The boys I liked in eighth grade were all the same – blonde, all-American, slender. Athletic. Of average intelligence. Those boys usually went for their female counterparts, and as a buxom, dark, bookish, exotic looking girl, I was none of those things. Still, I hoped that if I wrote a lot in my journal and wished for some attention, I might get it.
The boys who did pay me attention were not boys I desired. Kevin McSorley was one of them – tall, brawny, missing a tooth. He ran with a rough crowd that was at the academic bottom. His hair was light brown and rarely combed. He wore t-shirts, even in the winter, and smoked cigarettes. He was vaguely dirty.
Kevin’s locker was next to mine. I dreaded running into him on days when no one else was around. He would push himself against me, and say in a low voice, “I’m going to rape you. Do you know what that means?”
I didn’t know what it meant – as an overprotected daughter of Armenian parents, I was the only kid in my seventh grade class the year before who was excused from having to take Sexual Education. My parents refused to sign the permission slip, which meant that once a week for a month, I had to be excused from science class to go sit in the Media Center.
“Rape,” he would say, looking down at my chest.
Now I was a girl who had a retort for everything, the way nerdy kids usually do – words are our recourse. But I couldn’t speak a word to Kevin McSorley. I would just look at him and try to see who he was seeing. I couldn’t even write about it in my diary, where I kept a record of everything that went on in my world. I couldn’t tell my parents about this, even though I was scared to death. Somehow, I thought if I did, even if they took action against this unwanted attention, they would blame me for it. I couldn’t be sure, but maybe Kevin McSorley was responding to something dark and nasty inside of me that I didn’t even know was there? I needed to keep this worry to myself.
Joan Capobianchi, Kevin’s girlfriend, hated me. She finagled a place behind me in line one day and announced in a loud voice that I was a “slut” who “stole her boyfriend”. Her friends glared. I whirled around to see that she was crying.
The last day of school came. I was thrilled and frightened – high school would come in the fall, and no more Kevin McSorley. But we had to clean out our lockers, which would give me prolonged time with Kevin.
I arrived at my locker late, hoping he’d be done. He was there, scooping everything out of his locker and into a gym bag. There was a lightness about him that I hadn’t seen before.
“You like the Beatles, right?” he said to me. It was true. Everybody knew that.
Kevin thrust an eight-track tape into my hand – “Percy Faith Plays the Beatles.” “For you”, he said, beaming.
“Thanks”, I said, and with that, he was gone.
I stared at the tape, my reward for a year’s worth of silence and fear. My family liked the Beatles, too. I could maybe share it with them, and say that I’d found it.
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