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The sword is mightier than the pen, pal

When I was in fifth grade, our class did a penpal exchange with a school in Texas. They tried to match boys up with boys and girls with girls (because the opposite sex was, at that time, ostensibly still cootie-ridden), but the numbers didn't match up quite exactly. So I got matched up with a boy.

And did I get matched up with a good-looking boy with common interests to make up for it? No. They sent us their class picture with the letters and mine was the nerdy-looking one, front and center, sitting cross-legged in such a way that it looked like he was going to use his knees as wings and fly away. I don't remember now what his interests were, but I know they didn't match up with mine at all. I believe he didn't even like reading. I was annoyed enough to have to correspond with a boy, but why him? Although I've forgotten his real name, I shall never forget that his nickname... was Smiley.

He was dubbed, with typical 5th grade wit, Smiley Butterfly Idiot. I've never participated in penpal exchanges since. Wouldn't it be nice if the story ended there?

Yes. Yes, it would. The summer before my senior year in high school, the phone rang. It was a boy, which was quite unusual. I had no idea who it could be.

"This is Smiley," he said, as though we were best friends and he called every day and I should automatically know who he was.

"Smiley? Smiley?" I was confused, but it was beginning to dawn on me. You really don't meet a lot of Smileys.

"Yeah, we were penpals in 5th grade. So what are you up to?"

"Up to?"

"Yeah. You still like to read?"

He talked to me for about half an hour. I was petrified and rather disgusted the whole time and just wanted it to be over. What kind of person calls up an old fifth-grade penpal that they never corresponded with beyond the mandatory in-class letters? And asks them what's new in their life? Out of the blue? Why did he still remember me? Why did he still have my phone number?

Somehow he came up in conversation the other day and it occurs to me that I'm still living here, where he knows the number. Is he just going to call every eight years for an update? Hopefully by 2006 I'll be long gone.

srah - Thursday, 4 September 2003 - 4:35 PM

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Comments (18)

gravatar katie - September 4, 2003 - 7:13 PM -

Hee hee. I like this post.

gravatar alfie - September 4, 2003 - 7:54 PM -

You get all the weird phone calls. *jealous*

gravatar srah - September 4, 2003 - 8:11 PM -

Don't be.

gravatar Somewhat - September 4, 2003 - 8:14 PM -

That's just all kinds of freaky and creepy.

gravatar Erica - September 4, 2003 - 8:52 PM -

What do you expect from someone named Smiley?

gravatar Jezzles - September 5, 2003 - 4:34 AM -

Fast forward to 2060. Srah is in a rest home for the terminally confused. An orderly comes up to her: "There's a phone call for you. Somebody by the name of Smiley..."

gravatar Mr. Hibbity Gibbity - September 5, 2003 - 7:32 AM -

Hmmmm, maybe he's related to Bill Gates though.

Actually . . . that's kind of sweet. Who knows, maybe he's grown out of his 'geekiness'.

It could happen.

gravatar srah - September 5, 2003 - 7:39 AM -

He certainly hadn't by 18...

gravatar katie - September 5, 2003 - 8:40 AM -

Perhaps he 'bloomed' in college. Now he's a hunk, who has learned to love books and language and travel, and wining and dining his luvuh. He's also a successful doctor who makes lots of money, has digital cable, and a villa in Provence.

He's just waiting for you to accept him.

gravatar Jezzles - September 5, 2003 - 8:49 AM -

You're sure it was "Smiley"? Maybe you misheard, and it was actually "Slimey".

gravatar katie - September 5, 2003 - 8:58 AM -

Or "Smelly".

Maybe it was "Smoochy". Oooooh!

This is like a bad dream crossing aliteration with the seven dwarves.

gravatar Mr. Hibbity Gibbity - September 5, 2003 - 9:42 AM -

How 'bout Smarmy?

gravatar katie - September 5, 2003 - 9:56 AM -

Or 'Smirky'.

gravatar Mr. Hibbity Gibbity - September 5, 2003 - 10:24 AM -

Or . . . nevermind.

hmmmm, Smeady!

gravatar Jezzles - September 5, 2003 - 10:58 AM -

Sminky. Or is 'smink' just a verb invented by Paul McCartney?

gravatar richard - September 5, 2003 - 11:53 AM -


gravatar srah - September 5, 2003 - 12:55 PM -

Sméagol. And I don't think he went to college.

gravatar Cheryl - September 5, 2003 - 4:18 PM -

How come I never knew he called you?!?

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