FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE (MOSTLY) UNATTAINABLE
One of the things I have learned in life is that –where the opposite sex is concerned—the unattainable is not necessarily as unattainable as one might think. Here the SAS motto—He Who Dares Wins—is worth considering.
Mind you, holding on to one’s target is another matter. But better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. And I’m not sure ‘lost’ is the right word. Some relationships are innately transient, and none the worse for it. Others, of course, are just plain impossible. They happen nonetheless—sometimes for a considerable period.
I have never been too sure of the dividing line between “having a crush on” and “falling in love with.” I guess it is a matter of degree. Both states are painful, wonderful, and extremely distracting. Given the latter, writers—who need to focus with considerable intensity—arguably shouldn’t fall in love. But we do, nonetheless—sometimes regularly. We are a difficult and troublesome bunch. That elegant phrase “Illuminate the human condition” includes not just entertaining people through our written work—which I, personally, thoroughly enjoy doing—but raising issues which many people would prefer were never mentioned. We are stirers of the pot and fomenters of change. We are not really restful, reliable, good providers—and women tend to pick-up on such things and regard us with appropriate suspicion. Still, good sexual chemistry conquers all—at least for a while.
I was still a baby when I felt seriously attracted to a woman for the first time. I have been told I was far too young to have such thoughts, but I vividly remember that rather gorgeous young woman as she cuddled me against her breasts. In fact I remember more detail than might be appropriate to put into print. She was dark haired, and rather luscious, and moved on to South Africa—never to be heard from again. She was my temporary nurse and a friend of my mothers. She broke my heart at the age of about one.
Disillusioned with life after such a traumatic erotic experience, I waited four long years before falling in love with my neighbor when we lived in England for a while. Her name was Jean Clifford and, for a considerable time, it was assumed we would get married—well, assumed by us anyway. On the basis of that understanding, I persuaded her to take her clothes off when she came to stay at my grandmother’s farm several years later, but then rather ran out of ideas. Still, it was exciting. I was about eight at the time.
I was unfaithful to Jean—at least in my mind—in that, concurrently, I fell madly in love with a girl called Miriam who, with her parents, used to stay in a little holiday home on my grandmother’s farm most summers. Miriam had long blond hair, was about twelve to my six or seven, and I thought she was the most gorgeous creature who had ever walked the face of the earth. In fact she looked like the kind of princess who tends to be locked up in a tower for knights to rescue—but somehow that never happened. Or, if it did, I was never told. I find the thought that she might still be locked up—waiting for me to rescue her—mildly worrying.
I’m not quite sure how I lost touch with Jean, but I suspect our moving back to Ireland must have had something to do with it. Also, I was sent to boarding school—and that rather cramps one’s style where the opposite sex is concerned. In fact after a while, you long for the mere sight of a woman; and school matrons become the object of lust. Frankly most were not worth it, though I recall two who probably were. One had a severe face but a truly superb figure—and watching her walk could make one’s day. The other, who was chubby but pretty, fell in love with a monk. I never did learn how that particular relationship played out. They made a very sweet couple.
Well, I’m now getting to the interesting part—so I’m going to stop. The balance will be in my memoirs CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK-WRITING MAN.
I will say that I wrote this particular piece for a reason. I received an e-mail today that brought back some very special memories.