Do never conspire against love

fool.gifI do not know if the world has lied
I have lied
I do not know if the world has conspired against love
I have conspired against love
(Leonard Cohen) 

So I will tell you this: when I was sixteen I was dumb, really dumb.  And I lied and I was treacherous too.  But mostly I was dumb.  It’s true that when I fell in love I became even dumber but really, it would be a bit unfair to blame everything on love.

 

And who was she, this girl that stole my naïve heart?  Her name was Katie and she was skinny and pretty and vain and frivolous and a little bit cruel and when I heard her voice on the phone line something inside me would try to fly away.  If she touched me on the arm, I would forget what I was saying even though I had practiced it for days.

 

Now there was this other girl called Deb.  When you first met her you didn’t think much about her looks but you sure remembered what she said.  Deb was smart.  She showed me a book of poems by Leonard Cohen; she had a poster of Che Guevara on her wall and said she wanted to be the first female prime minister of Australia.  When she touched my arm she left her hand there and looked straight at me until I turned away.

 

One day Deb rang to ask me to go with her to the school graduation dance.  “I don’t think I’ll go,” I lied and I knew as I said it that it was not even a clever lie.  You see, dear reader, I knew that Katie liked me, I knew I could make her laugh, I hoped I could make her love me.  I waited for her call and it came.  Then I didn’t care about the lie, I pretended to myself that I could somehow hide on the night and Deb wouldn’t realise that I was there.  OK, so I told you I was dumb.

 

I had never heard of Karma but it was waiting for me big time all those years ago.  I was in high spirits as I dressed for the night.  Even the fact that a wart that had been burned off my palm had turned into a large blood blister did not dampen my starry visions of Katie in my arms beneath the mirrored disco ball.  I covered the blue black lump with plaster and practised ways to hide it.

 

The evening started with the presentation of awards and certificates.  I noted that Deb was way up the front so I placed myself well at the back.  So far so good.  That is until the Principal announced that Deb and I would share that year’s prize for literature, her for an essay on revolution, me for a thinly veiled ode to Katie.  Together we walked up to the podium, the liar and the girl who came to her graduation alone.

 

If I hated myself for a minute, it passed as I considered how the award must only lift my estimation in the eyes of Katie.  But the gods knew my shallow heart and they had not finished with me yet.

 

We all made our way to the dance hall and soon I was dancing with Katie.  Of course, it wasn’t as if I really held her in my arms.  Everyone just sort of faced their partner and waved around a lot and sweated to the music.  Sometimes we’d yell to each other stuff like, “This is a great song, isn’t it!”  But, folks, let me tell you, I was in Heaven.

 

Then the DJ put on a song by Slade called Get Down and Get With It and we all got down and got with it.  I could see that Katie was excited, her eyes blazed and she was looking at me differently.  This could be our song, I thought as we stomped our feet and shook our heads.  And then the singer yelled to us those immortal words:

Everybody raise both of your hands in the air
Everybody, everybody
I said clap your hands
Everybody clap your hands
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Ma ma ma ma
Everybody clap your hands ma ma ma…
 

And, my brother, let me tell you that we did clap our hands and I did very much forget about my blister and I clapped and clapped and this blood did spurt across the dance floor and struck Katie across the cheek and splattered across my new shirt and she thought I’d been shot and I wished I had.  And then her friends told her about her bloodied face and she rushed off with expressions not redolent of deep undying love and my hopeless words ringing across the room, “But it’s only blood from my wart!”

 

Let us draw the curtain there, dear reader.  Soon after this night of farce and ignominy I ran away to College.  Then one day Deb sent me a letter and it was clever and smart and friendly and I knew what I had missed and I never answered it.  And Katie?   She hooked up with an older guy who she ended up marrying and I wrote her lots of letters and she never replied. 

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16 Comments

Filed under humour, life, loss, Love, memory, school, youth

16 responses to “Do never conspire against love

  1. Wow. That is quite a story. We have all had moments along those lines, but that one is particularly unforgettable.

  2. Oh there’s such beauty in painful memories like this one. We all have them. We have them because we’re supposed to, too, so that next time when you meet your ‘Deb’ you can celebrate her instead of miss the point.
    This is so full of humility my heart expanded in my chest. Thank you.

  3. S

    That is freaking fantastic! “But it’s only blood from my wart!” famous last words there, OA. How much did your hand (and pride) throb the next day?

    I must say, I’m so glad that we don’t have graduation dances here in the U.S. Sitting through graduation itself is bad enough.

    I do believe that it is ingrained in human nature to behave stupidly and ignore the person that is best fit only to lavish their complete opposite with attention. Nearly everyone I know, definitely including myself, has a story such as this. Some end in much less comic ways than this.

    The funny part is, though we seemingly learn from it (the hard way), we just end up repeating it over and over again. So, do we ever really learn from it or is it farce?

  4. Doktor Holocaust

    I used to kick myself over stories like that, the great, smart girls that slipped away because I was foolishly infatuated with someone else.

    They’re still friends with me, and we still talk, but there’s this great unsaid “it could’ve been so much more if I hadn’t been such an idiot” that looms over pauses in the conversation sometimes.

  5. I was so happy to see another one of your stories.

  6. Ah! Young love. ‘Warts and all’. 🙂

  7. Kym

    In your praise of Deb, you failed to mention her bravery but you showed it beautifully.

  8. max

    And you did not answer Deb’s nice letter why?

    That was strike two you know. Though after fiasco on the dance floor you probably got a few bonus love dispensations for a rainy day.

  9. Love. You have to win and lose before know what it is.

  10. Doktor Holocaust

    Love is just super-focused Hate, wanting to annoy and torment one person to the exclusion of all others. Love is Hate, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Wisdom.

  11. oscarandre

    Hi Dok – yep, love can be all that and yet…

  12. oscarandre

    Max – Can’t you guess? Love has nothing to do with knowing what is good for us; sometimes it’s just the opposite. Intellectually, I knew that Deb was so much more than Katie but that made no difference to what I felt in my heart.
    Arnold – True and even then we’re left wondering.
    John – What can I say? It was a bloody disaster.
    Kym – Deb was brave and so smart. But, you see, it didn’t protect her from me in the same way I couldn’t be protected from Katie. Love, who needs it?
    S – It’s a farce, I’m afraid…
    Notorious – it is funny and kind of reassuring that we all have these same stories, isn’t it.

  13. max

    But that was not love. It was sides of love and you were young you could not know you were being shown puzzle pieces. The world and universe are annoying, they always throw puzzle pieces and we like dying drowning men grab them thinking they are the thing we seek, when really, they are just clues.

  14. “The funny part is, though we seemingly learn from it (the hard way), we just end up repeating it over and over again. So, do we ever really learn from it or is it farce?”

    Although I haven’t repeated anything like the mistake of my ex in more than a dozen years, I certainly don’t trust myself to not repeat that mistake. Like you, I’ve seen too often where both I and others have repeated our mistakes to think that I would be beyond doing that.

  15. max

    Oh why repeat silly old love calamity? It is so much more interesting to branch out and make new and calimitous mistakes and hey, let’s face it, there are so many possibilities it is not like anyone is going to run out of new ways to crash and burn in one lifetime. [wink]

  16. “It is so much more interesting to branch out and make new and calimitous mistakes…”

    I’m working on it! 🙂

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