Yes, I keep things. Yes, even when they are painful and embarrassing.
  1. Melissa was the first girl I ever liked. I have mentioned this several times.
  2. She had brown hair that was sometimes red, sometimes green (don't ask).
  3. She looked like a young Rene Russo when I met her in music class in 1992, and once Rene Russo hit it big with Lethal Weapon 3, it only made me want Melissa more.
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    Though, I should note, not as a sexual plaything.
  4. She wrote in my yearbook at the end of 9th grade. She noticed me without me noticing her noticing! I studied every curve and stray mark of her pen.
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  5. I would see her in the halls every day once we graduated to high school, her locker right near the well-travelled bridge that connected the "A" building to the older "B" building where our lockers were in 10th and 11th grade.
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    See picture, with B building on left.
  6. Sometime after My So-Called Life premiered, I came to think of Melissa as my Angela Chase, which of course made me Brian Krakow.
    Despite his afro, there was much to identify with in his heartbreak and demeanor. Like most things pertaining to specifically those two characters, it felt exactly like my high school experience, only both were unfolding concurrently.
  7. Here is what Melissa was dealing with. Picture from 1995, but I looked the same in late 1994.
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  8. I decided that I'd write Melissa a love note and stick it in her locker.
    It wouldn't be a secret admirer letter or anything; I would sign it and she would recognize me from her music class two years before. We sat in a semi-smile shape, so she was two seats to my left, alphabetically, with a rich kid named Brendt in between us.
  9. I wrote and wrote and rewrote until my words of affection were decoratively framed by what today clearly reads as a geeky kid striking the pose of unearned teen angst.
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  10. Even back then, I would try to write in a conversational style, so that it would be easier to adapt into a screenplay one day.
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    I started putting writing in the ",like,"s this way after seeing John Hughes do it in the Sixteen Candles script (I think that's the one). I don't know what I was thinking with the speeding bus and lion mauling. It would be another year before we would tragically lose one of our classmates, so it was a more innocent time, I suppose. The thought of dying young required much more imagination.
  11. Timely references to the beginning of the O.J. trial to show that I was conscious of current events and self-aware enough to see how a "cold call" note like this could be seen by a teenage girl jaded by the media's coverage of crimes of passion.
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  12. *cringe* Good ol' Mike, though. Note the subtle underlining of the all-important "U" in my name. I knew it would crush me if she wrote back and spelled my name wrong, so I included this underline as a message to her subconscious.
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  13. I had either just heard this saying, or just thought of it, but decided I needed an angsty closing salutation to further solidify my chances with her.
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    Again, this is me trying to make myself seem more edgy, as she was in the hair-dyeing phase of her Angela Chase existence.
  14. Between 3rd and 4th period, I slid the finished note between the ventilation slits of her orange locker and waited.
  15. I really just wanted her to know that I liked her, and had hoped the revelation of my feelings would be enough for us to start a dialogue. If we had a back-and-forth going, I knew I could get her to like me.
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    Besides, I didn't see her dating anyone else. Why not me? I was nice and a great catch on paper.
  16. I waited for a response.
    I asked Mike if Melissa had said anything. I wondered if Mike would even give me a good reference. He and another friend once took turns peeing on my bike behind a dumpster while I was blissfully watching a double feature of Another Stakeout and What's Love Got To Do With It? Mike said no, that they didn't sit anywhere near each other in class.
  17. So I wrote her again.
    Maybe the first one got lost in her locker and she didn't even see it. I'd use heavier, colored paper this time. I couldn't just copy the same message, even though I had the rough draft - what if she did read it and just didn't have a chance to respond? I didn't know her home life. I'd reiterate my feelings, but be more apologetic for this second locker slit transgression.
  18. No response.
    Not even a "Leave Me Alone!" punch in the arm from her cousin, who was in my homeroom. Surely if she wasn't happy with my attempts at alerting her to my like-like of her, the cousin would have heard about it, and passed the message on to me. I wouldn't be psyched to take a punch, but at least it would be a response.
  19. So I wrote her again.
    Thanking her for not getting her cousin to pound me, reiterating my feelings while wondering if she ever got the first two notes, including that weird one on construction paper. I had attached tape to the blank side of the folded note, so that when I placed it into the slit (this is not sexual, stop it), it would hopefully be stuck to the inside of the locker and be at her eye level.
  20. Again, no response.
  21. Later that day, while standing outside the library with Mike, wondering if I had gone too far, despite my harmlessness, I see her.
  22. Melissa, taking the shortcut through the lunchroom, as all the cool kids did back then.
  23. I saw her from 15 yards, and pretended to be deep in conversation with Mike and Mike's friend Kevin (he of the aunt's sex tape), so if she looked she would see that I had many thriving friendships and was not a pasty loner.
  24. She rounded the corner, past the lunch tables, and now was straight ahead of me.
  25. My eyes never once off of her, I did not want to miss any fleeting glance she might give me.
  26. Ten feet away. This was the closest I had been to her since Brendt was between us in Music class and I played a cassette of "Bishop's Countdown" from Aliens for my show-and-tell piece. She would have to walk directly in front of me to get to her destination, and despite the hoard of people, I was not moving.
  27. Five feet away, just about to cross my path, she looks directly at me.
  28. And smiles.
    Melissa used to smile without showing her teeth, which I loved, partly because of her resemblance to Rene Russo (both of them had such enviable cheekbones), but also because this smile of hers was so warm and genuine. It wasn't a smile that patronized, or one that indicated any type of annoyance. It was the smile of a complimented woman.
  29. She never wrote to me, not even once, and even though I'm sure I would have remembered her every word, spoken or otherwise, it's that smile I'd still be talking about to this day.