Her name was Magda. She was from somewhere in eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia or Latvia--someplace like that, or her parents were at any rate, and she was my first adolescent crush. She sat directly in front of me in the seventh grade--I forget which class. And whichever class it was, I'm sure that I paid very little attention to what was being taught, because I spent all my time lost in a romantic reverie, dreamily gazing at Magda's pubescent loveliness.
She had magnificent
hair, light brown, thick and wavy, falling in ringlets down to
her waist like a Boticelli Venus. I wanted to make love to her
Her face was exotic and cat-like, triangular in shape, with soft delicate features; lips and nose sculpted with the lightest touch and the finest of instruments. Her huge green eyes threatened to eclipse the rest of her face, giving her the appearance of an anime nymphet, and her bone structure was exquisitely European, aesthetically pleasing in it's dissimilarity to the suburban American cookie-cutter yaps I was normally surrounded by.
Her face, when she
turned in her seat and I was lucky enough to drink it in, was
spellbinding, but the thing that made my heart pound, and which
I spent all my time staring at while the teacher droned on and
on, was her ass.
Or, more specifically, her amazingly slender, supple waist, firmly muscled and taut, like a racing greyhound or a teenage olympic acrobat, sliding snake-like down into her perfectly-proportioned, plump, round peach of an ass.
I was twelve going
on thirteen, and the first sweaty jungle drum beats of adult sexuality
were just beginning; the first rowdy yahoos breaking bottles on
And so, Magda's rear view exerted a powerful magnetic fascination, like a snake charmer's tune and sway.
I fantasized about kissing her and touching her soft snowy skin, but unfortunately I was too shy and insecure to even speak to her.
Seventh grade was
the year I hit bottom. Three years earlier, my family had moved
from a predominately black neighborhood in the city to the all-white,
all-gentile suburbs and I had been taken out of my private, progressive
Jewish school and tossed into the hellish maw of a public school
with sadistic apathetic teachers and students who stripped the
flesh off of anyone displaying the slightest bit of weakness,
like a swarm of piranhas devouring a stumbling calf.
Being the sensitive artistic type that I was, combined with emotional problems stemming from a highly dysfunctional family which made it difficult, if not impossible, to defend myself from attack, I quickly became a scapegoat, punching bag, and general, all-around doormat.
And with every abusive encounter, I crumpled up and shrunk deeper and deeper inside myself, until I became a fearful shadow, scurrying mouse-like through the corridors of the school. By the seventh grade, my self-esteem had reached an all-time low. I felt like a dried-up dog turd on the sidewalk being ground under the heels of fast-moving pedestrians. All I wanted was to be invisible.
And yet, the swelling in my heart and in my pants for Magda somehow emboldened me and seemed to hold out the tantalizing possibility of liberation from my fallen state.
Eventually, I mustered
up some small reserve of courage and I did say something to her,
I can't remember exactly what, and lo and behold, she smiled and
Unfortunately, that was all I had in me. I could not think of anything else to say. Had I not been so insecure, it might have been the beginning of my education in flirting and chatting up women, but alas, I just sat there helplessly and continued to fantasize about her and stare at her ass.
Some time after that,
I hit upon an alternative plan. I was standing in a supermarket
checkout line, absent-mindedly gazing at the celebrity gossip-rags
and pocket-sized pamphlets on such topics as how to psychically
communicate with your cat, when a booklet entitled "Love
spells made easy: win the heart of the man or woman of your dreams"
caught my eye.
That was the answer--I would use witchcraft! Who needed to make small talk and say clever things. I would simply cast a spell and Magda would be mine.
The idea of performing a magical ritual didn't frighten me. In fact, I had the strong sense that it would come naturally, almost as if I had done such things before in some other life.
My eagerness faded when I read the instructions. I needed a lock of her hair or an article of her clothing. Shit! How was I going to get my hands on those things?
I racked my brains and came up with several convoluted scenarios worthy of Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, involving her friends and some very imaginative and highly unlikely stories, but I knew I would never follow through with any of them. I was not a good actor, and the idea of being deceptive was distasteful to me. I guess I would never become a black magician.
What happened next
is one of those events in my memory, of which there are many,
that I cannot be sure actually took place in real life. It seems
just as likely that I imagined it or experienced it in a dream.
What I remember is writing the words "I love you" on a tiny slip of paper and putting it between the pages of her textbook when she was away from her desk.
There is such an air of unreality around this memory that I can't be sure it actually happened. It's highly possible that I just thought about putting the note in her book as a possible strategy and didn't actually go through with it.
Ultimately, it didn't matter, because regardless of what I did or didn't do, Magda continued to show no further interest in me beyond our earlier brief exchange.
around and I went trick-or-treating with my friend Jim. This would
be the last time, since twelve was the cut-off date for doing
such things. When you turned thirteen, you weren't a kid anymore,
and halloween costumes and candy were unacceptable.
I confided in Jim, telling him about my infatuation with Magda, and he teased me mercilessly all night long. I didn't mind though. In fact, it was kind of exhilarating. I guess I thought if we talked about Magda long enough, it would somehow make my imagined romance with her a reality.
Despite my ongoing
silence, Magda somehow knew that I liked her. Perhaps she heard
something through some daisy chain of gossip originating with
Jim, or perhaps she just sensed it, the way adolescent girls do
with their that-boy-likes-me-antennas.
So when she told me that she was planning on dating this big, goofy, pimply kid with a strange hairdo that looked like it belonged on a soda jerk from the gay nineties (not that I was any David Hasselhoff myself) named John, she did it with the weight and solemnity of a woman returning her ex-fiance's engagement ring.
It killed me to see her with that big doofus. She even sat in his lap once. Ugh!
I was jealous beyond belief. My first experience of being jilted by a woman for another man. Of course, our whole involvement had been completely in my head, but that didn't seem to diminish the intensity of my feelings. My heart was not taking any reality checks.
I don't remember
how long I pined and agonized over Magda, but eventually I forgot
about her, and she must have moved away, because I can't remember
ever seeing her again after the seventh grade.
I went on to develop other crushes, but none that ever equalled that first one with Magda.
It was the first awakening of my romantic self; the lyric poet writing sonnets to his love, the dashing young man, ready to brave any danger for his lady, and the first awakening of really wanting to bone somebody.
There was a song that played every morning on the classroom closed-circuit tv--"Dance with me" by the band Orleans--that I'll always associate with that time period. It evoked great torrents of yearning and romantic rapture in me, and when I think back on that dreamy, innocent, starry-eyed time, I feel cheated, because my insecurities and emotional problems (thanks mom and dad) prevented these feelings from ever being channelled into a real puppy love rendezvous with a real girl.
Little did I realize
that only a year later, I would be having my first highly-charged
sexual experience, and one that Freud could have used as a case
study on disruption in psychosexual development.
But that's another horror story.