Back when I was a wee little Slovak learning my ABC’s and 123’s I had my first series of crushes. My initial crush was in the 1st grade, and my tiny 6 year old heart went pitter-patter for my (now) brother-in-law. Yes, my husband’s brother Bruce, who was in the same grade as me, was my first true love. It’s still chuckle-worthy today.

I don’t remember having the hots for anyone in second grade, but third grade was a busy year for my heart. It began with a crush on Arthur – cute as a button with freckles. He was the mayor’s son and smart as a whip. Maybe that’s why I was attracted to him. I still couldn’t tell time and was feeling rather duncey. Maybe hanging out with the smart boy would rub off on me. My adoration of Arthur tickled my mother to death – she was friends with his mom and I’m sure they found it all quite amusing.

And then I had the dream. Even though I was only 8 or so, I still remember it to this day. Arthur and I were on a picnic in a grassy field along the side of a cliff. Suddenly, he turned horribly mean and began pelting me with apples. I don’t know where the abundant cache of apples came from, but none-the-less I was in some serious peril.

Out of nowhere came our classmate, Billy Fink. He hoisted me into his arms, and swung us on a vine down to the bottom of the cliff where we found shelter from the onslaught of flying apples.

And that was it. Arthur was out and Billy was in. Oh, so very in.

The remainder of my third grade year was spent totally devoted to Billy. I remember sharing my feelings for him with my older sister, Wendy. She suggested writing him a letter, and she supplied me with the grooviest stationery…a long rectangle with the word “LOVE” printed on it. You wrote your message inside the “O.” I went back to my room and clumsily expressed my love to Billy in my best penmanship inside that “O.” I looked up his address in the phone book, stamped the letter and mailed it, certain that once he knew my true feelings, we would begin planning our future together.

A few days later (God, I can’t believe I still remember this) I was at the sink in my classroom rinsing out some paint brushes and Billy approached me. The third grade version of “holy shit” ran through my head, and I kept my eyes front and center. I wanted to look at him – hell, to gaze at him – but instead I washed my brushes in a frenzy and kept my eyes on the stack of brown paper towels beside the sink.

He stood right next to me and whispered, “cut the notes!”

Hmmm. That wasn’t quite the response I had dreamed of.

What else was a girl to do? I turned to him, with wide, innocent doe eyes and said “What notes?” He just walked away. I had to act all confused and guiltless, but inside I was crushed. My Billy, with his brown wavy hair, and straight, white teeth, wanted nothing to do with me.

I wasn’t the only girl who was infatuated with Mr. Fink. My friend Beth loved him too, and luckily she lived just a few blocks from his house. Many a day I would accompany her home and after a snack, we would wander down to his house and hang out across the street waiting for him to appear. I remember him coming out only once – I think his mom needed him to take out the trash otherwise he would’ve avoided us like the plague.

He ran out in his jacket, the kind with the hood that zippered up the top. His was un-zippered and it hung on his back in two pie-shaped segments. He growled at us and charged and like any self-respecting third grade girls we ran screaming back to Beth’s house. But we had made contact, and was thrilling.

My love for Billy carried into fourth grade, where thankfully for me, he was still in my class. However, that love was in no way reciprocated, especially after I stabbed him with a pencil.

Yeah, you read that right.

I can’t remember what he said to me that made me do it. We were sitting beside each other for a project, and I guess he said something sort of nasty to me, and feeling both love for him and fury that he flat out hated me, I plunged my #2 Ticonderoga into his thigh.

He began screaming and had to go to the nurse and I got chewed out by my teacher which included lectures about lead poisoning and respect for others and personal space. Once home, mom gave me another dose of discipline. Ugh, I was mortified. I could imagine his mom tending to his wound and wondering what kind of monster this girl Tracy was.

Billy had very little to do with me (duh!) until he moved away towards the end of that year. After his last day of school he was being good naturedly rough-housed by a bunch of boys, wishing him well. I marched straight up to him, punched him in the arm, and walked away. See ya, sucker.

Later on in high school I told Arthur about my 3rd grade crush I had on him, and the Billy Fink apple dream. We laughed about it – I think he even wrote something about it in my yearbook. I wish I could have had that sort of closure with Billy – where I apologize, and we laugh about it years later.

I can’t help but think that somewhere out there is a 49 year old man with a small, circular scar on his thigh whose memory of me is of a pencil wielding whacko.