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The year was 1980-something. At what age do kids start preschool, exactly? Whatever. I was born in 1985, and it was how-ever-many years after, when kids attend preschool. Though I don’t remember the precise details of time, as time is almost unimportant to a child, I remember many of the sights and sounds of my glorious preschool days. And I remember Marlo.
Marlo was the prettiest preschooler in Mrs. O’Hara’s 2-day class. She had a poofy kind of haircut, but not the kind of poofy where you suspect that the parents are indifferent towards their child’s appearance, rather exactly the opposite. Her poofiness suggested frequent brushing, in that it was more of a ‘static-y’ poof, rather than a ‘I-just-woke-up-and-goddamnit-mom-you-better-not-brush-my-goddamn-hair’ poof.
She smelled so pretty too. Not the kind of pretty that we think of now, all perfumed up; this was the prettiest kind of pretty, and the most honest kind of pretty. She smelled like so many sweet fruits and candies. As we would play with the blocks over in the Discovery Zone section of the preschool (our favorite rendezvous point) I would try and guess which fruit-flavored shampoo she had used that morning, and which fruit-flavored lotion she had so gratuitously applied in an adorable attempt to seem grownup.
She also sported the sweetest smile of all the preschool girls, which is quite the accomplishment. I have never known a preschool girl to not have a sweet smile. Hers outdid them all though. It just seemed to shout out to the world that she was the sweetest girl in it.
“Wow, She is great.” I would think to myself, “Now when a boy likes a girl, what do they do?”
I thought long and hard about this one. Finally, through all my preschool logic it hit me, and one sunny morning, over by the Teepee (it was around Thanksgiving, so an Indian Zone had been constructed), I popped the question.
“Hey Marlo, wanna marry me?” What can I say? I was blunt.
“Umm, well.” She began to play with her pigtails nervously. I could sense something was wrong.
“What is it? Is it me?” I asked, nervous at the wrong turn this was taking. I gripped a plastic ear of corn for emotional support.
“No, No. It’s not you at all,” she began. “It’s just, well, I have to marry my cousin.”
I was shocked.
Marry her cousin? A million scary thoughts raced through my mind. What does her cousin have that I don’t? Do I have to marry my cousin? My cousin is 18, how am I supposed to marry her? I was so stunned that I didn’t even eat my snack that day. It was my favorite, too, celery and peanut butter.
So for the remainder of the year I kept my distance from Marlo. Being only in preschool, I was too young to have learned about the ‘rebound girl,’ so all my sexual frustration was bottled up until one day I did a silly dance for the class in my underwear and had to sit in the corner.
I had hoped that after that brief and unorthodox release of frustration I could leave Marlo behind me, until one day, as I sat playing with a fire truck, she came crawling back.
“Hey Carl!” She said happily. I suppose she wanted me to just forget the incident with her cousin/fiancée. Well I was not going to be treated like a doormat. I smiled curtly, and then went over to play with the toy lawnmower. She could have her lousy cousin, I thought to myself.
And that was my first experience with women.