Being skinny was the bane of my fourth grade existence. There wasn’t an ounce of meat on my hips, so wearing skirts was out of the question since nothing prevented them from ending up around my ankles. Oh, and my ankles; they were pointed and sharp, had no muscle to make them strong, and were frail as matchsticks. I tried skating, but those weak joints slipped back and forth under the weight of my body too easily--I careened all over the place—no control. In a word: pathetic.
My most embarrassing moments came in gym class, as you can imagine. There was nothing worse than being picked last. It wasn’t that my classmates didn’t like me; they liked me fine, but mostly in science and math class where my skinny body didn’t matter because of the brain power stored in my thin little head.
Boys were just beginning to get my attention and I had a tiny crush on a kid named Michael Wright. He was smart, funny, and, get this: athletic. Wow. I thought I was pretty much in like with him.
Mr. Hamilton divided us into two teams and, thank goodness, he had us count off by twos. I joined my team and clasped hands with the girls on either side of me.
“Red rover, red rover, let Timmy come over!” we chanted.
Timmy Walpole was a fast, but annoying, kid who loved to break the grips of the best looking girls first. I knew he wouldn’t zero in on me, so I relaxed. Timmy ran and jumped onto the clasp of Allie Conrad and Doris Belks. They squealed and Timmy hung in the air on their arms, but the grasp held. Yay! We won the point!
Next up: my crush. Wow. I held tight to my partner as Michael looked the line over. His eyes seemed to hold infra-red powers, able to zoom in on weak links, and before I knew what was happening, he pointed to me and yelled, “I’m gonna break through Skinny Minnie Olive Oyl’s grip!”
The whole group laughed. Barbie Clark laughed so hard she collapsed on the floor. She was hamming it up because she liked Michael, too. I shot her a look of pure disdain, but I hardly had time to get prepared before Michael was flying across the room full-tilt. His arms and body slammed into my and Tammy’s link like a freight train. I actually thought I heard my skinny wrist snap. Tammy screamed, and before I could stop her, she let go!
What’d you do that for?” I yelled. “We could’a held on and he wouldn’t have the point. Man!”
“Aww, shut up,” Michael laughed as he sauntered back to his team. “You’re too weak to have a single muscle on your whole body, Skinny Minnie Olive Oyl.”
My face turned all shades of red, and I took off across no man’s land like a tornado. I lit into Michael with both tiny fists, and used my scrawny, knobby knees as secondary weapons. My sharp ankle bones scraped the hide right off his shins, and he yelped and tried to hold me away from him with both hands. But I found out that fighting Michael was the worst thing I could have done. The kids crowded around and shouted over and over again, “Skinny Minnie Olive Oyl…Skinny Minnie Olive Oyl…”
Finally, Mr. Hamilton broke it up, and I was sorry to see a smile on his face, too. Mr. Hamilton made me and Michael hit the locker-room first. No more fun for us, I guess. As we headed down the hall, Michael looked at me out of the corner of his eye and smiled.
“What’s so funny?” I demanded.
“Oh yeah? One more peep about that Olive Oyl thing—“
“Hey! I didn’t mean it in a bad way. “
“No, really. I LIKE Olive Oyl. She’s girlfriends with the strongest man on earth.”
“Really. I wondered…what about you?”
“You wanna be the girlfriend of the strongest kid in this school?”
I snorted. “No.”
Michael’s face turned redder than mine had and he sniffed. He didn’t say another word to me the rest of the year, and, gradually, the horrid nickname died away, along with the flame of my first crush. It took my thin-headed “power” brain two years to know what Michael was REALLY trying to say. Boys…go figure.
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