Mandy

I still say it with a sense of reverence: “Mandy.”

Fourth grade at Olney Elementary was the best. I finally felt at home in Maryland.

Our teacher, Mrs. Husman, was cool; she brought in music (Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy,” to which she let us dance! In class! It would’ve looked like this) and she appreciated writing and all kinds of expression.

We even published a “class book,” filled with our poems, drawings and even got to choose covers for the final printed and collated books.

I was truly in heaven.

Then there was Mandy.

She was Jay Wickman’s sister, Jay being one of Sam Nesbitt’s best friends, who eventually became my best friend. Sam’s dad was a banker or lawyer or something like that. Our parents drove us around and we were guests in each others’ houses.

Memory is a fuzzy thing, but I’m fairly certain the Wickmans lived just down the street from the Nesbitts, so between hanging out with Sam and Jay, I’m sure I often saw Mandy. And she was in Mrs. Husman’s class with me. I always felt shy around her, since she was so outgoing and confident.

So how in hell did she become my girlfriend in 1969?

Apparently she told the girls in our class that if she wanted a boyfriend it had to be me—me! The news got back to me circuitously. We hadn’t said maybe two words to each other, but she had noticed me.

How could I have not noticed her? She was the most popular girl in class. What was this about? Were we supposed to be together?

Have to back up a bit here, because I’d had at least two girlfriends before Mandy.

To my memory, the first was a brunette in plaid skirts named Tonya Gebbake. Tonya came to my birthday party at a movie theater (John Gottschalk brought his “girlfriend,” and my brother Brian and some Alyward kids were also there). She was lovely and we smooched in the backseat of my parents’ station wagon—something for which my brother teased me endlessly. Sad then, but happy to remember it now. He was always a slow learner about so many things.

After Tonya was another girlfriend named Tara. All I remember about Tara is that she wore earrings. Fascinated the hell out of me. So I wanted to kiss her. When I sat with her at the school play, she let me kiss her.

That about sums that up.

Mandy was different. If I stop for a moment, I can still hear her raspy laugh; she was a tomboy.

She loved the Baltimore Colts and rooted for them over the more popular Washington Redskins. She was a real leader; all the other girls looked to her (maybe why she’s in the center of the class photo below? I’m just left of the class plaque on the floor, next to Wesley in the blue shirt and David Fuchs with the nerdy black-rimmed glasses on the right).

Mandy the tomboy. Green yarn pulling back her pigtails. Her snarky smile. Angular jaw and confident gaze.

Mandy who picks out this guy in the class and makes him her boyfriend.

So we went to a class play and, as boyfriend and girlfriend, I think we held hands.

At one point I was over at the Wickman’s watching a football game with Mandy and again we were holding hands.

That was it. I don’t recall ever kissing Mandy Wickman. Is that a regret? Maybe. Did we break up? It was more like that mutual disinterest kids always have when the shine wears off things. After 1970, we all moved on to the middle school.

The biggest takeaway is how my first real love came at a time when I was contented and productive in my creative life and schoolwork.

That’s probably the biggest lesson of all: love what you do and other good things will gravitate to you.

Ah, Mandy. You were possibly the first real love I ever had, since your smile still makes me happy.

Where are you now? Are you happy with how your life has turned out?

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~ by completelyinthedark on November 22, 2010.

One Response to “Mandy”

  1. That’s an awesome photo

    Liked by 1 person

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