I couldn’t believe it. I was on the phone with Alfonso, the very mature-for-his-age guy in middle school who was so mature, in fact, that he actually had a mustache.
Every school had an Alfonso: The Guy Who Looked Like a Grown Man.
Alfonso was a year ahead of me, wasn’t particularly smart, and wasn’t especially nice, but he was gorgeous, knew how to dress, and was practically a man in a sea of what looked like little boys by comparison. When he swaggered through the school, he looked like Antonio Banderas visiting a kindergarten class.
And here he was – talking to me.
Girl who had never even kissed a boy or had a boyfriend me.
I was amazed I was able to stay conscious and didn’t just die right there clutching the receiver of my telephone in one hand and a yearbook with Alfonso’s picture encircled with a heart in the other.
My friend Jenny was in the same grade as Alfonso, and she had chatted him up in class that day and told him I had a crush on him. I wanted to kill her – and I would have killed her – had my phone not rang that night.
I picked it up, and a man’s voice said, “Hi, is…uhhh…Maggie? Is…uhhh…Maggie there?”
I don’t know how you can hear a mustache over the phone, but I totally heard his mustache over the phone.
I thought the pause before he said my name was because he was nervous. Looking back, I realize that the pause was because he was trying to remember my name. He probably had a clipboard next to his phone with a hundred girls’ names on it, and he had forgotten which one he was calling that night.
The fact that he then had to ask me what I looked like should have been another indication that he had no idea who I was. I chose to not acknowledge that in favor of believing he was a nervous wreck because he was, obviously, in love with me.
Everybody knew that boys in middle school acted aloof and weird when they liked you. I figured he must really like me if he couldn’t remember my name or what I looked like. This all made perfect sense to my 7th grade mind. Later, Jenny agreed with me.
Consensus: Alfonso was way, way into me.
My very brief phone call with Alfonso started with him not knowing who I was and ended with him asking me if I wanted to meet up at the movies on Saturday to go see Batman (the Michael Keaton one).
When I said yes, he said, “So you’ll be going doooown with that tongue, right girl?”
My face turned red. I thought, “Oh my god. Alfonso wants to kiss me!”
Sidebar: I’m sure kissing wasn’t exactly what he meant.
I just had to get dressed up for my big date, so Jenny walked with me to the nearby shopping plaza that Saturday morning to help me buy all the things that I needed.
I should clarify that the word “buy” is somewhat of a misnomer, as the plan was to steal every single item, seeing as we were both poor and had not a dime to our names.
Jenny and I were already accomplished thieves at that age, and we viewed shoplifting more as just “the way we shopped” than a crime. We’d go into the department store and layer on spandex leggings under our jeans in the blind spots of the dressing room, stuff eyeshadows into our socks, and slip nail polish bottles into our pockets with the grace of ballerinas. Criminal ballerinas.
I even developed a shoplifting method where I would go up to a register to buy something cheap while secretly palming a small expensive item in my hand, and when I would go to pay and reach into my purse for my wallet, I would drop the small expensive item into my purse as I pulled out my wallet. I got SO many packets of 24 karat-dipped nail charms at the beauty supply store that way that I actually ran out of fingernails to glue them to, so I started gluing them to my toenails, too.
After Jenny and I had stolen enough makeup that I felt I could adequately paint my face up for the big-tongue-makeout-date with Alfonso, we went into a drug store for one more thing. I eyed a bottle of perfume on the shelf, called Illegalé. Alfonso wouldn’t be able to resist…uhh…what was my name? Maggie! He wouldn’t be able to resist Maggie, or whoever he thought he had a date with that night, if she were wearing Illegalé.
After I slipped the bottle of perfume in my purse, Jenny decided she wanted one, too, and since I had the bigger purse, she slipped it into mine.
The store detective walked up to us within seconds, flashed a badge, and said, “I’m gonna need you two young ladies to come with me.”
Later that night, as I sat in my bedroom after being grounded for having been caught stealing perfume, after the humiliation of my mother having to come pick us up and the detective telling her I was banned from the store for life, after my mother telling me that she had never been so disappointed in her entire life that she had raised a thief, after taking the rap for both Jenny and I because Jenny’s mom would have literally beaten her ass if she had been busted, I cried.
I wasn’t going to be going dooooown with that tongue, right girl.
Alfonso didn’t even reschedule our date, he just moved to the next girl down the list.
And that’s how two bottles of Illegalé saved my 12-year old innocence.
And then a hero comes along…