Every night, I ask my daughters how their days at school have been. #2 generally just dismisses my question with an OK, fine thanks, which is enough to satisfy me, but #1 launches into a blow-by-blow account of who has affronted her, who has fallen out with whom and who has committed the cardinal sin of looking twice at her geeky boyfriend. For a 12 year old, she is having an awful lot of trouble with this young man, whom she believes doesn't appreciate her, doesn't understand her, and puts computer games before her needs. I'd like to tell her that this is life, get used to it, but I don't want to shatter her illusions of hearts and bells and romance just yet.
To be honest, I think 12 is rather young to be 'in lurve' and exchanging gifts of over £30 in value this festive season. I know I will be lucky to get a bag of tea lights and a card from her, so for this spotty oik to be on the receiving end of some designer fragrance irks a little.
I was a rather reluctant High School girlfriend if truth be known. I would occasionally be asked out by boys, consider it briefly and then refuse resolutely, preferring to 'concentrate on my studies', being the gurlie swot that I was then. Sometimes, though, I felt obliged to bow to peer pressure and would spot a chap who appeared to be able to string a fairly coherent sentence together and get one of my friends to ask him out for me (this was the way things were done at my school).
One particular chap, Russell, was a bit of a favourite of mine at the time and indeed, only a few years ago, we did have a brief fling which was great fun while it lasted. He was witty, good looking and we attended the drama group together every night. I also did all my chemistry experiments with him in class, and as we were both as dreadful as each other, we had some rather hair-raising experiences, which seemed to me to be as good a reason as any to have him as my boyfriend. Best friend was duly despatched to ask him out on my behalf and returned to me nodding her head. I was quite chuffed. At least, for the next two hours until I got cold feet and decided this wasn't meant to be.
Best friend was nowhere to be found to dump him for me, so I bit the bullet and marched up to him.
Russ, I declared, I'm really sorry, but I don't want to go out with you any more. The look of bewilderment on his face was astounding.
But I'm not going out with you, anyway, he replied, still confused. I don't fancy you.
Ahahahahaha! I cackled. It was only a joke! I was just testing you out.
Weirdo, he responded.
Best friend got a whip-lashing for deceiving me. Her plaintive cries that she knew it wouldn't last just didn't ring true to me...
A few weeks later, Keith invited me to be his girlfriend. Keith was a very handsome older boy who was a leading light in the drama group, and I felt quite privileged that he had picked me to be his current squeeze. I accepted quite readily, thinking this would all be fairly easy - no commitment, see him at drama, and bask in the glory of having such a good-looking boyfriend.
What I didn't bank on, was that, as he was older than me, he expected me to be seen with him outside of school and do the proper boyfriend/girfriend thing. Anathaema to my soul.
He invited me to town with him on the Saturday and arranged to meet me outside the Superdrug where the bus dropped off its shoppers. I was really not a happy Agnes about this at all, and felt sick to the pit of my stomach all through the bus journey. What made it even worse was, on the return journey, he tried to kiss me, much to my extreme horror. I swerved my face as quickly as possible and heard Keith lip-smack to thin air. He didn't look pleased. He then stretched out one arm behind me as I sat next to him like a coiled spring waiting to go off. I turned to face him, caught a glimpse of his arm pit and realised that he shaved under his arms.
Oh No! No way! I was NOT going out with a lad who shaved under his arms. That was Just Not Right. At All. I still had four stops to go before my village, but that was four stops too many to sit with this person. I stood up, rung the bell, and garbled as I retreated, Sorry. Don't like you. Go away! and legged it...That was a lucky escape.
My first serious boyfriend came when I was nearly 16. Just before I was about to sit my O'level exams - you know, the ones your parents really, really want you to pass because they are the start of greater things to come? The ones which you really shouldn't screw up if you can help it? The ones my teachers anticipated I would pass with all As and Bs?
Serious boyfriend threw my head into a whirl and all studies went out the window. He was 21 to my 16 and came from a very well-to-do local family: Daddy was a popular GP and Mummy was a senior sister at the local maternity hospital. It was my dream to have a doctor related to me so I could ask all sorts of interesting questions such as, Why do I have cellulite? How do I get rid of these spots on my chin? Do you recommend liposuction on teenagers?
Rob studied and lived in digs at Liverpool University, so I had my first foray into student life at quite a tender age. Spending nights in a houseful of drunken adults was a bit of an eye-opener for me and I was somewhat confused by the importance placed on building a curtain of beer cans for the living room and getting told off when I crushed my cans. Most of the time, all I wanted to do was hole up in his room and try out the latest Jackie Collins techniques on him. He was cool with that for a bit but then the lure of drinking, fishing and rugby would beckon and I would be left pent-up, frustrated and vowing to read Pasternak from thereonin.
O level results came and went. My parents refused to speak to me all summer due to the dreadful grades I 'achieved' and Rob and I split up because his mother deemed me too stupid to be his girlfriend and advised him to get rid. I was a bit cheesed off by this, knowing that she had only got a handful of qualifications during her lifetime and she was on the receiving end of a fair few hexes for many years to come. Particularly when, much to her horror, I served her in our local shop where I worked on a Saturday and purposely short-changed her. She didn't have the backbone to query her change and left rather rapidly. At least she would have been able to inform her best beloved oldest son that his former girlfriend really was thick as she couldn't give change from a pound coin correctly.
I didn't care. I bought myself a Mars bar with the money I pocketed and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So, in retrospect, I guess #1 has all this fun and games to come and even if it cannot be considered character-building, at least she might do as I do and blog about it when she is old enough to realise that there is a world outside of MSN on the computer. As she's a bit of a silly girl, though, I shan't hold my breath.
I don't know. Teenage love, eh? Excruciatingly painful at the time, but what a laugh it can afford you when you revisit it as an adult. Give me Pasternak any day...