Just like the movies

Can a booger-eating girl and a frog-faced boy find true love, elementary school-style? Can a 13-year-old runaway get to her 12-year-old object of affection using a stolen car and her mother’s ATM card? This one’s for all the boy-crazy girls out there.

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When it comes to doing stupid things for love, I’m kind of a prodigy.

Yessir, when it comes to foolishness performed in the name of romance, I’m Vincent van Gogh, Eva Braun, Rihanna. In fact, being intellectually incapacitated by affection is what got me married three times before I turned thirty and, eventually, landed me in your fair city of Richmond. But all of that nonsense started long before I took my first groom at 19.

It probably comes as no surprise that I was a grade school boy chaser.

A chubby girl raised in abject poverty, my tools of allure were clunky shoes from the Salvation Army and jumpers my mom had constructed from left over scrap fabric. In other words, I looked like an obese von Trapp child.

But I didn’t know any better. I had nothing but self confidence when it came to my appeal–to not only the opposite sex but the world in general. Yes, much like the me of present day, the me of yesteryear was really charmed by her own charm.

So I had no problem periodically choosing an object of affection and setting out, through plans and schemes, to make him fall madly in love with me. Plans and schemes derived, naturally, from television and movies, which we all know are really real life and not contrived or scripted to produce a neat, happy ending.

When I was in fourth grade, my beau of choice was named Chris. He was tall and exceptionally thin, with a head that was disproportionately large for his body and, in many ways, frog-like. Like, you know how frogs’ mouths span their whole heads and when they open them their whole head opens? Like South Park characters? Well, that. And I thought he was the cutest boy in the school. The fact that we’d never spoken only added to his mysterious allure.

So, the first step in Plan Make Chris Love Jennifer Forever And Ever to was feign difficulty seeing the blackboard in order to finagle a seat closer to the front of the class and closer to my paramour. I was moved to a seat in the row next to, and one seat up from, Chris, which seemed perfect, because he literally had to look past my face to see the board. I really thought I’d grow on him, subconsciously, because he saw me without realizing he was seeing me for many hours every day. He’d look through me for so long that I’d become part of his thought process.

After a few weeks of feeling his steely, froggy gaze on the side of my face, but not seeing any passion from him, I decided to up my game. Chris loved sports, so I obviously started coming to class early and reading the sports section that I’d swiped from my parents’ newspaper. “Hmm…” I’d mumble to myself, as he sat down, “24 to 7? That must have been an interesting game.” For all I knew, I could have been reading the hours for a new all-night restaurant.

But still nothing. Soccer season started, and Chris played soccer, so I began showing up at games, pretending to know someone else on the team. He took wood shop second semester, and so did I. He played clarinet in band and I brought home the same instrument and announced to my parents that I’d be doing that, as well. Creepy? Yes. Adorable? No. Just creepy.

I couldn’t figure out why this guy was not only not completely head over heels for me but hadn’t even spoken to me. Then, one day, I got bold. Before class, he and a friend and were discussing that afternoon’s soccer game. The girl who sat behind me had insinuated herself into the conversation and was laughing in all the right places. She was tiny, she was adorable, and hell no was she getting this guy. I turned around in my seat and playfully teased (by which I mean “bulldozed”) “I’ll bet you don’t even get one goal!” to which he snapped back “I’ll bet you pick your boogers and eat them so stay out of our conversation!”

Everyone laughed. I was heartbroken. I retorted, too loudly, “Well YOU look like a frog!” and turned back around in my seat, ungracefully, and cried silent tears.

— ∮∮∮ —

13-year-old Texas teen Elizabeth Annette Robinson is no stranger to the love bug, either.

Last week, Elizabeth stole her older brother’s car and her mom’s ATM card and set out on an 800-mile road trip to Kentucky to see a 12-year-old boy she’d met online while playing Xbox. She made it surprisingly far for someone who’s never even driven before and was just 50 miles from Nashville when local police, who had been tipped off by the record of ATM card use, apprehended her.

When her father went to pick her up from police custody, he decided to do a very human thing: take the girl to see the boy she’d done all of this for. Sadly, they didn’t find the boy’s house.

What was her plan when she got to the boy, I wonder? Were they to be together, forever, these 12 and 13-year-olds? Would they run further away? And who would get the good Xbox controller?

Now, while I never stole a car, it’s mostly because I wasn’t that brave. And because we didn’t have the internet, so all of my crushes were local. Except Kevin Bacon. But I understand Elizabeth Robinson’s love crazies, and I so sympathize. The poor girl was likely brainwashed by coms, both rom- and sit-, which make you believe that those sorts of things can work out.

And, as a yet uncured romantic, I like to think that maybe they can. Just not with Kentucky boys or frog-faced soccer players. Besides, it was fourth grade, didn’t we all eat our boogers?

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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