By Cindy Wiggins Tapia

I dropped out of reality at a young age and just wanted to be left in Munchkinland. Likely my aloofness and habit of talking to the Scarecrow at the edge of the Buford Grammar School playground made my classmates think I was nuttier than peanut brittle and a snob to boot. Pfffft!

Then in 1966, something jerked me out of Oz. I was standing in line on the hill below the back door after recess one afternoon when some boy said, “David Williams likes you.” Yeah, right. But it was true! He liked me. Me! The invisible child who lived on the Yellow Brick Road.

I had known David from way back. Our daddies worked at The Bona Allen Harness Shop. The Williamses and the Wigginses had worshiped together at least once at the Church of Christ in Lawrenceville. Mr. Junior was a preacher, and Mr. Daddy wasn’t—I’ll just leave that right there. In 1963, circumstances were such that Mama and Daddy remarried and moved us to Southern Pines, NC. The Williams family trailed after. Around six months later both families were back in Buford—or as G Trumayne Bell tags it “Btown, baby! Go Wolves!” Any way you say it—click your heels—there’s no place like home.

We moved into the house on Hill Street. The Williams family eventually moved into the Horace Wadleigh Allen house on Sawnee Avenue.  

Three years slipped by. We were in fifth grade. I was in Mrs. Greer’s class, and David was across the hall in Mrs. Wilson’s. We were as hot and heavy as you can get while eyeballing each other fifty paces apart. During all those delicious weeks just one word passed between us.  I was standing in line at the water fountain outside Mrs. Wilson’s room when David came tearing out of nowhere and shoved a wadded-up piece of paper into my hand.

“Here!” he shouted and zipped off. Inside was a golden owl pin with jade eyes.  

I was crazy about him and nothing else mattered.  Wild stallions couldn’t have kept me out of school. Reading, writing, English, math?  Huh? Oh, them. I was brain dead. Report card day came. When I got home with an F-littered card,  Mama grabbed a leather belt, and with every lash, she screamed, “You! Will! Get! David! Williams! Out! Of! Your! Head!”  

David was persuaded by someone to dump me.  I have reason to suspect Mama was in collusion with Mrs. Greer and Mrs. Wilson and saved me from a fifth-grade repeat. My grades shot up, and David got a new girlfriend. The green-eyed monster reared its head, and I got even big time. I wrote that ten-year-old floozie a note pretending I was David. “I don’t like you anymore!” And she fell for it.  Mean? Honey, all was fair in love and David Williams.

I’ve since had crushes on other guys. I’ve been in love twice. I’ve been married. But never ever have I been so enthralled as I was during that innocent first romance.   I think it was because I had been waiting, unaware, all my life for someone to come along and make me feel real.

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