We're back with our first moth mainstage of 2021. Join us on Wednesday, January 27th, for True Stories told live, hosted by award winning writer and moth storyteller are Eric Thomas. Tickets are available at the Moth Dogs Virtual Mainstage. Welcome to The Moth podcast, I'm your host this week, Chloe Samin. There are few experiences as simultaneously embarrassing and thrilling as a childhood crush, whether you were brave enough to approach the object of your affections or were more of a painting from afar type.
In this episode, we have two stories of childhood crushes and all of the highs and lows they entailed. My very first crush was on Kyle s in my kindergarten class. He had boyband hair, could run really fast on the playground and just generally made my five year old heart beat fast. I don't think I ever had the courage to actually say one single word to him, crush them. That would follow me through my childhood. But I still remember getting goosebumps whenever I saw him smile.
Our first storyteller was a bit braver than I was in his pursuit of young love, Tim Lopez told this story at a New York City Grand Slam where the theme of the night was fuel to the fire. Here's Tim live at The Moth.
All right. Hello. All right, so it was the first day of sixth grade, which was the last year of elementary school, and the quasi romantic but completely non-sexual tension was running high years of simmering feelings, requited and or unrequited crushes and general pre-teen angst had come to a boil in this hour last year all together before being scattered to the winds of junior high.
Everybody knew who they liked. Everybody knew who they like, liked. And the social order was basically pretty much determined.
And there was this crazy sense of urgency in the air, you know, like a manic it's now or never kind of feeling, you know, like like Europe before the war and into this powder keg of, you know, Proteau hormones, walks.
What can only be described in today's terms as a game changer. Her name was Raniga Powers, and she sauntered into our classroom. And if she'd sprung from the pages of a J.Crew catalog, she had very long, curly blond hair, bright blue eyes, faint dusting of freckles and is like kind of perfect smile framed by these absolutely symmetrical dimples. She was empirically speaking, the cutest girl of all time.
And in addition, you know, she has some personality.
You know, she had panache, you know, style. And as soon as she walked into her classroom, you could practically hear the sound of our collective innocence shattering. Every guy immediately fell into some kind of love with her and fierce competition ensued to see who could get her attention. Now, personally, I felt like I kind of had the inside lane on this. I was the class comedian. I don't say clown because I feel like it demeans my work and.
People really you know, I knew where I stood, you know, I felt like I was respected among my peers, you know, I felt like all I really had to do to get her was turned on the proverbial charm. Unfortunately, it became abundantly clear early on that she was more bemused than amused by my antics. I tried everything and I pulled out all the stops. I started with some physical slapstick stuff that was kind of a specialty of mine at the time, and that didn't work.
I moved on to kind of some more cerebral things, topical references, nothing and nothing was landing at all. And everything really hit a low point. This one time out in the playground. We were all out there. I was doing some bad things are working. I felt like everything was fine. I was getting laughs. And then when it kind of died down, Raniga says in front of everybody. So do you think you're funny?
And and I said I said, well, yeah. And and she says, Huh? You know, I just don't think you're quite as funny as you think you are. I mean, which is like, ouch, you know, but hey, she was right, let's be real be who even says that, though?
And, you know, see, she basically, like, dismantled my entire, you know, 12 year identity of my own self as a human being in one sense, which in this perverse way just made me like her even more and want to impress her.
So after that, I really toned down my act.
I backed off quite a bit until Christmastime rolled around. It was time for the annual Secret Santa. And, you know, I pulled the name out of the hat. I unfold a little piece of paper and I saw the name written in purple ink Raniga Powers with a little heart over the eye. And I thought, this is perfect. This is my chance, is my chance to impress her. And so I went home and I told my mom, I said, Mom, you know, there's this girl that I like at school and, you know, I have to get her a gift for Christmas.
And I know going to really impress her. And my mom said, OK, how about jewelry? And I said, jewelry sounds good.
So we went to the mall, went to Macy's, and we picked out this brooch. It was like a gold.
It was a great brooch. It was gold. It was a reindeer. And it had like a little red, clearly fake ruby nose. And so I was like, all right, that's good. That's you know, this is seasonally appropriate. It's classes. I like it. I'm into it. We're driving home. And I just had this feeling like I don't know about this. I don't know. This just doesn't have enough punch notes, doesn't have enough panache.
