Written by Gillianne Ross
Art by Gillianne Ross and Grace Monahan
I was having a casual conversation with my epic eleven year old cousin the other day; I am trying to instate myself as the cool older cousin – despite being a history nerd that seems to reference everything back to the Titanic or WWI. To bridge the gap, I was trying to pry for some juicy fifth-grade gossip. Obviously, I asked who his crush was, and big surprise got “I don’t know.” Well that didn’t satisfy me, so I went full on grandma mode and proceeded to tell him about my fifth-grade boyfriend. This is the story of Gecko Boy…
Like all great love stories, my pubescent romance began with awkward eye contact from across the classroom. “Does he like me, does he not?” This question can only be answered by M.A.S.H. on the school bus – everybody knows that. It was finally determined that we did in fact “like like” each other. Step two, talk to him. My leading line has always been some random ass fucking anecdote about my cat, but hey it worked so shut up. I was graced with the information that he, my five-foot, buck-toothed love, bred geckos.
Yes, geckos, as in the Geico gecko type of animal.
Well, swoon! How cool, how rad, how snazzy. We had fifth and sixth-grade dances called “Activity Nights” at my school; they were meant to force us to make friends with the kids from the four other towns that would go to middle and high school with us. Hell no. These nights were meant for dancing, cliques, and first “boyfriends and girlfriends.”
Gecko Boy asked me to one in the Fall, but it got cancelled, so once it hit Spring, it was all up to me to get that date to the dance. Brace yourself Gen Z-ers: I actually… called him on the phone.
*Side note, my cousin visibly was horrified at the idea of picking up a phone to call someone. It gets worse*
Not only was I sitting on my bed, probably having my first anxiety attack, but my mom was also coaching me on what to say – never a good idea. That was something I heavily stressed to my cousin. Do not, under any circumstances, ask your mom what to say to your crush. Anyway, I finally did it. I called. And I got the motherfucking answering machine. Can you say stress sweats and adrenaline rush, ‘cuz eleven year old me sure as shit can.
After leaving the message and hyperventilating, I had to wait the entire eight hours of school the next day for him to answer – what a little shit for doing that to me. But he said yes, and I was on cloud nine for the rest of fifth grade. This did not last, however, and ends as most of these stories do, with me crying on top of my mom’s bed. *Insert life lesson to cousin here: It is alright to cry; it is alright for boys to cry.* Yes cheesy, yes very me, yes better than a WWI fact. That is where the actual storytelling to my cousin ended.
But wait, there is more.
Flash forward through middle school and into high school, and Gecko Boy turned into a complete fuck boy. Oh yes, the short, bucktoothed, sweet kid I had a crush on, got taller, got braces, and got popular. A recipe for disaster in pretty much any context.
Gecko Boy, now fuck boy, went to a different high school than me and the rest of my town did. He was “special” and went to the private school instead. He did, however, come to our parties and stay friends with all the popular shits from my high school. Gecko Boy proceeded to get chased by the cops, have sex in a car with his best friends ex, develop slightly alcoholic tendencies, and somehow manage to graduate and get into USC.
I was never happier than to wave my high school goodbye with a good ole “fuck you,” and go on with my life. Before that actually happened though, I saw Gecko Boy one more time.
I am in Body Art on Main St. in Burlington. My new friend is getting her septum pierced. Returning from the bathroom, I pass a room that is filled with four boys. I realize that I have known them since we were winey, snotty, five year olds. Gecko Boy was among them. I said hello out of pure shock of seeing them, and proceeded to make small talk before hazily going back to my friend. That is what happens when two worlds collide – minor seizures and attempts to not yell at the boy who dumped you at thirteen. They were getting a group tattoo, the roman numeral IV, for the “core four” of their posse. I actually didn’t mind two out of the four of them, so I will spare making fun of the tattoos.
When my little cousin gets into high school, I’ll tell him the rest of the story, and what actually happened to Gecko Boy.
I just hope he’s still breeding geckos out there in California. USC is due for a gecko infestation; they already have the fuck boys.