Nerf Swords and Unrequited Teen Love

I’ve never been quite sure as to why I failed so miserably with women. I guess I was a bit of an ugly duckling, and in many ways I still am. But throughout my elementary, Junior High, and even Senior High years, I consistently witnessed the objects of my desire attach themselves to homely, arrogant men. It broke my heart, albeit quietly.

All these loves were mere preliminaries to my Junior High love to end all loves (or so I thought at the time), Lana Garrote. Lana had dark skin, and listened to dark music. She wore Doors t-shirts, thereby introducing me to the band that would change my life forever.

Lana wore leather, Lana was shy, Lana rarely smiled. She dated men two grades ahead of her, who also wore leather and smoked cigarettes. I loved Lana, as only a thirteen year old can love another thirteen year old; I never spoke to her directly.

Lana and I were in the same grade eight drama class. Drama was the only class in which I could be the person I really wanted to be. I would sulk up to the stage, and in the space of a monologue, I’d become somebody else entirely: I transformed into someone brave, someone bombastic, someone interesting and funny, not boring, or morose, or evangelical.

My drama teachers were quite impressed by my transformation; they looked on with a grin on their face as I stepped onto and off of the small, black stage of our classroom theatre. When these teachers called the roll, my “here” reply was monotone, verging on mute. But when I took the stage, I was loud and I was insane.

I don’t think I was ever that good as an actor, but the discrepancy in personalities was staggering even to myself. I inevitably shook like a leaf whenever I got off stage and sat down timidly to watch the next performer: I shook with fear and adrenaline, both and I won the drama award three consecutive years; a clean sweep.

Back to Lana. Lana and I were in the same grade. She was in my eighth grade Drama class; when she was on stage, I had the opportunity to focus on her without feeling creepy or guilty. And she was beautiful.

I had my chance with Lana. My split, dramatic personality appealed to her, I’m guessing. One morning, I opened my locker and a little note fell to my feet. It read:

On a scale of one to ten, how much to you like Lana Garrote? 1 being, “I hate Lana Garrote and 10 being “I hate Lana Garrote”. Return this note to locker 115.

I never checked those boxes. I never returned the note to locker 115.

I thought it was a joke; I missed my chance.

I thought it was a joke because I’d been picked on for the entirety of my Junior High School days. I was shy. People assumed that because I rarely spoke and didn’t excel at sports, that I was gay. It killed me. Not because I was homophobic (though I certainly was thanks to my Churchy upbringing), but because I really and truly loved women. And I never had the opportunity to experience precious teenage love, simply because I was too scared to speak: I’m sure I’m not the only lonely one.

Long after my missed chance with Lana had come and gone, we still shared our eighth grade Drama class. I wanted to impress her with every performance, just in case. These performances took on increasing extremes. I regularly sustained injury to my mortal frame for the sake of any given performance. I got great grades, but I hurt all the time.

For my final performance of my eighth grade Drama class, I took the stage with one of the few friends I garnered during my public school residency. Bassim Aboud and I had rehearsed out piece to death throughout the late winter and early spring. I don’t remember the details of the play we produced and acted in that fateful day, but I do remember that it all built up to a sword fight: ironically, we used foam rather than galvanized steel to fight our final, epic battle.

Things went well for the first three minutes of the skit: our fellow students laughed voraciously. And then we grabbed foam swords and it all went to shit.
Bassim and I battled. Our foam swords stood their respective ground for the first three minutes. And then, mine broke. The end of my sword then went canoodling in the direction of my love: she was wearing glasses, which shattered instantly upon impact. She bled, and I ran back stage.

“STOP”

The teacher screamed.

The room went silent.

I was told later that several students rushed to Lana’s aid.

She was taken to the emergency room of the Rocky View General Hospital minutes later.

I never spoke to my teenage love.

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