My Love Life. Part 3
After a clutch of 'O' levels (which were like GCSEs but much harder, fact fans), I changed schools once again for Sixth Form. For the very first time in the seventeen years of my life, it was my own choice, unlike my first nine schools. It meant a move from the small town to the big city, from a white middle-class comprehensive to a mixed demographic community school surrounded by burnt out stolen cars and populated by burned out, sullen, teachers. 'Fame' hadn't long finished on TV and I was genuinely hoping someone would teach me to breakdance, or at least spin on my head.
I didn't know a soul there. But on induction day I met a couple of girls who took me under their collective wing. In the years to follow one of them snogged my brother at a party and subsequently became a very senior police officer (though connectivity does not prove causality). The other eventually fell victim to my then best friend Jake, subject of this story, and was rewarded with an Olympic-standard dose of genital warts.
Like me, Jake had a Saturday job at a well known orange-hued supermarket. It employed dozens of students, many of whom had actual breasts and smelled quite nice. New school, new job, new friends. I was nearly 17 years old. Teeming with testosterone, plethoric with pheromones, jam-packed with jizz. Naturally, nobody wanted to shag me.
It didn't stop me losing my heart repeatedly. In Part 2 I mentioned "that girl I got the cake for." If only I could remember her name, but it's lost in the shrouds of memory. What I do recall is the pounding of my heart; so full of desire was it for her. She was a year older than me and seemed incredibly sophisticated, with her short hair and full driving licence. It was my first true introduction to the friendzone, and a very hard one to take. I blew almost a week's pay packet (brown envelope, used notes, no sequential serial numbers) taking her out for a birthday dinner and arranging a personalised cake, replete with candles, for dessert. It didn't change anything. She liked me. But not in that way. She didn't want to kiss me.
Nor did Daisy, my sort of girlfriend but actually best friend that I adored from the zone girlfriend through much of sixth form. She loved Dave. There was a point when she was busy chasing Dave that I fancied Alison, but she had a crush on Will, who had a bit of a thing for Cindy, who liked me. Unsurprisingly nothing came of that, either. Except Daisy and Dave. My not-girlfriend was busy very much being my definitely-not-girlfriend, it transpired.
The pattern continued throughout the hazy days of A Levels, Driving Tests & 18th birthdays. I had good, close, friendships, was confided in frequently by my girl mates upon whom I occasionally developed insane and unrequited crushes. I also had regular teenage passion for other unattainable friends, colleagues, teachers & actresses. Oh, and pop stars. But Bananarama didn't fancy me either*.
*About 3 years later I spent a sunny afternoon hanging out with Bananarama in New York City. They were fabulous company. They still didn't fancy me.
Occasionally, gratifyingly, I learned that the insane and unrequited were crushing on me, but they were often a couple of years younger. The revulsion suggested by the thought of dating someone my little sister's age is a heavy irony now that she's just turned 50. But at the time the giggling fourth years who stole the posters for the school play; featuring a head and shoulders shot that displayed my carefully feathered & layered mullet; were an annoyance, rather than incredibly flattering, given how little age gaps matter now a few decades have passed. The half your age plus seven rule still stands, though, just as it did then. Not that it matters, when you're young, lovable, but unfuckable.
