Love, Hate, And
President Of Fifth Grade

Savannah Lynn

© Copyright 2004 by Savannah Lynn


Photo of a sign that says, Beware Of Birds In Trees. (c) 2004 by Richard Loller

The author, unfortunately, still doesn't have the best luck with men. She blames this on the events described in the story.

Puberty introduces itself to girls when their hands are still reckless from toy-handling. No method exists for them to practice at love and hate before actually feeling either. The heat of these passions burns not with direction, but with intensity. That is the problem with being eleven: that stage in a girl’s life when she thinks she must fling her new-found attractions on a target of the male gender as quickly as possible. Feelings become pretty new dresses. I once tested how they hung on me, how the brushing of the cotton felt against my legs (which I began to shave long before the need arose). These twirling endeavors did not go on long, however, before I tripped.

In fifth grade I ran for president of my class; in the process, I learned how small a twist it takes to turn love into hate. I mistook a passionate obsession for love because scrawling “I love John” exempts a much more attractive appearance than “I passionately obsess over John” when scrawled upon one’s diary. (This particular boy had a much less anonymous name than John, of course, but the author will call him that to avoid his direct embarrassment by association). Convincing oneself that one displays unfathomable stupidity in the name of love becomes much more appealing and romantic than accepting responsibility for unrequited fixation. The fact that I blamed obsession on love could also be justified by the fact that in fifth grade I possessed no ability to discern between the two. My passions were pink, raw, swollen, blind little fetuses of feelings.

I spent a pathetic amount of time obsessing over John. Half of this time was spent attempting to figure out the perimeters of my new desires and the other half was spent embellishing his features, such as turning his lanky boyform into the “lithe, spritely structure of a young, tawny fawn”. I would rather not admit to calling his phone number just to hear his voice and promptly hang up, but, regretfully, the ease with which that action would have fit into my other equally disgusting endeavors disturbs me.

John fit into the time line of my obsessions with members of the male gender as neither first nor last, but as the one who caused me the most anguish. He single-handedly managed the task by deciding to run against me for class president. His disposition matched the willowy nature of his body frame, detached and unconcerned, so I cannot imagine what might have suddenly motivated him to assume a position of authority and responsibility in a classroom. In any case, I could not effectively love him and run against him at the same time, so my resolve to hate him began. The ease with which I did this surprised me, along with confusing the friends who knew how endlessly and devotedly I had once loved him. Nonetheless, the steep change of emotion toward him changed from love to hate with the abruptness and fluidity of a teenager detesting the mother she had once cried to go home to on the first day of school. My passion never once diminished; I simply scowled at him in place of former dreamy gazes.

Unfortunately, my display of loathing became unappealing to my classmates. I did not realize that exhibiting such passion equated to publicly declaring my love for him. Whether negative or positive, peeling back my epidermis and showing that throb of feeling exposed a flaw. But he accepted my hate the same way he accepted my love, with indifference and some amusement.

My friends turned on me. My teacher, who had adopted me as her pet, turned on me. I had turned myself inside out and became a hate-colored monster. Of course, no one wanted such insanity leading the class in a position of importance. Everyone mistook my aggression as a hidden competitive nature; wanting so desperately to win crosses the line from motivation to narcissism. The likelihood of my winning became, perhaps, Hitler’s likelihood of defeating Ghandi.

I lost, in more ways than one. John went on to become a wonderful president and the boyfriend of one of my best friends. I reacted in the way that most eleven-year-old girls react to boy-induced heartbreak, by crying, moping, and feeling less like a girl in general. Some time passed before I was able to put on another dress and slowly turn in it, like a carousel rusted in the joints by time, but in that careful pace I had time to see myself in the mirror. When this happens, a girl wonders why she needed a boy to love her in the first place.

Savannah is an eighteen-year-old student at Berry College, living in northwest Georgia. She has had short fiction and poetry published in The Mid-South Review and Red River Review, respectively.

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