Friday, April 11, 2008

Getting to First Base

One day at lunch we were sitting around and talking about having a kissing contest. That sounded interesting, so I asked what we should make for the rules. Someone explained the rules to me. Then I asked how we should decide who kisses who. Then someone explained that it was already decided who was kissing who.

As I sat there listening, I came to the realization that we were not in a planning phase. Everything about this contest had already been decided. The rules were already in place and who would be kissing who was established.

“When did all this get planned?”

“Just now in class”

I sat there at lunch retracing my steps. I was not standing in the hall or visiting the principle that morning. I was in class the whole time. Now I was bothered. Usually when things went down in that class I was at the forefront of planning it or at very least I was in the loop. For the first time I felt like I was on the outside looking in.

Then to my amazement I heard Larry bemoaning the fact that he had to kiss Neve, as though someone had forced him with a double dare to do it! I would have gladly jumped in to bail him out except that Neve was whining that she wanted to kiss Maltby. WTF!

My heart was pounding in my chest. Where the hell was I when this was being planned?

I knew why Larry didn’t want to kiss her. The look on Brian’s face said it all. Brian was trying to be brave, but behind that poker face he was just as jealous as I was.

This was when I realized for the first time that while Neve and I were very good friends, that is all we were. She had a thing for Maltby. I was also good friends with Maltby and I knew where his heart lay. It was not with her. There were hurt feelings all around.

If I had any balls at that point I would have set Neve straight and told her exactly how I felt, but listening to her moan about how she wanted to kiss Maltby was like a slap in the face.

Then someone suggested I should trade sandwiches with Larry. I had peanut butter and Jam for lunch every day. I really wouldn’t eat anything else. I can’t remember if Maltby suggested it, because he wanted to win, or if Brian did to ease his pain. It could have been Larry himself not wanting to kiss Neve that made the suggestion, but whoever it was I did it gladly. I figured maybe I could stop this from happening or at least make it end quickly.

Larry passed me his sandwich and I took a bite. It was two kinds of deli meat, with mustard on white bread. If his goal in trading sandwiches with me was to gross out Neve, he really should have eaten his own sandwich. It was so disgusting I ended up throwing it out. Fortunately, I had no appetite anyway.

Out on the playground the teams squared off. I don’t remember much about the contest itself. I remember where on the school grounds we had it. I remember where I was standing in relation to everyone else. I did not take part. Merk was there and she also did not take part. I remember walking up to her before the contest. I planned to say something to her, but I don’t remember if I did. She would not have answered me anyway.

The contest itself was over pretty quick.

It did bother me that Neve kissed Larry that day. If there was one thing I could take solace in, it was the fact that Neve kissed a guy from our class that was


That kissing contest was not Maltby’s only invention to help break the ice between the guys and girls in that class. His most brilliant scheme involved a game he devised over at the baseball diamond.

The rules were simple. The girls would run around the diamond. They would have to stay on the area that marked the infield. They could not go out of bounds. Then we would chase them around the diamond, catch them and drag them back to the benches in the dugout kicking and screaming, where we would steal kisses from them and do other things…….


It was brilliant.

But of course Maltby was not a complete womanizer. He was a humanist and an equal opportunity molester as well. We would give the girls a chance to chase us around the diamond and then we would let them have their way with us when we got caught.

That was even more fun, because we could easily keep our distance on the girls. What a crazy coincidence too. Every time one of the pretty girls in our class got close we would fake an ankle sprain and limp over to the dugout pretending to be in pain. The exception to the rule of course was Jason Ashton. He was not athletic at all. Doctors had inserted tubes in his ears to treat repeated ear infections that affected his balance and coordination. That poor kid got ravaged by every duck in our class.

The only girl in our class that could catch us unassisted was Eugenie Fitzgerald. She was tall and had long legs. She could run almost as fast as any guy. She was also as cute as a Royal Doulton china doll, with a sexy mouth and pouting lips. We didn't have to fake any ankle sprains with her.

I only remember bumping into Maltby a few times after I stopped going to Vista Heights. One time I ran into him was when I was in my teens. It was at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto of all places. We got to talking about the good old days when we used to chase the girls around the baseball diamond. That brought back a lot of happy memories for him.

“I remember that! Remember that time when…..” and he went on to tell me a story that was so X rated I recoiled in horror.

“No, I certainly do not remember that.”

“No, weren’t you there?”

He had forgotten that I stopped going to that school at the end of grade 4. When I reminded him of that, he said, “Oh N! You missed the good stuff.”

Apparently I did. By the sounds of it, there wasn’t a virgin left in that French Immersion class by the end of grade 6. The parents of those grade school kids would have screamed bloody murder if they knew what was going on at that baseball diamond.