Clearing up (how does my house get in this mess with only two people in it? Oh, yes, one of them is me) trying to stuff things in a full drawer, decided to sort it out and found a Valentine card from several years back.
Which has caused me to dig up this offering. Not exactly a story, not really anything. Just writing, but hey, that’s what I do. Hope you like it. Probably a bit long, so if you get bored, I apologise.
OK, you sent the Valentine. You thought that would do the trick, did you? You’ve been coy for all these weeks, but word’s got round and finally she knows it was from you. She’s noticed you now, but as you’ve done nothing else about it, she’s not sure if you were serious, or teasing. How come it’s not going any further? Oh, you thought she’d get the message and take the initiative?
Let’s get something straight: Pride is something you can’t afford. That guy has no place in your love life, for through Pride you will lose everything. Didn’t your mum teach you that? Of course she did, you just weren’t listening. It’s not enough to gaze from afar and go off your food.
Step one: You must speak. Until such time as the human race develops telepathy into a usable medium, speech is your only option. You could write it down of course, but it’s not a good idea. Remember all those notes you wrote in class that were caught by the teacher, or worse by the spotted fink who wanted to copy your homework all the time or bash your brains out. On preference, it was better to settle for the bashing first. You’d only cop it later when the homework turned out to be wrong.
So, open your mouth and tell her. This is the third millennium after all. The power of speech has been available to man for a number of years now.
What do you mean you’re shy? Shyness ranks with Pride. Useless. Get a vodka down you, and say something. One, just the one – you don’t want to sound like a gibbering idiot, even if that’s what you are on the inside.
Do the speaking for yourself – all that my mate fancies you, or worse fancies your mate, will get you no Brownie points at all, and as you’ve found to your cost can go horribly wrong.
Find something nice to say about her face, her hair, her clothes, her performance at last night’s Karaoke. And smile. Smiling’s good, assuming you don’t have either the lunch-time spinach decorating your teeth or bad breath. Even if you don’t have any teeth because a baseball bat knocked them out when you were eleven, or because Time has marched through your mouth, smile anyway. Show your gums, and be proud.
All right, that’s enough, she doesn’t need to view your tonsils and adenoids.
Great – you’ve spoken to her, she’s spoken to you and the ice has been crushed into bite-sized chunks suitable to go in the drink you’re about to offer her. Suggest somewhere nice. Don’t choose a bar with a rock band playing and all your mates looking on. In fact, don’t choose a bar at all. Conversation is what you’re after and you can’t talk at 200 decibels in between all those giggles. The parents probably got it together over a coffee and made out in the back of an ancient mini. So what if that sounds naff – naff can be romantic too.
Because make no mistake about it, romance is what you’re up to, baby. Love. Luv. Lurve. That’s what has grabbed you by the throat and forced you to embrace the idea of a date with this girl.
Back to the speaking bit. You’re into compliments here. Hair, lips, eyes, feet and designer handbags, all these and more are in your little list of delights for discussion. Hobbies next. Yes, and pets, whatever you like, only don’t get too deep into your bad habits or sport.
Sport’s a difficult one. Great to be athletic, look fit, work out a bit and flaunt the six-pack, but if she thinks this means you’ll be playing for the team every Saturday and three practice nights a week, it’s all going to turn a tad frosty. Even Posh and Becks struggle to keep it together. Best we keep your sporting life under wraps for a week or two and let this relationship have a chance to lift off. It may go nowhere, in which case you’ve lost nothing but a few evenings and may have found a new friend. It may go somewhere and you’ll both need to buy a diary to fit in your tennis matches or whatever, but by then she might be prepared to give a little. If you’re prepared to give nothing at all, then your relationship is with the tennis racket and perhaps you should seek help for sexual deviancy.
OK, it’s going well. You’ve had several dozen dates and you adore her, and she seems to adore you. You’ve made mad, passionate love under the stars and had a quick bang in her dad’s shed up at the allotments. And you’ve asked her to marry you.
What? Hang on. Thought you were going to take it slowly, give it time. Thought you were going to be mature. OK, you are more mature than usual. Only in your dreams are you shacked up in your little nest in Camden Lock.
Only, I have to tell you that she and her mother are into planning: a white wedding with a meringue dress, seventeen bridesmaids and a house in Torquay. Camden v Torquay. Whichever, it’s brilliant, it’s smashing and everybody knows where they stand.
How do you know that she knows you adore her? How is she supposed to realise your spine turns to jelly when you hear her voice on the telephone? Have you said so? Of course you haven’t. You’ve got a relationship, and you have sex, and you’re grown up people and you don’t need to keep saying you love each other, do you? Pride has butted its great butt in again and you’re wriggling.
Have you learned to mind read in the last six months? Of course not and neither has the object of your affections. You need to speak or better still demonstrate your feelings.
You might take your example from the poets and pen a few lines of romantic verse. ‘Roses are red, Broccoli’s green, Love you Honey, Till I’ve got an ache in my spleen.’ OK, it isn’t Shakespeare or even Elvis, but it gets your message over. She may think you’re daft, but she’ll know you care and it should make her smile. John Donne was a 16th century writer and you could do worse than take a leaf out of his poetry book. You may think you and your mates invented sex, but anyone reading his ‘Elegy to his mistress on going to bed’ knows the idea has been knocking around for a century or two. Read it and cry buckets, because you know nothing. Even if you can’t understand it at first, just keep reading and the sense will come to you in a great wallop. This man was writing about it, as well as doing it.
Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady didn’t like pretty words. “Don’t Talk of Love,” she said. “Show me.”
Try Flowers and Chocolates. It’s corny, but it’s a fact: most women like flowers and chocolates. Unless they have hayfever and are on a diet, but hey, you’d know better than that if she was, wouldn’t you? You’d have noticed, wouldn’t you? See, that’s the point. You have to know your beloved, and to know what your beloved would most desire.
She’s got a thing for jelly babies, but it will ruin her intentions to get from twenty seven stone to ten, so you hide the box and then hold her hand while she eats two after dinner each evening, and take her to bed afterwards so she doesn’t miss having more.
Yes, OK, so you’re broke and can’t afford a thing? You don’t need money, do you? Which is just as well, because you’re planning to buy a house together and need a mortgage. Use your imagination and learn to laugh.
What can you do with your beloved to show you care?
Walk bare foot on the sand at low tide. Take a dark walk around the city streets and watch East Enders through the window of the TV shop. Play I Spy in a darkened room. Buy a pot of bubbles (come on, you’re not that broke) and blow them at one another in the bath. Play Strip Poker or Strip Monopoly or Strip I Spy for that matter. Remember Hangman, where you spelt a word out in blanks and – you do? – well, play it for kisses underneath the duvet.
You see, you can be inventive and clever and funny, and that’s why she loves you and wants to marry you. There’s no need to be nervous.
All these people hanging around here in their posh gear and their hats, who are they? Auntie Flo and Uncle Joe and two mothers and seven sisters and fifteen cousins and you don’t recognise a single one of them. The family has expanded without anyone announcing they were pregnant. They’re all telling you what to do. There’s still time. Telling you that you’re nervous. Telling you that if you want to back out, you only have a moment or two.
Except you don’t, because she’s here and she’s coming and you’re swallowing hard and your stomach has arrived in your throat and you can’t ever remember it having any desire to climb out of your mouth before – except of course when you had that Vindaloo after going to the Dog to watch England failing to win the world cup.
And then – you turn and she’s beside you and she smiles. She’s your world and she’s here.