Brian Huff And My Break-Dancing Butterflies

28 May

I can’t remember how my older sister Sarah and I got on the subject of Brian Huff the other day–a gorgeous black kid that moved into town and became Sarah’s classmate in 7th grade.  I think we were talking about her old friend Audrey who had finally joined Facebook.  Audrey and Brian were “an item” back then, and I was jealous because, well, even though I was two years younger than him, whenever I looked at Brian, my insides got all tingly and butterflies did cartwheels in my stomach.  No.  Actually the butterflies were break-dancing in my stomach, and this was like five years before break-dancing was even invented.

In honor of Brian,  I dug up an essay I wrote upon the passing of Michael Jackson, Remembering Michael Jackson.  The essay contains a section on Brian, one of a string of black boys I chased after as a young girl, perhaps trying to find my own Michael Jackson, who also gave me those break-dancing butterflies.

Here’s the excerpt:

In the fifth grade, I had a major crush on the new boy in Sarah’s seventh grade class, Brian Huff. Brian had the same skin color as young Michael Jackson, but his afro was more square, and his eyes more almond-shaped than the roundness of Michael’s. I didn’t know if he could dance or sing, but that didn’t matter because he was super handsome. He was a friend of Sarah’s, so I knew he was a nice guy, too. I shamelessly, obviously mooned over Brian whenever he and Sarah and their group of friends were over our house, to the point of annoyance I’m sure, because one day Brian turned the tables on me.

I was dressed that morning to avoid gym class and to get noticed by Brian. I had on my blue and yellow polka-dot and floral maxi-dress. The one with the tie-sash  right where my waist-length hair brushed against it’s bow. I fancied myself more cool than looking like I stepped out of a Little House on the Prairie episode, especially with the patent leather white Mary Jane’s I sported.

As I walked down the steps of the school to get to the playground, I paused at the landing because I spotted Brian right in front of me talking to a friend of his.

“Hi, Brian,” I mustered with a goofy grin, glad that he got to see me in the maxi dress.

Brian turned and gave me an even wider grin. He walked toward me and wasn’t stopping. I backed myself against the brick wall of the school. Brian leaned his left arm right above my shoulder and leaned forward. I was just sure his afro would have brushed my forehead had I been four or five inches taller.

“So, Wendy, how are you doing?” he grinned, looking straight into my eyes.

I stared back for an instant, then immediately looked down at the buttons lining Brian’s shirt, at my Mary Jane’s, at anything but into his eyes.   I could feel the knot of the bow pressing into my back, the brick scraping my elbows, as I tried to disappear into the wall. Any words of reply that I could have uttered were stuck at the back of my throat.

After all my obvious tries at flirting and calls for attention, now that Brian was literally in my face, I didn’t have the courage to go any further. He was too old for me and I knew that. Brian Huff had called my bluff. After that day, I retreated, and never showed any signs of affection for him again.

I don’t know whatever happened to Brian Huff.   I think his family may have moved out of Waterbury when we were in high school, and once I finished high school, I never lived in town again.  And, yes, I will admit that today while writing this post, I Facebook searched him, but all that came up were white Brian Huffs.  However, there was one listed with the fb avatar and no other public postings, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where I now live…hmmmm, maybe I need to dig out that maxi dress and get up my decades older gumption.


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