07 August, 2009

The Day Before Yesterday

I gathered some inspiration for this from a recent post over at one of my favourite blogs: Mooiness. Marcus was musing about whether tolerance for other peoples' idiosyncracies was the key factor in determining whther a newly-formed relationship could last. And wondered if the too-quick identification of a "character flaw" in a potential partner was a subconscious escape clause. I'm paraphrasing, and I'm not sure if I've done justice to Moo's excellent post, so you can read exactly what he had to say here.

But in my case, it was 1985 and I was 26 and about as single as you could get. A colleague was having a fancy dress party and when I arrived early as Angus Young, there was only one other guest there: this beautiful Asian girl who was wearing an I Dream of Jeannie outfit that came very close to making me forget all about Barbara Eden. We spent a fair proportion of the evening talking together and somehow ended up getting in touch shortly afterwards to organize a date. I was through to the semis.

She lived out in Keilor Downs and when I got there she was not quite ready so I chatted with her sister, also a stunner, and then we went next door so I could meet her folks. That's right, her folks lived next door to the house where the two sisters lived. Dad was of Malaysian Chinese origin, and had worked for the RAAF in Malaysia and then emigrated. Mum was English. They were really nice people. We spent quite a long time talking with her folks and they made it clear in a subtle way that Helen, the younger of their two daughters, was unaccustomed to going out with blokes and that I was being afforded quite a privilege. None of which bothered me. It was a first date, so it was bound to be something of an exploratory expedition for all concerned.

We had dinner at a restaurant in Fitzroy and she was really lovely. But very shy, and although obviously intelligent, not terribly worldly. Like she'd been a bit sheltered. All of this was okay. I wasn't exactly the playboy of the western world myself, and although clueless in a great many ways, flattered myself that I understood how we don't all march to the beat of the same drum.

I dropped her off back at her place, had a quick cup of coffee with her and her sister and went home. It had gone well, (albeit a bit more G-rated than I'd have liked), and I was keen to continue.

So I thought it was great when she rang me the following Friday to see if I wanted to go out to the pictures with some friends of hers. We met up at the house in Pacoe Vale where the three friends lived, two guys and a girl. This particular evening did not go well.

There was far too much umming and ahhing about what film to see. I kept quiet and left them to it. Threw in a suggestion or two but these were not taken up. The debate dragged on and on until finally they settled on The Breakfast Club. I'd never heard of it and asked who was in it. Turned out it was a Brat Pack movie. Fuck. Oh well, it was a night out.

We arrived at the Greater Union cinemas in Russell St in the city with a bit of time to kill. I suggested we pop around to the Carlton Hotel in Bourke St for a couple of drinks. More debate. I found their dithering frustrating, and I think it showed. And the film was shit. I know director John Hughes passed away yesterday, but I didn't think much of this film at all, so I'm taking his many eulogies with a grain of salt.

There was more indecisiveness about what to do after the movie so it ended up being a date-that-pretty-much-wasn't. And I decided not to pursue things with Helen. We were heading in different directions. As much as I liked her, as lovely as she was, (and she was lovely on all levels), I couldn't imagine hanging around with her friends and she was clearly very family-oriented. The prospect of spending long nights in front of the TV at her folks' place (at anyone's folks' place, including my own!) was one I didn't relish. There was just the matter of the party I was having at my place in a couple of weeks that I'd told her about.

During the leadup to this party, I didn't contact her. She resolved everything when her phone call got me out of the shower before work one morning to tell me announcement-style that she wouldn't be coming along. I said that was fine, but asked her why. Because she didn't want to go out with me anymore. I told her that was fine too, and wished her well. Quite a nice, mutually satisfactory ending. Rare? In my experience, yes.

It was a shame, but it was looking too much like I'd be dating a shy teenager, and that just didn't suit me. And I'd also say there was probably a good deal of me not suiting her involved too.

But the funny thing was that a couple of years later, when TLOML and I started dating, I found a lot of similarities between the two of them. Some differences too. However, on reflection the big difference was to do with me. Because for TLOML, I was ready to make some kind of commitment. I think also by that time, I was thinking it was more about her than her surroundings.

The rest is history.

But just by way of a coda: some seven years later, TLOML arrived home from work one afternoon after we'd been married about a year wanting to know who this Helen was. I didn't connect initially, but it turned out Helen was this beautiful Asian replacement teacher who'd filled in for her the day before and in the note she'd left TLOML, mentioned that we'd dated and asked to be remembered to me. Helen was doing replacement teaching while she was on family leave, and I managed to piece together that she'd married a pretty cool bloke I'd once worked with briefly and they'd had a baby.

I think that makes four happy endings, all up.


Andrew said...

I don't think it was just your age. Shy giggling friends and tv at the parents house under their gaze at any age would be hard going.

iODyne said...

probably a very good thing that Jeannie Genie* and Angus Young* the Curse Of St.Custards,
did not breed -
... a bunch of mad axe-men who could make whole bands disappear.

* choice of costume is very revealing about anybody. I am hoping for a fancy-dress funeral.

