the wrong mr. wright
In hurried anticipation I struggled to come up with a story that would convince my grandmother to let her 10-year-old granddaughter go outside well after dark. Suddenly it came to me. I convinced Grandma that a meteor was headed toward the earth and I simply had to go outside to watch the momentous occasion. (This is the kind of creativity kids employ after being sent to Astro-Camp with their Gifted and Talented Education class.) Grandma easily bought the ploy and I was headed straight for the door.

Of course, as you have probably guessed, there was no meteor, and had there been, I probably wouldn't have been able to see it anyway. I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the neon lights are so bright one rarely even sees stars.

The real reason for my outlandish escape plan was a 4-foot-something Italian kid named Nino Wright. You see, Nino asked me to come outside, and how could I possibly pass up an opportunity to escape into the suburban darkness with my pint-sized beloved? Obviously, I couldn't.

When Nino rode up on his diamondback, the setting was more than perfect. Me, standing in the shadow of the street lamp. Him, just a few feet away doing tricks on his bike. I batted my eyelashes in his direction, hoping this would be the night he would profess his love for me. My heart started pounding inside my chest when a voice came from behind me. Bad luck was headed my way when I whipped around to find my little brother there, wondering aloud what Nino and I were doing, and looking up to get a glimpse of the "meteor." I begged and pleaded for him to go back inside and leave us alone. Amazingly, he did. (The amount it cost me to bribe him now escapes me.)

At last, Nino and I were alone. I admired his disheveled black hair that hung over one of his deep brown eyes. I imagined all the ways he could tell me he was feeling the exact same way. I began to fantasize about how much my cool factor at Howard Wasden Elementary school would rise if he were to ride our bikes to school together.

He had come 4 and a half blocks to see me. It had to be love. I was impressed -- until he told me he actually had a crush on the sidekick of the most popular girl in school. It soon became painfully obvious that he had come to my house, not to profess his feelings for me, but rather to get me to help him devise a plan to win this other girl's heart. So infatuated with Nino I was, that I hopped on the back of his bike and rode over to Arwen Petty's house with him.

Today, I can't even remember the little girl's name he was after. But I'll never forget what happened when I returned. Apparently, my grandmother took a look out the window to find me gone and had a search team dispatched to locate my whereabouts. I was in so much trouble when I got home, even my little brother felt sorry for me. I spent the rest of the weekend in my room, brokenhearted, and grounded.


Monday, April 16, 2001


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