At University you could get a bit of street-cred by striking attitudes, or looking mystical and muttering quasi-profundities such as “ Your past is not your future ” and then looking deep into a girl’s eyes as if a number of prophets and mystics were lunching between your ears. Of course, most of the ladies just told you to “Keep taking the tablets” but if you struck enough poses in enough rooms, some young lady would look at you as if you had recently parted the red sea.
That’s what happened to me with Josephine Splatter, whose eyes shone at me as I made a series of statements, which I realise in hindsight, would have failed to get published in a pack of Fortune Cookies. To add to the glory of the moment she became so enamoured with my inner gifts that she invited me to her home for the weekend, a mansion complete with sixteen bedrooms although on this occasion the house was only occupied by me, Josephine, her mother, also called Josephine, and her dad Ned Splatter, who’d made a pile or ten from something to do with cement plus a number of staff.
Mr Splatter didn’t seem interested in the relationship between the moment and infinity, or my observation that “Clouds pass like memories over the verdant fields,” Nothing was said exactly, until he mentioned during the evening meal that, ”Would I like to help Mario,” the waiter at their table “With clearing the plates away,” and staring directly at me, as if I’d stolen his shirt, which I thought was a bit rich given that it was only his daughter I wanted.
The next morning at breakfast, when I sat down, he gave me another stare and said, “I hope you are keeping your eye on the train times in case you decide to leave early,” and although I presumed at the time that this must have been a joke, the delivery seemed low on humour. The previous evening I’d popped along the hundred yards over to Josephine’s bedroom to say goodnight but found the door barred by some guy who was built like a dumpster truck, and seemed about as friendly as one: something in his manner suggested that normal courtesies could be dispensed with.
When I said at breakfast, “the truth will brook no dissembling” Mr Splatter looked at me with widening eyes. OK, a hint of profundity in my statement I admit so perhaps I was making a bit of an impression on Mr Splatter. I grinned at my newly discovered fellow mystic. Both mother and daughter seemed uncomfortably quiet and the reason for this became clearer as I left the breakfast room to see my packed suitcase adjacent to the front door. Mr Dumpster Truck was standing beside it.
The girls seemed to have melted from the company and the Nedster came up to me and said, “Get in the car and leave, and if I hear you’ve spoken to my daughter again you will become ill” “Is bravery a quality or an affectation?” I asked myself as his eyes bored into mine. It was a question I sought to answer during the ride to the station.
I never spoke to Josephine again, and the next term I saw her climbing into a Lamborghini with the door held open by some literal materialist who clearly couldn’t tell a Fortune Cookie from a Christmas cracker. Later, as I forged a career expressing my wisdoms for the greeting card industry, I remembered her and wondered if I should have fought harder to rescue her from a life of stultifying prosperity.