It was the third grade, and at the tender age of eight I was deeply in love. At that age, it was very much like Charlie Brown and the Little Red-Haired Girl, except that my inamorata had curly brown hair and flashing eyes. Her name was Laura Sowinski. At that age, I somehow thought she was Swiss because Sowinski sounded like the word Swiss. (Eight-year-old logic!)
Did I ever whisper sweet nothings to her? No, I don’t think that ever happened at that age. Mrs. McCaffery ran a tight ship in our basement classroom, and any kind of childish spooning would have been nipped in the bud right quick.
Catholic schools like Saint Henry had, in those days, many off days. Sometimes, we did not know until the day before that we would be off the next day. When one of these sudden free days was announced, I was home with a cold and didn’t get the word. So, naturally, I walked to Saint Henry the next day, only to find the school deserted.
The word got around quickly. At the time, Saint Henry had a newsletter, for which the gifted and cruelly beautiful Laura Sowinski was the artist. On the next issue of The Golden Knight, there I was on the back page, in a particularly goofy rendition, walking up the drive to class with a bunch of books secured with a belt. The caption read, “James Paris Going to School on a Free Day.” I was appalled, shamed before the entire school, devastated—my heart had been minced up and handed to me on a lead platter by la belle dame sans merci. My love had turned to ignominy and shame.
I do not know what became of Laura Sowinski, and frankly I don’t care. The bitch!