Warning: pointless anecdote ahead.
Sheila Estefan had no middle name, which was fair enough because ‘Sheila’ and ‘Estefan’ were enough.
She was my crush when I was 13 years old.
Sheila had come from Chile as a young child. She had beautiful, dark hair, olive skin, long eyelashes. A ready smile and well-maintained teeth. Fit and sporty. Smart. Polite. Beloved by teachers. Participated in every club and school production. A goody-two-shoes.
Other girls’ mums called her, ‘Little Miss Prim and Proper’.
But I liked her a lot. She was in my dreams. All sorts of dreams.
At first I had her to myself (in my secret imagination) because she was dorky and not very popular. The next year, however, guess what? Physical changes took place. My idiot mate pointed across the classroom one day and said, “Look, Sheila’s grown tits! Pretty big, hahahahaha.” As though I had not noticed.
She and I were both in the school swimming squad. Ah, teenage swimming tournaments – what else can get a lad’s testosterone flowing like a feat of sporting prowess performed in front of scantily-clad peers of the opposite sex?
But my event was breaststroke, the least glamourous. I can’t remember hers – my attention must have been elsewhere. It may have been backstroke because I recall a certain wiggling motion in her one-piece. I can’t remember if either of us got a place nor our school’s overall result.
When the mini-bus got back to school, classes was already finished. There was nothing to do but grab our bags and go home. We found ourselves alone in the corridor for a moment. She was looking at the bulletin board when she glanced over at me with a smile and said something about it, and we had a brief, friendly conversation. We had not really spoken before and it had never occurred to me to try.
She went home. I went home. Walking up that suburban hill in the blistering summer heat, I felt a rush like nothing else I’d experienced in my short life. That, I think, was the moment puberty hit. Hormones were racing, my head was spinning. It lasted for days.
Later I realized that she had thought her friend was still in the corridor and had actually started talking to her, not me. Oh, well. A boy can dream.
I think we spoke from time to time after that, the silly teasing boys do to get a girl’s attention, nothing more.
One day in science class, Sheila and her friend were sitting at the next table talking about the upcoming dance. Sheila said she would go alone because she didn’t have a partner. Her friend, a Solomon Islander called Charity who was actually quite nice, turned and said, “Why don’t you go with Nik?” In the second before she replied, my heat stopped.
“Eww, no, he’s ugly,” said Sheila.
Well, I thought. That clarifies things. I felt justified in never having asked her out, or any other girl. Kylie in Grade 6 had also told me how ugly I was so I concluded that I was too horrifically unattractive to ever have a girlfriend in my life.
Such cruelty is common in school. Kids can be cunts. People forget that as they get older and learn some manners.
I was heartbroken but my feelings for her were unchanged until one day she came to school with short hair and I didn’t like her anymore. The spell was broken. I noticed how irritating her voice was, how despite being the teachers’ pet she could actually be quite nasty, how her bum was getting too big. She was a bit out of shape by then.
Such is the fickleness of teenage love.
Because she has such a unique name (pretty proud of the one invented for this article btw, it’s similarly weird), I realized it would be easy to look her up.
She’s an ordinary looking, middle-aged single mum living in a country town. True to her character, she does a lot of self-promotion and spruiks various homemade products and her fitness blog, but after reading a little I figured out that her main occupation is working in the local supermarket.
So much for Sheila Estefan.
Anyway, I wish her well. Saw no reason contact her. I’m sure she’s matured a lot and is a lovely person now, probably ashamed of that incident if she remembers it, which she probably doesn’t. Come to think of it, there are no doubt forgotten sins in my own past.
Imagine, my dear reader. Imagine if your future self could travel back in time and show your teenage self a picture of your crush in middle-age.
Would this be a kindness or a torment? Who knows. In any case, it is an impossibility. The law of increasing entropy drags us in only one direction.
Still, there’s a part of me that will always be envious of blokes who got teenage pashing action with the Sheilas of our school days. For some of us, the main lesson of adolescence is the one thing the Boomers got right:
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