And so the next day at school, our class went to go visit the third grade class and their exhibition of gingerbread houses, an annual tradition. And, you know, as we're all in line, I'm a few steps behind and I got a friend and we get to this one. Gingerbread house is very ornately decorated and festooned with these gourmet jelly beans. And Rheticus is different. Oh, my God. Gourmet jelly beans. I love these. And our friends like what are warm jelly beans.
And she's like, you know, they're like regular jelly beans, except they have these, like, crazy flavors, you know, like root beer and coconut margarita. And and her face totally lights up. And she's like, I love gourmet jelly beans. And I look and I'm like, that's it, gourmet jelly beans. But I go home to my mom.
I'm like, Mom, we have to go to the mall now. I need to get gourmet jelly beans. My mom says, what are gourmet jelly beans? And I'm like, they're just like their regular jelly beans, except they have these, like, crazy flavors, you know, like Margarita and pina colada. And my mom says, are these for kids? And I said, I don't know and I don't care. So she drives me to the mall.
I go to the sweet factory. I'm about to buy a pound of jelly beans. And then I decided by two point pounds of jelly beans because I'm like, this is I'm not going to blow this for lack of jelly beans.
So I get the jelly beans.
The next day is the big reveal, the Secret Santa. I go over there and I, you know, I had her the brooch nicely wrapped and everything, and she opens the brooch and tepid response. She's like, oh yeah, it's nice, you know, like, thanks. I was like and also I got you this and it's a bag and it's very wrapped. And she opens it and she pulls out the jelly beans and they absolutely killed she I just saw the look on her face change.
She went from kind of like is neutral, like hard to like. She literally did the arm. And then she said, how did you know? And I said, I just knew.
And and she comes in to hug me.
She wraps her arms around me and we share this kind of hug. And I you know, I feel her like cable knit sweater under my hands, like her hair is like on my neck. And I feel something in the pit of my stomach that I've never felt before. And we take a step back from each other and she looks at me and she gives me a look that I've definitely never seen before. And the next day she shows up at school wearing the brooch and she's my girlfriend and.
And, you know, it took many, many, many more years for me to realize that getting a girlfriend and keeping a girlfriend are two completely different than.
But that's a different story. Thank you very much. That was Tim Lopez, Tim Lopez is a storyteller and teaching artist from Los Angeles. His stories have been heard on public radio stations and podcasts far and wide. He is also an educator with the Moth Community and Education Programs, where he works in local communities and with high school students to craft and perform true personal stories in New York City and beyond.
Our stories this week gave me a very good excuse to get nosy and ask some friends to share their own experiences of past crushes. So before we hear our next story, here's one from MOTHE host Dan Wilburn. She said his name was Marco and we were sworn enemies from fourth to eighth grade during a school trip to the sand dunes when I was sitting with my knees bent. Marco sat in front of me and leaned his back against my legs. It was the first time a boy touched me.
And 34 years later, he still crosses my mind whenever I see sand dame. My goodness. Truly an eighth grade romance for the ages, honestly, just a romance for the ages. And Marco, if you're listening, drop us a line. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook at the Moth and at Moth Stories on Instagram. Up next on the podcast, Jeanine Hilling. Janine told this story at a story slam in Melbourne, Australia, where the theme of the night was creepy.
Here's Janine live at The Moth.
At 13, I was a small town, bogon, with a bad attitude and an even worse haircut, but the man of my dreams, he was everything I was and he was handsome. He was sophisticated. He was from the city. He was also 23 years old. And my teacher and look, nowadays, when I think about Mr. Chow, I realized he wasn't really all that like he was just an average looking guy who wore the same jumper to school every single day.
And it looked like it was made out of cat hair and tinsel. But back then, that wasn't the deal breaker that it might be today. At first at first, I watched Mr. I loved Mr. Chow from afar. His house was just behind ours with just a vacant block in between. And so after school, when my parents were at work, I'd stand on the back veranda with a Winnie Red and a pair of binoculars that I borrowed of my mom's friends.
So and I'd watch him.
And sometimes I get my camera and put it in between like a really shit paparazzi and try and get candid shots of Mr. Chow taking his bins out. And that was OK for a while. But eventually I decided it was time to make my feelings known. It was a risky move, but I knew just the person to help me with it. My friend Joe had an extensive collection of cosmopolitan magazines and we were convinced these things would help us find a way for me to impress Mr.
