UKArchive



UKArchive ID: 6637It never happened to anyone else by thegeeza
Originally published on May 21, 2004 in Picks

Click to see more top choices

(1,792 words)






TheGeeza


I was always stood in the playground, waiting to be picked by one of the captains, one of the popular boys. It felt so good to be chosen over others: fat boys, smelly boys, ginger kids. If I was mentioned by name, it was the bonus that would have me skip all the way home. To get grunted at and beckoned by a dirty finger was mostly good enough. A lifetime of waiting is how I would describe it.



I could never understand what it was they had that I hadn’t been given. I dressed like them, I talked like them, I tried to be near them. They wouldn’t have me. “What do you want?”. Adults liked me: “what a sweet and good-natured young man, you are,” they’d say … a credit to my parents. I’d been stamped: nothing bad, neither good, just “schoolboy” or something as plain and average as that. I wasn’t a great footballer, a swot, an Adonis … I was nothing, but something at the same time.



Girls appeared and pranced up and down when I was about fourteen. The boys formed an orderly queue and I’d hear about this and that, waiting my turn. It didn’t come, it just passed by unseen and untouched. I lived through my puberty on the idle rumours of the grubby boys in the playground. I spent most waking moments wondering what it would be like to touch a girl, to smell her, to talk with one. At seventeen, I gave up to save my sanity. There must have been a reason why I had been struck from the register of humanity.



By the time I was twenty seven, I was the oldest virgin in the world and its biggest sponsor of Kleenex. Dad had grown weary of Mum glaring at him whenever he questioned my sexuality over the dinner table. The embarrassment never let go and I would blush whenever gay people were spoken about anywhere. My love life became taboo, the long sought girlfriend stayed at the dodo sanctuary in Atlantis.



Suddenly, there was a girl: Joanne from Files – and what a looker. She was such a sweet thing; so nice, so smiley, so single. She touched my arm, talked to me, showed interest and gave me attention. I think she liked my blushing and the awkward silences as I fought to speak. When Greg said we seemed to be getting close, he tipped his head and winked. I didn’t know what to say. It was like something at the flicks where the audience holds it breath and waits to see what will happen. I had always wanted to be part of a rumour. I wanted to wink back at him, shrug and play the game. I just looked at him with an open mouth and said, “who?”. He said her name again and laughed. He didn’t say anything else, but I wanted him to. I wanted him to explore it for me, but he wouldn’t. After that I mentioned her name again, to see if I could spark him into life, but he didn’t bite and that was that. I thought about her a lot, I thought I’d marry her if she happened to ask. She could have everything I owned. No question. I was right about her. She was the one for me. We lived together in my head for a while and we got on really well. Her faults were forgiven: her flirtatious manner; her revealing clothes; the rumours of free love; all would melt in the glow of our love.



I remember the time, at a work social, I came out the toilet and she was there, sucking the spittle out of some chap’s mouth. I was frozen and rooted to the spot. The disappointment and shock hung around my neck and squeezed the air from my lungs. People were ignoring them. This guy wasn’t from our group. I was obsessed with how he had made contact, and after having done that, how he had taken the girl I loved and put his tongue in her mouth in such a short space of time. “Look at Joanne,” said Paul, “she’d go with anyone.” I tried to defend my girl’s honour. “You must be joking,” he said, “Joanne?” When she came back to us at the end of the night, someone asked where her bloke was. She said she didn’t know and didn’t care either. She just wanted to get home. Paula had dared her to kiss the handsome stranger, so she had. It was that simple. I remember that Sunday, pushing and pulling at my roast potatoes, convincing myself it was just a kiss and a harmless bit of fun.



When I saw her on Monday, my blood ran cold, but I couldn’t turn her away. She came over and started talking. She didn’t mention Friday; it was like I wasn’t there. We chatted for ages, then she went back to work. Maybe she didn’t remember what she did, or wasn’t sure … or maybe wanted to let me know she still liked me. By Wednesday I was in love again. She said there was another social on the Friday and I should come along. I said I was busy, but she looked so disappointed that I said I would try. As she walked away, I took her distinctive smell into my nose – always the same perfume and that stuff she put in her wavy hair. I watched her legs, the shoes. I imagined the feet inside, the naked body I hadn’t yet seen. I thought about her getting out of bed to go to work, fighting for the bathroom, sitting on the train … arranging lunch.



