In my second year of highschool, my home-room class was filled with many of the popular kids. I knew I didn’t really belong but it never really bothered me and they were pretty accepting anyway.
Just before the winter holiday, one of guys came up to me and exclaimed “you’re going to get an exciting letter in the mail over the holiday!”. It took some digging to work out what he meant by this cryptic remark.
One of the girls in our class fitted the cheerleader stereotype in that she was tall, thin, tanned, had long blonde hair and wanted to save the whales. Of course, she was considered rather desirable by all of the popular guys. Apparently she had let slip to some of these boys that she had a crush on someone in our year. Convinced that they each were the chosen one, they had all hassled and pleaded with her to divulge the identity of her crush.
Hoping to stop their badgering, she initially said that she would write a letter to the object of her affections over the holiday break. However, when they continued to pester her, she told them that I would be the lucky recipient of the letter.
This seemed pretty odd to me. As I said, I didn’t really fit in with the cool kids since I was happier to read books than watch Neighbours and discuss and dissect it with my classmates the next day. Moreover I had never thought about her romantically before. Indeed, throughout most of those years of highschool I was preoccupied by the cute, willowy girl with copper-coloured short hair, pale skin and a freckled nose from another class (we eventually were boyfriend and girlfriend on and off for most of the next three years — but that’s another story). However, the more I thought about Miss Cheerleader, the more the thought of being her boyfriend became an appealing prospect to my naive 14 year old mind.
So, leading up to that holiday break, my mind went over what this letter might contain. My always-active imagination went over every possible word and phrase that she might use to express her undying love for me (and of course this imaginary letter grew more profound and eloquent with each re-imagining).
Over the holidays, I religiously walked to the letterbox each day to see if her letter had arrived. As each day passed, I felt a little more uneasy that it hadn’t appeared. Was there a problem with the post? Letters don’t just go missing, right? Maybe she didn’t have my address? (I double-checked the phonebook to make sure that our address was listed correctly. It was.) After two weeks of anticipation and mounting fear that something had gone wrong had passed, the letter had not arrived and we were all due back at school. “Finally”, I thought, “at least I might get some answers.”
As it turned out, Miss Cheerleader had written and sent that letter. However I wasn’t the intended recipient. Instead, she had expressed her romantic desires to someone else. He was one of the cool kids: athletic, well-built, tanned and good at both cricket and football. Apparently I was a diversion to get the boys off her back so she could get on with her letter-writing in peace.
Naturally I was pretty crushed by this. I didn’t particularly feel like talking about it and no-one seemed willing to commiserate either. In fact, most of the parties involved (those who told me of the rumour and Miss Cheerleader herself) didn’t even acknowledge to me that it had happened. The only consolation was the fact they broke up a few weeks later (my snide theory at the time was that Mr Football had quickly exhausted his conversational abilities and she grown tired of him).
Many years later, I recounted this incident to a close friend who said that it was a really cruel thing for Miss Cheerleader to do. Strangely, I hadn’t even thought about it in that light before and I had never been angry at her at all. Perhaps part of me wanted to think that it was all some kind of mistake or that the letter had been misdirected?