Friday, 22 August 2008

Photographs & Memories

Aaron was a 30 year old part-time DJ with bad teeth and a welded-on 80s leather jacket who lived with his parents and fancied himself as the next James Herbert in the horror-writing stakes.
I was an impressionable 19-year old of similarly limited wardrobe and writing talent desperate for intelligent company in Coventry.
Aaron began to visit me in the greetings card shop where I worked bringing me home-compilation tape after home-compilation tape of all the music he insisted I must listen to.
At some point I visited his parents' house and sat in his black bedroom with its grey, black and red geometric curtains as he plied me with track after track of rare pop music for my delectation, but which in actual fact washed in one ear and out the other as I enjoyed the curiosity of his company for its own sake. Boys and their attention were still a tremendous novelty to a girl from a sheltered rural Northern Irish upbringing and it was rather daring to be alone in a room with one I hardly knew, even if his parents were watching Family Fortunes downstairs.
I confessed to a liking for soul music and before I knew it had acquired a dozen compilation tapes of the hard stuff - not just the right tracks, but the definitive versions sung by the definitive artists according to Aaron.
I should have seen the signs that he fancied me, but as far as I was concerned, Aaron and I were just friends (and fellow writers) who hung out occasionally.
A trip to Alton Towers ensued during which he sulked as I eschewed the three-hour screaming kid queues for dinner-raising rides and was content to just wander about the parkland wasting whatever exorbitant multi-ride admission tickets Aaron had laid out for. On the train back to Coventry he complained bitterly.
I decided he really was a bit controlling in a way I didn't care for, much though I realised even then he was probably quite a good moulder of my scant musical knowledge.
That night, possibly as a conciliatory gesture for being a somewhat ungrateful mare, I allowed him to kiss me goodnight outside my grandmother’s house where I then lived. It turned into a full-blown moneysworth snog. I didn't resist, but found myself guiltily repulsed by the acrid smell of his breath and sticky tackiness of his leather jacket in the chilly Autumn air.
The next time I saw him he was full of plans for our next date, a local concert to see a band I now forget, but I felt it was only fair to come clean and admit that I didn't want to date him, just be friends. He was furious and stormed off, displaying a pronounced limp I had hitherto never noticed, seldom to be seen again, except to tell me in no uncertain terms I had made a big mistake and would regret it for the rest of my life.
For a week or so I wondered if he was right and then forgot about him except to occasionally put a tape on and slowly over the years form an appreciation of certain tracks such as the wonderfully overblown soul number ‘Patches’, much though I could take or leave most of the rest which seemed altogether more middle of the road, despite Aaron’s lyrical waxing.
But there remain two other things I still thank Aaron for - firstly introducing me to Jim Croce's hauntingly beautiful 'Photographs & Memories' despite the fact that he and I were to revel in no ‘morning walks and bedroom talks’ of our own, and secondly, and less flatteringly, for giving me a whole new appreciation of comedy series 'Garth Merenghi's Darkplace' when it came along – the spoof of a horror-writing hack who succeeds in getting his improbable dialogue, continuity chasms and holey stories screened on the most obvious of shoestring budgets.
Yet I find I make this second observation with surprising affection for someone who could at the very least have been a ‘cult’ had he but known it and stopped trying to take himself so anally seriously.

Mind you it came as a bit of a shock to find Jim Croce looked (to coin a line from fellow poet Sue Johns) 'like Burt Reynolds washed at the wrong temperature' when I looked him up on YouTube (see my first attempt at ‘embedding’ below) I had always had a highly romanticised view of him as a bit young Justin Hayward-ish in my head.

But then aren't things always more romantic in our heads...?


LucyFishwife said...

Part of the tragedy of youth is that you spend so much time paranoid about how fat/thin/socially inept you THINK you are that you fail to notice the glaringly obvious come-ons you're getting - and five years later you slap your forehead and say "Oh my GOD so THAT'S why he wanted to show me the David Bowie poster that happened to be in his bedroom..."

Rol said...

Aw, what a sweet and yet slightly tragic (for Aaron, anyway) tale. I'm afraid I can see a lot of young Rol in the Aaron you paint!

And congrats on the embedding success!

J.Danger said...

I am realizing now that my oldest is coming in to the stage that he "knows everything" that they won't listen anyway. They (we) just have to experience it.

teeni said...

