Je t’aime


While I was more than happy accumulating a catalogue of chromatic lovers real life was surprisingly about to deliver a formative and life-altering experience. At first it seemed like exactly what I needed. Little did I know how it was going to affect my emotional development. What seemed so right became so wrong.

I must have had some respite from my acne. Temporarily. Little did I know that what was about to happen would stimulate my endorphins to deliver another five years of dysfunctional disfigurement and enforced solitude. My late teenage hormones were raging and fate was about to deliver some respite from dating busty blondes in the upstairs lavatory.

I was a tennis player. Not strictly true I hit tennis balls over a net (sometimes). To improve my skillset and enhance my burgeoning athleticism, as well as possibly to encourage me to spend less time in the lavatory, my parents signed me up to the local tennis club. This was positive as my game improved and it gave me great thighs. It also gave me free entry to the bi-annual tennis club disco. Sadly all that tennis practice had no beneficial effect whatsoever on my dancing and my total lack of co-ordination as well as a hopeless ability to talk to girls, turned the whole thing into a wallflower convention.

I drank cider (newspaper boy rations) and stalked the dark recesses of the room as the bass line played on. Unable to gather the courage to speak let alone ask a girl for a dance. In fact, if fate hadn’t played its hand, I would have been the first tennis pro to spend the whole evening at the club disco without uttering a word. I bet this never happened to Roger…..Andy maybe…..but never Roger. No verbal volley, subtle backhand or even a cunning lob. Nothing. Silence. A whitewash.

It was made worse because I’d spotted her across the distant dancefloor early on in the evening. Very early. She was the one. Well the only one that resembled any of my illicit lovers. Gorgeous, shapely, sensual and well, earth-shatteringly desirable. She even smiled a lot and not, it seemed, because of the size of her breasts. Amazingly it seemed she was genuinely happy. I was smitten. But I also seemed to be at the back of a very long queue of budding tennis professionals. And I had lost in the first round of qualifying. Badly.

It was only that the broadsheet-funded cider got the better of me that it happened. It probably wasn’t Dutch - I’m not sure Strongbow has a factory in Utrecht - but I was suddenly embodied with courage from Holland. The penultimate 70’s dancefloor classic was about to burst into life when, in the time it takes for a rat-a-tat exchange of volleys at the net, I hurtled into action. The tennis jockey that had been chaperoning her for the previous hour and a half inexplicably left the dancefloor. I boldly thrust myself into the receiving court and demanded that we urgently needed to dance. The words came tumbling like a rasping ace; the perfect body serve and suddenly it was match point. Clearly the three and a half hour rehearsal of the words ‘will you dance with me’ had paid off big time.

What happened next was unexpected and, looking back on it now soberly, ruined my life. I wasn’t to know that she was as intoxicated by Cinzano and lemonade as I was by cider; in fact, possibly more so. This had one very beneficial effect. Words and speaking were rendered superfluous. Clearly her vision and judgement had been seriously impaired as my scattergun scarecrow dancing didn’t seem to result in her spending the entire dance staring over my shoulder frantically seeking out someone who could rescue her. Fate then played its devilish hand. The last dance of the evening was traditionally the slow number when those who had found true love had 3 minutes 20 seconds to stand up and be counted. Je t’aime. Serge and Jane. For her this wasn’t about standing up. It was about her positioning me so I was holding her up. My needy and dysfunctional male pride interpreted this ‘coming together’ as complete affirmation that my feelings of ‘besottment’ were clearly mutual.

If that wasn’t enough to fire Cupid’s arrow through the heart of a teenage nonentity, the snogging certainly was. She started it, possibly when slightly unbalanced and probably still believing her previous lothario had unexpectedly returned on a white charger. Surely some form of emergency rescue would have merited an intense 90 seconds of hot, full-on, seriously committed snogging. What was left of my mind viewed things differently. Clearly this was my reward for rescuing her from him. Actually I was in no fit state to view anything. It was a merciful relief that this was the last dance of the night because my first ever experience of the uncontainable joys of unrequited passion had caused my first seriously involuntary erection. Any longer and it would have bored a hole in my trousers.

I was in love. Seriously. Way too seriously.


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