With the scene set, I was prepared to woo the love of my life.
The quiet corner better known in my kindergarten class as the ‘Book Nook’ was where I had chosen to set said scene. Tucked away in a castle made of gigantic fake books was a colourful array of pillows adorned with the smiling faces of popular cartoon characters. I had arranged them by colour to create a rainbow theme, something about rainbows said Love to me. In the centre of the fort was a table I had appropriated from the arts and crafts segment of the class. It was powder blue and set with two bright yellow Donald Duck cups. One of the cups had a bright purple sipping apparatus, a rarity that I had found through days of volunteering to wash the dishes after snack time.
Though this little haven was sure to guarantee success in my attempts at courtship, there were outside factors to be considered as well. Most importantly: Security. I could not risk one of the other children barging in with hopes of getting cozy and reading their kindergarten novellas. I needed her undivided attention if I were to propose. Through strategic negotiations I had managed to employ Johnathan Standitch and Jeremy Jenesko as my security detail. Previously bullies and now mercenaries for hire; they charged a Mars Bar each. For this compensation they would assure me the utmost privacy in the Book Nook.
The Nook was a hotspot in Mrs.Hamacher’s classroom on account of being so near the puffy Playblocks and across from the largest window that let pour the sun in abundance throughout the day.
All of this effort and expense was in the name of the new girl: Jennifer Elderidge. Jennifer was a spunky blonde who seldom wore any form of pant or short. Each day held a new floral print dress; even in the cruel winters that Denmark offered. Besides having the rosiest freckled cheeks and a perfect button nose, Jennifer was also an Artist. She used finger paints like no other and never left a canvas uncovered.
Like clockwork each day, Jennifer would start painting and manage to cover her face almost entirely by the end of each session. The blues, greens, reds, and yellows all blended together to form a glorious muddy brown colour that made her angelic curly blonde hair glow just a little bit more than its usual heavenly radiance.
I waited at the entrance of the Book Nook, my bouncers at the ready. I stood poised with Donald Duck cups casually in hand. Jennifer entered from the play yard, directly across from where my security team and I waited. She breezed into the room, a blur of magnanimity, skipping passed the other children that were scattered throughout the room. Without any hesitation she made her way directly to where I was. I froze, she passed me and into the book nook. Jeremy and Jonathon did nothing but stare. I would not chastise them for this failing later, as I too would have been left useless at the sight of her skipping so joyously.
Once inside, Jennifer spun around on her heel and looked at me with one arm on her hip and a solitary curl bouncing in front of her face. The curl tickled her nose, causing it to scrunch up. My heart melted for the fifteenth time since seeing her get dropped off by her mother that morning.
‘Amanda said you have some juice. She said you wanted to give me some.’
Amanda would receive her Mars Bar as promised. Earlier in the day I had made yet another arrangement with a mercenary who specialized in espionage and persuasion. I enlisted the help of Jennifer’s close friend Amanda. She was far easier to approach on account of sharing multiple facial characteristics with different kinds of ugly dogs. Today she was embodying a French bulldog with her greedy scowl and heavy breathing.
I made a mental note of what I now owed Amanda and returned to the situation at hand. Jennifer was standing before me, still waiting for a response to her question.
‘Of course! For you anything! I love you!’ I squealed so loudly that the most of the words came out of my mouth virtually indiscernible save for ‘I love you!’, which was loud and clear.
Time froze as the last note of my squeal ceased. My stomach rolled inside of me, flipping like an Olympian. The colours of all of the pillows behind Jennifer began swirling. I could see the look of disgust colour Jennifer’s face faster than it usually took her to paint it a shade of blue.
‘LOVE?!’ She screamed and threw her hands in the air as she reeled backwards. As though I were some sort of leper come to infect her, she scrambled out of the book nook like a nimble hare bouncing out of a foxes reach. Clawing her way out into the open space of the classroom she bellowed ‘MARK SAID HE LOVES ME!’
Then as if some sort of psychic signal had been sent out, all of the females in the room turned to face us with the same horrified expression and solemnly began to chant in unison:
‘COODIES! COODIES! COODIES!’
Jennifer ran away from me screaming as she joined ranks with the rest of the girls. I was left alone with Jonathon and Jeremy. It did not take long for my once faithful bouncers to deem their jobs done and quickly transform into ravenous creditors waiting to be paid their due chocolate bars. Dejected, I shuffled through my backpack and handed them each a squishy Mars Bar.
My day’s work had come crashing down around me in a matter of moments. No matter how clearly communicated the message from Amanda to Jennifer was, nor how effective Jeremy and Jonathon were as a security detail, the ultimate demise of my attempt at courting Jennifer Elderidge was Me.
Disappointed, I resigned myself to the furthest outreach of the classroom. There were no books here, no colourful tables or even squishy chairs. The corner I had found was ground zero to where a young girl had once lost control of her lunch and projected it all over the walls and carpet. The white walls of the class were stained yellow at mostly eye level with the exception of some incredible near ceiling stains. The floor was not blue like everywhere else but instead shades of deep greyish green.
I sat on the floor of this would be no man’s land, forlorn, and let out a long and painful moan. Over the next five hours I would remain in a state of constant self loathing. I hugged my knees in front of me with my back up against the wall. I occasionally pretended my knees were Jennifer, but eventually stopped. The grief was still too near. Despondent and lost, I waited for the end of the day to come wondering: ‘If at the ripe old age of 7 years old I could not find love – what hope was then left?’.
With no choice at all, obviously, it was then and there that I became Gay.