This is the story about how running for Student Council ruined my chances at love.
The story starts when I was in the fifth grade. Back then, I was really tall, really skinny, and really shy. Basically, I really haven’t changed that much. My hair was longer back then, though. Oh, and I also used to wear jean shorts pretty much all the time. I was also really beginning to notice members of the opposite sex at this time, while also noticing that they really weren’t noticing me. Based on the description that I just gave, I can’t imagine why.
One day, while getting on the school bus, I thought about this. While walking to my assigned seat, I remember thinking about how girls seemed to be attracted to a certain type of guy. This guy would sometimes wear a leather jacket. He would probably have a pierced ear. He was the kind of guy who would occasionally be found in detention.
I was not this guy.
Around this time in my life, there was a certain young lady who had to be the most beautiful one I had ever seen. Her name was Valerie Delaney. She was in the grade above me. She was a brunette. She had the most beautiful smile. And she had no idea who I was. But I figured she certainly knew who some of these bad boys were.
Anyway, this one day while walking to my seat, I started to contemplate whether I’d be willing to start acting up so that girls like Valerie Delaney would notice me. By the time I sat down in the back of the bus, I knew I couldn’t do it; that wasn’t who I was. Instead, I decided to run for Student Council.
Like I mentioned, I was really shy at this point in my life, so I honestly have no idea why I would make this decision. Once the idea entered my head, however, it was there to stay. I was going to run. I knew I wouldn’t run for President because I knew that the most popular student in school was going to win this position. I also knew that I was definitely not this student. Besides, I knew that being President would be accompanied with more power and responsibilities than I would want. So that was out.
That also meant that running for Vice President was out because on the off-chance that Student Council President was ever, I don’t know, assassinated, the V.P. would have to take over, and again, I wouldn’t want that responsibility. Nor did I want to be responsible for handling all the money, so Treasurer was out as well.
So, I decided to run for Student Council Secretary. I had no idea what that position entailed, but I declared my candidacy nonetheless. Apparently not many other students knew about what the position entailed either, or maybe they did and just didn’t want it because it was by far the least vied-for position. There were only three or four other people running for Secretary.
And one of my fellow Student Council Secretary nominees was, of course, Valerie Delaney.
With the help of my best friend and campaign manager, I put together some pretty clever campaign posters and began to prepare the speech I would give in front of the student body. I knew I didn’t want to make outrageous claims about what I’d be able to bring to the school if I was elected, again because I had no idea what a Student Council Secretary actually did and if he/she would even have that kind of power. I decided to focus the speech on my track record of being honest, responsible, and a good student.
It was eventually my turn to get up to deliver my speech and it was around this time that the butterflies in my stomach became almost unbearable and I began questioning why I was even doing this. I began my speech, and I’m sure it was almost inaudible. I then remembered something my father told me about a way to calm one’s nerves. He told me that if you inhaled and exhaled deeply through your nose, the butterflies would eventually diminish. So, I started doing this during my speech, directly into the microphone that was shaking in my hand.
Now, it wasn’t that I was just doing these breathing exercises in the middle of my speech; I was just doing it at the end of each sentence. There were a couple of giggles from the crowd at first, but the number of kids laughing seemed to increase every time I did it. I somehow finished telling everyone why I would make the best Student Council Secretary punctuated with deep nasal breathing and returned to my seat. I was devastated. After all the candidates were reviewed, I excused myself behind the curtain and sat behind the stage crying. Okay, that’s a little gentle; I was sobbing through the remainder of the speeches.
A few teachers walking by saw the blubbering mess that was me and they tried to console me, telling me it wasn’t that bad. There was a point when things started to calm down, but almost immediately after they stopped, the sobs returned. I eventually righted myself in time for the final displaying of the candidates and then everyone was sent back to their classes to vote.
I had the support of all but one of my classmates, but I figured I didn’t have much of a chance with the rest of the voters in the school. At the end of the day, the principal came over the P.A. system and announced the results. The president, vice president, and treasurer were all named, but a run-off was required for secretary. And surprisingly enough, I was one of the two who was still in the running. I don’t remember if Valerie was the other, but since it would make it a better story, let’s just say she was.
Additional ballots were printed off and delivered to the classrooms for the run-off election. All of my supportive classmates who knew me as more than a crying baby tried to convince the one girl who voted against me in the initial election to switch her vote and I don’t know how successful they were. The new votes were turned in and sent off to the office to be counted. Another announcement was made after this was done, and you guessed it: I won.
I don’t know how much of a role my Magilla Gorilla posters came into play, or even my reputation as an honest, responsible, intelligent student. I’m guessing that these things only played a minor part and the real reason behind my one and only election win was the pity vote. Take that, non-crying opponents!
As I mentioned earlier, I really didn’t know what the student council secretary would actually do and it wasn’t made much clearer after winning. I came to find out that my duties basically consisted of helping out during the annual bake sale and sitting in on student council meetings. Before the first meeting, I was given a notebook and told that my job as secretary was to take the meeting’s minutes. Once the meeting began, I looked at the clock and jotted down the time. I figured I would just sit there until the meeting was over, look at the clock again, and then use my impressive math skills to see how many sixty-second intervals had passed. Mid-meeting I figured there was more to taking the minutes than that and I was able to fake it enough so that no one was the wiser.
Two years later, I was in seventh grade and Valerie Delaney was in eighth. She was even more beautiful at this point. And she was also now a cheerleader at my intermediate school where there was no longer just a single lunch line like in elementary. Our cafeteria had multiple food stations with different cuisine choices. One of the more popular lines was the one in which you could get pizza.
One day I found myself in this line directly behind Valerie and some of her popular friends. It came time for her to pay for her food and she was short by ten cents. Without even thinking, I dug into my jean shorts, fished out a dime, and gave it to her. I probably tried to say something, but it was very likely unintelligible. She asked me if I was sure, I nodded, and she gratefully took the coin. She then took her now-fully-paid-for food and went to sit with her friends. I then paid for my food and went to go sit by myself.
As I was walking to a table to eat my pizza, I was honestly thinking that my gesture would work. She would be so grateful that some random guy would do such a noble thing so that she could eat what she wanted that day. I mean, none of her friends offered her anything. I was the one that saved the day. I was her Knight in Tight Jean Shorts. Who wouldn’t immediately fall in love with someone who did that?
I took my seat, silently bemoaning how nice guys never get the girl. But then I felt a soft tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Valerie Delaney. She looked me in the eye and very quietly said, “Thank you.” Then she bent down and kissed me. It was short, but amazing. Then she stood up and walked back to her friends.
Now, I said that this was the story was how running for Student Council ruined my chances at love. And it did, because the truth is: Valerie Delaney never kissed me. She never tapped me on the shoulder. She probably thanked me when she took the dime, but I never spoke to her after that day in that pizza line.
But I really believe that those thoughts were also going through her head. Why wouldn’t she want to be with someone who was noble enough to give her ten cents so that she could get her slice of pepperoni pizza? Maybe she was even on her way over to tap me on the shoulder and give me the kiss that would begin our epic love story that we would tell to our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren…. until she remembered that this noble gentleman was really the crying loser who cost her the opportunity to take the minutes in that special Student Council notebook two years before.
I was so close.