The thing about December in the University Library is the fact its empty… Totally devoid of under graduates. It is a place of peace and contemplation, a place where serious study is at last possible. Unlike the normal atmosphere of the Univesity in semester, where one rushes from a lecture to the union then on to a tutorial… Yeah, that’s a lie, the rush is from one excess to another, the lectures and tutorials are the incendentals, the thin layer of intellectual rigour spread evenly across the drinking, the smoking and the fornicating. These are the central tenets of the first years of being an under-graduate. As a 27 year old, who has spent ten years in the real world, working in industry, long hard hours of toil and turpitude, I grasped these tenets like a newly converted zealot. I drank to excess, smoked too much weed, and enjoyed as much female company as I could muster. In effect, I got to be a teenager again.
However, with all of those destractions away for the christmas holidays, spending time actually doing my essays and projects in the peace and quiet of the library, was a total joy. I would travel unto Campus on the bus, the same time as I did in term time. As the Library didn’t open until ten, this gave me an hour in the union cafe, a time to read the Guardian, do the crossword and drink a mug of disgusting coffee… but all in peace. None of the remaining students, the ones who lived on Campus and hadn’t gone home for the hols, would not be up and about until midday at the earliest. Peaceful times.
At ten, I would get up, put the newspaper in my brief case, and toddle off up to the library. In those last years, before everything was on the computers and everyone had mobile phones, the only way to find the information you required, was to read. You had to wade through hundreds of essays, novels and pamphlets… Magazines like New Society, New Scientist etc, you had copies of every newspaper from the year dot on microfiche, which as a sociologist was a goldmine… It was a pleasure to use all these tools, and with the aid of helpful Librarians, you could find information which none of the other students would begin to research. In effect, the time spent alone in the library was probably the most productive time I had in my four years of University education.
At twelve, I piled all my books up and placed them on the end of the desk, with a note that I was coming back and please do not remove them. I put all my papers and notes in my briefcase, and made my way down the circular steps of the library back towards the Union building, looking forward to a hard earned cheese baguette and a cheap pint of lager. At the bottom of the steps I stopped and lit a much needed cigarette, the library was one of the few places on campus where you were not allowed to smoke… Heady days before the anti-smoking fascists took over, these days you can only smoke in a dustbin on the first thursday in september, but in those halycon days you could smoke anywhere, even in the maternity ward of the local hospital!
As I walked across the car park I was passed by a rather beautiful asian girl, who stared and smiled at me as if she knew me. I smiled back, desparately trying to place the girl, was she in one of my tutorials? She passed by, and I continued towards the pigeon holes where our internal mail was placed, it was important to check your pigeon hole at least twice a day, because the individual faculties tended to treat communication as espionage. You were never told anything, but instead got messages written in invisible ink, which you had to decipher with lemon juice and the burn on pain of death.
Well, I might be exaggerating a little, but I had missed re-arranged tutorials and new essay assignments, simply because I hadn’t checked my pigeon hole a second time on a given day. So, it became second nature to check the pigeonhole every time you entered the union building.
As I found nothing for me there, I turned and bumped into the girl of the biggest smile again!
“Sorry… Oh it’s you… Hello… How are You doing?” This was before Friends so I’m claiming the phrase back from Joey.
“Do I know you?” I asked, as her smile and demeanour suggested some previous knowledge of each other.
” I don’t think you remember me, but we have met.”
“Have we? I’m sure I would remember… You.”
” You remember the reading we did of Macbeth in Drama?”
This was not proper drama, I hasten to add, drama was not a faculty or subject allowed in my University, the drama mentioned, was part of the Teacher training faculty, which at the time I was studying concurrently with my proper studies. I gave it up after the first year, because I didn’t want to teach. I was pencilled in to teach English, History and Drama… So I had to attend these Drama classes as part of my teacher training. It was very dull, we were treated like pupils, and led by the nose on how to stand up a play from the page. As I had studied Acting at Drama and Dance School from the age of nine, it was quite run of the mill. When I turned up to the classes, which was not always, I was most often drunk… or at least libated.
When we had stood up Macbeth, I’d played the drunken night watchman, from the beginning of the play, and had hammed it up a little, as it was improvised. The other classmates had fallen about in hysterics, and a terse Tutor had called time on my performance.
I’d neglected to return after the event, as it wasn’t an integral class to the subject, but an extra add on. I’d just dropped out of it. So, the members of that class had not become a permanent fixture in my firmament.
