Hard Candy

Prompt: Third Rate Romance
Tell us your funniest relationship disaster story [or other story].

Princess wedding

My Boy Friends

Before I started primary school, my two best friends were boys. One was called Stephen and the other was called Ian. Stephen lived up the street, and Ian lived down the street. They weren’t friends with each other.

Stephen had a younger brother named Alan, who was clearly their mother’s favourite. Alan was the neighbourhood terror, but was always forgiven. Stephen, pale and freckled, could do nothing right. I remember once, and this is a terrible memory, when Stephen’s mother was yelling at him because he hadn’t tied his shoes properly. She said, “Fluffy can tie her shoes, why can’t you? Show him, Fluffy, how you tie your shoes.” So I obediently untied my shoes, and then tied them again, mortified that I had betrayed my friend.

Stephen and I used to play a game called “Here comes the bride”. We’d cut masses of snowball viburnum, which grew abundantly in the back lane, and use them as the bouquet. Sometimes we’d add a wreath of flowers for the bride’s head. Then we would take turns being the bride and walk down the aisle.

Stephen, it turned out was transgender. He worked most of his life trying to save money for the transition and operations. Stephen never did “become” a woman because she died of AIDS in the 1980s.

Ian’s family included his grandfather, who lived in the same small house with Ian, his siblings, and their parents. He was the oldest man I ever saw, and had the baggiest pants. Ian and I played boy-type games, running and fighting and climbing and exploring. We were kind of sweet on each other.

On the first day of grade one, my mother took me to school. On the second day, I walked to school with Ian. Ian’s grandfather had given him some candies that looked just like pebbles or rocks that you would find on the street. Ian, of course, shared them with me. I pretended to eat them and said “yummy” but they didn’t pass my lips. They looked too much like rocks.

On the tenth day of school, someone asked me if Ian was my boyfriend. I laughed and said no. After school, Ian chased me home with the full intention of beating me up if he caught me. Fortunately, I was a faster sprinter than Ian.

So we never spoke again, until my high school graduation. After all the ceremonies and parties, I finally arrived home close to dawn, and was walking up the stairs (still in my grad gown) to the front door. I heard Ian call to me from under the steps. I went down and met him, and we talked for a couple of hours, about all the things we’d done, and all the things we planned to do.

I haven’t seen Ian since.


True stories.


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