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The Farm

Male Bag

By Tina Dunlap

This is the first in a series of love letters, hate mail, and other correspondence from guys that I've saved over the years. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent.Thanks from the bottom of my socks!

[The front of the card shows Charlie Brown saying, "Thanks from the bottom of my socks!" The ubiquitous Mr. Brown appears again on the inside of the card saying, "Somehow 'Thanks from the bottom of my heart' didn't seem deep enough!" The handwriting reads "Tina, This is for the thanks of going out with me. I sent the card because I was in the mood. P.S. I love you (Still). P.S.S. I love you but you don't love me (Right). Love Ken"]

Kenny Canaperi was my boyfriend for a brief time in the seventh grade. Being my boyfriend basically involved walking me from class to class and exchanging an occasional mash note. We never kissed. I'm not sure we ever held hands. I wasn't even really that nice to him. So I don't know what inspired the heated devotion to me expressed in this card.

I was in my Pat Benatar phase at the time, which means I wore a lot of cheap makeup and bangle bracelets and color-coordinated outfits designed to make me look like a rag-tag street urchin (or street walker, in my mother's eyes). Kenny was cute and preppy, with a certain smugness about him. I have a picture of him wearing a pink polo shirt with a white sweater tied around his shoulders. He probably used as much hair spray as I did. People might think I was attracted to him in the same mismatched way that Molly Ringwald was to Andrew McCarthy in "Pretty In Pink." But the truth is that I was using him.

Kenny's brother Joe was in eighth grade. He played bass in a new-wave band called Forbidden Colours (yes, with a "u"). He had long peroxided bangs that fell over one eye. I thought he was a dead ringer for Rob Lowe, which diminished Kenny's cuteness to that of Chad Lowe. I used to go to the Canaperis' house under the pretense of watching videos in the basement with Kenny, but I was really watching Joe shoot hoops in the driveway. I could see most of him through the windows along the top of the wall behind the TV. He wore Chuck Taylors and had hairy legs. I was smitten.

I love youOf course, he paid no attention to me, but I continued the relationship with Kenny with the notion that someday Joe would notice me, fall to his knees, and break into some Duran Duran-inspired love ballad. I never officially broke up with Kenny. I think I just decided to stop liking him after school let out for the summer. Maybe I realized that any slim chance I'd have with his brother would be blown once he left for high school that fall (high school girls intimidated the hell out of me).

Kenny would call me and I'd refuse to talk to him. He'd show up at my house and my mom would say I wasn't home. He eventually tracked me down at my friend Kathy's house one rainy night. After she told him I wouldn't come to the door, he stood in the street yelling for me to come out and talk to him. I didn't, even after he laid down on the wet pavement threatening to let himself be run over by a hydroplaning vehicle (it seemed unlikely in Kathy's quiet subdivision). Later that week, I got this card in the mail.

In the words of my former idol, I was a "Heartbreaker, Dream Maker, Love Taker, Don't you mess around with me!"