it was in first grade, and just discovering the rewards of ‘flirting’ with the girls in my montessori class. a time when love and hate really were the same exact thing.
the ‘flirting’ consisted of ‘bothering’ them, of course, with the intention of attention.
one day, i ran over to the girl’s sandbox and poked meredith.
she was the teacher’s daughter, and therefor extremely desirable. she had blond curly hair and ruled the girls, in the way that the teacher’s daughter tends to do.
i poked meredith, and probably told her outright, “CHASE ME!”
oh, what i’d do for this kind of blunt confidence these days!
she chased me, of course, and we took off around the playground frantically screaming in that child-like excitment that causes hyperventilation and rosy cheeks. a few of the other girls followed suit and soon i was being chased by a pack of rabid female toddlers.
i was screaming (with glee). i was not watching where i was going.
i headed for the big tree in the corner of the playground, hoping to use it as an obstacle; maybe one or two of the girls would let up their pursuit in the face of a possible collision with low hanging branches, right?
or maybe i would turn my head at the last second to navigate between tree trunk and picket fence, in the same moment that a root poking up from the dirt playground floor would trip me, sending me face-first into a splitered wooden fence rung.
mouth agape with joy, tongue flailing in blissful elation.
the girls stopped in their tracks as i lay there, stunned and dirty.
my mouth burst into pain and i popped up off the dirt and pushed through my pursuers, screaming, crying over the choke of blood. holding my face as if my head might fall off.
i’ll never forget marching up to meredith’s mother, a red-headed mess of tears, dirt, and leaking blood…and the look on her face when she saw me.
a child destroyed.
she was understandably frantic.
i’d put a hole right through my tongue.
my little love-induced game of chase landed me in a rushed trip to the emergency room, where the horror-movie scream i let out when that anesthetic needle went into the flesh of my tongue caused my mother to faint. to simply fall over, out like a light.
the stitches were in for two weeks.
which makes for quite an irritable little kid, mind you.
these days, twenty odd years later, i can still feel the spot where i’d first pierced my tongue in the name of love…
…and it’s an eternal reminder that love will always drive you crazy, and in the meantime, you should probably watch where you’re going.