I can’t flip through channels and see the San Francisco 49ers without thinking of him. I can’t even see any of their memorabilia because the colors alone take me back. Starting in 7th grade, my entire existence revolved around Coach Scott McCahon and his red and khaki Ford Bronco.
Why his Bronco? Simple—where it was, he was. Why did I love this mustached man? Only the Good Lord knows. But if I had a nickel for every time I mentally slow danced to Madonna’s Crazy For You with him, I could own a small island in the Maldives. With a chef. And an island boy who fanned me and kept me hydrated with top shelf mojitos.
Who knows why young love is so fierce and undying? It’s also a little blind and nauseating—I now realize—as I flip through my journal and read page after mortifying page about each of our “encounters”. I use that term incredibly loosely, as a typical reaching-for-my-journal-interaction would include brief eye contact and a “Hello” or “Hi” of some sort. He was clearly not spending his days and nights lamenting the cards we were dealt and wishing we could be together. I bet he didn’t even test drive my name with his last name in his head.
That aside, I thought he was beautiful—or “SO FINE” my tween self declared. He was lanky and fit and taught history. I’m also sure he was brilliant. Of course he was—he was a football coach who taught history. Hello.
The best part of the crush, aside from occasionally getting to see him in jeans (Wranglers, no less), was that one of my best friends lived two houses away from him. Knowing I was getting to spend the night at Dusty Jordan’s was like looking forward to a trip to Disney World. I’d fixate on it for days on end, unable to concentrate on school in any way.
Looking back, it makes no sense that I’d get so excited about those sleep-overs. The absolute most that would happen is we’d see him driving up the hill in his Bronco—and get to wave. That’s it. My gosh, I was easy. We did attempt to pay him a visit or ten, but shockingly, he never answered the door. “He’s not home,” I’d turn and tell Dusty. “We just saw him pull in his driveway,” she’d reply. “Yeah. Well, he’s probably really caught up in working on next week’s lesson plans. He’s really devoted.”
The worst day I recall as a 7th grader was finding out he was moving to the high school to teach and coach. It was unfathomable that I could endure 8th grade without him. In all likelihood, you’re reading this and jovially thinking how cute that is. But no. When I say I was despondent, I mean, on the inside I was inconsolable. If I’d been able to speak of my love for him as it really felt—and not some truncated “he’s so cute!”—people would have suggested professional help. Ok, that just took an unnecessary dramatic turn. But at a minimum, they would have pointed me to the school counselor.
In fact, there were two particularly dramatic entries in my journal from that time. One is about the “horrindus” fight Dusty and I got in because she told me I was ridiculous about him. I don’t know if I’m more wounded over the memory of the fight or my poor spelling describing the gravity of the confrontation.
The second journal entry was about how Holly Holt was “probably my best friend” because we “really get each other” but that it might be time to reassess the situation, due to the fact that she “no longer loves him the way I do.” I actually wrote (and this is gross, so skip ahead if you have a weak love stomach), “I mean, all we ever do is make up fantasies about him! NOW WHAT WILL WE DO?!” I’m sure I flung myself face-first into my pillow after writing that last all-capped part.
You’ll be happy to know that I did survive my 8th grade year; but, not without the help of the few visits he paid the middle school each month to have lunch with his coaching buddies. I’d be in choir, barely carrying a tune, but feeling like Streisand, when I’d see from the corner of my eye, his red and khaki Bronco. I’d have to just start mouthing “w-a-t-e-r-m-e-l-o-n”—something we were taught to do if we forgot the words—because all my focus was gone, gone, gone. In my head was this very elaborate running commentary, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.”
Would I get to see him and catch up on all the latest goings on? Nope. But my glimpse of him from the choir room and an extremely fortunate, “Hi!” as I passed by him later and got to smell his Polo cologne was all it took to fill me back up.
Speaking of said cologne, the aforementioned journal from those years contained a special page. As shown, I glued his picture in the corner and added some declarations. I finished it off the only way I knew how—with a couple of spritzes of Polo cologne. To this day, it’s retained its scent. I don’t know if that’s incredible or terrifying.
Once I got to high school, my crush remained strong. I think I was more at ease with it because I was able to see him regularly and not spend an inordinate amount of time lamenting the dreadful moments in between sightings. I pretty much knew where I could see him or “incidentally” pass him most moments of the day. We had fairly little contact, although when we did, he was decently nice. He clearly did not share my intense feelings of love—or even seem aware of my allure—but he was usually pleasant.
It wasn’t until I started seeing the types of girls who did get more of his attention that my love for him gradually began to wane. The same few upperclassmen would hang around his classroom or outside his door with him as he monitored traffic between bells. These girls were not athletes or in theater or even choir. They were the ones I’d labeled “extracurricular whorebags”. I know that’s harsh, but when you’re a scrawny tomboy who thinks of two things—basketball and slow dancing with Coach McCahon—the big breasted partiers with their Texas Aquanet bangs, hanging on his every word, really hits below the belt.
I’d lay in bed listening to Hard Habit To Break by Chicago and wonder why he’d be interested in girls whose chief talent was looking sexy and fake laughing at every boy’s joke. Wouldn’t that get old? I couldn’t figure out why their big breasts mattered so much. All they did was sit there, looking like the buoys at Lake Meredith. Wouldn’t it be more fun to play with me in the gym or throw around the football?
Of course, looking back, it all makes perfect sense. And I highly doubt he was truly interested in them, other than enjoying their girly laughs and consistent attention. Who doesn’t appreciate a little adoration? Also, it was best that these girls helped me move beyond my adolescent crush. At the rate I was going, who knows where I would have stopped? Shoe polishing “Anna McCahon” on his Bronco?
I even wonder where he is today or if he has any clue how many of us crushed him so hard. I have a feeling it would come as quite a shock. He might even be mortified to see a picture of the page I dedicated to him in my journal. What he would not experience is the knockout punch of decades-old Polo wafting off the aged page. You’re welcome, Coach McCahon—you’re welcome.
I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.