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Monday, November 8, 2010

An Intriguing Tale: my early love life [Part 2]

[continued from Part 1]

We stopped walking back to her seat when blackness fell and then the most extraordinary knee-jellifying thing occurred; something I will never forget. Robyn N. turned her face up to mine in the pitch blackness and kissed me full on the lips – a kiss that lasted oh, about a third of a second, I would guess, but for me, time kinda stopped still, you know? And her lips were so SOFT and, well, lippy… and in all honesty I had not the faintest idea it was coming, nor how she had managed to be such a good shot in the dark of the night. I mean, this was exactly square on; a docking as neat as what happens between the space shuttle and the space station. [Hmmmm, that metaphor needs a LOT of work, but I’m getting a little carried away here by the excitement of the memory….I’ll just move on, I think.] Had I ever had the courage to attempt such a kiss, I would probably have got her on the nose, or an eyebrow; not that I ever thought of it, even in the pitch darkness.

It was one of the nicest things that ever happened to me. I’m not exaggerating about the knee-knocking effect. I had had my first kiss and it was magic. No need to even wonder where the noses go – it just happened as if decreed by a gentle and benevolent fate. So I smiled, said thank you for the dance, and returned to the alcoves where the males congregated. The MC had hardly opened his mouth to announce the next dance when I was right there in front of her… will you have this dance with me? I could even have taken advantage of my childhood dance floor skill of ‘surfing’ across the floor to her seat, but abandoned the idea as it was just a bit unsophisticated. A teeny bit too country. In other ways it would have looked good, though. I’d have been impressed if I were the girl and a bloke took a little run and then slid like a surfer on a rather flat wave and cruised gently to a stop exactly in front of me, without having to apply any brakes.

I could have done that. But I was going way too well to take the risk of a social faux pas. She was a town girl after all and hick status wasn’t cool.

We danced the rest of the night away; the Pride of Erin, the Maxina, the Evening Threestep, forgoing the Progressive Barn Dance lest we be parted even for that short time. I think we even sat together during the Progressive and held hands, which was rather daring in public view. Besides, I didn’t want to take the risk that she might be with a tall, dark and handsome stranger if the lights went out in the Progressive, and she decided to do another test run or two in the lip-docking accuracy stakes. Some things are well worth holding hands for, even on a tropical sweaty October night.

For a brief moment I forgot my Lorraine, my flaxen-haired Calliope-Targinnie girl with the pink swishy dress. Oh all right, I’ll admit it then - I’m lying through my teeth – I forgot her for the entire night, and the rest of the weekend as well, fantasising about Robyn N’s darkly dreamy smile and soft lips and a hug or two, unfettered by a mother with an eternally vigilant eye plus the other one as backup, as would have happened in Calliope. Lorraine's mother, I mean.

The following Monday, when my class was in one room having a Physics lesson, I could see Robyn through the glass door between rooms doing her Bookkeeping class. We waved to each other and smiled. The moment the bell rang to end the class, Merle Mounter from Robyn’s class opened the door between rooms and slipped into my hand a small home-made envelope with SWALK within a blood-red heart neatly written on the back.

‘It’s from Rob,’ she whispered to me. Merle Mounter was absolutely smashing in appearance from top to toe [if any boy ever got to look as far down as her toe, that is, because of the distractions on the way down. I doubt it; in fact, I can't personally vouch for any of her toes myself, come to think of it.] She effortlessly attracted Grade 12 boys who shaved daily because they had to, unlike me. I shaved daily only because of the well-ingrained myth that the more you shaved the faster and darker the replacement hair grew, and with facial hair like the fuzz off peaches, I needed mine to grow as fast as possible.

I knew Merle had no romantic interest in me, but she was just making sure I didn’t misunderstand where the envelope had come from. With someone as alluring as she was, hope sometimes outshone reality in mid-teen boys. But not me. [But not I, then – see how a relentless grounding in formal grammar cramps your style? That 'not I' looks ridiculous, but after going for idiom over formality in the previous paragraph I have to say something. Grammar begone. You’re henceforth sacked. Fired. Past your use-by date.

No, I was sufficiently captivated by Robyn N. after that first glorious kiss. I didn’t need the undoubted charms of Merle Mounter. Nor, I confess until I was writing this, did I appreciate the improper pun in her surname, which luckily for her seemed to have escaped everyone when we were at high school. Or maybe it was just na├»ve little me - but I never heard anyone joke about it.

In private, I opened the envelope she’d delivered to me and it contained five cardboard pieces of the slogan peeled off a plastic Capilano honey dispenser label - the ones with the nozzle - and which had been cut up with great care:


Being pretty skilled in English and all its subtleties, it did not take me long to work out the romantic message the words contained, nor the innovative mode of delivery - a reasonably easy jigsaw puzzle with helpful punctuation if you got really stuck. I could never look at a container of honey the same way again. I imagine a Japanese Heian courtier lady in the eleventh century would have been equally as charmed as I was had she received a poem from her lover in beautiful calligraphy, on fine notepaper perfumed perfectly for the occasion. Robyn’s mode was every bit as good from my point of view. She definitely had a way of getting the message across, and it surely delighted me. That’s townie sophistication for you. I’m not sure Lorraine would have thought of something like that. It wasn't a Targinnie mode of expression.

Speaking of whom, I continued to go to Calliope dances when they were on, and Lorraine and I carried on our well-supervised but happy romance, even though I had been spoilt somewhat by the daring osculatory feat performed by Robyn N. at the Troc in town. The bar had somehow been raised, from my point of view at least; or my hopes, to be more precise. I would have loved the mains switch to have been flicked to OFF for a few seconds at the Calliope dance, and tested out the mechanics of a lightning kiss with Lorraine, as I was a generous soul in that regard and no longer unduly troubled by where the noses went. They could take their chances. Even if I had got her ear lobe it would have been a start. I'm not exactly sure what she would have made of it, though.

But it was not to be. The lights never went out at the Diggers Arms Hall until everyone was safely home in their beds.

[continued to Part 3] [Back to Index]

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