Lad Litter said...

Probably. I think it was more a case of being able to accomodate individualdifferences a bit later on, maybe.

Hahahaha! Yes, quite a combo, Angus & Jeannie.

Kath Lockett said...

Timing is important yes, but those good old 'vibes' - to use an eighties term, are also incredibly important.

My TLOML, aka Love Chunks, met me on my very first day of uni. We both had serious other halves at the time, but I'll never forget how nice I thought he was....

...Seven years later he was returning to Adelaide to take a year off from the weather bureau in Melbourne to do a Grad Dip Ed and I was also back in Adelaide after two years in the UK to do a Grad Dip Ed. We were in a share house and engaged six months later. :)

Lad Litter said...

Pretty amazing how things turn out, isn't it? There's quite often serendipitous chance and attraction not acted on involved, as in your case. We'd known each other for about 18 mths before anything happened I'd spent the whole time thinking "She's lovely. I wonder if.....? Nah, don't be stupid...."

Melanie Myers said...

Lovely that you were able to reconnect years later through a note left to your wife! That's actually a really sweet story.

So many factors - many we're unaware I think - go into whether you can make a go of dating someone for the long haul. I still haven't figured why, over a year later, I'm with a sweet little (literally) Colombian man-boy who, despite being 31, still has a lot of growing up to do. But together we are, even though it's long distance at the moment, and it's working rather well.

One thing though, I'm reeling a little at your dissing of the Breakfast Club. This was THE film of our particular graduating year
(1990). I lost count how many times we watched it (on VHS of course). I can only put your attitude down to you being too old at the time to fully appreciate its adolescent angst.

Lad Litter said...

Glad to hear you things are working out with the Colombian. I've found marriage so much easier than dating but I wouldn't overgeneralize that.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Heathers, and Clueless are all US teen-oriented movies I like a lot. And Eric Rohmer's Four Seasons cycle too.

I'm reeling a little at your use of the word "dissing" ;-)

iODyne said...

FTARH! "Heyy Mr Pizza !"
Heathers had a great cast, and Dan Hedaya was the Clueless Dad and I love him ever since Blood Simple way way back.

LL: your Cool Guy from work, was clearly 'cool' enough to handle the baggage that came with Jean Genie ... and you weren't.
Now here's a theme I have noticed re exotic partners:
The Beatles and The Rolling Stones quickly got beyond Cyn, Maureen, Patti, Jane and Marianne, to a succession of Swedes, Japs, Nicaraguans Brazilians, and Americans.
Why do Brit Pop stars favor partners 'from beyond The Village'?
Clapton's Brazilian, Rod's Swede, etc etc so weird.

Lad Litter said...

Yep, it says more about me than it does Helen.

re rock stars & exotic women - might be a similar phenomenon to Aussie sheilas throwing themselves at the Yanks between 1942-45 - the grass is always greener maybe.

iODyne said...

funny you should mention that Dud,
furthering my obsession with western district bluestone homesteads I have just read a memoir describing how the Squattocracy women FLUNG themselves at the Yanks.
There is fulsome detail of dance parties at Toorak townhouses with Generals, and medical solutions arranged before husbands returned from active duty.
The memoirist and friends published their own book in 1944 'Thanks For The Memory' dedicated to the Marine Corps. semper fi indeed.

My own Ex, always drawn to white trash US culture, is now the 5th husband of a true southern belle, and revelling in her football hero uncle married to the cheerleader.
At their wedding, this Uncle said
"OK son, you can hit her now. This is The South"
(they live near the famous and revered coon-dog cemetery).
Is that exotic?
My spy fetish has discovered formerspook.blogspot

old spooks comment.
it's really something.

my link pal telamaria.blogspot has just covered Stevie Winwood as far as I can tell since it's not in english. Blind Faith indeed.
Last week I went to a gig and was given a wristband for Backstage Access - old Molls keep on rockin.

iODyne said...

'The Day Before Yesterday" is such a great post heading.
This is what my blogsfeed says:

posted by Lad Litter at Lad Litter - 2 months ago

Some Chilean Woman said...

I've dated lots of cool guys, but the spark just wasn't there for either party. I'm glad that spark wasn't there because I would have missed out on my current guy!

Great posts!

Ann ODyne said...

ah it's quiet here.
Cricket the cause no doubt.
play on.

Unknown said...

Silly me, haven't checked back here in a while.

There's a Robert Heinlein novel The Day After Tomorrow that I was thinking of.

Exactly. It's not an indictment on anyone.

Just about ready to make a comeback.

BwcaBrownie said...

'The Day Before Yesterday" is such a great post heading since you have not blogged in living memory -

This is what my blogsfeed said right after it listed you header:
"posted by Lad Litter at Lad Litter - 2 months ago"

yes of course it was 'the day before yesterday', but in what year?

M L Jassy said...

Always look for an escape clause. Fortunately, all being human as we are and hence flawed, one never has to look too far.

Happy to politely disagree on The Breakfast Club! It is many things, but it's not merde. Some say it'd work better on stage.