I was a strange child (I still am, but people keep reminding me that I’m supposed to be an adult now). I don’t know why I’m thinking of this story now, but it’s in my head and I can either write about it or have stroke, so here goes:
The very first crush I had was when I was in first grade. I think the boy’s name started with a D, like Daniel or David, but I’m not entirely sure. For the purposes of this blog, he will be referred to as Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder was, in my mind, the sweetest, funniest, and smartest boy in the entire universe.
He was also in a wheelchair.
I was extremely shy as a kid and I don’t think I ever told anyone that I liked him. I probably didn’t understand what was happening well enough to put into words. All I knew was, I really enjoyed talking to him. And being near him. And staring at him when no one was looking.
But as much as I liked him, I, with all of my worldly first grade experience, was at a loss as to how to take our relationship to the next level.
And then the Lion King happened.
I’m told that it was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I remember having a lot of Lion King themed toys and I remember singing the songs, but the thing I remember the best was a Christmas present I got the year the movie came out. Some well-meaning person (I can’t for the life of me remember who it was) thought it would be a good idea to give me a pair of stuffed animals. They were Simba and Nala, and they had magnets in their noses so that one could put them together to make it look like they were kissing. A cute idea, I suppose, but the “Awww, look, they love each other” aspect took an immediate backseat to, “Holy shit, I have MAGNETS!”
I’ve always liked science, and at that age I knew that you could use a magnet to temporarily magnetize other metals. Also, magnets stick to stuff. I stuck those lions to EVERYTHING. For my six year old brain, the greatest joy on earth came from sticking a pair of lions to the refrigerator. And the towel rack in the bathroom. And my dad’s keyring. Every time I discovered a new metal thing that I could stick my lions to, I went nuts with it. I thought it was a hilarious prank to take my dad’s work tools, magnetize them with the stuffed lions, and then stick a bunch of my mom’s paper clips to them before putting them back where they belonged. I was a menace.
I grew into the habit of taking the stuffed lions with me wherever I went. So, when school started again, my lions went too.
In my cunning, flirtatious way I discovered that my lions could stick to Rolling Thunder’s wheelchair. I think I harassed that poor boy enough for him to have developed a stuffed lion phobia. A few times I tried to discreetly magnetize the handlebars of his wheelchair, but he always caught me.
Rolling Thunder: “Why are you rubbing that lion on my wheelchair?”
Me, age 6: “Because I love you.”
I remember that he could move his legs a little, and he wore these big metal braces on his legs to help him get around when he wasn’t using his chair. During story time all the students would sit together on the carpet, including Rolling Thunder. At every chance I could, I sat near him and stuck my lions to his leg braces. Sometimes, when I was feeling really affectionate, I would pretend like the lions were mauling him. I would say things like, “Oh no! The lions are ripping your legs apart!” and I would proceed to make the goriest, leg-rippingest sounds that a human child is capable of making.
This often resulted in the confiscation of my lions.
Surprisingly, Rolling Thunder did not want to take our relationship to the next level. At that age I sure as hell didn’t know what that meant, but I think Rolling Thunder thought it might involve real lions.