Monday, August 08, 2016

A Note for Jori

A Note for Jori

I don’t know what possessed her to write me that love letter, but there it was, perfect penmanship, hearts and everything. She was the eventual 8th grade valedictorian; smart, popular, outgoing, preposterously beautiful. And she had written a love letter to me; a newb, an outsider, a quiet bookworm, the smallest boy in our class, complete with cokebottle-thick taped-together public-aid eyeglasses.

It just didn’t make any goddamned sense.

Apparently, I had caught her eye by twice being on the ass-end of one-sided fistfights against guys twice my side. Each fight was prematurely ended by a teacher intercepting my attempts to escalate the battles. The first deflected my well-aimed chair tossing. The second stopped me before I could decapitate my foe with my lunch tray. In her note, she mentioned the fire in my eyes; the defiant glare despite the bruises and bloodied lip. She said that I was beaten, but never defeated. Or defeated, but never beaten. I don’t remember exactly, but it was an adequately deep thought for a mind as brilliant as hers.

I wrestled with how to respond. Regardless of how it was framed, I just couldn’t wrap my brain around her interest in me. It had to be a cruel prank of some kind. Wouldn’t have been the first time a girl feigned interest in me only to laugh at my sincerely sappy response. I cherished the note as well as my radioactive crush on her, but I took no action. Even when she talked to me as often as she could. Even that one time when she grabbed my booty in the hallway and winked at me when no one was looking. OK, prank or not, that was pretty cool having the most popular girl in school grab my ass. I guess you can say that I peaked too soon romantically.

Finally, I summoned up the courage to write Jori back. (Yes, her name was Jori! Isn’t that the most beautiful name you’ve ever heard? Nearly 30 years later and I’m still swooning.) I poured my heart and soul into that four-page letter, letting her know how much her words, her gentleness and her kindness meant to an undeserving schmuck like me; letting her know all the things I wanted to do to make her feel as wonderful as she made me feel. That was a kitchen-sink letter. I totally brought metaphorical metaphysical gravity to the situation.

I just didn’t know how to deliver such a heavy letter. I was inevitably undone by my social awkwardness, and the letter was intercepted by other bullies, who took great joy in reading it aloud to the entire student body, as others held me back from my frantic, vain efforts to recover it and my dignity. I could only watch as Jori’s face reddened from the humiliation. I knew then that she was sincere. I also knew that she probably couldn’t risk her popularity by speaking to me again. I wish I could tell you some sort of moral victory to be gleaned from this tragicomedy, but I’ve got nothing for ya. All this situation did was confirm my fears that I was born to lose and that I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life. This fear shaped many unfortunate adult decisions for me.

Crimson autumn leaves
Spinning, falling around us
The barren branches

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: A Little Romance prompt.  


  1. A riveting story, despite the sad ending – and an incredibly beautiful haiku which I think is everything the haiku for a haibun ought to be.

  2. I'm sitting here speechless. It's not the kind of write one returns with empty platitudes. That kind of humiliation and pain indeed lasts a lifetime. Beautifully written! The haiku is a nutshell of lifetime's story in metaphor.

  3. I felt your fear, sadness and humiliation after that incident. Well done with the prose and that haiku just soars with the crimson autumn leaves falling. Thanks for the personal share Barry.

  4. Aw, man. I was rooting for you, throughout.

  5. Based on the pic here on your site, it looks like after all the sadness in this haibun, you have found love. I am glad and some things, alas, are not meant to be. The haiku is beyond perfection for this.

  6. Such an example of harm done by bullies. I can understand her attraction--anyone willing to stand up for himself is going to garner such attention.

  7. "Metaphorical metaphysical gravity" and "tragicomedy," great words! I went to school with a girl named Jori. She was the older sister of a girl in my class- I won't say a friend, but we were polite to each other. It must be something about Jori, because everyone compared her younger sister to her. Guess who came out on top?

  8. SMiLes.. the bullying of school.. particularly
    the middle one of puberty can kill the
    heart and soul of art and romance
    in other inclined folks..
    as i surely can attest
    for a 40 years of desert
    in creativity spoiled by
    mostly males who were afraid
    of anything that wasn't away
    from art and love.. anyway.. i
    was smart and that kept me going
    all through life.. in standard IQ way..
    but the lost creativity and romantic
    potential in some ways.. was
    a greater loss
    than gains
    of standard
    iQ.. then.. THEN..
    anyway.. to make
    12 million or so words
    shorter.. than THaT..
    i overcame
    i overcame
    in super epic way..
    and the modern version
    of me that is still getting
    even physically stronger at
    56 thanks those bullies for pushing me
    over the moon.. over the sun.. where even
    to shine..

    Colors of
    Super Epic as iNoWv.2..:)

    And ps.. in a hEart as large
    as mine.. i could only offer
    advice to help those bullies now..
    in fact.. i tried a little.. but i scared the
    F out
    of them
    no doubt..
    as they've never seen
    and undomesticated
    like me NoW..
    wHeRe the wild things ARE iSREaL..;)

  9. I too found this a riveting tale. I hope in time you found someone to make you not feel alone.

  10. Hi Barry!

    Can you please contact me at: ?