Tiny Love Stories: ‘Hey’ Is Not ‘Heyy’

When I was 3 months old, my father bought me an elephant named Donna. We kept her in our two-acre yard in Orange, Conn. My only “memories” of Donna are from other peoples’ stories: the enormous piles of dung my brothers had to shovel, the time she ate my mother’s rose bushes, her “bedroom” fashioned out of a converted garage. My father was a diesel truck mechanic and my mother a homemaker. We weren’t rich, just working-class people. “Love makes you do crazy things,” my father liked to say. — Judith Nacca

I was 16 with Pakistani parents as traditional as they come. His family was proudly American, too proud for a brown girl like me. Neither house held open doors so we scrambled into my parent’s Pontiac. Each kiss was resistance. Legs cramped as the hours passed, but cup holders held sustenance in the form of strawberry milkshakes. That first love was finding obscure parking lots and fogging up windows. It was discovering clothes in the back seat and smirking as I was driven to church on a Sunday. Sharmeen Chauhdry

The kitchen whiteboard was erased, replaced by our 7-year-old’s survey: “Isabel is going to get her ears perest or run away. Wich one do you choose?” “P. S. Once you choose you have to let her do it!!” Then a chart, with choices: “ears perst” or “runaway.” “Put a ✔ in the spase you want.” To her older brother: “Jeff you have to do it as if you incredibly cared for me.” Lastly: “P.S. I don’t care if I spell thing rong.” Proud of Isabel’s defiance and ingenuity, my wife and I eventually let her get her ears “perst.” — Robert Schroeder

There were signs she liked me. An invitation here, a late-night text there. The excitement, smiles and sincerity — all of which I was too clueless to notice. Then came a deliciously warm night, fueled by cheap drinks and music in a dimly lit Shanghai karaoke establishment. A missing cellphone, a search through a maze of hallways, a slowed pace, an interlocking of arms, a quiet “Can I kiss you?” As my oblivious mind tried to come to its senses, I blurted: “Sorry, but are you gay?” A few years later, I can proudly confirm that we both are. — Elizabeth Forman

“Heyy,” his message read. My heart fluttered. One “y” may have left me upset, but the second “y” — that was promising. Such a simple yet ambiguous greeting. Did he want to hang out? Was he going to confess his love? Oh! He was typing. A double text! It was my lucky day. I broke a sweat waiting for his response. How should I respond? “Hi!”? “I am in love with you”? My message had to show the same amount of interest as his. He responded! “Sorry didn’t mean the extra ‘y.’” Oh. — Julia DiGeronimo

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