Through elementary school and junior high school I fell madly in love with at least one girl a year. I never dated any of them, not until high school when girls suddenly became a very different kind of thing in my life. Love became much more confusing once it ceased to be an idle dream.
As for Stacy LeTota, the last time I saw her we were graduating seniors and complete strangers to each other. Around eighth or ninth grade the entire school had started splitting into "types," and the type you chose for yourself determined completely who you could hang out with. I hung out with the heads, but Stacy became a cheerleader, which meant we were essentially incompatible and could not even speak or say hello to each other.
I always thought Stacy screwed up her choice; she was much too soulful and gentle to make it in the cruel, status-hungry world of cheerleading. I'd see her across the cafeteria at lunch, timid and afraid among her louder, braver friends, and I'd know she was low-rung popular at best, a second-class citizen, the kind of girl who probably won't have a boyfriend at all till college, and then will probably end up dating an ugly guy with a doofy moustache who listens to Bryan Adams and doesn't appreciate her inner beauty one bit.
She and I never spoke, through all the years of high school. Once we passed close by each other near the cafeteria conveyor belt where we dumped our lunch trays, and I looked into her eyes to see if they were still beautiful. They were. But puberty hadn't been kind to her face : her lips were tight-knit and quivery, her expression frightened and defensive. Her cheeks were a lurid pepto-bismol pink from the makeup she needed to cover her nervous eruptions of acne. At that moment I wished I could take her in my arms and kiss her, just break the social barriers and shock everybody. We could run away together. I guess it was my last dream about Stacy LeTota.