“Were you there? I don’t remember, I’m afraid I was rather drunk.”
“I was supposed to be Lady Macbeth, but you rather stole the scene.”
“I’m terribly sorry, I don’t remember much…”
“Yes, I know, you were rather drunk… I just wanted to thank you!”
” You did, why?”
“I was terrified of playing Lady Macbeth and then your performance brought the place down, and it was never stood up again, so you saved me from that fate.”
“Well you’re very welcome.”
“You were very funny, you should be on the stage.”
“I was drunk, I’m always funny went I’m drunk.”
“Seriously, you look like a filmstar.”
“Who Alan Ladd?” Ok, this needs explaining. Alan Ladd was a famously short filmstar, 5ft 5 inches, from the 40’s and 50’s, exactly the same size as me. You, dear readers will probably not be aware of this fact, given your of a later vintage, and the girl similarly, looked perplexed.
” You know, the American actor who is famously short.”
“Oh, I see, no I never thought of you as short… You act a lot taller!”
QUIET PLEASE : THE DENOUEMENT
I told the girl that I was just going up to the Union, for a sandwich and a pint, did she want to join me?
She shook her head.
“I’m going out for a walk around the lakes, I need some fresh air, you can join me if you like…”
Given that it was the middle of December and that there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground, and the extra joy of a windchill approaching -5, the thought of walking around the lakes, a good mile and a half in anyone’s money, was of course an absolute delight. I chided myself for being a sucker for an adventure, especially if the adventure involved an interesting young woman. Cock-led, I smiled as if it was the best idea i’d ever heard.
We walked away from the Union, across the main road and down by the side of the old Hall which housed the English Faculty. We walked in silence until out of sight of the Hall and the snow gave out to sludge and then mud as we got closer to the lakes.
I was still carrying my briefcase, and formed an incongruous image, what with briefcase, a bright blue motorcycle leather jacket, jeans and Dr.Marten boots. The girl brought her own picaresque elements to our costume, as she was wearing a long flowing kaftan skirt underneath her Afghan coat… She too wore the obligatory Dr.Martens shoes.
Despite the efficacy of wearing an Afghan goatskin coat in those freezing conditions, the smell of it required someone with extreme confidence in their own personal hygiene to carry it off. Momentarily distracted by the comical false landings of a pair of mallards on the half frozen lake, they had landed like a pair of ice skaters in a free dance routine as they glided across the ice, only to come unstuck when the ice gave way to sludge, and both pitched forward in a most ungainly manner, I hadn’t noticed that the girl was no longer beside me. I turned around in shock, and caught her carefully aimed snowball squarely on the bridge of my nose. My eyes watered, this walk had taken on an unexpected turn of events. I tried to laugh playfully, but it dried in my throat as her next ball caught me smack in the lips. I bent forward gasping. She looked at me as if concerned, bloody woman!
“Are you ok?”
“Of course… cough cough… splutter splutter… I love a snow fight!” I looked around me for snow, but alas and alack, the path next to the lake where I stood, was devoid of snow, only mud lay to hand.
I toyed with the idea of throwing mud at her… But it probably wouldn’t be construed as playful, at best it would seem mean, at worst it could be seen as an assault. I put my hands up.
“Ok, you win.”
“I’ve never seen real snow before.”
“Don’t they have snow where you come from?”
“No, not so much in Tower Hamlets, the city tends to keep snow at bay.”
I laughed… I didn’t know anything about her, but I’d presumed that she was from… somewhere else…
“What is your name?”
“Tee, my friend’s call me Tee.”
“Why do they call you Tee?”
“Because it’s easier than saying Ateebah?”
“Ateebah is a lovely name, what does it mean?”
“it means something that is soft and gentle I think, at least that’s what my mother told me.”
“It suits you.”
“You think? I just smashed snow all over your silly face… Was that soft and gentle?” I pursed my lips. I was not used to losing any competition, verbal or physical, and yet she had me two for two. I would regain my composure somehow… but not yet.
“Do you know my name?”
“Dave or something.”
“It’s something like that, all your names sound the same to me…” Would she rile me? No. But she certainly had me off kilter.
“My name is Dale. Dale Beck.”
“And what does your name mean Dale Beck?”
“It means Valley Brook.”
“So it’s basically a tautology?”
Oh she is good. Very good.
