02 December 1977

Strange love

Figure: Class picture of my Grade 8 class. Back row: Wilfried Ristisc, Jutta Dunhofer, Andrea Aschauer, Werner Melcher, Heimo Bauer (on shoulders and looking like David Cassidy), yours truly (looking like a fat short girl), Renate Strasser, Joachim Starke, Jurian Meyer, Michaela Lumpie, Manuela Walchhofer, Birgit ????, Erika Fiedler, Sabine Kranz, and Frau Hauss. Front row: Peter Melcher, Bernhard Öhlinger, Bernhard Hofer, Andreas Walkner, and Christian Pfarl. Several students are missing.
Image: Unknown (1979)

The year was 1977, Grade 7.

Class had already started, and I was late and running down the hallway of my shitty day boarding school. That's when I saw Manuela come out of the classroom. I slowed down to a casual walk.

The thing was, I was in love with Manuela.

"Hi Manuela." I said, saluting as she wordlessly walked by.

She didn't even look at me. I shrugged my shoulders and continued on. Rejection is something boys get used to early in their lives. I had almost reached the corner to the next hallway when I heard her call out to me. I stopped and turned around. She came walking back.

"I hear you want to go steady with me, Baumann," she said.

I blushed. I didn't know who had told her, probably Bauer.

"Is it true?" she asked, her arms akimbo.

"Tsss. Ssss. Well, ... I...," I stuttered. "Well, ..."

Should I confess? Should I deny? But then Manuela and I were alone for the first time, and it was her who had chosen to talk to me. There was hope.

"Well, is it?"

"Yes." I walked up closer to her. "Yes, it's true."

"I see," she said. "Well, ..."

I was waiting for something magical to happen.

"Well what?" I asked.

"Well, stop telling people. It is not going to happen."

"What? ... But why?"

"Why? Because you are too immature for me." She turned and walked away.

I was stunned for a second.

"What d'you mean too immature?" I yelled after her. "We are the same age."

"Be quiet." she said, coming back. "See how immature you are? Besides, you don't even know what the period is?"

"Well," I said. "Well, ... but I do know that in love there is no such thing as a period."

After finishing middle school I never ran into Manuela until 1993. It happened at a deli counter in a grocery store. I had ordered a sandwich and Manuela was cutting my meat, which is not meant sexually. We both pretended not to recognize each other. It was sad, really.

Sadder still, I had just finished my M.Sc., and Manuela had been so much better in school than I ever was. I should have been the one to cut her meat. Which again is not meant sexually.