<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/daily-prompt-4/”>Hello, Goldilocks!</a>
EXCUSE ME, MISS GOLDILOCKS I PRESUME.
That time in the life of any young boy, if he has happy expectations of his future and finds joy in the romantic ignorance of his mid-teen years, which stays with him for the rest of his days, is the period during which he tries to choose his first girlfriend. Is this mental Venus a purely physical delight or has the dayspring of heartfelt love begun to burgeon in his breast? It differs, oh how it differs, for all of us. She is so unattainable that invariably a mental list of all her putative attractive qualities turns into a list that might even rival the catalogue aria in Don Giovanni. Mine never actually reached ‘une mille tre’ Spanish syrens, but then I doubt that anybody’s thoughts ever spread as far afield as that. No I was lucky, well for wordpress I was lucky, because at the first sixth form dance I went to when I was sixteen I had to select someone to take and it would be my first formal date.
Four weeks before the dance just three fifteen to sixteen year old girls still remained in my mind. That is three who knew my reputation for probably having a vocation to the priesthood and saw me as a challenge for this very reason. Firstly, as for all of us, there was the ‘unattainable’. Madaleine Dubonnetemps, daughter of a ranking French dipilomat, was known to many of us as she went to the nearby convent, as did my sister. I thought this was a good way to get an early introduction. But sadly the ravishing Mademoiselle, and she really was ravishing, could not fit me in higher than sixteenth. Well I was always a determined suitor and at least got my sister to get me an introduction and I actually persuaded the French beauty to accompany me to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I adored the music, and dad’s contribution of two press seats in the best cricle also helped make the evening, but Madeleine seemed bored to tears. She explained, as her father’s chauffeur dropped us at the embassy afterwards, that she hated the music but appreciated the evening. The best she could say of it was, “You know how to select seats where everyone can admire you at least.”
I was begining to think that my last two choices would have to be more carefully considered before I actually approached them. Red head Sally Carmichael was known among many of my year to be a ‘goer’ whatever that meant in 1958. Certainly not what it means for that age group today. In fact I had often had a coffee with her and a few other friends after school, and we had much the same sense of humour which I knew was a must if I was to enjoy myself. However, I had never kissed a girl properly and suddenly, whenever I saw her, I realised I did not know how to rectify this. She LOOKED approachable, but what did you do then? In the films the heroine always hid her mouth from the camera at the last minute in those years of hypocritical censorship so I could never quite see what was going on. One evening on the way to the bus I actually summoned up the courage to hold her hand and give it a meaningfulful squeeze. She seemed quite pleased and snuggled up to me on the back seat for much of the journey. But sadly as as we reached her house she just waved at me and said, “You should have kissed me. I gave you enough time and chances!” This was in a very cross voice and naturally she was scrubbed from the list. That left Jane.
What do you say to a monosyllabic straight laced brunette who nevertheless had a pair of incredicbly seductive eyes and seemed to enjoy using them. She could put an incredible amount of expression into her facial gestures in general and would often seem pleased to be the centre of attention to any group of boys without having to speak to them. This proved the stumbling block in our friendship. On two consecutive evenings when we went out for a spaghetti or a film she assumed that I knew what she would have said if she could have been bothered to say it. Then, worst of all, she never laughed at my jokes. This I really could not take and with six days (and no weekends) left to the ball it seemed as though I was going to play Cinders or at best some wilting wallflower who couldn’t have danced even if he had a partner.
My sister looked at me hopelessly. She had captured our school head boy and was very pleased with herself. But she did feel sorry for me. “We’re going to have to find you someone aren’t we”, she said “look, you wouldn’t do me a favour and commit an enormous act of Christianity would you?” I asked her what she meant. Well it’s Nick Johnson’s sister, do you know her?”
“Only by reputation and the very occasional silent meeting,why?” I felt doomed because Linda Johnson had mid length straight hair. Linda Johnson also had an odd shaped snub nose. Linda Johnson wore glasses which did absolutely nothing for what looks she had, and most important of all it was known Linda Johnson had a stammer which greatly embarrassed her and also made conversation difficult and devoid of any hope of spotineity. I also had another awful thought when my kind hearted sister asked her favour. I said, “Sis. How do you think it is going to look if I make some feeble excuse for not asking her earlier, you know as though I actually wanted to take her, and wouldn’t it just make her feel like the object of an act of charity?”
The answer, to my surprise, was ‘no’. But the reason was terrible. “She happens to be one of a lot of girls who think they have heard that you want to become a priest and so they would be only too happy to be your partner. If I told her that you were very worried because you felt you had to go but didn’t have a girlfriend, and I also thought you’d both like each other, I could make her think she was doing you a favour! That will please her and teach you not to appear so holy! But it will also explain why you can’t dance.” So two days later I rang Linda and asked her if she’d like to be my date, though not in those words. She stammered out a really gratfeul acceptance and a lot of my own friends wondered how I had been reduced to making such an invitation .
But where does Goldilocks come in? Well on collecting her at her house on the night of the school do I suddenly thought of the children’s story and smiled to myself. Who in their right mind would have taken one of the three bears? So I introduced myself very gently and with a big smile on my face. As she opened the door I said to her, “Excuse me, Miss Goldilocks, I presume?” She was lost, but not so much for words as the ability to say them. A lovely appreciative grin filled her much prettier face than I had remembered as she replied, “Heavens! Y-y-yyo’re n-n-ot D-d-dadd-d-dy B-b-b-ear are you? ” It was the best evening of my life and we could hardly last more than a couple of days at a time without seeing each other for our last two years at school.
The only reference she ever made to the stories of my presumed vocation were when we took the dance floor for the first time and she stammered, y-y-y-you c-c-ertain-n–ly d-d-dance l-l-ike a p-p-riest!” The kiss on her doorstep, then a cuddle on her sofa as her mother cleverly kept out of the way while we had a goodnight coffee, beat anything on the films. I mean I didn’t even know you could DO that, but Linda did. She still does.