At 17, no one had business buying me roses and I rarely minded that I wasn’t being swooned over. Avoiding black ice and snow drifts, I careened my white Ford to high school on Valentine’s Day and parked in my usual spot on the far end of the student lot. My brother, sitting next to me, noticed first.
“I’ll bet they’re for you,” he smirked, knowing full well how I would politely take the flowers from the tall boy ambling into the double doors next to the gym. It was an unmistakable dozen wrapped in flimsy green cellophane.
When I say “the tall boy,” it’s relative. By this point in my existence, I’d stopped growing and hovered at the remarkably unsexy altitude of just under six feet tall. As most boys don’t hit their peak height until college, I was in the unenviable position of being a head (or, sometimes, head and shoulders) taller than the males in my class. This was not as large a hindrance as you would expect, in that up until the tall boy with the roses, absolutely no males in my world had shown any romantic inclination toward me. Ever.
The tall boy hovered closer to seven feet than six. He sat behind me in our last-period class, his knees always digging into my seat and knocking my desk about the room. He wasn’t particularly attractive or funny or intelligent, nor particularly offensive or rude or unattractive. He just was. He was tall.
I dreaded every bell ring. I received whispers throughout the day that he was carrying the flowers from class to class, never delivering them.
I walked into the room– a dank bottom-floor cell of cinder blocks and mismatched chairs– sat down, and he walked in with the roses (white or pink or red, I can’t remember) and gave them to me in front of the entire class and all I did was say, “Thank you, they are lovely.”
And turned my back to him as our teacher began his lecture.