At the all-knowing age of 13, I developed a purely hormonal crush on a neighbor girl who I admired from afar. Completely infatuated, my thoughts were plagued with trembling scenarios of what I would do once I earned enough money from my paper route (which paid only slightly more than the average Ugandan Day Laborer’s salary at the time) to ask her out on a date. While delivering papers one breezy Saturday morning, I rode my bike through the McDonald’s parking lot a mile from my house. I spotted a mess of green bills tumbling across the pavement toward the busy street. Sensing opportunity, I ejected myself from my bike like an F-16 fighter pilot in a flat spin. I slapped at the pavement with both hands, and landed on my stomach, forcing all of the air out of my lungs. I clambered and clawed at the money while wheezing like an emphysemic chimp.
My bike, which had been abandoned for the bounty, was now blocking the entrance to the parking lot. A Cadillac sat stranded at the inroad, with the rear of the car sticking out at least 5-feet into one of the busiest roads in town. The sound of screeching tires then seemed to consume every single element of sound in the general vicinity. Oblivious to anything but the thought of a pizza date with my bewitching neighbor, I continued the pursuit, snatching up as much money as I could.
The driver of the Cadillac emerged from his car and cast my bike aside so he could get into the lot. In doing this, more papers became airborne, creating a veritable hurricane of newspapers. He shouted a few un-Valentine-like words at me. The car behind the Cadillac was full of spectators, who were staring with open-gaped mouths at some redheaded idiot paperboy crabwalk for dollars while his newspapers poured forth from his “delivery vehicle.”
Total loot: $8. Cost of lost papers: $5. Apparent reward for acting like a total jackass: $3.
Mind you, this is only one memorable event in a long string of dumb things that I did in as a juvenile to try and lasso someone of the opposite sex. I’ve moved 2300 miles across 8 states to forge a relationship with a girl I barely knew. I’ve plagiarized Robert Frost (5th grade Valentine’s Day party at school), and pretended that my dog died to garner some sympathy (6th grade). I once even sunk to dialing random phone numbers to conduct “an informal survey from a local radio station that would like to remain nameless (“are there any 14-16-year-old females in the household who listen to the radio?”)."
Fortunately, these loser-esque tactics were put aside as I got older and replaced with such brilliant concepts as honesty, integrity, manners, and courtesy – quite possibly the cornerstones of success in any relationship. Of course, I’m still single now, so I’m not sure that any moral has been hashed out of that story yet.
I never did go on that pizza date with my neighbor. I was too embarrassed to ask her out after I discovered that her best friend was riding in the back seat of that “viewing tram” that was behind the Cadillac during my paper storm. The shame would have been too much to bear, and you can bet your sweet Valentines that my date would’ve found out eventually.