The year was 1985 at Webster Middle school 5th period, right after lunch. I was early to class as usual, because I was sort of a nerd. I didn’t look like a nerd, so I was never labeled that way, but all the while I WAS AN 8th grade NERD!
The songs that topped the charts that year were hits like “Lovergirl” by Teena Marie and “Oh Sheila” by Ready for the World and my absolute FAVORITE was “Party All the Time” by Eddie Murphy! When we all found out that Eddie Murphy was making an album we didn’t know what to make of it and even though the song was awful, we still jammed to every time it played on “KSTN – 1420 on your radio dial.”
I wasn’t expecting this day to be ANY different from any other day. A guy named Charles seriously flirted with me every day! I knew once he walked in class he’d do SOMETHING to make me blush or bring attention to me. I was a shy kid, so this was not welcomed doting.
Even as old as I am, I still remember this day like it was just yesterday. Charles stepped in the classroom late as usual doing what he’d always be doing; singing or rapping. This time, it was “La Di Da Di” by Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew.
“OK, party people in the hoooooouse!” He says from a line in the song all loud, disrupting the class. Then he gave daps to his friends in passing as he walked towards his seat. His friends seemed to be more than ready and waiting to see what he’d be doing today to make the entire class bust up in laughter. They loved to see him coming, but not me, hmmph…I was just not impressed with all that foolishness.
As class began, the teacher explained that we had a project due in three weeks and that we had to form groups. She passed out and outline with all the directions and told us to take the next 20 minutes formulating groups of four. Formulating groups is BAD news for a shy kid. I just sat there in my seat acting like I was reading the direction sheet in HOPES that someone would come and pick me without me even having to say anything OR move from my seat.
I leaned over in my seat towards my backpack to seem busy and then opened my Jan Sport to look for a pencil. Heck, I was gonna just sit there just like a nerd and wait to be approached by someone that wanted me in their group. I really was a bit angry, because I have NO idea to this day WHY the teach didn’t just assign people herself…sure would have made my life easier.
Just as I grabbed a blue #2 pencil from my bag, Charles leaned over me from behind and whispered in my ear. He was so close that I could feel his breath vibrating on my right cheek. He said, “Do you want to be in my group?” Charles had never been exactly that close to me before, so I never really knew what his breath ever smelled like and never even gave it any real though. I just kinda figured he had bad breath simply because the boy was ALWAYS running his darn mouth!
Boy was I wrong! His breath smelled beyond a breath of fresh air. It was cool, sweet and pleasant. I was astonished, so I wanted to double check. I replied, “Huh?” so he could speak again. “Do you want to be in my group; with you it’ll make 4 of us…me, Ken, Sharice and you.” I told him, “Um. I guess, Charles!” with an attitude knowing full well I was happy to even be in a group, so the teacher wouldn’t have to pick on for me, like she had to do for the kids that were actually LABELED nerds.
From that point on, I have judged the breath of EVERY man I have EVER met to his. I will NEVER forget how perfect his breath smelled EVEN after lunch all the born days of my life. I treated Charles a little different from that point on.
I never told him about that experience even though we became good friends all throughout high school, so if he ever comes across this; it’ll be nice for him to know.
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