I don’t think I ever had a real conversation with my first ‘girlfriend’. We met in the shelter shed of our Primary School during the summer break. We held hands and kissed. She was buck-toothed and greasy–haired and I was a skinny, scrawny kid with pimples. I don’t even know if I liked her, or she me. But it seemed like the thing to do, and it was certainly something different, so I went along with it. When we went back to school after the holidays she sent one of her friends to tell me that I was ‘dropped’. I don’t blame her.
Then, as now, I only seemed to really like the girls that had no interest in me. There was a short dark girl called Lesley in Infant School who I told was ‘sexy’ without having any idea what it meant. And a skinny English girl called Carol whose house I used to find reasons to loiter outside on the weekend. Much later, towards the end of High School, I developed my first teenage ‘crush’ on a girl called Marcia.
I been in the same class as Marcia throughout most of Primary School, and saw her often in High School, but I’d barely ever spoken to her. I’m not sure why I suddenly found her so attractive. She was a bit of a tomboy – loud and boisterous, even a bit obnoxious at times. She hung around with the ‘sports crowd’ during recess and lunch, played football and soccer with the boys. We couldn’t have been any more different. But one day I woke up and decided that I loved her more than anything else in the world and couldn’t live without her.
I began to structure my days in order to spend as much time in her company as possible. I tried to sit near her in class. I tried to walk where she would walk, and hang around the areas she frequented. I even feigned an interest in sport and sat around the oval hoping to ‘bump’ into her. But despite all my efforts she never seemed to notice me. It was as though I was invisible.
Even my efforts to enlist ‘supernatural’ forces failed. On the days I was most likely to see her I wore my lucky socks. I even had a ‘special’ Thin Lizzy song I played in the hope that it would somehow plant a loving image of me in her mind. I tried spells and potions, and all manner of ‘magical’ chants, but nothing worked.
As the months passed, and the obsession with Marcia started to form an ugly knot in my belly, I decided to confide in a friend. His advice was simple and to-the-point. “Tell her you like her,” he said. “I can’t do that!’ was my horrified response. But the choices were that simple, either I told her how I felt, and lived with the consequences, or forgot about her, and concentrated on other things (like my schoolwork).
The following day, I was careful to leave the school grounds at the same time as her. As we lived in the same direction, the fact that I was walking behind her was not all that unusual. But normally I would keep a safe distance, too scared to actually communicate with her. This day I sped up and drew alongside.
“Oh hi,” I said unconvincingly, as though I had just noticed her.
“Hi,” replied Marcia, with a not-too-unfriendly smile.
“Um…er…Marcia,” I stammered, wanting to get straight to the point. ”I really like you.”
“Oh…er…I like you too,” said Marcia. “But not in that way. I have a boyfriend y’know.”
“Um…er…oh,” I continued. “Okay…er…goodbye then…”
I then pretended I was heading in another direction and disappeared down a side street that would lead in the opposite direction to home. I felt embarrassed, foolish, stupid, clumsy and heartbroken. But I also felt relieved. The tension that had gripped me for months was finally gone.
When I got home I threw my lucky socks into the incinerator.