March 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve been asked to describe my relationship with the girl from StayFriends – StayAway in more detail. Actually I think I’ve missed the mark there, for if people are interested in the background of that relationship that’s somewhat beside the point. My aim was to describe that people generally are more in love with certain ideas and fantasies about a person than with the real object of their affection itself.
But this is probably not really a world-shattering revelation to most of us, so my piece wasn’t actually needed for the larger picture of mankind.
So, this girl.
No, this woman actually.
Erm, no. The girl this woman used to be 25 to 30 years ago. Let’s call her E. shall we?
I think I fell in love with E. right from the first time I saw her. And long before I even had a proper idea of what falling in love with somebody meant in the first place. I was just blown away by her, without having the faintest of what I was run over by. She had long red hair, a milk white complexion and grey-green eyes that kept following me in my dreams.
Mind you, we are talking puppy love here, so there were no juicy parts involved at all. It was 1978, the world was divided into Kiss and AC/DC followers and the whole universe lay before us, with an eternity and a half for us to take our time and pick ourselves the best pieces from it. We were immortal and the chosen ones and the world was only waiting for us to claim our throne and make it a better place.
In the meantime we watched Doctor Who from behind the sofa and after a while The Professionals. And I was lying awake in my bed at night with images of E.’s soft red hair and the hypnotising effect of her eyes.
E. was special for many reasons. She was a most thoughtful girl, much more thoughtful than kids our age usually were. When two or three of us were gathering around Stevie’s dog, playing with him and stroking his coat she cautioned us not to hurt him for he had quite matted fur at places. She cared for such little things and always was careful not to hurt anybody.
And she was really quite clever. When we were on a “bear hunt” with several different tasks and riddles to solve – all against the clock – she was the one saving our bacon by figuring out all the puzzles and riddles with hardly a glance. And she didn’t boast about it, seemed almost to think we were pulling her leg when we claimed ignorance of what to her was just the obvious.
Being so sensitive and intelligent she naturally was aware of my crush on her from an early stage. But where other kids made fun of such things or even could be exceptionally cruel and mean about it, she just remained discrete and polite, giving the feeling it really wasn’t my fault, which of course it was. She just chose to ignore it.
With the years passing we gradually spent more time together, albeit seldom alone. We were a group of three boys and two girls and for a year or so we did lots of things together, going to the cinema or shopping or just hanging out. It was a great time and it shouldn’t dawn on me until much later, how happy I really had been during those days.
By the end of that year I was bound to go to public school and I knew I wouldn’t see much of E. after that. So I decided to summon all my courage and confess my love to her.
Which was of course an utterly lunatic and downright stupid idea. She had known about it for years, what news was I to tell her? And what really did I expect from her, a mature 14 years at that time? That she agreed to wait for me until I finished college? That she agrees I marry her right on the spot?
It was really an incredibly embarrassing situation, me standing in front of her, hoping against hope, wishing for the impossible. Even today, 30 years later, I still feel ashamed to put her in such a nightmare. I was completely thoughtless, ignorant and selfish. I’ve had my fair share of foolhardy and stupid mistakes in my life, but this one still comes out at the top-five of great All-Time-Harry-Millar-disgraces.
E. was incredibly adult and civil about it. Her girlfriends must have given her a hard time for at least the next two years. Yet she politely declined my horrible wooing and managed to keep me from even more outragous stupidities. Not a small feat in those days.
Some weeks later, shortly before I set sail for Winchester, we had a garden party at a classmate’s home. A sunny afternoon of loud music, soft drinks (we weren’t into alcohol as yet) and a few teenage games.
There E. kissed me for the first and only time.