When I was ten I fell in love with Emma Thomas, the cousin of my best friend, Jonathan (or ‘Johnny’ if you want to sound as cool, street and tough as we did). She had just transferred to our school from some netherworld (possibly Tenby) like some bob-cut, golden haired angel in a tartan skirt and frilly white blouse. She was shy and demure and I instantly saw a kindred soul. Of course, where a girl is ‘shy and demure, a boy is ‘gangly, awkward and the general consensus is that his demeanour is that of a future serial killer’ but you get my meaning. I had no idea how to approach this vision, I could barely speak when I saw her and immediately began reading up on resuscitation techniques, so sure was I that they would be needed upon myself just from her walking into the room.
So desperate was I to connect with her that I began leaving money in her desk. Not notes or cheques or anything like that, but just whatever change I could rustle together and every lunch time I would sneak into the classroom and leave it in the flip lid desk where she sat. I made sure that the resident blabber mouths knew it was me so that they would pass it on and, voila, my siege upon her heart had begun. This was no easy task, mind you, as money was very hard to come by so the daily scrounging, begging, borrowing and stealing from the various ‘change holes’ at home was an ambitious and grueling affair. But in the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi, “You gots ta play da bitch if you wanna be da star.”
Or was that Snoop Dogg? I forget.
Anyway, this proceeded for about a week and a half and as I saw my personal fortune fade, I was sure that it had triggered some unknown smouldering passion in Ms. Emma Thomas. I would sit in quivering anticipation after every lunch break as she returned to her desk and open the lid to find her bounty of rusty old coins, delivered with pre-teen love. She would shoot me a glance which I interpreted as glares of molten hot love, but which just as easily could have been her mind racing for the phone number of the local police station. I was sure that this was how love happened, that this was how you tied one’s heart to another. Of course, in hindsight, it probably resembles the procedural elements of prostitution with me offering daily money for unknown future transactions but at the time it was pure romance.
That was until during a ‘kissing dare’ game she refused me and tongue kissed Andrew Mould instead. I was devastated. As I stood there watching for the full ten minute duration of their dribbling, catastrophic, tongue melting snog, I realized that something had gone awry. How had this happened? Did I not do all the right things; shown initiative, done everything sneaky and underhanded like all true romantics do? Had I not showered with riches, or at the very least the only riches a ten year old boy in West Glamorgan who had to climb a wooden ladder to get to bed nightly through a hole in the roof could muster!? I had not forced myself upon her, had not been an obnoxious jerk or macho dick! In my mind I had been an old fashioned gentleman and a million miles away from the actuality of a creepy, awkward lonely ten year old creeping around classrooms at lunchtime redistributing small pieces of metal worth very little in a financial sense.
Yet Andrew Mould was an obnoxious jerk, a macho dick and it was he that had gained the most value treasure of the m all, Emma Thomas’ tongue. At that moment of realization, all sense and reason left my world, never to return.
As I grew older, it was hammered home to me, again and again, that the meek shall not inherit the earth. All they shall inherit is being stuck in the corner at parties as the hot girl tells you all her problems, because she thinks you’re ‘nice’ before she goes and fucks the brains out of the nearest loud, brain dead neanderthal. The notion was continuously presented to me that women preferred ‘dangerous’ men, ne’er do wells… rebels! The only way I could appear ‘dangerous’ it seemed, was to strap ten pounds of explosives to myself and walk into a public place. I was somewhat certain this was not the same thing and that it was rather unlikely to change my romantic circumstances.
Of course, Charles Manson garners an enormous amount of female admirers for such behavior, but most of them have moustaches and are likely to sell your kidneys while sleeping. Still, to paraphrase Paul Simon, there were times when I would have taken some comfort there…
One time, in my late teens, two girls took my friend and I back to their place after a night of heavy brain cell abuse. My friend almost instantly disappeared into the bedroom with the blonder and more nubile of the two, leaving me with the nicer, far lovelier friend. She was like a reflection of me. She was ‘nice’ and easy to talk to. No one would have said that she was stunning, or have made a bee line across a crowded room to get to her. She was far from ugly, but her beauty was deeper, less obvious and more meaningful, the kind you would fall very heavily for. I had hoped the same could have been said for me, but at the time I was fairly sure that I had all the sex appeal of the bottom of a bin.
Still, we sat up all night talking and as the sun came up and we found ourselves sitting in the garden (or the gravelly strip under her kitchen window) she told me that it had been her birthday that previous day. She went on to tell me that her friend had taken her out with the guarantee that she was going to get laid on her birthday. That’s why I was there. Poor girl. I apologized profusely that she had been lumbered with such an oblivious unit as myself and she was gracious. In fact, she was more than gracious and told me that she had preferred the night she had been given; one of talking, laughing, really connecting with someone. I should have stayed with her.
Unfortunately, around that time my friend came barreling out of the bedroom and informed me that we had to leave immediately. Apparently, the blonder more nubile friend was something of a lunatic and after my friend had suffered from a case of ‘Irish Curse’, she had informed him that she didn’t care and only needed his semen anyway. She wanted him to be a daddy.
He grabbed me by my collar and in his mad rush to eject himself from the situation grabbed the phone number my far gentler and loving female had written down for me. With rushed, pulled upon goodbyes we left and navigated the labyrinth back alleys of Fitzroy to freedom. The next day I called my friend and asked him for the phone number he had been given. He told me he had torn it up as he never wanted contact with the prospective mother of his child again. I described him in some colourful terms down the phone line and hung up. I returned to Fitzroy a couple of times after that but could not find the house. We never crossed paths again.
The mirage of the ‘dangerous’ man still exists, even if only in my mind. In my blander moments he is the apparition sure to steal love away from me. I am yet to strap ten pounds of explosives to my aging frame and make the five o’clock news to compensate, but it is always an option.
In the meantime, if you spot me sitting in the corner at a party, I am always available to listen.