Monday: I pulled Julia’s bowl of hot CoCo Wheats out of the microwave with a smidge too much enthusiasm and ending up feeding it to my cleavage instead of my daughter.

Tuesday: The stoneware insert for my Crock Pot slipped out of my soapy dishpan hands and crashed into the sink (damaging the porcelain enamel!) and shattered, as did my heart. Oh, Crockett. We discovered loaded potato soup together! I’ll think of you every time I make it in my new Cro- Shhhhh. Never you mind that last part. R.I.P. Crockett.

Wednesday: A combination of wintry precipitation, leaves, impractical footwear and clumsiness took my feet out from under me and brought me crashing down on my ass out in front of my house, of course, as a car drove by. Somehow, I injured my left knee and my right elbow. And everywhere else.

I’m afraid to even think about Thursday.

I have a habit
of doing just things I know
I can succeed at

I was rushing to my bus line when he stepped in front of me. “Hey,” he said shoving a gift-wrapped tube at me. “This is for you.” And he took off down the hallway.

I studied the glossy red paper covered with Santas and Ho Ho Hos and the blue bow stuck precariously to the top during what was the longest bus ride of my life. I wondered, Did he wrap it himself? Nah, it’s too neat. Maybe his mom did it for him. If she did, they must have talked about me. What did they say? Did he call me his girlfriend? Whose idea was it to give me a present? His? Hers? Either way, things are looking pretty serious.

I ran all the way home from the bus stop and straight into my room. I threw my book bag on the bed and tore open the package. It was a Whitesnake poster. Whitesnake. Not my favorite band, but still a cool band. Definitely cool. Very cool. This is, without a doubt, an awesomely cool present.

I scrambled up on my headboard and carefully rose to my feet. I stood face to face with a smoldering Jon Bon Jovi and pushed myself against him as I stretched up on tiptoe to reach the pushpins at the top corners. “Sorry Jon,” I said out loud and replaced him with the Whitesake poster. Jon would hang over my desk. The boyfriend gift deserved the prominent spot above my bed.

I stood at then end of my bed and admired the view while my head swam in he-likes-me!s. There was actual proof, right above my bed! But wait. Okay, so I guess this means I need to give him a present, right? I guess in sixth grade, the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship evolves to the gift-giving stage. So, what do I get him?

By the time my mom got home from work, I’d worked myself into quite a little frenzy. I jumped at her from the bottom stair I’d been rocking back and forth on and shouted, “I need to buy a Christmas present! Can we go NOW!!?!?”

Of course we couldn’t. But later we did. And after a great deal of discussion and agonizing over the boys toys aisles and my meager budget, I’d settled on a Madball. It seemed like the best option for a kid that once wrote me a love poem that included the word “schizophrenic” in it.

I took the gift to school the next day. I desperately wanted to unload it on him, but I waited until the end of the day, like he did, as he clearly was more clued in to the “going together” code than I was. By the time the last bell rang, that Madball felt like it weighed a ton. I drug it in my hand behind me as I quickened my pace to catch up with him in the hall. I tugged on his backpack. “Hey,” I said shoving it into his hand. “This is for you.”

He stopped, made a huge grin and his eyes got wild-looking. “Yeah?” And he started to open it.

My cheeks got hot. My heart was racing. I started sweating and felt like I might fart. “Uh huh.”

“Huh,” he grunted, his smile faded a bit, then he laughed. He laughed! And said, “Yeah, thanks.” Then ran down the hall.

After Christmas, we broke up. I am certain it’s because I gave him the wrong gift.

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