Today we have the fabulous Cyn Balog here to tell us about her high school memory. This is a really good one so check it out!
It’s funny how those two words can bring back every positive memory from my hellish high school years. It was a time when my chances of landing a modeling contract or a stint on The Real World were zilch, and I was finally facing up to the fact that after six years of lessons and constant practice, I’d never be a world-famous musician. My grades and PSATs were in the toilet, I had only one so-called friend that affectionately nicknamed me “Big Nose”, and the only positive thing my teachers had to say about me at Parents’ Night was “Cyn certainly keeps a very clean desk.” Contrary to what the dentured population thinks, it wasn’t the best four years of my life.
But it improved immensely with those four perfect words.
Tu eres muy bonita. They were spoken by someone with two enormous brown eyes, eyes that launched ships and sparked five-alarm blazes, simply by sheer intensity. That’s why I knew he was speaking to me, pathetic fourth clarinetist, and not the well-endowed flutist at the next stand. Because those giant eyes ignited some raging fire, a fire that made little ol’ me blush like a cartoon character on hot sauce.
My first reaction was, “Yeah. Right.” I didn’t actually say that, because those eyes also made my vocal capacities wither, break off, and settle in the pit of my stomach like rotting flower petals. I didn’t say anything at all— Just turned back to my “Theme from Rocky” sheet music and moistened a new reed with my tongue.
Of course, as I navigated painfully through the first few bars, squawking and screeching like the great Indian chief Wounded Seagull, all I could think about were those four words. First-year Spanish fodder, for sure. Meant to impress me? Nah. The only time anyone tried to do that was when my two-year old cousin showed me his backside. Meant to compliment me? No way . . . no one throws praise my way, just as no one wears a meat necklace in a cage of rabid pit bulls.
Suddenly, it hit me. I finished a B flat trill that sounded like the wail of something infected with mad cow disease, and looked over my shoulder. Not really at the fledgling Juan Valdez, but at his giant tympani drum. “What I think you meant to say,” I offered helpfully, my voice quivering, “Was ‘Tu eres muy fea.’ ‘Bonita’ means beautiful.”
I didn’t look directly at his smile, because it would have blinded me. He steadied the vibrating drum and leaned over it, twirling the drumstick elegantly in his hand. “Then I got it right the first time,” he said.
Okay, so what, exactly, did that mean? At the end of class, as I struggled to dissemble my clarinet, I wondered if it meant he was soon going to utter another phrase that was equally foreign to my ears: “Will you go out with me?” My palms desperately needed a dose of Speed Stick. I mean, John Jones was popular! And Cyn Balog was, well, an amoebae on the JP Stevens High School Popularity Food Chain. The last time a boy expressed any interest in little ol’ Cyn Balog was in second grade, and even then it was because she was offering up her Twinkie, since she had a stomach virus and didn’t feel much like dessert. There were a thousand thoughts in my head, all jumbled up like a giant find-a-word puzzle. The “CYN IS A BIG UGLY COW” graffiti that I found in a bathroom stall a week earlier. Scenes from the Brady Bunch episode where Jan invents a boyfriend named George Glass. Glimpses of my sparkling future as a lonely spinster goat-herder in Spooktuk, Wyoming. When John Jones finally tapped me on the shoulder, I was somewhere north of OZ.
There was a multitude of ways in which Cyn Balog could have lost her cool, completely blown it. She didn’t get the nickname “Cow With a Gun” in her third grade gymnastics class for nothing, right? But no! Cyn Balog didn’t screw up this time. She got a hold of herself. She stood up, looked him straight in the eye, and said, “John, Dahling. Let’s do lunch.” And he said, “Fantastic!” They went out, had a great time, became a couple, got married, had children, and moved to a villa in Spain, where he tells her “Tu eres muy bonita” all the time now. All her problems went away. Even her acne cleared up.
Okay, maybe not.
Sigh. Tu eres muy bonita, Cyn! Villa in Spain or not. 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a great story with us! For those of you who want to know more about Cyn, you can check out her website here. Don’t forget to read her fabulous books ‘Fairy Tale’ and ‘Sleepless’, both of which you can get at your local bookstore. Thanks again for stopping by!