Back then, I imagined my postman was Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he’d have a massive coronary and die under the weight of all my Valentine’s cards. Why Arnie had to die was best left for the pioneering Austrian therapist I’ve still not been to see.
“Did you hear Arnie died just roon the corner ootside the pub?” Darren would ask us.
“Ah heard!” Mark would say. Mark was always amazed, but I suppose his astonishment was understandable in this imaginary scenario. Me? I was too busy looking at Lisa Zachary with the intense, smouldering, constipated stare I’d perfected from looking at film posters at my local, soon to be obsolete video store. Of course, the reality was different. That’s why we have to drink copious amounts of booze to forget it. The cards would trickle through. One or two at most. Still better than some, but my postman, more Joe Pesci in Home Alone than Arnie, wouldn’t be dying because of me anytime soon.
Joe Pesci had never looked better in 2001 when he dropped my solitary Valentine’s card through the letterbox. Snap, Crackle and Pop made their usual noises as I opened the haul with my mother smiling, trying to take the piss and reclaim her son from the hormone blizzard of teenagehood… it was Lisa! Lisa had given me a card!
I was in a hurry to get to school and flaunt my new self-esteem. “Ah got a card fae Lisa,” ah told my mates.
“Piss off,” Darren said.
“It said Lisa Z oan it. Who else has a surname beginning wae a Z?”
“You’ve got tae gie her wan now,” Mark said.
“Ah’ll need tae buy wan first.”
“Ah meant gie her wan.” Mark, also a virgin not through choice, pulled his bony elbows and hips back and forth to do the sign language for a lousy shag.
After school, I saw Lisa leave the company of her friends and head for her tenement close. It was a perfect opportunity to thrust my card into her hands and run away, but the chance came and went like my virginity never did when I was fourteen. I thought that was that, but my brain reminded me of my goading, insufferable mates, and after getting soaked with rain and desperate hormones, I stood in front of Lisa’s front door and thought myself into inaction. I was about to turn away and spend the night berating myself for not dropping the card through the letterbox when the door flew open.
“Who are you?” asked a much older woman. I gave what I assumed was her granny the card and ran. A hurricane on performance-enhancing drugs couldn’t have beaten me home.
Throughout that night, I nearly died of cringing several times. Then the next day on the death march to school, things turned terminal. “Did you gie Lisa her card?” Mark asked, laughing with Darren in the manner of simpletons. It didn’t take them long to confess. “The card wae the two bears oan it! Ah bet you thought you were getting in her pants and it was me who wrote it ya daftie!” Don’t let people tell you violence is never the answer. People say a lot of crap that doesn’t make sense. And right then, I thought, fuck people, and tried to twist Mark’s head off his stupid neck.
When I got to school, I walked across the green mile with my hood up like the grim reaper sporting last season’s Nike. “Paul!” yelled a girl. It was Lisa’s mate. I wanted to run for solitary confinement, but she was playing the part of a makeup-plastered raven and had an important, potentially life-changing message. “Dae you want get aff wae Lisa?” she asked while doing an impression of a football manager chewing gum to stave off a heart attack.
It was a scene that might’ve made me jealous or vomit if I wasn’t one of the two protagonists, but that was me kissing Lisa behind the bushes. And those wonderful, vague hint of piss bushes would become our nirvana for one spectacular, tongue-filled month. That was before we realised a love as physical and beautiful as ours could not exist in a world where people feel the urge to communicate every mundane thought. Aye, so she ended it with me for being too much of a strong, silent, handsome type, so what? Heartache maketh the traumatised man. And I was still glad my mates played Cupid and posted that card — the utter bastards that they are.