Breaking hearts is easy when you’re as thick as two short planks. I first did it, or at least the first time I realised that I did it, was when I was about fourteen years old. God those days were much more innocent. I shudder to think of the equivalent these days, but let’s not go there. I dropped the poor girl in the blink of an eye, after weeks of careful courting and I can’t even remember why. Well I can but I’m not sharing everything…
She was a pretty little thing, and when she first caught my eye, for it was my eye she caught and not the other way around. I wasn’t even aware that she had set her sights on me. For the most part, I was a bit of a show off, confident, funny, handsome (that bit’s faded) and I had no problem talking to girls. That is of course unless you count girls I might have fancied. If I fancied a girl then absolute terror took over.
My mother did a number on me you see. I was only short of believing that if you held a girl’s hand the wrong way, she would probably get pregnant, God would strike me down, the devil would be hanging on the street corner smoking a fag and spiting, just waiting for me to do something bad and of course my father would kill me. Forget the other consequences. That my life would be ruined for looking at a girl the wrong way was a given, so the minute a young-one stirred something in me, I went running for the hills. For the non Irish I should point out that a young-one is a general description for a girl and not some inappropriate tendency! Girls were youngwans and boys youngfellas where I grew up as in “tell tha’ youngwan she’s de image of her mudder”
The thing that makes me smile looking back is the innocence of it all. I spent weeks conspiring to be in her presence and she did the same I know. Through all that time we never spoke and everything was communicated through imagined and furtive glances, half fear-filled smiles and choking on opportunities to actually speak to each other. She would pass my house daily at the same time, pretending not to look and I would make myself available to be outside or at a window pretending not to notice her, as you do.
We shared the library in common but I suspect for different reasons. I initially went there to read but clearly she was there to pick up boys, well me in any case. Once there, I know she would pretend to study while I lurked and posed as un-nerd like as one can in a library while making sure the book I was holding always suggested some intellectual prowess. I actually thought through my book holding selection, how sad is that?
She tossed her hair with increasing vigour and we both panicked when for whatever reason the other failed to appear, assuming the worst – which was that the relationship was clearly over, only to find relief when the other re-appeared the following day.
Eventually we exchanged half smiles and after some tragic failed attempts and complete wimp outs, we somehow contrived to stand near enough to each other that I could smell her soap. I stopped short of leaning in and smelling her hair that would have torn it…
Finally we ‘bumped’ into each other and that melodrama was overacted to the full. She blushed, I blushed, we both stuttered and I said something extremely uncool, now faded in my memory and that, led to an exchange of ‘Hi’ for about another week until she eventually got up the courage to follow me out of the library one evening and ‘catch up’ with me walking home. Then and only then did we finally manage to talk. Sweet Lord above, the hoops we both went through only for me to dump her a few weeks later and crush her very soul. I suspect she has never fully recovered, or at least that is how my overactive imagination and my over inflated ego liked to remember it… I suspect I’m not alone and no doubt we all have one or two of these memories in our store. Some day I must write them all down…
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