He took to placing sticky tape over doorframes and hairs over filing cabinet drawers. Thing is, everybody in the office knew he did this, so we had great fun messing with his head. The guys in sales would unstick the tape and replace it slightly differently every time. Cruel, but deserved.
He wasn’t a nice man, although looking back, I realise he was very much out of his depth. He was a numbers man: systems, procedures and paper trails turned him on. People scared him, and he was terrified of losing control of his staff, of not being respected. He was right to be terrified, so he compensated by being an utter bastard towards everybody. At least twice a week somebody would come storming out of his office, either swearing or crying. Husbands of upset staff members paid him angry visits too. Where other businessmen entertain important clients with expensive lunches and even more expensive lap dances (dodgy as it is, it seems to work), he once took the CEO of his biggest client to the movies to watch a weepy romantic comedy. Zero people skills, complete social ineptitude and absolutely no concept of personal space. Everybody hated him, poor guy.
For some reason, he seemed to have a soft spot for me. We worked closely together, God help me. On my birthday, he called me into his office and we had a private party with cake and fruit juice. He was a staunch Christian (another one!) and disapproved of alcohol. You can imagine what the rest of the office thought of this. I could picture their excitement as they peered through the keyhole looking for evidence of inappropriate behaviour. They loved that sort of thing. Eeeuw. Nearly lost my breakfast there. The image is too ghastly to contemplate. I never did it, okay? Let’s just get that straight, right now.
New Boss Man would regularly lecture me on my choice in men and tell me I could do much better. He told me he could introduce me to any number of successful, respectable prospects. I never took him up on his offer, as even then I realised what a bad idea it would be to have your boss involved in your love life. It’s possible that he just wanted to get some action himself, married and churchified though he was, but I’d like to think that his heart was in the right place. Oh, the awkward silences – what do you say to a boss who thinks he’s mending your foolish ways with men? I was very young, and didn’t know how to handle it. Now, at the grand old age of 28, I’ve discovered the Death Stare, which works remarkably well on nosy male bosses. Shuts them up faster than the mention of gynaecological procedures.
However creepy it all was, he was probably right about my relationship choices and gave me pause to consider All The Boys I’d Done Before. Not to mention the ones I hadn’t and should have.
My first real schoolgirl romance was with a boy who loved his hair more than he loved me. I was twelve years old. It didn’t last long, and that’s all I can say about that.
The second boy was yummy – I couldn’t believe my luck. He was a great, big, dumb lug of a boy, six feet tall at the age of twelve and a heavy metal freak. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but oh, the goose bumps! He taught me to appreciate Guns ‘n’ Roses and I tried to teach him how to spell. We first held hands at our school barn dance (do not say a word), and then spent the next three months in an unconscious liplock, emerging occasionally to write sweet letters to each other. I still have the letters he sent me. Shocking handwriting, littered with swear words followed by profuse apologies for the profanity. He also sent me heart-shaped “I Love You” stickers. The thought of him painstakingly sweating over a full-page letter to me made me feel unbelievably special. Before I entered his universe, the most he ever wrote was “Mr D Sux’s”, in spray paint on walls. He must have really loved me.
Of course, as these things do, the romance fizzled out once summer holidays were over. Rumours eventually reached me that an older girl, cool blonde Simone, was involved. Devastated, I was. Simone, you bitch. Our summer romance left me knowing all the words to Guns N’ Roses’ Patience, and with an abiding, morbid fear of Being The Last To Know. I still have both.
When he later tried to get back together with me, I wouldn’t be swayed. By then I was into older boys who could spell. Dammit. Stupid, stupid. Multi-syllable words are all well and good, but they sure ain’t gonna keep you warm at night. Should have stuck with him. His collection of tattoos is pretty impressive these days and he’s also the Boy I’d Most Like To Kiss Again.
A string of mostly forgettable attachments followed. After the Boy Who Kissed Like A St Bernard came a brief fling with a neighbour – tall, blond, seventeen and delicious. He played the drums and was perfectly aware of how gorgeous he was. Innocent and virginal, I valiantly fended off his rigorous attempts to get into my pants. Of course, I was way too young to appreciate his tastiness. He was a bit of a bastard, really, but what a pair of hands on him! Ooh, missus. Sexy Neighbour Boy wins the title of Boy I Really Should Have Shagged When I Had The Chance.
The first Boy I Really Fell In Love With was fifteen, gangly, awkward, bitchy and sexy as hell. We called him Mr Bean, because he made us laugh. But who wants to sleep with Mr Bean? Me, apparently. Even though he was one of my best friends and therefore off limits, I went ahead and fell in love with him anyway. But He Just Wasn’t That Into Me. Or he was gay, which was the general consensus. Who knows? Maybe I just scared the shit out of him.
Terrible idea to fall in love with a close friend. I must have been crazy, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. I wanted him badly and I was determined.