This is the great original sighting, occurring in the spring of 1987 when I was a third grade boy. Some context: my official “hometown” is a tiny rural enclave in southern Minnesota with 288 people according to the most recent census. A new addition to the community back in the mid-1980s was Angie, a 17-year-old high school girl who reportedly had some mental health issues. Angie was unattractive, but on several occasions eluded to her kid sister Darla, who was a year younger and, according to Angie, was smoking hot. Darla was “away”, most likely at reform school, but Angie kept telling us she would be moving to town in the near future. Most of us kids on the school bus were skeptical that the gene pool that produced Angie could produce some major league babe, but we were proven wrong when Darla moved to town for a few short months in early 1987.
Darla was a brunette so attractive that I still remember her pretty face even though high school girls generally didn’t excite me when I was in third grade. She had the 80’s “big hair” thing going on too, looking like a potential stand-in for Heart or The Bangles or one those girl bands from the era. I lived at a country place a couple miles outside of town and the town kids got off the bus before I did. As a nine-year-old kid, I sat in the front half of the bus while the high schoolers sat near the back, so as the town kids got dropped off, I would look at the line of departing students make their way towards the front door, and almost every day saw Darla extract a Marlboro red from her pack and dangle it unlit from her lips as she walked past me. Within one or two steps after exiting the bus, she brought that cigarette to life with her lighter.
This routine played out nearly every day, and I would watch in awe from my school bus window. It was the first time I ever remember being sexually excited by a girl. And although my early elementary fantasies always included girls in my class smoking, it never produced the specific “excitement” that seeing Darla light up did. Even when I was home in the evening, I would think of Darla smoking and get turned on. Sadly, the family moved away the following year, but those few sweet months of her presence in town was all it took to help solidify the creation of the hard-core smoking fetisher that Mark would become.