I took a gap year, or "Gap Yah," as my eldest child refers to it, and worked in a more upmarket store while saving to travel. There were probably only a dozen men in this branch of M&S, but hundreds of women, many of whom became such good friends that I went on not one, but two hen nights in my few months there. Once, inevitably, as a Gorillagram. Because nobody in their right mind would have wanted me to strip. Naturally, I can't recount any stories of quivering passion behind the stockroom shelves, but memories of an afternoon spent in a rented gorilla costume, clutching a bunch of bananas and roaming the city's High Street make me giggle still. These were the days of phone boxes, which, when occupied, are a perfect target for a teenage
That summer I went off to work in the States. First on a summer camp in the company of a hundred or so similarly aged counsellors, then as a DJ and deliverer of cars, though never at the same time, because vinyl scratches. An English accent and a layered, Sun-In streaked mullet were the key to a crowd of fascinated onlookers; desperate for my stories about how everyone in England had a butler whose main task it was to operate a pedal-powered black & white television in the evenings; so we could worship a flickering picture of the Queen while drinking tea; but those same attributes were unsurprisingly less successful in initiating dates. I did, actually, sort of, have sex late that summer, in an outdoor hot tub, with Jenna from Massachusetts, to give her her full name. But I can also reveal that coitus in a sex pond is ultimately nigh-on impossible, because bubbles and water friction are not a happy mix, despite what The Shape of Water may have implied. I loved that movie. But perhaps I needed gills. Or a barbed cock.
I sent Jenna postcards from across the US as I continued my travels, perhaps in celebration of the fact that I'd somehow become fuckable. I never heard back from her. Guess what must have happened to the lovability bit?
I'd always intended Part 3 to be the last of the segments of my love life. Not least because this was meant to be a throwaway guest post, months ago. And yet I've barely made it to the age of 20. I can't half fucking ramble. GET ON WITH IT, BD!
Adrianna was my other crush I was a teenager, OK? in the year or two preceding this segment. She and her older sister, Helen, were the prettiest girls in the school, and lusted after by so many pustulent teens that they could have milked acne for scientific research and still had queues of boys around the block. Although a year older than me, Adrianna hung with me after school and most weekends, poking around H&M & Our Price. She rode my motorbike the first day I got it. And crashed it. If she was going to have a boyfriend, it would be me, but she didn't want a boyfriend. Once, coming to my house to pick me up, on a night when Helen was driving us to drink halves of lager top underage somewhere, she held my hand as we walked up the driveway and I thought my heart would burst. Adrianna cared about me, but not in that way. Back then I was lovable, but unfuckable.
Later that year, back from the States, tanned, worldly-wise and sporting even worse hair, I bumped into Adrianna at a petrol station the week before I went to University. We were thrilled to see each other, and arranged to meet for drinks and dinner when we were both back in the capital. And we did just that, poshly. My student overdraft was a thing of magic, free money for the feckless, and as a young man almost entirely lacking in feck, the seemingly limitless funds offered me the opportunity to live, not just beyond my own means, but to set the official record as NatWest's most overdrawn student three years running.
(As an aside, Lennie, the Student Branch Manager - such things existed, honestly - came to a few of my DJ gigs. I let him do an easy mix once. He bought me pints. Whenever I offered to buy him one, he'd say "No, BD, you can't afford it," and then get another round in. Good guy. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he got fired over the credit line he extended to me, but I hope he didn't, despite the fact it took me another 17 years to pay it off. Actually, on second thoughts...)
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, I'm at the point where, post dinner, Adrianna comes back to my shared house with me, because the simmering passion of a number of adolescent years is bubbling hard enough on the hob to get British Gas excited about their annual results. We undress each other, (no white towelling pants THIS time, fashion fans) fall into bed, and have quite the most disappointing and desultory sex experienced in the UK since Michael Gove's wedding night. The desire dreams of my teenage years empty faster than a shelf load of toilet paper in a Corvid 19 pandemic, and the jarring realisation that great attraction doth not always equal great sex bursts my love bubble like a tired child's party balloon under a drunken uncle's shoe. We don't see each other again.
As before, connectivity does not prove causality, but Adrianna now lives on the other side of the world with her wife and child. I'm well aware that sexuality is nature rather than nurture, but I still very much hope that I wasn't the catalyst. To be so fuckable but unlovable that I both managed to turn a girl lesbian and send her to New Zealand would be a special skill indeed. Though given that my ability to repel every woman I have feelings for continues right up to this day, there may just be some truth to the theory.
So there you have it. The story of my love life. From lovable but unfuckable to fuckable but unlovable. I'm just going to have to deal with it on my own.
Pass the hand sanitiser.