staci with and i

November 30, 2012

I remember the very first girl I almost kissed. I was 12 and she was 10. We lived in the same apartment complex, but her family had moved in a year after mine. Same kind of deal though, single mom, newly divorced, older siblings. Her name was Staci (with an “i”). She was short and wiry and had shoulder length straight blond hair, the color of corn silk. Her voice was low and raspy, like she smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. But none of us were smoking yet back then.

We rode the same bus to school, but we didn’t much talk at the bus stop or at school. The 2 year age difference seemed gigantic, until the summer came around and all the kids who lived in complex hung out together at the pool, racing each other, diving for rocks we threw to the bottom of the deep end and having epic splash contests, lots of times off the diving board. I swear to god I perfected a can opener that summer that splashed a ridiculous amount of water all over the cement surrounding the pool and if possible, the lifeguard. In large part, because I was trying to impress the lifeguard who I had a huge crush on. She wore a salmon colored one piece, mirrored aviator sunglasses, and had the most perfect deep Coppertone tan. She always smelled like coconut, which at 12, smelled sexy to me. And even now, in the summer months, that smell still gets to me. The lifeguard kept a radio turned on all day and would turn the volume up when Elton John came on or Wings or Eric Clapton’s cover of “I Shot The Sherriff.” It is impossible for me to hear those songs now and not think of summer.

At the pool, Staci was game for anything. Chicken fights, underwater swim contests, who could hold their handstand the longest, who had the best backstroke . . . and on and on.  At some point during the summer, Staci started coming over to our apartment sometimes for lunch. I kind of think she just invited herself and I would make us Spaghetti-Os or ham sandwiches. And we would drink Cokes and eat Pringles and wait out the hour we were supposed to before going back to the pool (so we wouldn’t get cramps swimming) by either watching a crappy soap opera or game show on TV or riding our bikes around the apartment complex. Sometimes I would trail her around on my handlebars up and down our little street, our shorts sticking to our legs, sun making us sweat.

I’m pretty sure that coming over to our place for lunch is how Staci saw my epic collection of Matchbox cars and Hotwheels. I must have left them out on the back patio, where I often built these intricate city-scapes made up of small boxes as stand-ins for buildings and houses and used tiny rocks to outline streets. I was deep into my imagination and my car cities weren’t something I shared with many other kids, but Staci must have been cool about it, because the night we almost kissed, she was sitting there with me while I was playing with my cars. Actually, I was building a small city on the dining room table. And Staci was asking me questions about the city and the cars and all the make believe lives I’d created to inhabit them. She leaned over the table sometimes. Sometimes she leaned close to me and I’d just answer her and keep working away. I remember the overhead light was on, but the rest of the apartment was dark and the dining room window was open and you could hear the crickets outside. When the city was all built and I didn’t have any more stories, Staci and I were just sat there together and looked at it. We were quiet. Her leg was near mine, my arm near hers. She smelled just like chlorine and cherry bubblegum and we kind of looked at each other for what seemed like forever right then, but was probably only a second or two.  Maybe we were kind of smiling, maybe she closed her eyes for a nano-second.  And then through the open window we heard her sister yelling for her. I remember Staci just kind of shrugged her shoulders at me and got up and said something like, “Cool city. See you tomorrow.”


3 responses to “staci with and i”

  1. mtb says:


  2. Coop says:

    I remember those car cities and trips to that toy shop in Broadripple, never having enough cash to purchase the cars we wanted.

  3. proteanme says:

    Right, the toy shop in Broadripple. I spaced that. It is funny though that to this day I can picture some of the cars I did have, like this pink camaro and
    and robins egg blue land rover.

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