The first time I walked into my 10th-grade English classroom in Huntington Park, California, I saw a student at his desk, resting his head on folded arms. I’d never seen a boy with such beautiful, wavy blond hair, the color of country butter, and I was tempted to run my fingers through it as I passed by.
This was 1960, and we sat in alphabetical order, which put me at the opposite end of the room from my new crush and his golden tresses. I spent most of that class trying to get a glimpse of his face. At roll call I learned that his name was Vic, but after class, when I scurried to the front of the room to get a good look at him, he was gone.
The next morning I nervously waited at the classroom door until Vic finally sashayed by me, but not before he glanced at me with his amazingly blue eyes. He was beyond movie-star handsome!
Suddenly, it was hard to catch my breath, my face and neck felt warm and my knees got weak. My heart pounded so loudly—like a bass drum in my ears—I was sure he must have heard it, too. What was happening to me?
A perky, pretty girl with an annoying giggle and a tight angora sweater sat one seat a
way from Vic. He nicknamed her Bunny because she’d wrinkle her little nose at him whenever he turned in her direction, which was often. It drove me nuts. I couldn’t stop talking about her to my girlfriends in the back of the classroom.
Miraculously, Mrs. Christopher solved my dilemma when she demanded that I sit in the front row so I couldn’t chat with my friends. This put me between the bunny in the tight sweater and my Adonis. Whenever my rival leaned forward or back to talk to Vic, I’d lean, too, just to block their view of each other.
When I noticed Vic was having trouble with the assignments, I offered to help him after class. He not only took me up on it, he was kind enough to have me do all his homework, too! His grades began to improve, and soon he started carrying my books to class when he saw me in the hall.
Along with Vic’s good looks, there was something about him that made me feel safe and special just to be near him. He said that I made him laugh the way no one else could.
One day I was going down the steps of the school library as Vic was going up. When our eyes met, we stopped and just stared at each other until the staircase was empty. Then he came up to the step I was on, wrapped his arms around my waist and gave me my first grown-up kiss, the kind I’d seen in the movies. It left me a little dizzy.
He lit my world like the Fourth of July, and after 50 years of marriage he still does.