ❤ and no name. He passed the anonymous card along to a friend who shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “I have no idea who the psycho is that sent this to you.”
I fantasized about him constantly, but in the way sixth grade girls do, where instead of imagining some red hot, over-the-jeans action, I closed my eyes and imagined us walking into a school dance together hand-in-hand, the whole crowd turning towards the door and gasping in shock at the sight of us, my favorite art teacher giving me a high five and yelling, “Way to go, Maggie!” and then the dance floor clearing so that Eddie Teddy and I could perform a snappy pre-rehearsed dance routine to Paula Abdul’s “Forever Your Girl”. My dress wouldn’t even be a hand-me-down, suckas.
At the end of our dance performance, I would jump into his arms and everyone would hoot and applaud in thunderous yawps, and the snottiest mean girl in school, Kelly Number 3, would storm out of the gymnasium to throw one of her classic rich bitch tantrums, only to be immediately hit by a bus and then dragged for ten to fifteen miles until her splattered corpse was spread across town like road chili.
Someone would find her custom-dyed satin shoe in the road outside the gymnasium and say, “What happened to Kelly Number 3?” and then I would inspect the shoe and proclaim, “Oh man, there’s toe-jam in here! Kelly Number 3 is DISGUSTING!” and then everyone would laugh and laugh and laugh and nobody would bother looking for her because she was now deemed disgusting. I would be the new Kelly Number 3 in town, and Eddie Teddy would sit beside me on my throne.
I was, and frankly still am, a hopelessly old fashioned romantic, hellbent on true love and the smiting of my mortal enemies. It’s two-sided coin, old fashioned romance. You find me something more romantic than requited tweenage love and the most popular girl in school being mowed down like tall grass and I’ll buy you a donut for me to eat. Hell, I might even buy you two for me to eat.
Later that year, one miraculous night at the Spring chorus recital, I noticed Eddie Teddy was sitting nearly directly across from me, on the opposite side of the gym in the audience. He was doing the weirdest thing, too. He was smiling at me, and really big, too. Smiling big at me?
When we finished a song, he enthusiastically clapped with both of his hands above his head. He gave me a double thumbs-up at one point. What the hell was happening here?
When the chorus sang Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes” I openly stared at him the entire time I sang it. It was ON.
At the end of the recital, I turned around and discovered that Eddie Teddy’s cousin had been sitting directly behind me and that’s who he had been smiling and thumbs-upping at the whole time. This was some bullshit. I put a curse on her immediately, because old fashioned romance.
The rest of the school year went by, me obsessing over Eddie Teddy and him having no idea that I existed, let alone that I was completely obsessed with him. I pined like no one has ever pined before, with a lingering ache in my chest when I looked at him across the hallway. I just wanted so badly for him to notice me. Well, notice me and then do the whole Paula Abdul “Forever Your Girl” dance with me. Plus, Kelly Number 3 would have to die.
I was sitting in social studies class one afternoon towards the end of the school year, with just a couple weeks left, when a friend of Eddie Teddy’s leaned over to me and said, “Hey, I heard you like Eddie?”
Mortified at the possibility that I had been found out, I rolled my eyes and said, “Puh-lease. I would rather choke on my own vomit.”
Eddie Teddy moved to a different school the next year and I never saw him again, and that – Romans! Countrymen! – is how you successfully cultivate the ultimate slow burn.
A burn so slow, there was no proof that it ever even happened.
Maggie Dove is a native Floridian who is often comically and tragically pissed off about things, is petty and immature, and has many tribal tattoos from the 90s for which she refuses to be apologetic.