Her name was Leesa. I think that's how it was spelled. She was nice.
I have no idea why she, of all people, popped into my head tonight as I sat on my swing and watched in vain for any signs of an approaching storm.
Leesa was not a popular girl when we were in elementary school. Not by any stretch of the imagination. She was overweight. She wasn't very pretty. She was way smarter than everyone else.
I think it was third grade, when they started torturing us at school, By making us square dance. With girls.
Third grade is probably about right. By then I'd already been screwed over by whores twice in my life. The first time it was Jackie, who professed her love for me one day, and the next day taunted me from the lap of my best friend Kevin. The second time was Kristie, who was so torn by the parallel advances of me and my friend Mike that she broke both of our hearts by holding hands with another guy on the playground.
See, me and whores, we go way back.
Leesa was, as I said, not a popular girl. She was pretty much the opposite of popular. And it didn't help matters that, two or three times a year, her mother would storm her way onto the school bus and yell at all of us for picking on Leesa and making her cry.
I never made Leesa cry.
I was a good kid. I really was. I was never one of those boys who'd pick on a girl because everyone else was doing it.
Starting in like the third grade, and continuing though the sixth grade, they made us square dance. Just every now and then. Maybe three or four times a year. Any more than that, and there'd have been a riot, I'm sure.
So starting in third grade, instead of gym class, sometimes they'd make us square dance. With girls.
The first time, it all happened so quickly. The teacher said to find a partner, and *hocus-pocus* everyone had a partner. Everyone except for me and Leesa. And then, instead of letting us kill ourselves for being the last ones left, the teacher made us dance together. With. Each. Other.
She didn't give me cooties.
She didn't make fun of how bad a dancer I was.
She ignored the giggles of everyone around us as we twisted and twirled as the caller commanded.
She had such a quiet grace about her. Not a physical grace. None of us had that at that young age. But she had a calmness about her. It was only when the teasing overwhelmed her that she ever seemed to notice it at all.
She was nice to me, and in return, I was nice to her.
For the next three or four years, every now and then, they'd make us do square dancing instead of regular gym class. And for the next three or four years, I never wasted a second picking my partner.
It was always Leesa.
I don't remember ever seeing her in junior high or high school. She was probably there - we just didn't share any classes. I haven't thought about her in thirty years. But she popped into my head tonight, when I was watching for a storm that never came, and thinking about what I really wanted in a woman.
I hope she's had a happy life.