I had my first passionate love affair in third grade. The object of my affection, and sometimes its opposite, was Seamus O’Leary. Our paths would unusually cross several times throughout our lives. The initial occasion, however, was definitely the fieriest and by far the most amusing.
Seamus was not only my first boyfriend but also my first redheaded beau. I thought he was one of the ugliest boys I had ever seen with his wavy red hair, big brown freckles, and silver metallic braces. At the same time I was completely enamored of him because of the strange way we rollickingly engaged in controversy.
I adored arguing with Seamus, instigating him, provoking him, taunting him, challenging him, picking on him, and calling him names. On a more aggressive level I loved to pinch, poke, slap, elbow, prod, punch, and kick him among other things. Ginger love–what can I say. Of course, Seamus being a good, well-behaved, Irish Catholic boy was not allowed to retaliate against a weak little girl. So he took his butt whumping with teeth gritted and muttering unfulfilled promises of what he would do to me once he escaped his mother’s clutches.
The highlights of our early relationship are brief, brutal moments–even the loving ones.
Going to parochial school we wore the stereotypical uniforms. Seamus wore a shirt, tie, and slacks and I wore a shirt, pleated skirt, knee socks, and saddle shoes. I loved those shoes more than I would truly love any boy for quite some time.
One day after school Seamus and I stopped at my house which was conveniently located directly across from his house. We were out in my yard playing house or some other imaginary endeavor while our mothers were inside with our baby siblings doing the same. Seamus pulled some shenanigan out of his repertoire to annoy me. At first I tried to resist his attempts to manipulate me into bad behavior. But my anger was always so close to the surface that it was only a matter of moments before his provocations resulted in me flipping my lid. I went after him furiously, yelling and slapping. Who knows what possessed me but in a most revolting and unladylike act even for me, I wadded up all of my saliva and spit right at him.
For once Seamus was enraged enough to rally to his defense and he hawked a phlegm ball straight back in my face, inciting me to maximum red-out level. I pounced on him, kicking and screaming. Shoving him to the ground, I jumped on him in my trusty saddle shoes and pounded a steady beat on his back until our mothers flew out the door railing at me to stop for the love of their God.
I was jerked off of him by Seamus’ mother berating me at the top of her lungs. She was insisting that I could have broken his back and paralyzed him. My mother was busy trying to fracture my own rear end with her vicious smacks and threatening me with that ominous curse, “Wait until your father gets home and hears about this.” The mothers arrived at a mutually agreed upon Order of Protection for Seamus that was put into place for some time which meant I was to have no contact with him in any way, shape, or form.
Eventually, Seamus and I dissolved the parental barrier between us and it was once more “game on”. That is until the coat room incident. Once more I am going to claim he was the instigator and I am sure then I fully believed he was. Now I am not entirely sure. I do know that at that point in my life and for quite some time to come, I was very much a raw nerve. As such I was extremely easy to mess with and mess with me he did.
So, we are with the rest of our class in the coat room one afternoon bustling around getting our things together in order to catch our respective buses on time. Somehow or another Seamus starts his spiel again. Somehow or another I rise to the occasion and start to spar with him again. The situation escalates with one ginger becoming more heated than another. The next thing I know I am pulling a chunk of flesh off of Seamus’ cheek. Then as I draw my elbow back from the force of it, I am falling backward into a coat cubby. I am pushing Linda with me whose glasses are the recipient of my elbow. Both she and Seamus are wailing over their injuries as am I over the trouble I am going to get into over this terrible mess.
Our teacher, Mr. Gardner, is very very tall and we all make fun of him behind his back because he looks like a giant while his name makes him sound like a lady who tends to flowers. I make that comment because I cry even harder thinking that Mr. Gardner knows I have made fun of him and also because his height is terrifying and these things combined with the fact that I have technically beat two kids up are adding up to me being in a colossal amount of trouble. The trouble I am accruing in school is absolutely miniscule compared to what I will experience when I get home and my stepfather discovers the events of the day.
I beg Mr. Gardner not to call my parents. I apologize eight ways to Sunday and claim it has all been an awful mistake. I express remorse on a level at which I never thought I was capable. The unthinkable happens and Mr. Gardner takes pity on me and doesn’t call my parents–something which would never happen nowadays. I am left with Linda who justifiably doesn’t speak to me again until high school and then she addresses me to tell me what a violent little redheaded jerk I was in elementary school. Seamus gives me the silent treatment for a few days. He is mainly angry because he lied to his mother about the source of his injury in order to protect me from repercussions. Forgiveness comes quick however because Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and we are, after all, redheads.
February 14th of third grade marks my first kiss by my first love. Seamus and I may have fought like idiots but we loved like fools as well. In not fighting on this romantical day, we walked hand in hand from the school bus, eating Be Mine candy hearts, and getting along delightfully. On impulse we stopped in the middle of the street and instead of hitting, kicking, biting, yelling, or any number of other aggressive acts, we reached for one another and slammed our sugar-stained lips together. It was a doozer of an embrace, one that only third grade gingers could find themselves locked in. We were disappointingly interrupted by a delivery truck honking it’s loud horn to inform us we were blocking the road.
I wish I could say this was the turning point of our relationship. However, it was one of a few lone glorious peaks in what would become a series of lower and lower valleys, ending in ultimate devastation for poor Seamus. For me, it was the foundation on which many a future relationship would dramatically be based.