His name was Connor Solberg. Sandy blond hair, pale skin that burned instead of tanned, cool blue eyes that watched me without comment when I gave a lecture on medieval torture devices.
The other kids called me Chigro, as in Chinese Negro, as well as Nerd and Kinky Chink. Boys blew spitballs at me and yelled, "Hey, Oona, how's your sex life. Non-existent, right?" One girls drew a cartoon of me with slanted eyes and an Afro. Another asked me if I'd picked my shoes out of the dumpster.
Connor was a popular guy, but more on the periphery of the popular universe. He went to the parties I wasn't invited to and he sat with the group at lunch. But he never made fun of me. Once in a while, he'd change the subject from Loona Oona to hockey. Once he nailed one of my main tormenters, Gary Jones, with a spitball behind the ear. That started a spitball war so huge, the teacher actually noticed and gave us all detention.
During that detention, Connor flicked his blond bangs and met my eyes with half of an apologetic shrug.
So I noticed Connor. Oh, yeah, I noticed him. But I was marking time until high school, where a bigger, more evolved pool of humanity awaited me. And Connor was out of my league.
The phone rang, interrupting my trip down memory's avalanche. I'm one of the last remaining people on earth without caller ID, so I picked up the phone with some trepidation. Was it Craig? His girl toy? Or even Bendy Ben, back to tell me he had to cancel my Bliss Yoga membership for hitting on the teacher?
"Girlfriend," said my friend Ciara.
The heavy sympathy in her voice made me wince. "Marie told you about the yoga guy?" I like Ciara a lot, but since Craig ditched me, I find it especially hard to ignore the fact that Ciara's pretty, slim, blond, happily married, and makes more money as a real estate agent than I do teaching kids. Sometimes, it's hard to decide which aspect is more hate-able. But she's been my friend since she dropped out of teacher's college and I do love her.
Fortunately, she has a high and slightly nasal voice, so she's not completely perfect. "Of course she told me. I'm taking you out dancing tonight." Not to mention her dictator complex is a complete minus.
"Tonight?" I cringed. I'd rather stay home and count my rings of cellulite.
"Tonight. I'll work on Michael to join us too."
I brightened. Michael is always fun. I know it's a gay stereotype, but he knows how to shake it, and he's at the top of my "friends who cheer you up" list. Not that I'm obsessed with lists. "How about the hubby?" I felt obliged to ask Ciara. Her husband is six years older and, I swear, would rather read The National Post and masturbate over his stock portfolio than come out with us. He has some business job I don't understand, but he makes more money than Ciara, me, Marie, and Michael put together.
"He's closing a deal. It's a perfect night. I'll pick you up. Don't chicken out."
"And don't wear one of your potato sack dresses. I'm going to check you out like your worst bouncer nightmare. If you don't pass, I'm going to strip you down and remake you in my image."
Reluctantly, excitement stirred in my stomach. Maybe this was exactly what I needed. Put the List aside for a night and just get funky. Even if Ciara was threatening to strip me down like one of her "MUST SEE" apartment projects. "Okay."
"More than okay. Fantastic." And she hung up.
I shook my MacBook's mouse to wake up the computer and turned back to my virtual life with a little more zest. "Come on, computer gods. Get me some Connor."
I think everyone has their golden boy, the one you remember as young and carefree and restless and beautiful, just as you were then. Connor was mine.
YOU ARE READING
When Oona's husband asks for an open marriage, she kicks him to the curb and makes a list. A list of the guys not taken. The first guy she really loved. The guy who morphed into Dr. McDreamy. And the smokin' yoga teacher with abs of titanium. The Li...