Saturday, February 11, 2012


     I went to the same school for grades 6 through 12.  The campus was divided into two schools, the lower school for 6 through 8 and the upper school for 9 through 12.  Before I left middle school and the eighth grade I was part of a program called Bridging the Gap.  For a week, during Eight Grade Project Week, some of us eight graders got to go to the high school, tour around, meet with the psychology teachers to discuss the transition to high school and meet high schoolers.  Meeting the highs schoolers was the best part.  I knew all their names from the old year books I studied.  Plus, I had a mad crush on one of the guys in the Bridging the Gap program.  Greg Brown.  He was a junior.
     Greg Brown's dad was my eight grade English teacher.  Mr. Brown also coached the boys varsity basketball team.  Both his sons played on this team.  I played on the eight grade girl's basketball team and when we'd get back from an away game, I'd go watch the boys' games.  I'd sit alone in the bleachers, still in my sweaty, red and white, polyester, Chargers basketball uniform to watch Greg.  I cared about the basketball, but I cared more about him.  I didn't' want to sit with anyone else.  I needed to focus on my game watching, strike that, staring at Greg.
     I could (to some) have even been considered a crazed fan.  I videotaped the games when the team made it to the State Finals and then took that video to my cousin's Bat Mitzvah in New York and made all of my cousins sit and watch Greg Brown play basketball.  One year they played the team from Albuquerque High and its good player was also named Greg Brown.  What are the odds?  I think I might of worn out the video on that one, since there was an interview of Greg before the game.  My heart swooned. 
     But after every single one of those games, I'd get to English class on Monday morning so embarrassed.  I thought Mr. Brown knew I had a crush on his son and that I'd been at the games only to see my crush.  I used to get this embarrassed when I watched Happy Days with my parents.  I loved Fonzie.  I mean adored him.  When Fonzie snapped his fingers and the girls came rushing over to him and then he'd kiss one, I lost it.  I got so embarrassed by Fonzie kissing a girl I'd bury my head or throw a blanket over my face.  If my parents noticed this odd behavior they never said anything or asked me why I acted like such a spaz when Happy Days was on.  And then, when Scott Baio started on the show, forget about it.  It was over for me.  embarrassment city.  I was done.  Scott Baio just being in a scene had me in hives and blushing at the same time.
     But back to Bridging the Gap.  This program allowed me to actually meet Greg Brown and speak to him.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen...ever.  But it did.  And he was nice.  Plus, the rumors were true, Greg dribbled his basketball down the high school hallways, he took it to every class, he even brought it to the dining hall.  He was never without his basketball.  I think he named his basketball too and everyone knew the name.  I just can't remember it now.  Maybe my crush wasn't as big as I thought it was.  A true fan would remember a detail like that.  Shame on me!
     When I started high school one of the boys who'd been in Bridging the Gap with me came up to me and told me the 1 sentence that got me through high school.  What I'm about to write got me through heartbreaks and heartaches, bad skin, frizzy hair, a terrible haircut that required me to wear hats for the majority of my sophomore year, not making certain sports teams, not getting all As every quarter, every single bad high school moment--you name it; because that boy told me...wait for it...he said: "Greg Brown thinks you're the cutest girl in the freshman class."
     Always and forever I'll remember those words.  Thank you Greg Brown (and thank you to my friend for telling me that Greg said that); what you said made a world of difference for me.  High school was bearable on the days when it was intolerable, because I had that confidence in the back of my head.  I mean when one of the cutest, most popular, not to mention star athlete says that about you it gives you confidence (even when you had no business having any, I looked a mess on many a day in high school and probably acted like a big ol' goober a bunch of the time--I was a late bloomer, very late).  And you remember it and you cherish it.  But you don't flaunt it.  I guarded those words for me, just me.
     Now, I never confirmed that Greg Brown actually said this to that kid.  Maybe my friend knew about my larger than life crush and was trying to mess with me.  But I think not.  That kid was a nice kid, a good person and most of all kind.  And if Greg didn't say that about me then I know where to find him.  Last I heard he's back in Albuquerque coaching basketball at a public high school.  I mean I could go there and confront him.  Actually, no, probably can't do that--too embarrassing.  I'd just end up in the bleachers again staring at him while he coached his team.  

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