The first girl I can remember having a crush on was Courtney Fiegenbaum (not her real name) in the first grade. Seeing as this was about thirty years ago, I don’t remember much about her. I do remember that she had a twin brother and he was in my class. Ask me now what she looked like and I couldn’t tell you much. She was blonde. That much I remember.
I knew I really liked Courtney. One day I tried to call her. It seemed like the thing to do when you liked someone. The only thing was that I didn’t have her phone number. I thought I knew at least some of it, so I just started dialing numbers that sounded right. Trying to sound as gentlemanly as possible, whenever the person on the other side answered, I asked, “Is this the Fiegenbaum residence?”
Call after call, I was continually told that I had the wrong number. But I kept calling and kept asking, “Is this the Fiegenbaum residence?” Even when I got businesses (that would say the name of their company when answering,) I would still ask the same question.
I eventually gave up after no one ever responded with a yes. This was probably a good thing because I never thought of what I’d say after that first question.
My parents knew about my feelings for this particular girl and like any loving parents would, they wanted to help out. Now, I don’t remember if it was a suggestion from my mother herself or if I knew about it from something else, but the certain holiday of May Day was brought up.
I don’t know if this particular aspect of the holiday is actually practiced much (if at all), but at some point, May Day was explained to me as a day when one would get or make a gift for someone and then deliver said gift anonymously on that person’s front porch. So together with my mother, flowers were purchased and placed in one of her vases. I think some candy or other such treat was included as well. And then with the help of the phone book (an invention that probably would have proved useful during my previous attempt at locating the Fiegenbaum residence by phone), we drove to her house. While my mom waited in the car, I slowly approached the door, placed the gift on her porch, rang the bell, and ran away without looking back.
While of course I wanted her to enjoy the gift, I also learned that professing one’s love anonymously isn’t much fun when she’d never know who was actually doing the professing. Courtney never asked about those flowers and my mom never got her vase back. I do know it was the right house, though. More on that later.
My best friend at this time was named Ben. I don’t remember much about what sparked our friendship, but at that age, I don’t think much is very logical. It probably boiled down to the fact that he had an Atari.
Ben found out about my feelings for Courtney at some point (probably because I told him) and he let me know that he liked her as well. Now, I honestly don’t remember if the following happened before the phone experiment and flower delivery, but knowing the person I became after, it was probably before.
Anyway, Ben and I both knew that best friends couldn’t start competing for the same girl, so we would have to ask her to decide. We went to Courtney during recess and asked her if presented with a choice between Ben and Chris, who would she choose?
It didn’t take long for her response.
Her choice was Ben. Her reasoning wasn’t anything all that elaborate. I think she said it was because he was more fun or something. Maybe she knew he had an Atari, too. But she chose Ben, the same kid who once tried to convince me that he had the best name in the world because it was the only one that one could add “-jamin” to the end and still have a name. Benjamin = name. Chrisjamin = not a name.
I don’t think I was all that broken up over her decision. Life went on and I concerned myself with more important things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I even joined a gymnastics program just so I could do all the moves like Leonardo and Raphael. After two or three Saturday morning practices filled with essentially just stretching and nothing even resembling doing back flips and other maneuvers that could help me in fights against Foot Soldiers, I quit. Besides, going to a class in a vain attempt to be like them made it so that I couldn’t actually watch them on television; in the end, it really wasn’t a tough decision.
Ten years ago, when I was so very desperately single, I looked her up on a certain social media platform. Given her unique last name, I was able to find her. I sent her a message to see if she was the same Courtney Fiegenbaum (again, not her real name) and if she remembered any of this story. She confirmed that she indeed received an anonymous gift and flowers as a young girl and never knew who they were from. She seemed genuinely happy that I reached out to her and resolved this two-decade-long mystery. She guessed that she probably picked Ben because he was friends with her brother. She asked me about what my life had been like since and I legitimately started thinking about how great this story would be when we told our kids how their parents got together. (I told you I was so very single.)
Trying to play it cool, I responded and asked about her life.
I never heard from her again.