About a thousand years ago, when I was in grade school, I had the distinct displeasure of wearing an enormous traction cast on my arm. The indignity of that awkward fashion accessory was compounded by the fun fact that I got to sleep in a sitting position. Holding a badly broken bone in position is, after all, the entire purpose of traction.
The horse-ride-gone-bad, that led up to the whole cast scenario, was a great story until I had to admit it was a Shetland pony. It's hard to be cool telling people you broke your arm when thrown off a Shetland pony.
For the record, that was one vicious little horse! I'm not sure if other people believe ponies can be possessed by evil spirits, but I am convinced that one was! There was a reason we only paid $35 for that beast.
But I have digressed. Back to the story of the cast and my suave eleven-year-old self.
There was an upside to having a huge cast. It had a lot of surface area for signatures. Whoever invented the tradition of having friends sign a cast was a genius. I never had to ask anyone to sign it, as they all volunteered. That was a good thing, because, other than family, it would have been blank. Painfully shy introverts tend to not run around asking favors of others.
As in most good stories, there was a love interest. And that's the part where my debonair charm came into play.
You may be asking yourself how debonair charm and painfully shy introvert can coexist in one person. I admit, that is somewhat of a paradox. But within my shy mind there existed a fanciful persona of myself that has never actually made it to the surface.
So upon that plaster prison that weighed heavily on my shoulder and psyche, I “signed” the name of my crush du jour. I don't remember who she was or even what her name was. But undoubtedly she was a vision of beauty with the elegance of a princess. I do remember I even put a little heart by the signature. Naturally, that was all done on the part of the cast that was held against my body and, consequently, out of view. I didn't want to get busted.
Looking back on the event, it was hysterical.
I only ever showed that brilliant forgery to my two closest friends. I wanted someone to recognize how suave and charming I was. I don't know if they fell for it. They may have just played along to patronize my idiotic fantasy life. Or, maybe they recognized that I would someday be a fiction writer, and were foresighted enough to support my early effort. I had never thought of that possibility before.
The bottom line is, if you think I'm an awkward misfit now, you should have seen me forty-odd years ago.