Ah finally…February–-a bittersweet time of the year for many. With Valentine’s day fast approaching, people young and old reflect on their earliest encounters with love, and how their hearts have been further shaped since then. In honor of the love stories that often go untold, I interviewed one of Parker’s beloved teachers with the prompt: “Who was your first love and why did you love them?”
For the sake of anonymity, we will call this teacher the Wasp. The Wasp attended a rather large high school on the mainland and considered herself a loner. As a “typical high school nerd,” she spent hours in the library, trained for the math olympiad, and spent plenty of time with her mom watching Rom Coms every weekend–-her all-time favorite was Ten Things I Hate About You. She was secretly a big romantic, but had never been in a relationship, nor did she feel interested in making herself seem available.
The school hosted an annual spelling bee, which The Wasp always placed in. She had a real knack for words and grammar–-she’d even had a scrabble themed birthday party when she’d turned sixteen. In her senior year, the spelling bee had its biggest pool of contestants yet and The Wasp was determined to win first place. As a 4 year veteran of the bee, she felt that she had earned her place and wanted to go out with a bang when she graduated.
One day at math olympiad practice, one of her close friends, who we’ll call the Hornet, made a bet that he could win the spelling bee even having never participated in it before. The Wasp was dubious–she said that he was too math oriented to be successful in a competition that was about spelling. So they bet on his success. If the wasp placed higher than the hornet, he owed her fifty bucks, but if he won, he would get to take The Wasp on a date.
The Wasp cautiously accepted the bet and was both surprised and pleased by her friend’s forward invitation. They decided that even though they would be competing against each other, they would prepare for the competition together. They spent many afternoons a week together learning latin roots, making flashcards, and practicing.
When it finally came time for the competition, both were well prepared because of all the time they had spent together. They both easily advanced to the top ten, next the top five, and finally, they were the last two competitors.
The final word was astrobleme.
The Hornet misspelled the word and The Wasp’s turn would determine the winner of the whole competition. The Wasp successfully spelled the word and earned the title she’d been waiting for. They hugged, celebrated, and the Wasp promptly asked the Hornet on a date, despite having won the bet and not being obligated to go.
From that point on, they were a happy couple for the rest of their senior year. The Wasp will always remember Te Hornet as the first boy to really spark her competitive spirit without the toxic need to sabotage, and rather with the motivation of working together towards the same goal.
The Wasp’s advice to readers is to take risks with your loved ones–-always be willing to step outside of your comfort zone if it means you might find love on the other side.
With that in mind… happy February and stay tuned to see who I interview next!
If you enjoy these articles, I encourage you to check out last year’s editions: “Thriving at 37” and “Affection in Autumn,” which dive into other teachers’ touching stories of their first loves and how their own personal perceptions of romantic love have changed since then.