Chow and make him want to be my boyfriend. So we read these things cover to cover, and eventually we found an article called something like 10 Easy Ways to Snare a Man or something terrifyingly like Cosmo like that. And the way we went with was like a nightclub situation where I could use these men eating moves that I would learn from the accompanying article to seduce the object of my desire on the dance floor. And this was perfect because we had a school disco coming up the very next week, so all week I practiced my moves and I picked out the sexiest song I could think of.
And by the time the disco came around, I felt like I was ready. So there we are, Mangeot at the disco in the car park near half a bottle of Carrington, Bloche. Have a couple of quick darts and a wobble up to the deejay booth, one glossier Mr. Chow, who's over there in the corner completely unaware of what is about to go down. I have a quick word with the deejay who winks and puts on my song, AC DC, you shook me all night long with moves that look probably nothing like the ones in Cosmo.
I advanced towards Mr. Chow. And the thing I remember after all this time is just the look of pure horror on this guy's face as he saw me coming. He looked around for another teacher to help him. But everyone everyone was busy. He was all alone. I advanced, he retreated, I circled him like a sheep dog, eventually dancing him into the corner where he remained presumably in a state of shock for the rest of the song. And I say, presumably because by this time I was so intent on nailing my man eating moves, I wasn't even paying attention to him anymore.
I wasn't dancing with him. I wasn't even dancing for him. I was dancing at him. When this song was over, I turned on my heel and I walked straight out of it because according to Cosmo, this would add an air of mystery to the whole thing. And leave the object of your desire feeling like he didn't know what had hit him. So Joe joined me shortly afterwards and confirmed that I my dance moves had been off the hook and they missed a child, definitely looked like someone who didn't know what had hit him.
I was so excited to go to school the next day. I didn't know what this was going to mean for mine and Mr. Chow's relationship, but I was pretty sure he was going to want to be my boyfriend. What I wasn't expecting was a trip to the guidance counselor's office.
He had told her everything I need even had the nerve to call my I was bizarre and inappropriate.
I was gutted Mr. Chow did not want to be my boyfriend. I was moved to a new class pretty much immediately after that. And although I still saw Mr. Chow around when he wasn't quick enough to just duck into a doorway when he saw me coming. Eventually, I just sort of filed that away in the part of my brain that I reserve for all of the many humiliating things I've done in my life. But nowadays, when I think about it, like part of me is just absolutely horrified that I could have done anything quite that creepy.
But there's another part of me that's almost a little bit proud of that dumb, horny little dirtbag. Who is trying so hard to be the sassy, sophisticated dirtbag bag she eventually became?
That was Janine Hilling, Janine is a Melbourne based writer and storyteller who comes from a long line of tail spinners. Her stories have been featured on ABC Radio National in Australia, and she's currently working on her first novel and a collection of short stories. Crushes, like most things from our childhood, can be kind of cringe to reflect on. But the stories in this episode remind us to look at the golden parts as well. The butterfly rash, the vulnerability and yes, the laughter and that spirit.
I'll leave you with one last Krush moment from MOTHE assistant producer Adrian beento Adrian said, from fifth grade through high school, I would write all my crushes names on a hidden spot on the wall in my bedroom. We painted the room recently, but you can still see faint Sharpie underneath the white paint. If you'd like to read more little crushed moments from storytellers and staff, head over to the extras for this episode at the Moth Mortgage Extras. Thank you to everyone who shared a moment or a story in this episode and to you for listening from all of us here at The Moth have a story worthy week.
Chloe Samin is a producer on the Moth Mainstage and Story Slam Teams, a director on the main stage and a member of the pitch line team. Her favourite moth moment. Come on show days. When the cardio is done, the house lights go down and the magic settles in. This episode of The Moth podcast was produced by me, Julia Perso with Sarah Austin, Janez, Sarah Jane Johnson and Chloe Sam and the rest of the Moth leadership team includes Kathryn Burns, Sarah Habermann, Jennifer Hickson, Meg Bolls, Kate Tellers, Jennifer Bermingham, Marina Koochie, Suzanne Rust, Brandon Grant, Inga, Claddagh, Skeet and Aldi has a moth.
Stories are true as remembered and approved by storytellers. For more about our podcast information on pitching your story and everything else, go to our website, The Moth Dog. The Moth podcast is presented by PRICK'S, The Public Radio Exchange helping make public radio more public at Prick's dot org.