Take the Ancient Greeks.
Not that they had anything to do with my morning's commute I would hasten to add, but I thought it worthy to bring the Greeks up as (a) they were wise, (b) cultured and (c) believed that there were other things to life than that would appear at first glance. The so-called random pattern of events that take place in every day life were in actual fact governed by the Three Fates (Moirai) - with one spinning out your life cord, one measuring the length and the third, and final, one cutting it.
Naturally this was just a belief system, but when something odd happens you do tend to think "Eh?" and then, after a bit, you think "Hmmm.", and then a little while later you chuckle and say "Those pesky Greeks!" (but this might just be me).
Which is what I did this morning. During my Central Line commute.
However, before I go on, I have to fill you in on a portion of my old schooldays from 1977-1984.
I went to a small infant/junior school round the corner from my old house in which my class contained around about 30 kids or so. Most were poor and a little bit `under-achieving'. However, a few shone (me being one - well, sometimes you've got to blow your own trumpet), one boy who seemed to know everything about everything without even trying, and another who was a maths genius but was also blessed with the face and athletic build of yer typical heart-throb hunk (well, as hunky as you can achieve as a 12 year old boy).
The last time I saw this dude was my last day at school (aged 12) and whilst he was hungered after by the majority of girls in my class I was more the plain/freckled/plaited sort, or `late bloomer', if you will. However, we used to have this `thing' going on - cant quite work out what it was but he would more often than not dodge all the more conventional looking girls (with skinny bods, lustrous locks, and complexions that would tan) to seek me out (the pale, freckled, bookworm) for shits and chuckles. Well, OK, we didnt actually pooh on each other but we sure did chuckle. And talk. Quite a bit.
Although that was it between me and the boy - there was no innocent hugging, kissing or anything like that - but I do remember him grabbing me in a feverish embrace when we were playing kiss-chase at the age of 6 - although, again, nothing occurred as, so roughly did he grab me, that my head ended up wrenched away from his head and all he could do was nuzzle one of my shoulders before running off leaving me bruised, moist from the nuzzling and a little shell-shocked - no wonder I didnt want anything to do with boys again until the age of 26).
But returning back to the boy - he would always respect my views and seek my advice on all manner of things (in an oddly grown up fashion) - no matter the subject - and would brood silently if another boy picked on me or decided I need paffing (again I am sifting this from my memory banks so he might not have been quite the Mark D'Arcy character I recall). In addition to this, everyone at school (including some of the teachers) assumed we had been `going out'/were `going out'/ were about to `go out' (probably, as a result of him seeking out my company) although, as I say, we hadnt/werent/werent about to.
Anyway, during our last day at Junior School, I remember him squeezing my arm (as a sort of silent `goodbye' gesture) whilst giving me this `look'. Which he did whilst we were separated away from all the crying boys and crying girls who suddenly realised that Junior School was over, Senior School beckoned, and life was forever more about to be crap.
Notwithstanding the above, I was only 12, and he might've actually just been fooling around in the classroom, tripped and steadied himself by grabbing my arm - and then, perhaps, gave me a look as I had half my packed lunch on my face (I had a tremendous appetite as a kid). But my memory has this stored as a `moment' and sometimes, 28 or so years down the line, I do sometimes wonder what happened to the boy I had this `thing' with (fabricated or not).
Which was why, yesterday afternoon, whilst having a quiet moment in the office, I took to seeing if I could find any trace of my old classmates on-line. There were a few ex-classmates that I managed to track down (most of which seemed to be living extraordinarily happy and rich lives with lots of companies and properties to their name - the bastards) but couldnt find a single sausage on the boy in question. Now I understand that not everyone leaves a trail of their existence on the Net - although it is pretty unusual these days and just effin' typical that it would have to be the `boy with whom I had had a thing with'.
Until my Central Line journey this morning.
I was just about to open up `Angry Birds' on my iPod Touch when, suddenly, and without warning, the `boy with whom I had had a thing with' plonked himself down on the seat opposite!
Leaving me gasping in his wake like a recently netted halibut. Although I think I managed to hide this behind a hurriedly concocted commuter cough.
For, 28 years or so later, it was definitely him. OK, the hair was grey(ish) but the skin was the same hue (olive), the green eyes were still there (both of them) and the face (whilst altered from the 12 year old boy I remembered) was still recognisable, if a little tired-looking.
But then it was 7.20am. And the interior lighting of a Central Line train carriage can lend anyone (even people `wot you once had this weird thing with') an air of exhaustion.
So what did I do?
Did I seize the moment and make a tentative cautious introduction (in case he didnt recognise me) and see if we could have a quick chat on the tube? Just to recall old times? And then leave him alone if he got scared? Or couldnt remember me?
I just sat there. Pretending to play my `Angry Birds', whilst all the time painfully aware that a relatively important part of my schooldays was sitting opposite me in a high powered City suit, wearing an expensive-looking watch and shiny shoes.
And then, as more people shuffled on, any opportunity to make conversation with him was quickly stolen and I slumped back in my seat to continue annihilating pigs with my birds that were rather angry. Until I started to get this sensation that I was being watched.
And looked up to find that a pair of eyes were locked on me through a tiny gap between two standing commuters. The `boy what I had a weird thing with' was staring at me between a pair of curvaciously covered ladies and I think (although memory can play tricks) that from the slant of his eyes he was smiling.
Either that, or he had a sneeze coming on.
But I'm hanging on to the assumed smile, goddammit (much like I hung on to the assumed arm squeeze), as it was just a few seconds after I spotted his eyes that the train pulled in at one of the City stops and he got up and left.
Leaving me certain of the following :-
- I may be 40 years old but inside I am still a silly stupid girl.
- I miss my Chuppies (he's away this week with his family skiing).