One day in third grade we had a substitute teacher. She was probably right out of college and was definitely very pretty. At recess she took our class to the playground. A few kids scattered to go play basketball, or climb on the jungle gym or do some other thing kids do at that age during recess, but most of us just followed her around the way your dog follows you when you’re carrying a plate of food from the kitchen to your bedroom.

At one point we were all gathered near the swings, and, being the stupidly cute kid that I was I figured that I would impress her with a daring feat of skill and bravery, thus wining her heart forever (or at least until three o’clock). So, I ran over to one of the empty swings and started swinging as fast and as high as I could. With hope fueling my dreams a boatload of kenetic energy fueling my body, I jumped.

It would have been great. I would have flown a good seven feet, landing in a thick cloud of dust and gravel. I would have impressed not only our beautiful new substitute, but also all the girls in my class who had yet to fall for my coke bottle glasses and third-grade wit. I would have been a legend… if my shirt hadn’t gotten caught on the the swing. As it was, my shirt ripped in half, I lost my balance and landed flat on my face.

And that has been a metaphor for my love life ever since.