It was almost five o’clock. I chucked my homework aside and dashed out of my house, situated in brick building in Inwood, to stand on the stoop like I always did that that hour. I was in love – again. I stood on the stoop waiting for my latest crush – “him” – to walk by as he usually did at that hour. When he walked by I got a tingly sense in my legs, my heart fluttered, too. He was tall, had jet black hair and a profile like Apollo at the museum. Lean, but muscular, he might have been an athlete, thought I, dreamily. Trouble was he never glanced my way – always straight ahead like a sentry at the royal palace. I had to find out who he was.
So, I asked Mrs. Casey, the neighborhood’s know-it-all. She knew who was getting married, who was seen coming out of whose apartment, the price of sirloin steak, tomorrow’s forecast, had a cure for athlete’s foot or rheumatism and what horse was a best bet at Belmont in the third race. {50023}
“Oh! You mean Alphonso Tall Tree. Oneida Indian from upstate, New York. Studying to be a medic. Lives with a family in my building. Nice fellow.”
“Indian?” I was clearly disappointed he wasn’t Greek like I suspected – like I hoped. Still, he was sure nice to look at. So, I continued standing on the stoop hoping he’d look my way. Not a chance! He’d always looked straight ahead and never at me. Medic! Hmmm, maybe if I can fall off the stoop. Nah! What if he just walked away leaving me to get up and limp home. Did I really expect that hunk to notice a skinny, stringy-haired Greek girl; a high school junior? He may not have noticed me, but Papa did.
“Don’t you have homework – or, something?” he asked, waving his hand as signal to get in the house. Oh, yeah! Homework! I almost forgot. That day, he’d have to go by without me on the stoop watching and waiting for him. Hey! Maybe, he’d notice I wasn’t there and ask someone where’s that girl – my admirer?
That evening we all sat – Mama, Papa and my brother Nickie, in front of our precious possession, a black and white, 17 inch TV, watching a cowboy western. Cowboys on horses were kicking up dust, shooting tons of bullets at an enemy behind them as they headed towards a fort to safety. John Wayne, face covered with a kerchief, led the way. Not far behind them came a band of hoopin’ n’ hollerin’ Indians, in war paint and little clothing, shooting bows and arrows at the escaping cowboys whose chances for survival seemed slim. I searched the band for someone who might resemble Alphonso Tall Tree. Nickie got excited. He cried out, “Oh, my God! Here comes the bad guys! They’ll kill them poor cowboys. Gee, they’re mean. They’re dangerous and…”
Papa, leaning back, his arms behind his head, gave a swift glance at me before returning his attention on the TV said, “Be quiet, Nickie! That’s no way to talk about our future in-laws.”
That helped put a big damper on all my romantic notions about Alphonso Tall tree. At least, with my curiosity and my latest crush, crushed, safely harnessed, I could concentrate on homework a little more – just a little.


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