For some reason, I've been in a reflective mood for the past few days, and I've been thinking about high school. While I was sitting at my desk at work today, I unearthed some memories of a girl named Dawn, someone I hadn't thought about in years. We knew each other through youth group, and though we were never much more than acquaintances, she was always very friendly towards me. Dawn was a petite brunette with a big smile and a bubbly personality, and she was very affectionate. She just knew how to perk up your mood.
I, on the other hand, was just as awkward as I am today, if not more so. I probably looked a lot like Josh Towers, all skin and bones and long, gangly limbs and quirky fashion sense. Yet for some reason, Dawn started calling me "Hercules", or even "my Hercules". I honestly couldn't tell whether she was teasing me or if it was a genuine term of endearment. Not only did I take a lot of teasing in high school (though I endured much of it with good humor), but my intuition for those sort of things was still undeveloped. I've honed my radar in the subsequent decade (oh God, it really has been ten years), but at the time I was often willfully oblivious. Sure, I allowed my mind to wander when she sat in my lap at a friend's birthday party, but I figured that she was just being flirtatious, as she'd been before with mutual friends. She even tried to set me up with her younger sister once. Talk about mixed signals!
A year or two after I last saw Dawn, I heard that she had a child of her own; she was still a teenager at that time. I don't really know anything else about her whereabouts, but I'm grateful that I knew her. After all, today was another monotonous Monday in a cubicle in a windowless office, a day of paper cuts and the whining drone of the fax machine. But then I suddenly remembered a time when a goofy, skinny kid was someone's Hercules for no adequately explained reason, and I smiled to myself.