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He Was Cool: A Third Grade Romance
I had my first boyfriend in third grade. His name was Jacob North, and he was cool. He was the kind of guy who called everybody dude and wore athletic shorts and a t-shirt to school everyday until fifth grade when it suddenly became cool for guys to wear skinny jeans (who would’ve guessed). He sat at the “cool” end of the lunch table and talked to the other “cool” people and did other “cool” things.
I was not cool in third grade. I wore dresses from Lands End that were maybe cool if you were two years old and read books that were maybe cool if you were an eighth grade English teacher and had friends who were maybe cool if you closed one eye and squinted with the other. We sat at the opposite end of the table where the Star Wars geeks sat and when Jacob called someone dude I told him (in a know-it-all voice) that the term “dude” was only supposed to be used when you didn’t know somebody’s real name.
Yet, for some inexplicable reason, Jacob North was my first boyfriend.
My third grade teacher always made us write in these journals. She would ask us a question, and we would respond in our journals. I hated them. On the bright side, we could sit anywhere in the classroom while we wrote in them. I decided to sit on the alphabet-patterned carpet.
Jacob North was sitting next to me on the alphabet-patterned carpet. There were other people too, but they weren’t paying us any attention.
I was just starting in on my writing when Jacob leaned over and wrote something on the corner of the page in my composition-notebook-journal. I waited for him to move, then read what he wrote.
'I like you. Do you like me?'
I considered this for a moment. Did I like Jacob? I didn’t not like Jacob.
'Yes,' I wrote back very simply in my sloppy third-grade handwriting.
'Do you want to date?' Jacob asked.
Again, I took a minute to think before I responded. It would be pretty cool to have a boyfriend.
'Yes,' I responded.
And that was that.
Jacob looked at me with a confident smile. I gave him my home phone number, and then went back to writing in my journal. Nobody else sitting on the alphabet-patterned carpet had any idea what had just happened between Jacob and me. For that moment, it was a secret.
That night, Jacob North called me. My mother answered the phone, but then handed it off to me. I took the receiver, and feeling very important, I walked into my parents’ room where it was quiet and shut the door, because that’s what my mom did whenever she got a phone call.
Jacob and I talked for a long time. The conversation flowed easily; it was like talking to any other friend. He asked what middle school I would end up going to in sixth grade. I told him, and then asked him in return. He responded with a different school, which made me a little sad.
When we finally hung up, I handed the phone back to my mom.
“You spent all that time talking to a boy?” she asked teasing.
“Relax, Mom,” I told her, rolling my eyes. “It’s no like we’re dating or anything.”
And we weren’t. After that conversation on the phone, Jacob and I hardly ever talked to one another again. There was no break-up. No blow out. We just didn’t talk to each other anymore. I never knew why, but I didn’t mind either. In fact, in my subsequent elementary school years when my friends finally found out about my twenty-four hour relationship with Jacob North, I denied the whole thing, claiming to have no idea how he got a hold of my phone number.
He was cool.
I was not.
Two years later, in fifth grade, everybody in my class, including Jacob North, was about to graduate from elementary school and fly off to one of three different middle schools. We were all given yearbooks, and then we (as very important fifth graders) were given extra recess time to walk around the blacktop and have each other sign the books.
We had almost finished and were about to go inside when Jacob North walked up to me holding his yearbook in one hand and a blue pen in the other. He held them out to me.
“Sign my yearbook?” he asked with that same confident smile he’d worn when I gave him my phone number.
I looked him over. I looked at his skinny jeans, his arms, well muscled (or as muscled as a fifth-graders arms could be) from playing football at recess, and then his smile, so confident.
“Sure,” I said, taking it from him and signing, just my name, nothing else. Then I handed it back to him, and walked away.
I never saw Jacob North again.