The first is that the minute I walked into the church with the rest of the second graders, I started giggling and grinning like a fool. I was fairly certain that grinning and giggling weren't appropriate for church, so I tried to hide behind the little cardboard chalice I was carrying, but it did no good. I'm only lucky that I didn't snort.
The second is that I was terrified that Ben Woodcock was going to show up at my house that afternoon.
On his horse.
I was too young then to appreciate Ben Woodcock for his name alone, or to understand that the likelihood of an eight year old riding his horse a mile and a half across a highway overpass and down a busy road to my house was slim to none. All I knew was that I had invited Ben Woodcock to my house, panicked, and then purposely lied about where I lived.
Ben Woodcock had dark hair and dark eyes. Even then, with the exception of preferring Jon to Ponch, I liked boys with dark hair (you can have Bo Duke, I'll take Luke any day). So there was probably a high likelihood that I had a little crush on Ben Woodcock, with his brown corduroys and his long-sleeve orange velour shirt. In the second grade this basically translated into him being the boy I most wanted running after me when we played Boys Chase the Girls.
(The only thing more fun than playing Boys Chase the Girls at recess? Playing Little House on the Prairie, because I always got to be Mary: The Blind Years, and would stay in character after the bell rang, until I stumbled into the classroom and my teacher would say, "Jennifer, your eyes work, please open them." Words of wisdom from Ms. Feeney.)
Apparently Ben Woodcock liked me too, because one day at recess he offered to come to my house (Ben Woodcock was clearly a take-charge kind of guy). Thinking this was never actually going to happen, I said sure. When he told me he would be there at 2, I began to panic. I wasn't ready for this level of intimacy with Ben Woodcock. It was too much too soon. I hadn't even shared my fruit roll-up with him at snack time yet, despite his asking daily for it, and now he wanted to come to my house?
My mother didn't even let me chew gum, so I was fairly certain she wasn't going to be down with Ben Woodcock hanging at our house on a Sunday afternoon.
Then, he spoke the four words that stopped me cold.
"I'll bring my horse."
I immediately envisioned Ben Woodcock (brown-corduroyed, orange-velour-shirt-clad Ben Woodcock) high upon a Black Beauty-ish horse, riding regally up my long driveway, and realized with horror that I was in over my head and that my relationship with Ben Woodcock had taken a very serious turn.
So when Ben Woodcock asked me exactly where I lived, I stammered. I had suddenly remembered that my First Communion was also that weekend and that we were having all of our family and friends back to our house after for a party.
How the hell was I going to explain Ben Woodcock And His Horse to all of them?
I began giving Ben Woodcock directions, which, considering the fact that I was eight, probably went something like: 'Turn at the street with the red house, you know that street? The one with the red house? Yeah, that's my street.' He was nodding along as if I was making perfect, complete sense and he knew exactly which street I was talking about.
I had to throw him a curve ball. Even though the thought of Ben Woodcock And His Horse wandering up and down my little 12-house cul-de-sac, his dark eyes searching and wondering, where is she? made me feel terrible, it was not so terrible as the thought of Ben Woodcock And His Horse marching confidently up my driveway, ready to fight for a piece of First Communion cake with a big, fat frosting rose on it.
So I came up with an awesome, clever, fool-proof plan to mislead Ben Woodcock.
My house was number 6.
I told him it was number 4.
Ben Woodcock And His Horse did not show up at my First Communion party.
That Monday at school he told me that he had come to my house.
"On your horse?" I asked.
"Yes. But you weren't home."
Liar, I thought. I had spent most of my party staring, panic-stricken, up the street to make sure his horse never rounded that corner. That, along with cards full of savings bonds and checks, made it the worst party ever.
"I had to go somewhere with my mom," I lied back.
He nodded. There was an uncomfortable silence.
And so ended my relationship with Ben Woodcock.
|Dear God, sorry for giggling, please don't let Ben Woodcock come to my house on a horse today, amen.|