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It was in yearbook class, eighth grade year. Someone had brought in a calendar with all the kooky annual holidays… ice cream day, mustard day, take your houseplants for a walk day, etc. What caught our eye, in the midst of all these idiosyncratic holidays, was August 8: National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. Maybe because we were from SoCal, maybe because we were living in OC, none of us had ever gardened or seen zucchini grow in the copious amounts it does. However, I had a neighbor across the street, Steve, who my best friend had a crush on. This holiday provided the perfect covert opportunity to tease in place of actually expressing interest. Never mind that August was months away. This had to be done.

Somehow others ended up in on this venture, and we decided to form a united front: the Zucchini Lovers’ Federation, a.k.a. the ZLF. There were five of us, so we assigned roles. I was president, my best friend Helen the vice. Kari was treasurer, and Greg and Eric were members. Each title was followed by “extra-extraordinaire” (or sometimes shortened by making it extra to the 2nd power), i.e. Greg, member extra-extraordinaire. Our first order of business was to alert Steve as to what we were up to…. and thus began the devolution of yearbook class into letter-writing endeavors.

All started “Dearest Steven,” and then went into crazy junior high hormone-inspired silliness. They were always signed “Love ‘n mush, in alphabetical order..” and then not in alphabetical order. To us, this was hilarious. The ZLF started gathering after school at Pizza Hut for lunch and letter writing sessions. We left zucchinis (and, when zucchini was in short supply, carrots dyed green with food coloring) everywhere for Steve. We showed up at his house. We called him. Why he never took out a restraining order is beyond me.

Other than, I think he knew all this was some cover for a crush. Because he wrote back, on occasion, and his mock annoyance was never very convincing. He started to leave random vegetables on my porch or in our lockers. And, all in all, he played along just well enough to keep the whole thing going.

It took until junior year of high school for all of this to pay off, but Helen finally got her man. They dated for nearly two years. Till he cheated on her and broke her heart.

Ah, the joys of youthful courtship.

*** yes, I know this is very, very odd, and it makes me sound utterly touched. But it’s all true, folks.

***I had been hoping to honor this holiday in 2007 with the vast quantities of summer squash my garden was ready to produce – but then the evil vine borer took out my entire plant in three days. I kid you not. I’m still not quite over it.

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