Love in the Time of the Perfect 10 by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

I was obsessed with love from an early age. I had my first little boyfriend when I was four and once I started school I fell prey to a series of crushes resulting in endless foolish behavior. These poor grade-school boys only wanted to be left alone to play kick-ball and were alternately confused and terrified by my invitations to “dinner-and-a-movie,” the perfumed love notes delivered on foot to their homes and, worst case scenario, my chasing them down in the schoolyard and trying to kiss them. I still cringe.

But everything changed in grade five. We were into sending notes to boys with lists of girls (ourselves at the top) and requests for them to rate each girl on a scale of one-to-ten. (Progressive, I know.) One day the boy I LOVED sent me a note. It went something like this:

“Dear Danielle, I know I told Kayla* I rate you as a 2. But actually I rate you as a 10. Love, Brad*”

I cannot convey the thumping heart, the squealing, the incessant repeating to myself of the phrase “actually, I rate you as a ten,” the thrill this excellent rating and the note itself, gave me.

In a subsequent note Brad asked me to “go around” and thus began a tumultuous, on-and-off relationship (he’d drop me back to a 2 every so often) that lasted from grade 5 all the way through most of grade 7. During those three years Brad kissed me six times; four times on the lips and twice on the cheek. He also gave me my first roses—an impressive bouquet, especially for grade 6—which I dried and saved only to come home one day and find them gone. Not realizing their MAJOR SIGNIFICANCE, my mom had thrown them out. Sadly, this was also during one of the times Brad had dumped me and I was hanging onto those roses like I was Catherine to his Heathcliff…or maybe Heathcliff to his Catherine.

I wept and shrieked like only a precocious, love-lorn eleven-year-old can. My mom was sick about it and together we found a couple of stray petals and carefully set them in the box where I kept his letters, his class photos and some Jolly Ranchers he’d left with a note in my desk.

Eventually we moved from Minnesota to Toronto which prompted another getting-back-together. Brad liked a challenge. But a few months of passionate letters later (keeping in mind, we were twelve) he dumped me one final time.

I pined horribly, swore off men and (of course!) never so much as looked at another until I met and married The Oppressor, my one true love.

Well…”never” might be a slight exaggeration. There was, after all, a whole new batch of Canadian boys to terrify and confuse.

Thanks for another great week at The Ball!

Deb Danielle

*Names have been changed to protect both the innocent, the guilty and the foolish.


17 Replies to “Love in the Time of the Perfect 10 by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman”

  1. “I actually rate you as a 10” – Oh Danielle – you’ve got me swooning. Brad was the foolish one to let you go, although I think you’ve done quite well with the Oppressor.

    (incidentally, I was also one of those foolish, lovestruck girls in high school – sending boys single roses, delivered by the florist, to their homes. Yeah, that’s pretty cringe-worthy, especially since it never worked. I was always one of those go-getter types, which I guess makes me “proactive” and “tenacious” as a grown-up, but it meant I did a lot of pretty embarrassing things as a kid when I was unwilling to wait for destiny.)

  2. LOL. What a hilarious post.

    My daughter received a HAND-KNIT scarf in 4th grade from a boy who had a crush on her. Can you imagine? I told her she had to marry him. They little tete-a-tete lasted about a month. Still has the scarf…

  3. You were a brazen playground chasing the boys hussy? And here I thought I knew you. : ) I guess you were always someone who went after what you wanted.

  4. Joanne: Got you swooning, have I? Yeah, I can still access that feeling and remember the moment, that realization: “He likes me back! Ooooh! He really likes me!” Glad I wasn’t the only one with the foolish behaviour.

    Jenny: Thanks! And hand-knit scarf?! From a boy?! I would have died.

    Eileen: Somehow I was painfully shy and ALSO a brazen hussy. I think it might be a Gemini thing, not that I follow any of that too closely.

  5. This post had me chuckling and squealing, just like one of those foolish, lovestruck schoolgirls. (I actually squealed at Jenny’s daughter’s SCARF–oh my goodness, that is just too precious!!!)

    I rate this post a ten. 🙂

  6. LOL, Sheila!!!! You’re totally busting that image of forlorn celibacy I’m trying to put out there. “The University Years” were an unmitigated disaster as far as love went, though never boring, as I know you recall. If I ever get into writing memoir, I’ve got a ton of material. Sigh.

  7. So funny, Joanne. And so true. The Judy Blume books (the ones I wasn’t supposed to be reading like Forever and Wifey)were certainly a corrupting force but Flowers in the Attic took things WAY over the edge.

    For those of you who don’t know this, I got my hands on Flowers in the Attic at age 8. I tore through it and was halfway through the second book before my parents realized what these books were about and confiscated them. Of course, I was like: “Uh, I already read the first one guys, it’s a little late!”

    Fortunately I was also reading stuff like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights at the same time so there was some balance.

  8. You forgot the pictures we have of you kissing (on the lips) at 2yrs. old … yes another 2 yr. old … a boy! You were precosious. I’d be terrified to read about the ‘University Years!’

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