The Note

The Note

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

The Note

Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.

~Blaise Pascal

When I was in the fifth grade, I fell in love — real love — for the very first time. It only took about a week into the school year for it to happen, and I was completely, head-over-heels crushing on Mike Daniels. No one ever called him just Mike; it was always one word — MikeDaniels. Blond hair that stuck up in every direction and blue eyes that crinkled in the corners when he laughed — visions of Mike Daniels occupied my every dream.

To say I wasn’t the most popular or prettiest girl in our class would be an understatement. In fact, I think I must have been the original geek. I was so skinny that I still had to wear days-of-the-week panties and dorky undershirts when most of my friends were starting to wear bras and more grown-up undergarments. My mom made me wear brown orthopedic lace-up shoes to school every day, because I had a foot that turned in and my parents wanted to “correct it before it was too late.” Right smack dab in the middle of my two front teeth was this giant space that even gum surgery the year before hadn’t fixed, and the two teeth on either side of my front teeth overlapped, making me look like I had fangs. Add a pair of thick glasses, thin baby-fine hair (with a home permanent from my mom — help!), knobby skinned-up knees and elbows — and what do you get? A kid that only a parent could love.

I wouldn’t — couldn’t — tell my friends that I was in love with Mike Daniels. It was my secret to write about in my journal. In my dreams, Mike Daniels would all of a sudden grasp what a beautiful soul was hiding inside of my gawky body and realize that he loved me for who I really was. I spent hours writing poetry for him and stories about him, until one day I got up the nerve to actually write to him about how I felt.

Our teacher, Miss Finkelor, was really awesome about most things, but the one thing she was majorly serious about was not writing notes to each other during class. Everyone did it anyway. Except me. My only shot at self-esteem was being teacher’s pet, and I excelled at it. I loved it so much it didn’t even bother me when kids teased me about being the teacher’s favorite.

It was a huge decision for me to go against the one thing that Miss Finkelor detested — note passing. But I knew that there was no other way to tell Mike Daniels about how I felt — and I also knew that if I never told him, I was going to burst… or maybe even freak out. I vowed to do it on Monday morning.

So, first thing Monday morning, in my very best printing, I wrote, “I love you.” That was it. Nothing else — no flowers, no poetry — just, “I love you.” I passed it to Dianne, who sat between me and Mike Daniels, and whispered, “Give this to Mike Daniels,” trying to look really casual, like it was a request to borrow a book from him or something. I held my breath as I watched him open and read it — then read it again. Then he folded it up and put it into his pocket. Oh my God, what have I done? What if he shows it to his buds at recess? They’ll all laugh their heads off. I’m a fool. An idiot. Why did I tell him? I felt like I was going to throw up.

I was so involved in feeling like I was going to hurl, that I didn’t even feel Dianne punching me in the arm. Then she shoved a note in my hand. Slowly, I opened it. It was my own note. Great, he thought it was so stupid that he sent it back to me, I thought. Then it dawned on me — he had written something on the back of it. “I like you, too. I’m glad we’re friends.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I was so relieved that he didn’t trash me — that could have easily happened if Mike Daniels hadn’t been a really nice guy. With that one little gesture of kindness, Mike Daniels made me feel special — and, not only that, but I felt that somehow, he had seen the real me hidden in the body of a fifth-grade geek.

I kept that note for years — all the way through the eighth grade. Whenever I felt bad about myself, I would reread Mike Daniels’ note and remember that act of kindness. It didn’t matter to me what inspired him — if it was pity, or the recognition of things to come — that note gave me strength to go through the challenges of the tough years that followed fifth grade.

~Patty Hansen

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