Facebook isn’t good for a whole lot, but one thing it’s great at? Alerting you to the fact that your junior high crush got hitched over the weekend. And no, I don’t mean that in the abstract. Amanda Corfman, she of the bewitching seventh grade smile and sexual precociousness, is a married woman now…
…or again, depending on how you look at it. Allow me to explain¹.
(Oh, and before I forget: Congratulations, Amanda!)
News of my imminent plunge into fatherhood came as quite a shock and had me second-guessing all I thought I knew about sex. Here I was on the precipice of pubescence about to become a dad, and yet I was at least another presidential term from separating myself once and for all from my virginity. What exactly had happened in that cave?
Squeezing through the jagged insides of the pitch-black Yosemite Spider Caves earlier that morning, I had accidentally touched Amanda Corfman’s arm. Along with a red face full of embarrassment, this mistake had also apparently made me a father. Well, at least according to Amanda. Only a few months removed from my first official course in sex education², I had to at least consider for a brief, terrifying second that she was telling the truth.
However, soon logic and the condemning words of Nick Moore stepped in.
“You can’t knock a girl up like that.”
Of course not, and deep down, I did know better. Sure, I’d never touched down on Planet Ecstasy, but god knows I’d collected enough data running test flight, solo missions to know that sex was supposed to feel a lot better.
Regardless, my mind was racing and my legs felt weak as the news sunk in, although I blame the latter on a strict diet of trail mix that had been imposed for the hike. I suddenly felt distant from my fellow Woodside Elementary 7th graders; once they caught wind of the news, I would be just another statistic.
As Amanda came up along side of me, I nearly had the first 13-year-old heart attack. Her stomach had swelled to more than three times its normal size. Luckily, it was at that moment that I spotted her backpack, worn backwards, peaking out from underneath her “GUESS?” sweatshirt.
“So, are you going to ask me?” she pleaded, her usual mind-bending smile creeping to the edges of her mouth.
“Huh?” I replied as eloquently as I could manage.
“You’re not going to leave me to raise this child on my own, are you?” she asked rather dramatically, which is to say about normal for a 13-year-old girl.
“Well…” I began, before she cut me off.
“Of course I’ll marry you, it’s the only thing to do,” she beamed.
And with that the charade was in full swing.
The wedding came swiftly just a few minutes later when our trail group stopped for a break a mile from the top of Nevada Falls. The ceremony was nothing if it wasn’t efficient, with Justin Brown serving as chaplain. He married us with the power vested in him by his status as a senior in high school and adult chaperone on the trip. I think I said, “I do” although it’s hard to say. Amanda, my blushing bride, controlled the proceedings from beginning to end.
This should have come as no surprise; Amanda Corfman had an uncanny ability to control me, and any other middle school boy with a pulse. I think most girls figure out at some point during the course of their life that if they play it right, they hold all the cards when it comes to their male counterparts. For most women, this epiphany occurs somewhere around college or the early real world years. Amanda Corfman, it seems, figured it out sometime between laying in her hospital incubator and her first word, which I can only assume was “Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
Her grasp of the male psyche can perhaps best be explained through a life-altering exchange that had taken place just a few weeks before back at school. Sitting across from her on a wooden bench in the courtyard, she did a complete splits in mid-conversation. And as my jaw plummeted to the ground she offered with a look and smile that transcended suggestiveness, “You never know when that could come in handy.” In my own little 13-year-old world it was like living the interrogation scene in Basic Instinct. Part of me is still reeling to this day.
Lyndsay Hayes Maloney was “born” late that afternoon as our trail group began its trek back towards the Village. She was named after Amanda’s oldest, and she told me secretly, favorite sister (with all apologies to Cate, the middle Corfman goddess). The middle name was a salute to the 3-year-old girl my mom nannied, who Amanda had taken a liking to during her many visits to school. Amanda had even gone to the trouble of naming Hayes an honorary 7th grader; needless to say, Hayes was beyond pleased.