“It suits you.”
“Really how so?”
“Well look at you, you’re all wet!”
She skipped off delightedly, like a little wood nymph. I gave chase, determined to find snow before she did, once caught twice as vicious I thought, pay back would be sweet.
Of course the inevitable happened, my briefcase got caught between my legs and I fell headlong into the mud. My hands flew forward to halt my fall, and I flung my briefcase forward. I lay in the mud, face dripping and aghast watched as my briefcase arced across the path and smashed into a tree. It sprung open and all my notes spread themselves deliciously across the mud.
Tee stopped running and looked as if she was about to erupt into hysterics… You could say I have a natural flair for slapstick… But then replaced the look of glee with a look of actual concern,
“My bleeding notes, look covered in bloody mud!”
She looked around to where I gestured and saw my spilt briefcase.
“But you’re bleeding, seriously!”
I rubbed my hand across my temple and found it redden hued,
“I’m always bloody bleeding Tee, I play rugby every weekend! But those notes are the product of a weeks study.”
I got up groggily, and went to the scattered ashes of all my labours. I put the notes, such as they were, back into my briefcase and relocked the open clasps. Luckily, the case wasn’t badly damaged, just a little dent in the lid, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The blood streamed down the side of my face. Tee ran to me and pressed a handkerchief to the wound. As my face was equally smeared in mud as well as blood, she feared the wound might go septic.
“Oh God, Dale look at the fucking state of you!”
“I can’t maybe you can look for me.”
“Quick I’ll take you back to my halls, get you washed up.”
“Where are your halls, Tee?”
The thought of walking half across the campus covered in mud and blood would not do my street cred much good… Even if most of my friends were already away home for the hols.
“They are just across the lake there, we can get to them without going through the campus… Look just there beyong the trees.”
I let her lead me around the lake, taking care not to slip again, because dignity once lost is difficult to regain…. Bloody fool!
She sat me in her small bedroom after removing my coat and boots, and stowing my briefcase behind the small desk she had in the corner. She went off to find a bowl and soapy water… I stood still in her inner sanctum and looked around. I did not wish to muddy her furnishings. As a student, the first thing to attract my attention was her books. She had an array of books with cyrillic script, which given her ethinicity seemed incongruous, she was studying Russian? Along side the incomprehensible Russian texts sat the equally incongruous science text books… I knew something of Astral Physics and Quantum Physics, but her books were on Chemistry, a subject I knew very little about.(Strangely, I ended up doing Chemistry for morons as one of my minors later in my academic life, and managed to scrape a pass… Chemistry for Morons was officially called, Environmental Pollution Protection… and I passed by being able to synthesise the lead from grass from the motorway verges, something to do with spectroscopy I think… As i say it was Chemistry for morons!) She also had the text book written by the Professor of Education at our University, which was required reading on the syllabus… The perks of being a Professor, you get to sell more copies of your interminable doggerel which you call a text book! I had not purchased the book, but rather photocopied the chapter we were required to read each week from the library copy. Waste not want not, I’d already decided I was going to give up education next year, so decided the money saved on the books would be better spent on alcohol!
She returned from the kitchen with a bowl of warm water and dettol. Tee washed me down, and somehow persuaded me to take off my trousers and shirt…
“There covered in mud let me put them in the wash…”
I’d like to say I was embarassed by being in such a state of undress, but being a tart, I didn’t shame easy… I still had a decent physique then… If only now… Oh well. Years of excess take there toll. Worth every extra inch I’d say.
So there I sat, on her bed, in my underpants and socks and totally unabashed. She returned to the room this time with a band-aid for my forehead and a bottle of Peach schnapps for my spirits.
Peach Schnapps is an acquired taste. I acquired it quickly as I emptied the proffered shot glass, whilst she applied the plaster to my inconsequential nick on my head. It was no more than a graze and I felt a fraud letting her minister to my medical needs. When she stepped away to admire her handiwork I put out my shot glass for a refill. She refilled it. And again. And again. I lay sprawled length ways along her single bed. She sat at her small desk. The chat was blurry. I remember reading some poetry to her. She was enchanted. She said she was enchanted. I was not in a position to judge. She could have been faking it. I fell asleep, either through the shock of the loss of blood or by the ministering of an unknown spirit.