Aww, Laura, you heartbreaker you! Poor Aaron. LOL. Actually I'm glad you didn't end up with him as he was much too serious for you and you were so young. Good for you on the embedding! I do love Jim Croce although I have to be in the right mood. His slow songs sometimes take the wind out of my sails. ;) He has a really great deep voice though.

Dan said...

I think you did the right thing - but going to Alton Towers for the garden is like going to a cinema for the popcorn ;o)

Although, having said that, the garden really is rather nice, although its cable car is too hair-raisingly vertiginous for my liking!

Wandering Jay said...

Jim Croce has nostalgia written on most of his tunes, wish i can say Time in a bottle is a happy reminder to you as Photographs and Memories (without the bad breath, of course).

The Sagittarian said...

Oh I'm super fond of Jim Croce...a coincidence that his initials are JC? I think not. I have afew CD's by his son (A.J. Croce) and he is brilliant too. Check out his "That's me in the bar"!

THE Michael said...

I happened upon your blog and was entranced.......are you SURE you're not pagan?

Mrs. G. said...

Croce brings back some memories from my sordid past-the memories I can actually remember.

Brother Tobias said...

Wonderfully evocative post Laura. I can see those curtains and hear the canned laughter filtered through the floor. How is it that I've never heard of Jim Croce?
You embed splendidly.

Steve said...

I think Aaron must have written a "How To attract Young Gals" guide which I must have read as a teen. Found myself cringing with horrified recognition. Glad I grew out of it. Mostly.

Paul Maurice Martin said...

That's funny, I actually happened to be thinking the day before yesterday "why don't you hear any of his music on the radio anymore?"

I thought he was a singer songwriter with a really unique sound.

Matthew Pass said...

Eek! *I* made you a compilation tape (well, CD), entitled, I'm afraid to say 'Electronic Video Games.' Glad now I didn't have the balls to give it to you! :-)

Wisewebwoman said...

I think there is an Aaron in many of our pasts, Laura. In my case he was 29 and I was 19 and I didn't have a clue it wasn't just the music or the books. It happened again when I was married and 28 and he was 48 and we worked together and he became a mentor. Both times the grab (and disgust) was out of the blue.
In all these cases, these older chappies have more than music and books on the mind methinks.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

LucyFishWife, I have a poem on this very subject of paranoia and life passing one by - I may post on it soon - yes isn't it funny how we all seem to have a blind spot re people fancying us yet wonder why those we fancy never pick up on OUR signals?

Rol, You will be heartened to know I have come to have a much greater appreciation of the nerd with age than I used to possess, to the point that I've realised I am a nerd in many respects myself! However I think nerdiness still needs to work in similar directions for a relationship to work.

J. Danger - there's a great poster which says 'Kids, fed up listening to your stupid parents? Take action now and move out and earn your own money so they can't push you around any more' or somesuch.

Teeni, you say the nicest things. Yes, while memory has given me a soft spot for Aaron, at the time things seemed decidedly stilted and awkward between us and I didn't see that improving frankly. The chemistry just wasn't there, much though I hope he's found someone suitable for him since & got over the 'perfect' ex he was also constantly harping on about.

Dan, remind me never to go to Alton Towers with you either! ;-)

Wandering Jay, ah but it has become a poignant memory now, even if life didn't mirror the song! Or perhaps *because* it didn't.

Sagittarian, it is lovely to find how many people have heard of Mr Croce. I had never heard of him until I googled the song title!

Michael, thanks for dropping by. No not pagan last time I looked. God-fearing athiest probably.

Mrs G - I can't believe a wholesome home-schooler like you had a sordid past!

Brother Tobias - yes the curtains were of a type that used to be sold by Options for about £7.99. And he had those melamine black bookcases that broke easily. Funny how you can often remember someone's bedroom furnishings as well as them! Glad you enjoyed the track. Almost worth splitting up with someone to wallow in, isn't it?

Steve, I'm a pro-nerd girl now as I mentioned earlier - but at a certain age, I think one has a far lesser appreciation of what the nerd has to offer (let alone acknowledgement that one might be one!)

Paul MM - thanks for dropping by - nice to know Jim Croce still has his fans.

Matthew - what a lovely surprise! Don't worry I'd become a lot more grateful by the time your compilation tape came my way. I hope all is going well for you.

WWW - I think you might be right. I am definitely more aware these days of the signs.