Even with a young girl’s eyes, I could see he was a dreamboat.
I’d just taken my turn in the elementary school talent show. My mother decided I should sing “Take Back Your Mink” from Guys and Dolls. Not only that, she layered me in clothing and jewelry she told me to strip off one piece at a time with every line I sang until I was down to my T-shirt and shorts. Being eight years old, it didn’t occur to me to object.
As I sat in the front row waiting for them to announce the winner, a boy came onstage dressed in a black leather jacket, jeans and boots. He had his hair slicked into a pompadour like Elvis Presley. I didn’t remember seeing him around school before, but when he danced around the stage and lip-synced to “All Shook Up,” I knew I had to meet him in person.
My mother squeezed my hand tight when the principal announced the winner. I stood up in my seat, telling her I wanted to be close to the stage when they called my name. It was smug of me, but hadn’t the audience laughed and cheered when I performed? They especially laughed when I slid into the fake pearls I tossed on the floor and landed on my butt. “TA DA!” I shouted as I jumped up and continued to sing.
“The winner is… Glenna Scott from second grade.”
WOW! I hurried up the steps to get my trophy, suddenly realizing how many people were watching me. I smiled at the principal as he handed me a little gold-plated statue of an angel with wings. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Elvis standing on the side of the stage looking miserable. It made me feel bad about winning. Maybe if I’d sang or danced less enthusiastically, Elvis would have my little trophy. How was I supposed to talk to him now?
“Elvis Presley… oooooooh!!!”
I shouted it on the playground, enlisting a little friend named Sarah to shout it, too. By then, Elvis changed into his regular school clothes. He glanced over and slightly smiled at us acting like rabid fans. I took this as an invitation and chased him around the monkey bars. Sarah joined me, and we followed Elvis around the yard shouting the same thing over and over.
“Elvis Presley… oooooooh!!!”
Elvis’s two guy friends chased me and Sarah. We pretended they were Elvis’s security as we giggled and ran away. Soon, all the boys were laughing, too. Once we got tired of running, we all collapsed in a heap on the ground together, laughing and chatting with our new friends. Elvis sat down next to me.
“I’m not really Elvis, you know. My name is Mike,” he announced.
“I know you’re not,” I responded. “But I think you’re cute, anyway.”
It was the beginning of our six-month romance. Mike treated me like a princess and instructed his two friends, Rico and Phillip, to do the same. At recess, they made sure I got the first swing and that nobody ever messed with me. Mike and I ran off and kissed behind the slide, thinking nobody saw us even though we suspected they did. We promised that we would always "like" each other in the way only second-graders can do. When Mike said he loved me one spring day near the end of the school year, Rico and Phillip followed suit and professed the same. They made me feel adored.
I didn’t see Mike or any of our friends over the summer. Instead, I spent my time reading books, swimming and daydreaming. By the time school started for third grade, I’d almost forgotten about the boys. The thought of seeing Mike again made me happy but a little nervous like butterflies. I still wanted to be friends, and I worried he might not feel the same anymore.
My worst fears were realized on the first day of school. Standing outside my third-grade classroom, I noticed Mike, Rico and Phillip running around on the grass being silly. In the middle of them ran a giggling girl with black curls and a fancy blue dress. She was much prettier than I was, and I hated her on sight. Our teacher, Mrs. Cable, said the girl was new and her name was Lacey. When she told us during class to applaud our new fellow student, I smirked and instead folded my arms in protest.
I confronted Mike on the playground during recess, demanding to know why he was chasing after somebody else.
“Well,” Mike answered. “There’s one year we love you, and there’s one year we don’t.”
It was official. There would be no more kisses behind the slide or saving me the first swing. I couldn’t call him Elvis Presley anymore like a lovesick teenager. Mike was definitely no Elvis Presley; he was a jerk! My still growing heart seemed to burst into a million pieces that day. I went home inconsolable, unable to explain to my mother why I was so upset. She probably didn’t want me chasing boys, anyway. I kept my grief to myself, lurking around the edges of the playground watching Lacey get waited on hand and foot by the boys who once claimed to love me.
At first, I blamed myself. If I had been prettier and dressed in better clothes, maybe Mike would have kept chasing me. I searched my memories for anything I might have said wrong, maybe a joke that came out mean rather than funny. Did I do something to chase the boys away? If only I was a better girl, then maybe they wouldn't have abandoned me.
The year passed, and eventually I got over Mike and moved on to other things. He became less of a fixation on the playground, and I hardly noticed him anymore when he ran past me. Unfortunately, the mindset of blaming myself for other people’s actions stuck with me even as an adult. My low self-esteem didn’t allow me to consider that I had value of my own. There was no difference between me and any other girl except the kind I created in my head. I’d let Mike/Elvis dictate everything in our relationship, including when it ended, because I never realized I had the power all along.
On the last day of third grade, I was walking towards my classroom after lunch when Mike came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I hadn’t spoken to him in months.
“Hey,” he said, winking at me. “Maybe we’ll chase you next year.”
I shrugged my shoulders and walked away for good. He wasn’t Elvis anymore, just a fickle boy who broke my heart.