Hair slicked back, the top three shirt-buttons left invitingly open, , fingers held causally around a mug of foamy coffee, I was the picture of sophistication. There was no trace of the small town kid that I was but months back. I was waiting for Miss. Prissie Small-Townie to turn up and thank me for choosing her as my girl; yes, I had my heart set on her, prissy as she was.
I was sixteen and living away from home for the first time in my life. There were seventy long, free kilometres that pumped a new spirit into me. Here I was, away from the glare of that sleepy hamlet where everyone knew too much about everyone else, with a whole new string of expletives right up my rolled-up sleeve, newly-inducted into college and manhood (my seniors swore every junior who took a manly beating became a man): I had arrived.
I was rather experienced for my age- I had already popped the question (no dilly-dallying or hand-holding for me, straight to business, that was me) to many a fair specimen of the fairer sex and I was, by now, adept at handling rejections with dignity, so much of it that I felt the girls ended up wanting me even more; it was just their stuffy parents and that goodie-convent-education that closed them up and their legs too .
I made it a point to be on civil terms with all my would-have-been girls; I was man enough to wait for these girls to grow up and see what they had missed and I wanted to be right there when they saw it. But I was yet to get that ‘we’re still pals’ act together. Never mind, I was working on it.
The next milestone was to do the ‘going around’ jig with a haughty haute no:. But my small-townie heart beat for a rather drab girl with signature-curly hair and a tomboyish figure. Whenever she passed our gang by (always with similar demure ninnies), the guys scorched her with cat-calls and I found myself turning not even pink, but burgundy!
By now, everyone in college knew about it and I thought the time had come to tell Miss. Priss of the good fortune that had befallen her.
So, here I was, in the trendy over-priced cafe adjoining our campus, toying with a tissue paper, waiting for Miss. Priss to turn up. A pearly bead of sweat was tracing its way down my freshly-shaven-for the occasion cheek- can’t be nervousness, can it? If there was anyone who should be nervous about it, it was her, right?
The seconds creaked past and Miss. Priss finally turned up, buttoned to the throat and stiff as only she could be. She sat down with not so much as a nod and just as abruptly, got down to business (Now you see why I liked her, no fuss about this girl!). She hated it, she said. She hated the sly looks and the damned (perhaps she used another word but the word she wanted was this) murmuring every time she walked past our gang. She was not in love with me, nor did she think she ever could be; so , please do not wait. No, that I was a good six months younger than her was not even the beginning of her reservations about it (huh, is IT just ‘it’?), which she was, of course, too prissy to talk about. This whole business of falling in love at the first glance (or the 81st one in our case) was all humbug (am sure she used a prissy equivalent here). Well, so that is that said she and got up and left.
I clutched the now-sodden tissue and thought- I’m in love with her but she’s in love with love. Lord, let her grow up before it is too late, the poor, misguided creature.