When I was in fifth grade, I had a wicked crush on Pierce Leves. Pierce was “it” for me. And Rebekah Rabinowitz knew it.
She also knew that I was too shy to do anything but love him from afar (oh no, I was not the fleurt I am today). Deciding to play matchmaker, Rebekah bandied back and forth between Pierce and me, asking questions like, “Would you go with Flew-er if she’d go with you?” And, “Would you go with Pierce if he’d go with you?”
After several days of negotiations, Rebekah darted up to my desk: “Oh my God, you are going with Pierce! He totally wants to go with you. Will you?”
I swallowed. “Yeah, okay.”
“Oh my God,” she squealed, again. “You’re going with him now! You’re going with Pierce! Pierce, you’re going with Flew-er now. You’re going with each other!”
I didn’t let on, but I was psyched. I was also terrified.
From that moment on, Pierce and I did not say one word to each other. Come to think of it, we hadn’t really said one word to each other up to that point, anyway. But now, we were actively not saying one word to each other.
Still, though I didn’t know what to do with him, I had a boyfriend. My boyfriend, Pierce. Pierce, with whom I never spoke. Pierce, with whom I never glanced. Pierce, with whom I never… anything.
One day, I did find myself standing next to him. He turned to me, and for the first time, we made eye contact:
“Are you embarrassed to be my girlfriend?”
My heart was pounding. “No,” I replied. And I wasn’t. I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I felt awkward as “girlfriend,” and a little scared.
But it didn’t matter. Because I had a boyfriend. My boyfriend!
That is, for just over a week. Eight days later, in the middle of math, my least favorite class, as I sat in the first row, front and center, struggling to flip fractions during a quiet work-on-your-own moment, I felt a shadow over my desk. I slowly turned my gaze upward to see Pierce towering over me, facing both me and the entire class. He proceeded to announce:
“I DON’T WANNA BE YOUR BOYFRIEND ANYMORE. I WANNA BREAK UP WITH YOU.”
The scritch-scratching of scribbling No. 2 pencils ceased.
All eyes upon me, I went mute. All I could think to do was wave him off as if his shadow was causing an uneven tan. And with the transformational acting powers of Meryl Streep, I turned my attention back to my math assignment.
It was an award-winning performance. Not because I hated math more than just about anything at that time in my life, but because I felt humiliated. I could hear giggles around me. I bit my lip and tried not to cry. If I had known the word back then, “bastard” would’ve been the only way to describe him. And with that, Pierce turned to walk away.
I must have recovered quickly, because I flicked out my foot and tripped him.
Down he went, face first, and the class erupted into gales of laughter. I suppose I should have felt ashamed, but my confidence soared. I felt instant gratification for the debilitating humiliation he’d caused seconds before. You don’t embarrass me in front of the entire fifth grade class and live to tell the tale. Hell hath no fury as a little girl exposed and scorned.
That’s not what happened.
In truth, Pierce embarrassed, humiliated, and belittled me in front of the entire class, then walked away. And I allowed it. I sat there horrified, dying inside, no closer to figuring out those damned fractions.
Now, you might think the end of my Self-Worth Training from Pierce obviously ended there, right?
Three years later, for some ungodly reason, I doubled back. Crush time again. Why? I’ve never figured it out. But I decided Pierce should be the recipient of a secret Valentine. So I did it. I paid a dollar to have a student volunteer bring Pierce a Valentine. My Valentine.
All day long, classes were getting interrupted with “oohs” and “ahhs” and giggles and laughter. It just happened to be math class. I waited. But I never said a word. I minded my own business, doing my work, waiting with anticipation, heart a-flutter.
The door flew open, and in barged the delivery kid. He only had one Valentine to deliver in this class. Pierce’s Valentine. As the kid made the announcement, I went along with the crowd. I oohed. I ahhhed. I giggled. I laughe—
Pierce caught my eye much like that day that we spoke for the first time. But this time, I was no conquest. I was a target.
“Ugh! Flew-eeeeeer,” he mooed, with the tone of someone who’d just had a truckload of manure emptied down his pants.
Yep. That did it. No more lessons needed.
Well… from Pierce.
I wish I could tell you that my days of chasing down men who don’t want to chase me back ended right there in eighth grade math on that glum Valentine’s Day.
I wish I could tell you I am now a math authority, specializing in trigonometric identities and equations.
I wish I could tell you I am as good at picking men as a two-year-old is at picking his nose.
A famous physicist once said: “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” Well, it’s good to know I’m an expert at something. Cause it ain’t math.
That little turd, Pierce, tried to friend me on Facebook a year or so ago. I really used to hate that word: Turd. But he really really was one. A real turd.
The thing that’s great about writing a (mostly) autobiographical show is that if you don’t like what happened in the past, you can adjust the details any way you want. In my story, Pierce gets a broken and bloody nose. I become the Queen of Fifth Grade, while he can only slink away, soaked in blood and shame. In my story, I learn my lesson the first time, and I save myself to boot. In my story, he wouldn’t dare think to friend me on Facebook. In my story, I’m still the expert — only I didn’t have to get there by making all the mistakes.
You wouldn’t think he deserves it, but that little cow patty gets his story told in a song.
What rhymes with Turd?
Read more of Fleur’s adventures here.