Mrs. Curt’s first grade classroom would be the place where my lessons in love would begin. I knew 1st grade was going to suck when Keith Cranium sat in the seat in front of me. His enormous head blotted out the chalk board as well as any sunlight that would hit my desk. Since I couldn’t see the bell ringer activity, I decided it was time read some Adventures of Frog and Toad.  I love those books! Suddenly, a folded piece of manila paper flew over my shoulder from behind, and landed on my desk. Thankfully, Cranium sat in front of me, so there was no way Mrs. Curt could see this mischief. Besides, she was too busy hacking up mucus in a napkin during her lesson on…whatever, anyway. I opened the paper and there before my eyes was a heart with the words, “I LOVE  YOU,” written in it. I turned around to see her smiling at me. Mick Jagger singing “She’s Like A Rainbow,” could be heard as my eyes traced every feature of her face!

What can I say, I was good with the ladies from day one.  Okay, okay, stop the eye rolls readers, all that negativity is not necessary! Her name was Penny.  The name fit her well because of her copper brown hair and soft brown eyes. With a huge grin on my face, I tore out a piece of writing paper and etched  the greatest prose a 1st grader could muster, “I love you two, too, to….just pick one.” I tossed it over my shoulder to her. I could hear her giggle and then yet another love letter penned by Penny came my way. It was a first grade match made in heaven. We never talked during recess, just passed love notes to each other.

Later, I found out we lived in the same neighborhood. I tried to go past her house everyday to see Penny. Her dad thought I was pretty weird. Of course, I  would think the same thing if a six or seven year old neighborhood kid showed up at 8 a.m. asking to hang out with Penny. It would be at her house where one of sweetest moments of my life took place. Sitting on top of the dog house in her back yard I leaned in and kissed her with my lips.  Just a peck. She stared at me for a moment, her face crinkled and then she punched me in the face, knocking me off the doghouse. I knew right there she was crazy about me! Our relationship was uncomplicated. We just passed I love you notes to each other and hung out in the neighborhood. I knew this one would last forever. That is until the day Mrs. Curt began calling us up one by one to have our work for the month checked.  I was caught. I hadn’t done any of my work. My only hope was to bust out the ole family charm and smile at her when she asked me what happened. Instead, I botched a perfect plan.

“Where is your work young man?” She asked.

“The roaches ate it.” I replied. It sounded feasible to me, at least she wouldn’t dare look in my desk…oh shit, there she went.

“Well, let’s just see what kind of roaches are in your desk.” She said as she walked over to my desk.

In a last ditch effort to block her from getting to my desk, I accidentally knocked it over. The contents of which shifted in such a way that they would all fall out when the desk was lifted up. I stood on the desk screaming, “THE ROACHES HAVE ESCAPED!  RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!” The class was laughing hysterically.

Mrs. Curt screamed, “Young man, get off that desk!” I did as I was told. As she lifted the desk, dozens of folded papers along with blank worksheets poured out like a waterfall. Penny stared at me in horror! We were about to be found out.

“You have not done any of these assignments? What have you been doing this whole time?” She asked. Then she started opening up the love notes. There were about thirty of them. “Tisk, oh you children are far too young for this! Writing love notes to one another.”

Then one of the other students, I don’t remember the traitors name, shouted, “Aaron writes loooove notes to Penny! Penny and Aaron Loooovvvve each other!” That was all the kids needed to start in with that classic song, “Aaron and Penny sittin’ in the tree…K-I-S-S-I-N…,” BOOM my fist crashed across one kids face. He began to cry. I kept lashing out at the hecklers!

Penny shouted out, ” I don’t write love notes to him! I don’t like him, he’s ugly!” Damn, she was quick to throw me under the bus, a portend to future relationships. Tears began to stream down my little 6 year old face.

Mrs. Curt grabbed my arm and “escorted” me into the hallway. I was told to calm down and wash my face.  When I came back in the room it was as if nothing had ever happened. Mrs. Curt made sure there would be no more teasing. I was assigned working recess until all 12 worksheets were finished and turned in. My mother was called. She called me Romeo for weeks. The love letters stopped.

Fast forward to the last day of my Senior year of high school. Penny sat next to me in English Lit. I was showing people my senior pics when Penny asked to keep one.

“You really want one of these?” I asked her.

“Well yes. We’ve known each other since 1st grade,” she said.

“You remember?” I replied.

She smiled at me the same way she did the day I got the first note. “How could I forget my childhood sweetheart,” She said.

I replied, “How can I forget, you punched me.” We had a nice laugh.

Thank you for reading Tales From The Red Pen! Back to School for me tomorrow, but I will return with great things to talk about.

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