The girls at my junior high swooned over the athletic boys in their uniforms.

The Serbian girl with green socks thought I looked hot in my altar boy vestments.

I really just wanted peace and quiet serving as an altar boy my 8th grade year at a Chicago coed Catholic school. But Anka wasn’t about to let that happen. She was a transfer to our school that year and although I didn’t have any classes with her we exchanged glances in the hall a few times. She didn’t look like the rest of the girls but was more attractive than most. I stopped looking at her in the hall because she started giving me dirty looks. I never talked to her until St. Patrick’s Day when I turned around while doing altar boy chores in the sacristy and found her leaning in the doorway wearing emerald-green knee socks.

“You look kinda hot in that outfit,” she said.

Being an altar boy was a respite from 8th grade drama and the soul-crushing first love breakup I’d gone through that year. I tried to work as many morning masses during the week as they would allow. After school I’d sit in the church pew and do my homework. I’d stare at the stained glass. It was peaceful. But now here was Anka.

“Oh,” I replied. “Thanks.”

I wanted to say the same thing about her and her Irish socks but was too timid. Those days were still a few years away for me.

Anka followed me around the sacristy, asking me about my duties as an altar server. At one point she sat on a counter with her legs with those green socks crossed as she played around with a chalice. She jumped down when I opened the walk-in safe that held sacramental items.

She followed me inside, grabbed a handful of Communion wafers and put them in her pocket. “Shhhh,” she said. “I won’t tell if you won’t. You take some too. Eat them in homeroom tomorrow.”

I never thought about doing that, ever, and then Anka walks in and suddenly I’m like, “Yea, why not, they haven’t been blessed yet anyway.”

Next was the sacramental wine. We each had a sip. Then she pulled me towards her and licked my lips. Then she walked away and stuck her tongue out, displaying a wet wafer.

“I’ll see you in the halls, Liffey,” she said. “And your name is stupid.”