I think that this was my first attempt to write in the style of Jerome K. Jerome, having recently discovered his “Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow” and loved it. His articles all started with the word “On”. However, I thought I would avoid any humourous misunderstanding by simply calling my article “Girls”.
I am not noted for my powers of observation but I have noticed one thing over the past 15 years or so: girls. At one time, I remember, I lived in blissful ignorance of their existence. But, alas, this did not last. One year I could have distinguished one girl from another, then suddenly, POW! I have not seen two that looked remotely alike since.
The girl who must bear the brunt of my blame for this sad event was in fact quite a sweet little thing. She was the sister (twin or younger, I do not recall) of a boy I met on holiday in Skegness (or Skeggy, as us enthusiasts call it). At first, I believe, I was quite happy with the company of the boy (by name, a Jeffrey) and thought him in the words of Jerome K. Jerome, “quite a fine fellow”. But, come the following year, when he and half his Yorkshire clan came to holdiay with us, at our home in Stoke-on-Trent, some astonishing intrinsic change had obviously occurred in him: he seemed quite an ordinary chap!
All the boy’s charisma, intelligence, and qualities of companionship had utterly deserted him! Taken flight from his shoulders like a flock of disgruntled budgerigars, and taken respite where? Of all places, the fragile, shapeless form of his aforementioned sister! And how well she wore them. It was if an ill-fitting suit had suddenly been lifted off its undersized wearer and been placed on a body of just the right size.
It was a transformation more riveting than any seen by the apostles. Suddenly the boy’s company was unwanted and I wished only to be engrossed in her presence.
Happily, I belong firmly to that camp of fortunate fellows whose first-love was not unreciprocated. But, still, I cannot bring myself to wholly forgive her for awakening in me that adult obsession. For it is an obsession. Ever since being enraptured by her, I have not been able to look at another female without making an instant judgement about her beauty or lack of it. It is as if there is buried deep in my mind a demon whose sole reason for existence is to trip me into making a complete eejit of myself and views every woman as possible bait. It is distressing how often he has succeeded.
How I miss those long gone days when I could look at a woman and see a woman. Just as I can look at a dog and see a dog and not an angel or devil, a Venus or Medusa, a “lustbucket” or an object of eternal devotion. Nowadays, it seems that the very existence of the Universe depends on my opinion of every woman who intrudes upon my visual horizon. And all because of a scrawny, little eleven year old, some 17 years ago! I hope that she’s married with 8 kids. It’d serve her jolly well right! Meanwhile, there is a copper-haired girl passing my living room window, who needs my utmost attention, so excuse me — before the Universe collapses on itself.
©John Steele, 1988, 2008, 2011
This was published by the Workers’ Educational Association West Mercia District, in the annual anthology produced by the Friday afternoon Writers’ Workshop, “A Pot-Pourri of Prose and Poetry”, in March 1988.