When I stirred Tee was lying next to me. She was naked. She had covered us in her duvet. She was very warm and coccooned my body with her own. There seemed to be sme sort of state of arousal going on. I wasn’t sure how much of this state was down to me. A sudden fear.
“Tee how old are you?”
“With in a hair’s breath.”
I was alarmed. I didn’t want to compromise myself… She could have been one of those child prodigy’s whose lives are nearly always ruined by being sent to University too soon.
“What’s your date of birth?”
“23rd December 1967″
I tried to do the maths, nearly twenty, nearly eight years younger than myself. Though people might frown, it was not an unacceptable age difference.
I relaxed back unto my back and she gently stroked my taut belly.
“You have a lovely body.” I reached around her and stroked her back. She had skin like velvet.
“So do you.”
She leant forward and kissed me passionately on the lips. She was so hot! Literally as hot as a five bar electric fire.
“Are you too warm?” I was worried she might have a fever.
“You make me hot, you’re a sexy man!”
“Really? With a cut head and mud on my knees, I still look sexy to you?”
“You’ve always looked sexy to me.” Now, bear in mind, I’m a little drunk at this stage, so my normal reactions cannot be relied upon, because given that I had not known of her existence until a couple of hours before, the phrase you always looked sexy to me, might suggest someone who is a bit stalkerish? A bit Kathy Bates in ‘misery’? But I’m drunk and being flattered, which are two of my favourite states to be in, so I don’t take to flight. She is now doing unmentionable things to my manhood with her hand… And judging by her smile, it is having the desired effect. Not to be left out I begin to explore her exquisite body, from head to breasts with my hands, then with my lips… as my hands continue their scouting mission further down… My hand discovers a mound which is erupting like vesuvius… pity poor pompeii! She is awash, more so than any other woman I have ever known…
So we have a perfect chemical bonding here, both elements are liberally prepared for their chemical romance.
I’m about to slide between her thighs when she says something which stops me in my tracks.
“Do you think it will fit?”
“Of course… Why do you ask?”
“It’s my first time.” Those dread words. I’m turned to stone, apart from the required part, which in effect withers on the vine.
“You’re a virgin?”
“Yes, is that ok?”
“No. It’s not, I can’t take your virginity.”
“Why the fuck not?”
“Your first time should be special.”
“You are special, you are the person I chose… I wanted it to be you!”
“You don’t even know me, Tee, I’m a total shit!”
“You’re friends say you are the best lover in the University.”
“Judith, she’s in my Russian Studies tutorial. I told her that I wanted to lose my virginity, and she said, I should come and meet you, she said you are amazing, the best she’s ever had!”
“She must have had a sheltered life then, is all I can say…”
“But everything has felt so right today, and you are so nice, even when I snowballed you… It seemed so right. Look at me, I’m crazy for you!” She pulled down the duvet to show her perfect flushed form to me. I was sorely tempted, I mean, who would refuse such an offer? I jumped out of the bed, and reached for my trousers, now folded across the chair beside her desk, She reached around for my cock and pulled it towards her mouth.
“No.” I pulled away.
“Please, Dale, Please Fuck Me Now!” I leant down to her dirty mouth and kissed her passionately.
“My sweet girl,if you get to know me first, spend a couple of months to become full acquainted then maybe I might be able to help you, but not like this, I couldn’t forgive myself if I took advantage of you. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to take advantage of me. I will just take advantage of you.”
I pulled on the rest of my clothes.
I bent to kiss her cheek. She had tears rolling down them.
“Listen Tee, your a lovely woman, so beautiful I will be berating myself all the way home. It’s not you it’s me… I don’t feel worthy of taking your maidenhood, you need to find a guy to love first…”
“What if I love you?”
“If you love me sweetheart, you will wait a couple of months until we know each other.”
I turned to the door and left.
I stood at the bus stop, very nearly sober, kicking myself for a missed adventure. I berated myself mentally all the way home on the bus. Damning myself for this innate self-loathing. I had always felt the same about virginity… It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but I really did feel that it should be special and with someone you loved. I had lost my virginity at the age of fifteen, behind a shed at the back of a block of flats, a tomcat had pissed on my head from the roof of the shed as I enacted the eternal petit mort… the girl at the time had been incidental, I had not really cared for her, she had not cared for me, it was an itch we both wanted to get over, so we did. I felt guilty afterwards… And had cried into the night. I swore that I would never put anyone through such a tawdry experience again for their first time. And I hadn’t… Damn my eyes!