About a Boy

January 31, 2012

This was written as an exercise for the amazing Heather King’s “Just Write” that she hosts every Tuesday on her blog The Extraordinary Ordinary. For more musings and great writing, head on over!


This weekend, at a party, I ran into a man, who used to be a boy, who used to attend my high school, who I desperately wanted to notice me back then.


And he did notice me–we were in classes and vague social circles together–but he didn’t notice me. Not in the way a girl yearns to be noticed.

His locker was five metal boxes down from mine, which shames me that I remember this–Jesus, who counts lockers?–but I did, and sometimes when I saw him there, shoving in textbooks, I’d freeze. I’d forget my own locker combination and stare at the dial, willing the numbers to come back to me.

He wasn’t an asshole, but sometimes he could be cruel, in a cavalier way, tossing off a zinger or a rebuttal that punctured. But somehow, it didn’t seem like he’d meant to hit mark. I had a sponge heart, and it was just his way.

A boy that easy in his skin is dangerous. He’ll fling a casual arm around your shoulders, say “Hey you,”  and ask about the German test tomorrow. And then like quicksilver, you aren’t even there, and he’s moving across the hall to kiss his (beautiful) girlfriend.

What kind of fairy dust graces that boy?  If he hadn’t just touched you, you wouldn’t have thought he was real.

That boy was never mine. Boys (and girls) like that never are, are they?

But here I am, two decades later, at a baby’s birthday party. He’s there, I’m there, and when I see him, for a technicolor minute, I’m the girl at that locker, fumbling for her combination. But it only lasts a minute. My husband is getting me a drink and his wife is introducing herself, and she’s funny and stunning and we shout over the storm and thrum of children shrieking through the house.

Today it hits me: What a crazy thing–what time, and experience, and yes–pain–bring to the landscape.

The boy I used to think was magic cracks a beer, asks me about my family, my sister, and I hesitate, then spill the hard truths.  There aren’t any ghosts in this room.

I’m just meeting someone for the first time.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

C @ Kid Things January 31, 2012 at 10:06 am

Lovely. It’s amazing what a little time and just life can do to people. What you used to think would be the end of the world somehow now simply is.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon January 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

I don’t know how you do it Kitch, but I can literally feel your words.


Tiffany January 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

I’ve had this happen too…and it’s amazing how grown-up you feel and how all that high school b.s. doesn’t even matter. I bet he was sad he passed up the Dana-train. ;)


Stacia January 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

Did you tell him your locker combination before the end of the party, just because you could? And I’m sure you looked stunning, too.


Jenna January 31, 2012 at 11:34 am

I echo Wendi. Your words make me see things and feel things. Aaaaaah.


Jennifer January 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I wonder if boys like that really know what types of reactions their effortless reactions cause. Probably not.


Jody January 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Lovelovelove. Boy did you nail the description of the magic those boys emanate. The thing about the arm over your shoulder took me back, viserally. I could literally feel an arm (not the same arm you are talking about).


TKW January 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I know the arm you mention :)


Txtingmrdarcy February 2, 2012 at 9:05 am

Yes! That was exactly what I was going to mention! And the nights of sitting in front of AIM instant messenger with your heart in your throat, just waiting to see what he would reply and then immediately analyzing it with your best friend to see if maybe, just MAYBE he felt the same way…

(Then journaling about it later.)

On the flip side… I married “the one” from middle school. ;)


TKW February 2, 2012 at 11:28 am


Girl, you are way younger than me. I never had the heart-wrenching anticipation of AIM. Just bad poetry in my journal. :)


Kristen @ Motherese January 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm

You had me right there with you this whole piece. Perfect.

(How did I not know that you took high school German? Me too! Ach, mein lieber Himmel!)



TKW January 31, 2012 at 4:08 pm


Jaja, mein bitte freund!


Camille Brightsmith January 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm

This is shimmering yummy-ness. Its just really really good.


Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts January 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm

This reminds me of my experience seeing a VERY cute and VERY popular guy from my graduating class at our 10-year reunion a few years back. He never talked to me in high school and I always thought it was because he thought he was too cool. Then when I ran into him at in the bar line at a dinner and chatted briefly I could tell immediately that… he was just shy! It had nothing to do with me. But when we’re in high school we believe that everything is about us. Thank God I’m not 16 anymore!


Melanie January 31, 2012 at 6:02 pm

We’ve all had that boy, haven’t we? Twenty years later you look back and think “Really? Why?”, especially when you see him again at a reunion.

This was delightful. Yes, I agree with Camille, true yumminess.


