I remember the first man I had a crush on like I remember getting my ears pierced. It was thrilling, but painful - and wound up being more high maintenance than I expected.
He was much older than me, with a thick, dark moustache, wavy hair and a tan, and we met once a week without fail. My parents didn't seem to mind. I had a picture of him in my school bag, inside my locker and a life-size poster on my bedroom door. We had a date every Thursday at 8pm sharp. One thing I loved about my crush was that he was never late. I would finish my homework early and kick my brother off the couch before his arrival. My heart raced as he brought his red sports car to a halt, leaned out the open window, and winked at me.
My first crush was the lead actor on my favourite television show.
There was only one thing I looked forward to more than this hour with my crush - getting my ears pierced. The day my mother finally consented was also a Thursday. I'd be wearing my shiny new gold earrings for our date that night! It was going to be perfect. I called my girlfriends to announce the good news. I picked a special outfit to wear to the mall, and when my mother and I arrived at the Piercing Pagoda, I was completely prepared. Or so I thought.
There were forms to sign, alcohol swabs at the ready and a type of gun with a very long needle on the end in the hands of someone only slightly older than my big brother. I tried to be unconcerned about the whole thing, but I felt sick. It was going to hurt.
It did. I cried crocodile tears. I bit my lip. When it was over I had little gold balls affixed to my 11-year-old ear lobes, but the lobes were puffy and bleeding. To make matters worse, I turned up in the living room late for my date, just in time to see a leggy blonde riding in the sports car next to my crush. She was smiling, laughing and her hair was blowing in the breeze. As my earlobes throbbed my eyes welled with tears for the second time that day and I came to the devastating realisation that he'd just met someone else.
I told myself their relationship wouldn't last - and I was right. By 8.45pm it was over, thanks to a well-scripted blustery night and a mysterious case of schizophrenia.
At bedtime, I wanted to be upset with him for betraying our ritual with another woman. I tried to stay angry, insisting that it never happen again. But instead, I kissed the life-size poster of my crush goodnight and promised to meet him next week, same time, same place ... right after I finished cleaning my swollen earlobes.