At school I was not at the front of the class: not one of the clever ones whose enthusiasm reminded the teacher this was their true vocation. I sat in the middle of the room, faintly absorbed but not engaged. After spending most of my education looking out of the window I somehow did enough to pass exams, and after school lived a life without glory or engagement until I saw someone who introduced me to myself.
In a bar where I was drinking soberly on my own, reading because my friends would join me later, I looked up to see three girls enter the room and in the middle was one, red of hair, wearing glasses and radiating that sense of mischief I always find appealing: laughing at some remark I could not hear.
I am not one for girls, or should I say I never pushed myself forward in their company. I was always half-way down the queue, friendly but not personal: romance touched my life infrequently but now I felt a call to arms, a primal urgency and stood up, walking towards her just as she reached the bar.
“This may sound mad to you, it does to me, but I need to buy you a drink. You can leave it if you want, but just to buy it for you is something is it not?”
“You are odd ?” she said and smiled before turning to her friends and saying “What a nutter!” and I responded saying, “Not normally but how do you say hello to a girl you have not met without being odd?” and she said, “Not like that!”
A wise man would have walked away but I was lost to being wise so I hung around awkwardly praying for a miracle to grant me access, and so it happened.
One of the girls beside her said “You can buy me one, I’m not particular!” and I said, “I am, but any friend of this lady will be a friend of mine one day I hope” and you could almost feel them recoiling from the smell of cheese but I think they recognised my desperation was sincere and so relented.
Needless to say as we sat at the table, with me the eccentric curio, common interests came to light: journalism was her passion as it would be mine, and confronting injustice her prime motivation: she was noble in her outlook and inspired me to be the same.
Don’t ask me how I managed it, gauche as I was, but I think she got the sincerity and at the end of the evening said, “Are you going to ask me out” and I said “Yes” and thought to myself, “Just for a lifetime!”
She taught me that being an also ran is not to live a life: that passions are to be discovered and followed fearlessly, that each day you do not treasure is a tragedy and sharing what you love is the doorway to Camelot where I dreamed we might build a home.
I married her ten years ago, her name is Adrianne, her two friends were her bridesmaids: I discovered in her company those with purpose never walk alone.
Wonderful story with a deep message.
Being a bit odd is good and passion a must for being alive.
Thank you for giving this one a happy ending.
I love this, and his sudden call to arms, to live life full on.
That’s it! Never again will I open with “Come here often?”
First words I said to Hubby was an insult to his car ‘So this heap’s yours is it?’ DUH!
The last line, so thought-provoking!
Oh I was so afraid there wouldn’t be a happy ending! I loved the line…you could almost feel them recoiling from the smell of cheese!! You are the best Peter!
Lovely. I’d love to hear from Adrianne. 🙂
A hugely relatable story, Peter, wonderfully penned. Of course everything comes down to that one key moment, which we may not even recognise, but can turn our lives on their heads.
Now imagine this same story where he doesn’t speak her language yet, somehow, in spite of his anxieties and fears, they manage to connect. Your delightful stories always seem to prompt a flood of memories. Well done!
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I have some sense of that. One of my first apprentice-girlfriends was Italian who didn’t speak a word of English but was a friend of my cousin, who did speak Italian and we formed a strange connection based on gestures, a love of walking and a general warmth of feeling but that time came when she returned to her home in Italy and I never saw her again. Now you’ve a flood of memories rising to the surface of mind. How wonderful, so thank you 🙂
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A happy ending!!
What a delightful upbeat story.