‘Everyone’s too busy talking about love to do their work,’ my son said after school today.
Girls are drawing hearts and kisses in their diaries, the names of boys in triplicate, dreaming of turning frogs into princes. Boys pretend not to notice but they stand straighter when the girls walk by, trying to look as cool as possible.
I remember those days. I was in love with a boy named Billy Dee when I was thirteen. A boy with hair so black I thought he could have been the son of Elvis. A boy who didn’t walk, who loped, who always seemed to be leaning against buildings looking interesting.
My friend told Billy Dee I liked him.
‘Big deal,’ he said. ‘Big deal.’
I was so hurt I wrote a poem that started –
I love Billy Dee
But he doesn’t love me
He said big deal
But I know it’s real
Bad, bad poetry. So it begins. Love. Seeking it. Finding it. Losing it. Wanting it. Needing it. Rejoicing in it. Giving up on it. It sure does make the world go round.
A girl in my son’s class asked if he wanted to be her boyfriend. This was how she put it –
Hey you, do you want to be my boyfriend?
Seems she was the last girl in her group to get a boyfriend and the pressure was on. Beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to love, so when the clock is ticking even some nameless boy just hanging out in the playground will do.
But my boy, he’s got standards. This was his reply –
I don’t think a relationship where you don’t know the other person’s name is going to last.
Wish I’d been aware of that waking up in some grotty student digs with a guy wearing a badly dyed black T-shirt that had bled all over the bed and me while my head pounded and my heart sank as I tried to remember his name. Charlie? Mike? Steve? Maybe it is the fate of all girls to at one time refer to their supposed beloved as Hey You. All I know is I couldn’t get the dye off my arms for weeks.
The girl in my son’s class was put out by his matter-of-fact rejection of her –
I never really loved you, anyway, she said.
What’s love got to do with it? my son countered.
You’ll see, my boy, I thought. You’ll see.