I fell for Penny in my Junior year of High School. She was another girl that I’d known since kindergarten, but had simply never seen as a love interest until I did. It was chemistry class that did it. The chemistry class was very small. Five students total. In addition to myself, the class was composed of Penny, Johnny Dirtnap, Oroboros, and Klepto Boy. [Not their real names.]
I was already good friends with the other three. Johnny Dirtnap, Oroboros, and yes, even Klepto Boy. With the exception of Klepto Boy, we were all ‘smart kids’. Penny and Oroboros got good grades, Johnny Dirtnap was a mid-level underachiever, and I was a full-bore underachiever – understanding all the material but barely passing because of my tendency to not actually do any of the work. (Whoops.) Which Penny kept getting on my case about.
Penny was very nice to look at, no doubt. We shared a birthday, so there was some kind of weird connection there, if you chose to look for it. But until chemistry class, we’d never spent any real time together. We knew enough about each other to know that we were both on the upper end of the intelligence spectrum in our class. But until we were in a tiny little five person classroom, I don’t think that she ever realized that I underachieved to the extent that I did back then. It seemed to bother her. And it made her pay a little more attention to what I was doing – academically – in some of the other classes that we shared.
She never really approached it as, “Shut up and do your damn work, jackass!” It was always more along the line of, “Come on, you’re smarter than this. You should do the work and get the grades. It would be easy for you to get the grades. It would be so easy for you to make something of yourself.” Almost like she cared. About me.
Was that it? Was my subconscious mind grabbing me by the lapels and screaming, “Pay attention, jackass!” (My subconscious, apparently, goes right on ahead and calls me jackass.) “This girl is paying you some attention! She seems to care about what you do! Fall in love with her immediately, before she goes away!”
My subconscious mind is an idiot. So am I, for that matter, because I did exactly what it said. I fell in love with her.
So I sat there, quietly in love with Penny for the rest of the year. I didn’t really act on it, but she had to know. Every now and then she’d catch me staring. Every now and then Johnny Dirtnap and Oroboros would make cryptic comments about the situation (they both knew exactly what was going on) that she had to pick up on.
Then summer came, and I attended a week-long writer’s seminar. There was something going around at the thing, and I ended up catching it. (Should’ve worn gloves and a face mask, I guess.) I caught poetry. I honestly didn’t think that the damn thing was contagious. Now I know better.
So, I started writing poetry. It wasn’t long before I started writing love poetry. When school started, I had a plan.
Penny had been elected Student Body Assistant Treasurer our previous year. Which automatically made her Treasurer our senior year. As treasurer, she actually had a tiny little office. And as a result of a seized opportunity the year before, I had keys to most of the doors in the main hallway, and a few other rooms here and there. (I also had a key to the front door. And I knew the alarm codes. It’s a damn good thing that I was honest. And that I didn’t let any of this information slip to Klepto Boy.)
Anyway, at some point during the first week of school, I mentioned to Penny that I’d started writing poetry. She seemed impressed with that, and asked if she could read some of it. So, the next morning I snuck into her office and left a handful of poems on her desk. None of the love poetry. Just some of what I felt was the best of the other stuff.
Later that day, her first words to me were a very low volume, “Still have keys, huh?” I asked if she minded, and she just kind of shrugged. Told me that she trusted me, but admonished me not to get caught. (Getting caught entering the treasurer’s office with a questionably obtained key probably wouldn’t have been the best thing, come to think of it.) After that, she told me that she’d read the poetry, and had really liked it. She wanted to know if I had more – and if so, if she could read more.
So, the next day, I snuck in and left more on her desk. This batch included a couple of love poems. These were filled with lots of pronouns, but no actual names. When she talked to me about this stack of poetry, she named off her favorites, and they happened to be the love poems. (“Ah ha!” I thought. “Now I’m getting somewhere.”)
Over the course of the next few weeks I’d let her read a handful of new poems every couple of days, some of which were more pronoun filled love poetry. Then one day I slipped one in that had her name in it. And waited. When I finally talked to her about that batch of poetry, I realized that I never ever wanted to play poker with her, because her face betrayed no emotion whatsoever. She then discussed each and every poem except for one. Guess which one. She didn’t even mention the poem that she was named in. It almost made me wonder if I’d hallucinated including it. Well, if she didn’t mention it, then I wasn’t going to mention it either.
