What's a 7th grade boy to do? If you're Hec, you do something creative to impress her.
Hec marched to the student council snack bar. He set his cookies on the counter so he could shove his hand into his pocket. “Twelve packs of M&Ms, please,” he said.
Mrs. Darling, the guidance counselor, was tending the snack bar. She peered over the top of her little half glasses and her nostrils flared in disapproval. Hec wondered if she, too, was really some kind of alien invader. She certainly had never been a teenager herself.
Hec slapped the remainder of the lunch money Mom had given him on the counter. All six dollars of it.
“Surely you don’t plan to eat all twelve packages, Hector,” said Mrs. Darling.
“No ma’am!” Hec shoved the pile of crumpled bills forward.
“You’re not buying for all your friends? You know you can’t buy friendship, don’t you?”
“No ma’am. They’re for a project I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine.”
Mrs. Darling leaned over the counter and gave Hec an alien death stare. “You expect me to believe that you read Martha Stewart magazines, Hector? What are you really planning to do with these M&Ms? Shoot them from straws? Pretend they’re pills and swallow them whole? Crush them in the bleachers? Drool in Technicolor during biology? Go ahead and tell me: I’ve heard it all before.”
“Really!” Hec’s voice cracked so many times the word came out as four syllables in four different octaves. “My mom sometimes leaves her magazines in the bathroom so I look at them when I’m . . .” Hec’s voice cracked like static on a short wave radio. This was not the sort of thing he was used to talking about with women. He decided to skip the gory details and get right to the important part. “I’m gonna make roses with chopsticks. Uhm, in a basket. These are the centers. And there’s tissue paper petals!”
Mrs. Darling shook her head and handed over the candies. “Honestly, Hector. If you used half this much brainpower on your homework you’d be at Harvard by now, a child prodigy on a full scholarship.” But Hec wasn’t listening. He had his candies and was plotting his next step.
And what was Hec's next step? Just like he had said, it was a bouquet of roses for Sandy.
Hec's inspiration gave me inspiration. I thought it would be great publicity if I created a bouquet like Hec's and posted it on Pinterest. Why, I told myself, I could get a friend to film me making the flowers and post it on YouTube. The video would go viral! People all over the country would be making bouquets like Hec's! I could become a YouTube and Pinterest sensation!
So I went to the supermarket and bought supplies. I took them home and laid them out on the kitchen counter.
And proceeded to make a mess.
Two hours later, I had a large pile of wadded up tissue paper. I had a basket filled with pink and red somethings, with M&M centers. I wouldn't call them flowers. And I wouldn't post them on YouTube. Or Pinterest.
But maybe, just maybe, my bouquet is whimsical and earnest enough to win the heart of a 7th grade girl.
Which is, after all, why it was created in the first place.