A confession: In my twenties I had a girlfriend by the name of Catherine. She was a sweet, smart girl and in her words, ‘was just passing through’. She came from a very good family and was quite clear about what she wanted for her future. She was going to marry Simon (also posh) who she’d been going out with for three or four years, but she’d told him she needed a six months break in order to experience life before she settled down. When she met me she decided I was fit to be a part of that life experience. Did I resist, certainly not. Did I resent being a passing phase in her pre-mapped life? Not that much, the benefits considerably outweighed the negatives, and if it hadn’t been for the implied snobbery in her agenda I might not have minded at all.
At first I was fine with the arrangement but then it started to gaul me slightly that I wasn’t being seen as a rival to her long term boyfriend. Not that I wanted to be part of her ultimate destiny, I just hated the idea that, given how much fun we had and how compatible we were, I wasn’t even remotely denting her assumptions that she would end-up with a social equal.
I started to feel categorized, or was it patronized, and wanted to do something to shake her up. Nothing cruel or unpleasant, just some little thingy to show her that she couldn’t take me for granted.
My chance came late one night. We were staying in her mothers apartment, lying in bed talking. It was pitch black and I was busting for a pee, so I groped my way to the door, found the hall light-switch and went off to relieve myself. When I returned I closed the bedroom door and advanced blindly in the direction of the bed. It was then that I had an idea. I slid back under the sheets and lay still. Catherine started speaking again, quietly telling me about her plans to go sailing when summer came. I said nothing, I didn’t want to ruin my black-hearted joke. In the inky darkness I’d climbed back into bed the wrong way around, with my head at the bottom end of the mattress and with my cold white feet resting on the pillow. Unbeknownst to her she was whispering away to my nobly toes. After a minute or so she reached out to touch my face and ... it was then that she started to scream. Leaping of bed, she scurried over to turn the light on. When she saw me grinning from ear to ear she became as mad as hell. “How could you, you pig.” and then she started hitting me with the pillow. Later, after she’d seen the funny side of it, she told me that it was one of the most frightening things she’d ever experienced, “It was like being in a horror movie, when I felt your feet instead of your head I thought you’d turned into some gnarly alien.”
I’m not sure if the incident shortened the relationship, but not long after that she took off, sailed around the world, came back and married her well-bred young man and for all I know lived happily ever after. I imagine our experiences together became something she pasted into her mental scrapbook, however...I bet she never reaches out in the night without thinking twice about what she might find.