Saturday, 18 February 2017

All Those Years Ago

Today is pretty special for us. The day that started it all.

It was 1989.  John David was having a birthday. I knew him from high school. Spiderman knew him from RA camp where they had been counselors together and Lottie knew him because their dads were friends.

Lottie invited me to the party that was being held at Louisiana College, in the common room of English Village. Before you get too excited about the term "party," let me just remind you that this was a Baptist party. So if you are thinking loud music, dancing and drinking you can just wipe that image from your mind. It was more of a Scrabble and cake sort of party. More on the cake later.

So, I was feeling a bit bored by the whole party business because I love to dance and there wasn't gonna be any dancing here. When the Scrabble board arrived and was met with an enthusiastic cheer, I knew it was time to go home.
Image result for scrabble board wiki
I do not play Scrabble.

But then, I heard it. A voice. A voice singing. A voice singing FRANK ZAPPA. Who in this Baptist college knows Frank Zappa besides me? I heard it again. Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch. It was not mistake. I looked frantically around to see who it was and it was Spiderman.

Now, I had known Spiderman for a whole semester and we had gone on many group outings together, but not once had I ever heard him speak. He was always polite and did things like held the door open for me or brought me another glass of grape juice at lunch, but had I ever heard him speak aloud? No, I had not. He was very shy, you see.

(I asked him later why Frank Zappa? And all he could say was "I could tell you were about to go and I had to do something to make you stay.")

So, we walked away (far away) from the Scrabble game and sat by ourselves.

This is where the magic happened.

We talked. We talked and talked and laughed and laughed. We discussed the Romantic poets. He liked Keats and Shelley, I fancied Wordsworth, but we both could agree on Coleridge. We recited the entire dead parrot sketch from Monty Python and laughed until I fell off the sofa.
Image result for dead parrot
The air crackled. I could feel myself falling in love. Honestly, like all those cliched films where Cupid comes out and shoots someone in the heart and little cartoon hearts blip and twinkle above their heads. It was like that.

I suddenly had this idea that I really needed to make a good impression. The more excitable I get, the less dignified I am. I start to flap my hands like a insane goose trying to fly south for the winter. So, I thought of a solution.

Cake. I could have a slice of cake. If I was holding a plate and a fork, I could not flap like I was trying to fly to the moon. So I had a slice of cake.

It was all going so well. We talked about music and were going through the entire catalogue of Peter, Paul and Mary songs when someone said:
Where's the cake?
I realised, to my horror, that I had eaten the ENTIRE birthday cake. I had eaten it all myself. Eight slices. In front of him. 

I had tried to be dignified and instead had made an utter tit of myself. I burned with shame. 
In my defence, it was a German chocolate cake.
             Image result for german chocolate cake wiki
(I asked him later what did he think as he saw me go back for piece after piece of cake. he replied that he couldn't believe a 90lb waif could pack away that much food. It was apparently pretty impressive.)

I recovered my composure and hid my plate under the sofa. we continued to talk and I wondered if I had blown it. He could never love someone like me. It was many years later that I found out that he had already loved me. Ever since he saw me in the play Tartuffe in 1988. He had loved me for a whole year and been too shy to talk to me. That's why he didn't want me to leave. Hence the Frank Zappa.

At about 3am, it was time to go back to our respective dormitories.

He hugged Lottie goodbye.

He hugged her roommate Lisa goodbye, in what I judged to be longer than the hug he gave Lottie. (He says this wasn't so. He said he hardly knew Lisa.) I was mortified. What if all night he had been forced to talk to the mad cake eating woman who flapped her arms and threatened him with a fork if he dared leave the sofa?

I nearly started to cry. Because, you see, I loved him. I loved him already.

Then he hugged me. I was so ashamed that I tried to pull away and he wouldn't let me. He held me in those strong arms and I melted. The whole rest of the world faded away and we were actually in the night sky surrounded by stars. I know that sounds like a crap metaphor for love in a badly written romance novel, but it is true. Every word. We hugged for ages until someone went, "OooOooo," and everyone laughed. We broke apart and began to walk back to our dorms.

As we walked along the boardwalk, my feet didn't touch the ground. I know that is also a well worn cliche, but it is 100% true. I actually looked down and I was levitating slightly. Hand on heart, that really happened.

We got back to Cottingham, and we were all going to have a slumber party in one room. Everyone else was tired, but I was wide awake.It looked something like this:

Me: Wasn't he wonderful? he's so funny and clever. Do you think he likes me??
Everyone else: Shut up and go to sleep, it's almost 4 in the morning!!!

The next day, self doubt kept creeping in. I felt like he was my soul mate, but did he feel the same way? I was suddenly tongue-tied. Thankfully Lottie knew what to do.

Basically, she did the grown up equivalent of that eighth grade game:

Do you like Spidergrrl? 
Circle one
Yes       No
She phoned him up and asked him. I was in the TV room watching The Comic Strip Presents. It was the episode Consuela, or the new Mrs Saunders. Lisa came flying through the double doors and screamed, "he likes you! he says he likes you!" 

And that was it really. 

From that day in 1989 to the present, we have been inseparable. 

So thank you, John David for being born. Thank you for knowing Lottie who could invite me to your birthday party. Thank you  Lottie, for being brave enough to ask. And thank you to Spiderman, whose love transforms me. 

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
that then I scorn to change my state with kings. 


  1. This is not the first time I have heard this story from you. I had forgotten that is was JDA's birthday party though...The real question is...can you still eat an entire birthday cake by yourself?

  2. Great love story Heather! ❤️❤️❤️

  3. Wonderful story, I am so happy for the both of you, thank you for sharing.

  4. Like Danny, I have heard this story before, but have forgotten certain details. The cake, the story of eating the whole birthday cake! Yummy German chocolate cake! How on earth could I have forgotten that?
    Yes, you two are definitely soul mates.............and I too am so thankful to John and Lottie and everyone else who made the stars align just right that night.

  5. I enjoyed reading this all over it out loud to Carl as we're driving back from Arkansas. It makes a great oral monologue. We laughed and laughed because it's so vivid.
    Hugs to you both.