Gloria Ave

Ten minutes past seven in the morning on Tuesday. Turn right off the ramp, exiting the 101 then turn left onto Gloria Ave. The smell is undeniable: pre-school. Finger paints and construction paper. Becca and I used to go there after school our sophomore year at Coe-Brown. Karen and all the kiddies would be gone by then and we would play, pretend and paint.

This was during my obsession with a third string basketball player on the Varsity team named Michael McCormick, he was a senior (my friends and I used ‘MM’ as code). I was obsessed.

The headmaster of our high school was the basketball coach and he even coached my dad when he went to high school there, so needless to say, I had pretty good connections at the school. I could do no wrong. The headmaster asked me to keep the stats for his team so I did…

…it felt like I had a purpose to dress up on game days, sit at the end of the bench with my clipboard and pencil and act like I knew what I was doing. The first time I had to count turnovers, it was a disaster. I had no clue what I was looking for so I randomly hashed marks on the sheet. That night I had my Daddy give me the low down on what all this stuff was so I could be better prepared. I picked it up quickly and in the spring, I did the score book for the baseball team, Varsity of course. I could not be bothered with JV.

Back to MM; his number was 21 and yes, I painted it one day at the pre-school (as well as scribbled it all over my notebooks during class). I wrote him anonymous notes and left them at the front desk for him to receive at the end of the day, or dropped them in his locker. I was still too shy to talk to an upperclassman so I would try to watch him open the notes from a distance–crazy, I know. But that did not last long. I quickly found out he had a girlfriend who went to another school and guilt rushed through me so I decided to tell him the notes were from me.

I still remember the morning after, it was a game day so the players were all dressed up and so was I. I saw Michael at a distance standing by his locker, holding court with all the other basketball players and I avert my eyes…what was I thinking…how could my friends let me do something so stupid…now he knows it was me and he’s going to tell all his friends. As everyone knows, high school sucks for everyone, so it was not like I was doing myself any favors writing secret admirer notes to a Varsity basketball player. It was social suicide.

MM saw me walking down the hallway and with the mass of people shuffling to class to beat the bell, there was no way I could turn around–our eyes locked. Guys like him know the power they have over girls. They know they are cute, popular, talented–they have it all (everything that matters in high school anyway) and they use it to their advantage. He smiles and it is intimidating. I squeak out a “Hello” as I attempt to pass him by. He reaches out to me, gently grabs my arm and pulls me out of the crowd. His right arm is propped up on the wall above my head, he is hovering over me and with his left hand, he reaches in his back pocket and pulls out a note.

To this day, I do not remember if he said anything. The whole moment was something surreal as if it was right out of Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles. I do not even remember the buzz of people around me or the bell eventually ringing above our heads. It was as if we were in this bubble, no noise, just looks, his smile, and that note he handed to me. My heart was beating so fast as I smiled, said “Thanks” and walked away.

Before Gloria Ave meets Ventura Blvd, I turn left into the parking structure and the smell of pre-school dissipates.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 7:34 am and is filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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