SuziCate January 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Felt like I was going back in time there! Oh, how times meshes things…weird to see those “demigods” years later and finally realize they are ordinary people like the rest of us.


pamela January 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Oh, this broke my heart just reading it. I have had that boy too – or not had him as the case may be. And even though I don’t want him now, it still is a sore spot. You write so amazingly that you touch these nerves every time. I am so in awe of your writing!!!


Barbara February 1, 2012 at 5:17 am

That’s just perfect. Didn’t we all have that boy?


BigLittleWolf February 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

This is a delicious read. It zaps me back. Oh, so young and so fragile!

There will always be those heartbreakers. Who knows – maybe we broke a few hearts along the way, too. And somewhere, some man is writing “About a Girl” – about you…


Sherri February 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Love this.


Jane February 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm

“I’m just meeting someone for the first time”

Isn’t that the truth? I re-connected with a boy from high school and he said such eloquent and complimentary things to me in a Facebook message and I thought, “Really? From scrawny, little Paul?” It was so hard for me to make that leap from my memory of him in high school to a mature, grown-up version successfully making it out on the West Coast.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes February 2, 2012 at 5:38 am

Oh yes, who hasn’t had a boy like that! Someone who would shimmer gracefully down the hall, flick back this bangs (this was before Bieber made them uncool) and look at you for one split nanosecond to say : ‘is that artwork yours? It is really really good you know, I love it’ and then saunter over to his mates into the sunshine, leaving you punch drunk stupified and high on happiness dust.
Yeah, I had a boy like that…. sigh


TKW February 2, 2012 at 11:30 am


“Shimmer.” Yes. You nailed it with that one word.


tasteofbeirut February 2, 2012 at 8:02 am

Beautifully written! I often prefer not to see these types of people to keep the illusion from shattering at the sight of them, off the pedestal I placed them in.


Arnebya February 2, 2012 at 8:34 am

Ah, those boys. How so much can change but that feeling, that memory, can remain. You have captured that fleeting back then feeling and interwined it perfectly with the here and now, the drink fetching husbands and the stunning wives.


Privilege of Parenting February 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm

So evocative… bringing to mind that girl who held my hand but for but a drunken moment at the one school dance I ever attended, she half-staggering out, impaired, with friends who were protecting her from the pills and the beer… that girl who dated boys who looked like Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights and drove muscle cars and had left high school long behind. And in that drunken moment that totally transcended talking about David Bowie and Elton John in those precious moments before French class actually began, her hooded eyes seemed to look into my nerdy uncool awkward naivete and simply and softly connect. How badly I wanted that connection to come to life in lonely high school… how much I “get” what you are saying as what’s meant to be and have been just might end up being what brings us that feeling we had always wanted, that feeling that we had to wait for in order to deepen soul and gratitude, that feeling that we still fear will be snatched away as we hope and write and parent and claw our way to the party of simply being included.


TKW February 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm


This begs for a piece called “About a Girl.”


Privilege of Parenting February 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm

My favorite writing makes me want to write… and on that count, you send me :)


Biz February 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

Loved this post KW – ah, high school crushes. I too had a crush on a boy. A football player to boot. Every time I turned the corner and he was there my heart would skip a beat. I was a field hockey and track star, he would probably be more interested in my twin sister the pom pom girl I thought.

But meet and date we did – all through high school. Have I mentioned I am low maintenance – no makeup, wore sweats to school. My twin? Got up 3 hours before school and curled her hair.

One day, after dating for a couple years, I got up 3 hours before school and not only wore a skirt, but high heals, curled my hair AND put on make-up. I felt so out of place, but I thought I should at least try to make an effort for my boyfriend.

I was all nervous walking to his locker. Mostly because I didn’t want to fall on my ass in the high heels. I stand next to him, he looks at me strange, and as I go to kiss him he yells “what the fuck are you doing – get away from me!”

I was crushed. Only to find out later he thought I was my twin sister and that she was trying to kiss him! He then told me that he liked the girl in sweat pants better – and pretty sure I didn’t wear a dress or skirt until graduation. :D


TKW February 4, 2012 at 6:34 am


That’s hilarious! I love it!


Paula February 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

Is it weird that a quick arm around the shoulder still gets my attention even though I’ve been happily married for 35 years? The devil can be so sly!


Cathy February 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

God you hit it – I think it’s self-knowledge and confidence in that person you are. This piece is one of my favorites me thinks.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri February 6, 2012 at 9:15 am

Your words had me right there. Time and pain and experience. So many lessons in that continuum. I love that you covered a ray of emotions in such a short piece. Loved it.


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