The next batch of poetry was about half love poems, and while they didn’t all name her, the were all obviously about her. That day’s poetry report from her included new phrases such as, “I really liked this one, and let me tell you why . . .” With the reason why having nothing to do with the specific message that the poem was trying to convey, and everything to do with it’s artistic nature. Man, Penny had a great poker face. She never did reference the fact that I was writing her love poetry, despite the fact that she was reading them and commenting on them to me. Now that’s talent.
My feelings for Sue were platonic. I had dirty little fantasies about Rabbit, because I was becoming sexually curious, and she was the girl I had my eye on at that time. Penny, on the other hand, I really wanted to have sex with. I was still the good Catholic boy, but had reached the point where you rationalize things, telling yourself, “It’s all right if I’m in love”. I was in love with Penny, so there wouldn’t be anything wrong with making sweet, sweet love to her, despite the whole church’s whole “no sex before marriage” line. Of course, the point was completely moot, since Penny wanted nothing to do to me in any sort of romantic fashion.
And while I had no problems putting love poem after love poem on Penny’s desk, I certainly wasn’t about to put any lust poetry there. Or indicate that I had any impure desires regarding her body. I don’t think that she would have taken kindly to being told that I wanted to rip off all of her clothing and fuck her senseless.
Penny was the very image of sweetness and innocence. So much so that at one point I postulated a Law of Virginity which stated that virginity couldn’t be actually destroyed –when someone lost their virginity, it was automatically transferred to Penny, who had so much virginity that it would actually manifest around her as a kind of force field, causing her to never, ever be able to have sex. (A few years later she became pregnant as the result – rumors told me – of having been drunk at a party. Who knew?)
I should probably mention that by this point in my life, I was pretty much masturbating compulsively. (I’m starting to think that the masturbation had simply become a facet of my obsessive/compulsive disorder.) Having keys meant that I could hole up in a locked classroom and jack off at school. Having keys meant that I could play with myself in the girl’s locker room.
At some point during one of the sports seasons (Girl’s basketball? Volleyball, maybe?) I wandered into the girl’s locker room late after school one day. None of the lockers in use by the team had locks on them. (At this point in time, the school didn’t provide locks for the lockers, and most people didn’t bother with the effort to supply their own.) Each locker had the player’s name written on it. Penny was on that team. I opened up her locker. Nothing much there, just the high school sports uniform. I started thinking about how this was where Penny came to change into that uniform. About how she stripped down right here to suit up. About how this was where she stripped down afterwards to shower. I was hard as a rock by this point, so I took it out and started jacking off. I kept thinking about Penny as I stood there stroking my cock. My intention had been to just let it fly, to cum on the floor or wherever, but at the moment of no return, I suddenly walked forward and shot my load into her open locker. I came all over her uniform.
I left her uniform exactly as it was, and closed her locker door. Then I left the locker room and never returned. I could not believe that I had just done that. I was horribly ashamed and filled with guilt and went straight home and jacked off again, thinking about the fact that Penny would be wearing my seed at her next practice.
Anyway, my active pursuit of Penny had to stop because I got sick. Years later the sickness would be diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. But right then and there, the biggest impact that being sick had on my life was leaving high school half-way through senior year – and not seeing Penny every day. I’d occasionally see her in the grocery store or something, but for the most part she was out of my life.
Out of my life, but once again, not out of my mind or my heart. I remained in love with Penny for years, even having no contact with her, until I eventually fell in love with Dot.
And for another potentially weird sidenote . . .
I just discovered that Oroboros’ dad has passed away. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but as I sit here writing this on Monday night (Dec 1st) I know that the funeral hasn’t happened yet.
Assuming that I can dig some clothing out of the back of my closet that isn’t just sweatpants and a t-shirt, and assuming that I can get the hot water working long enough to shower, I plan on attending the funeral (further assuming, that is, I can find out when it is).
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Oroboros. For awhile there we were running into one another a couple of times a year, but it’s been at least a year now since we last spoke. It’ll be good to see him again, although I’d obviously prefer that it were under better circumstances.
Why is this a potentially weird sidenote? Because I figure that there’s about a 75% chance that Penny will show up at the funeral as well. First Sue, all the way from Singapore after a 14 year absence from my life. Now the possibility of running into Penny.
I’ve got to tell you . . . if I see either Rabbit or Dot (or both) before this whole UNREQUITED LOVE series is over, I think my head might explode. (If I do, and those/those meeting(s) are followed by an actual face-to-face encounter with CJ, my head will explode. No “might” about it. Ka-Fucking-Boom!)