Messy, curly, flopping hair, tanned, under developed muscles and an overdeveloped sense of humor, a crooked, but genuine smile, tall, dark, and handsome…. he smiled at me in the Hudson High School hallway in 1984 and it was everything a 14 year old geek girl needed to turn the smile into a lifelong crush. The mother of all crushes. The only crush.
Me: 14-year-old geek a la Molly Ringwald in sixteen candles and a Seventeen magazine subscriber. They had an article on how to make your crush fall in love with you through elaborate baking; the article provided an array of complicated dessert recipes, six in all to choose from. I REALLY wanted David Appleby to fall in love with me, so I made all six. More is more, right?
Mini cherry cheesecakes, mini pecan pies, mini dark chocolate brownies, mini apple pear tarts, m
ini seven layer bars, and mini lemon bars. Apparently, mini was the key in Seventeen magazine, mini desserts and mini model bodies. Mini, I was not. (I was a lot of things, but mini was not one of them.)
I decorated a shoebox with silver and red foil doilies, pink glitter, and magenta valentine stickers; a red and pink and sparking container to try and contain all of my love for David Appleby. Impossible.
My grandfather, a 67-year-old Presbyterian minister, was staying with us in Ohio and going to Cleveland Clinic for chemotherapy. He watched me follow the recipes and sat there smiling and amused. I told him that I loved David Appleby and I needed him to drive me over to
his house so that I could give him
his valentine and he would love me. My grandpa said, "Get in the car.".
He drove me over to David Appleby's house. What I was not prepared for was David Appleby himself to be outside.
Playing basketball with all of the other popular seniors.
I freaked out, asking my grandpa to drive away...to just go! I did not want to be seen, such a lowly geeky chubby freshman girl, by the eyes of the popular and the shirtless!
He pulled down David Appleby’s street to the end of the cul de sac where we held an emergency conference. I wanted him to drive away and just take me home, unable to bear it. Face to face contact with such a perfect being was not in my 14 year old geeky girl make up. I was not prepared for this! A fluke in the plan, and even other popular boys to possibly witness my geekiness, I could not bear it. We must go home.
My grandpa refused and tried to talk me into it, "C’mon! You went to all of this trouble for him! He will be flattered! I would have loved it if a pretty girl made me so many treats! And with such love! You simply MUST go up there and give it to him! It will make his day!”
He told me that I was just as good as everybody out there, that the other boys would be jealous, that they would be so lucky to have a valentine as sweet as his granddaughter. My poor grandfather did not understand the complexities of high school popularity and its impermeable caste system. But we had already been seen!
Already spotted! Now it might be too weird to back out. I decided I would make a run for the front door and try to go undetected by the shirtless popular testosterone mob playing basketball outside on the side of the house in the driveway. I would leave them on the front door step and speed back to the waiting car, as to prevent any uncomfortable face-to-face contact. We covered the plan swiftly and thoroughly.
I made a run for it, holding the bursting valentine box and trailing pink glitter behind me as I ran! I got to the door and was just about to leave the box there on the doorstep, when the door flew open and the woman who produced such a perfect human being as David Appleby started shrieking "How nice!!! David! DAVID!!!! You have company! You have a visitor! Come here! A girl is here! And she brought you something!!!!!!!!!!"
I panicked, I ran, I flew back to the car as if being chased by a man with a hook for an arm! And just like in the scary movies, I jumped in, locked the door, and screamed, "GO! GO! GO!!!!!!!" to the driver, my grandpa, and....
The car wouldn't start, that stupid Datsun 5-10 wasn't turning over! And I could feeeeeel David Appleby coming! The man with the hook! My crush! Coming straight for the car! My grandpa got caught up in my frantic screaming to “Go! Go! Go!” and so once the car turned over he floored the pedal and we peeled out of there so fast that my grandpa actually did a burn out!
Once we narrowly escaped and we got away, he pulled over to the side of the road and laughed so hard he was crying. He could not stop laughing, and neither could I. We held each other and laughed and cried and could not catch our breath! It was fun and scary and exciting and exhilarating, what a rush!
I did it! I actually told my supercrush, the most perfect of all perfect David Appleby, that I liked him. So, I did it through six kinds of baked goods. But nothing says, "I have a big ole fat crush on a high school senior” like six different kinds of mini desserts, right?!...Left for you on your front porch by a hysterical freshman geek and her Presbyterian grandfather.
It wasn't until much later that I realized that the true love story was with my grandfather, of course. That was to be his last Valentine's Day. That every Valentine's Day since I have thought of him, remembered him, and loved him. And have missed him terribly. That is the thing about last times; you never know it is going to be the last. You would have appreciated it so much more, savored it so much more, been present so much more, right?
But that's the thing with grandpas, you don't have to MAKE them love you.
Seventeen magazine doesn't have any articles about how to make your grandpa love you, because he just does, because you are just you. And really, isn't that the real secret to making any boy (or any person) fall in love with you, by just being you?! I guess six kinds of mini desserts can't hurt, but that's just the cherry on top.
And as for David Appleby, the last I heard, he was an ophthalmologist in Dayton. I wonder about him from time to time...when he does the glaucoma eye blow thing, do his patients tremble and want to kiss him? Is he bald now? Is he divorced? Does he know that somewhere on the planet is a girl who will always think of him as perfect? And wonderful? And beautiful?
And so this is a love story, but not only about a cute popular boy without a shirt on, but about the love of a 67 year old Presbyterian minister who did a burnout in front of that boy's house
for his fourteen year old granddaughter on Valentine's Day. He was the real love of my life, my true sweetheart, and I only wish I had him here this Valentine's Day so that I could make him six kinds of mini desserts and leave them in a sparkling pink shoebox outside of his front door.
Christine Scott-Hudson is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Marriage and Family Therapist, Registered Art Therapist, and Certified Somatic Therapist. She is also the owner of Create Your Life Studio, a private psychotherapy practice and art therapy studio for women and girls in Santa Barbara. Christine is a feminist, trauma-informed psychology writer and a Creative Wellness Expert. She wrote the books, “150 Holiday Self-Care Activities; 150 ways to radically care for your body, mind, and soul,” “Italian Christmas Cookies,” “I LOVE MYSELF; Affirmations for a happy life,” and “Write With Yourself; Expressive Writing Journal Prompts For Self Care.”
Christine’s motto is “Know your worth. Know your value. Create your life.” She helps women and girls discover their real worth and value through psychotherapy, creative expression, and the healing power of art. She lives in beautiful Santa Barbara, California with her sweet husband and their two comical rescue dogs, who deeply appreciate her cooking hobby.