The birth itself was decidedly less gory than the one I’d been unfortunate enough to witness in Sex Ed. It merely consisted of Amanda moving the backpack to the outside of her clothes. Our bouncing, bubbly³ baby girl weighed in at three pounds, six ounces and had two extra front pockets perfect for carrying pens and pencils.
Word of our nuptials spread quickly that night when we joined the rest of our class at the Village dining hall. A secretly jealous group of well-wishers approached me throughout the evening offering congratulations. I greeted each one with an embarrassed smile.
My wedding night proved rather disappointing, however, as Amanda spent the night flirting up a storm, bouncing between Jeff Millichap and John Foret—the two resident doctors of cool in the 7th grade. Each one had served as Amanda’s off-again, on-again, off-again boyfriend since I had known the trio. Jeff and John, of course, always remained good friends. It’s one of those love triangles that only works in middle school.
Later around a campfire, I learned that Todd Shields, my best friend, and Lilli Milton, the girl I’d spent the last two years holding an inescapable crush on, had just been married. It might have been the first “reactionary” marriage in history. But what is junior high really but one long tug of war for attention?
It was supposed to be the greatest night of my life. Here I was married to the prettiest and most sexually suggestive 7th grader on the planet and I had just become a father of my first make believe child since kindergarten. But from what little I could tell, all I’d really gotten out of it was a brush against Amanda’s arm (which I couldn’t even see) and a shotgun wedding that I’d been guilted into. It had become plainly obvious that the entire production that day was a ploy by Amanda to enjoy her two favorite activities: have people shower her with attention and make me squirm uncomfortably.
While Amanda was off gallivanting with John and Jeff, I was left lying in bed listening to Nick Moore get acquainted with his obnoxiously loud REM breathing pattern in a tented cabin that was rumored to be infested with every arachnid known to man.
As Nick let out another rumbling snore, I turned over in bed and placed a pillow over my head. And as I did, one last thought passed through my head before I passed out from exhaustion that can only come from hiking 15 miles in a stiff pair of new jeans. It lingered for quite a while.
I’d been hosed.
Amanda and I didn’t really talk much after the Yosemite trip and when we did Lyndsay Hayes was never mentioned; I guess my fifteen minutes were up. But when I was leafing through my seventh grade yearbook a few years later, after I’d moved away and on to high school, I found a note on the inside cover that she had written:
How is Lyndsay Hayes? I love you!
Your Favorite Person,
Corfman (I mean) Maloney
I don’t think I realized it at the time, but Amanda Corfman was that girl.
The girl that when you pick up a 7th grade class photo you can pick out right away. And it’s not just because of her smile, although it does seem to radiate, even sandwiched between an overweight science teacher and a garish olive knit sweater that Nick Kromat probably should have had the better fashion sense not to wear on Picture Day.
She stands out because she’s out of place. 44 faces and bodies, all made overwhelmingly awkward by the harsh effects of puberty. And there’s her, the only 13-year-old girl with any semblance of grace. The Audrey Hepburn of the junior high set. I’m always kind of baffled that her name and face have stuck so vividly in my head all these years until I run across that picture.
It was five years later when I saw her next. The Woodside Class of ’94 was holding an informal reunion and I think in a lot of ways she was the only reason I showed up.
She arrived fashionably late and didn’t stay very long. I don’t think we even acknowledged one another when we first made eye contact. These things sometimes happen when you run into your first ex-wife.
But after everyone had eaten and dispersed throughout Greg Fontana’s backyard, she found me sitting alone in a lawn chair and promptly sat right down in my lap. Five years earlier, as an awkward and squeamish 7th grader, I probably would have fled. But, of course, time has a way of making you more comfortable with yourself and even the Amanda Corfmans of the world.
We didn’t really look at each other, and only a few words were exchanged. We just sat there, staring off into the distance contemplating questions like, “How can five years pass so quickly?”
After a long silence, we looked at each other and smiled. I came this close to asking her about our pride and joy, but I thought better of it.
Today, Lyndsay Hayes Maloney probably sits half-buried in a closet or hidden in the depths of some dusty garage. Perhaps it’s too cruel a fate for the one true relic of my first marriage. Maybe.
But hey, it’s cheaper than day care.