On the Friday, she was the life and soul of the party. She touched everyone, she looked them all in the eye and winked, she preened and presented herself … but not to me. I bought her a drink, we had a chat and I made her laugh. I didn’t know if I was getting anywhere. I had no one to ask. Then she disappeared. I found her by the toilets with Danny from the post room. He had his hand on her bottom and was whispering in her ear. They came back to the group and moved apart. I watched them to see if I could break the code, but I couldn’t. “Where’s Danny?” I asked, when I found myself next to her. “Danny from the post room?” she said, “I don’t know.”



When I watched her walk down the road with Bob the accountant – they got the same train – laughing and giggling, I wondered what I was doing wrong. All I ever wanted was something like that to happen to me. I blamed Dad: surely, he forgot to tell me how it was done.



Over the months, I watched as she bounced around the workplace social evenings in her over-friendly way. She confided in me during the day and ignored me at night. As she told me about her boyfriends, her parents, her drunken friends, all I could do was look at her bouncy hair, her dainty fingers, her cleavage and keep the memory of her smell fresh, so that I could imagine what it would be like to hold her in my arms, to lay her on the bed and make love to her. John, the security guard, said she would be a fantastic lay, but I knew it would be even better than that, if I could just take her away from it all.



So when I won the football pools, I knew my leaving drink would be the last time I saw her, so it had to be done or lost forever. I thought the money gave me that thing that I never had, but there was a catch. I wanted my anonymity back. I needed to get these people out the way and slide around the back to where she was, but they wouldn’t let me. I watched her talking. This time she wasn’t touching or dragging people off to dance, she was just talking, drinking and having fun. I caught her eye and she smiled, nodded her head and carried on. I had to speak to her. There was only ten minutes to go.



The crowd started to thin, so I managed to steal across the middle and say “hi” to Joanne and Roxy the secretary. They both smiled and we started to talk. Joanne straightened my tie and winked at me. She stood very close and said she was so sorry to see me leave the company. Roxy agreed but I barely heard. Joanne blinked her blue eyes at me and held my hand. She told me she felt cold. I nodded and pulled my hand away. Roxy asked me what plans I had, I told her I didn’t know. She asked some more questions but I just wanted to talk to Joanne, to find whatever it was that would unlock the door at last.



When Roxy disappeared towards the toilet, Joanne said she was glad we were finally alone and that she thought Roxy would never take the hint. I didn’t see the hint, and I wanted to ask what it was, but I thought best to leave it. She stepped as near as she could and I wondered whether I should try and kiss her, put my arms around her, or maybe ask if she wanted a kiss. The intricacies of any human interaction have never been easy for me, your mother would confirm that. For years after that night, I asked her what I should do in certain situations and it became a source of great amusement to us in the end. As we grew old, a little look of panic would have her tip a nod or mouth a word. The raising of an eyebrow would show my comprehension and her familiar wink would acknowledge it.



Imagine everyone’s reaction when Joanne put her arms around me and I screamed.



“What are you doing?” I shouted, without thought for the volume. The drunken situation went downhill fast, and I left without my jacket to the shouts of her outrage and the sounds of laughter. Outside, in an alleyway in the cool night’s breeze of the summer evening, I bent over and cried drunken tears. The opportunity arises and then blows up in my face. That was not supposed to happen. It never happened to anyone else.



So Roxy, my dear late-departed wife, appeared in the rich moonlight and took my hand to see if I was okay. I took her hand in marriage the following spring and never regretted a single moment. It never happened to anyone else.






© thegeeza (thegeeza on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 6637
Archived comments for It never happened to anyone else
SmirkingDervish on 2004-05-21 04:06:56
Re: It never happened to anyone else
You draw the characters well and tell the tale well, although I am a bit confused because near the end it appars the story is being told to his daughter but throughout it does not sound like he is speaking to his daughter, and it is a point that might be missed by some.

Author's Reply:

bluepootle on 2004-05-21 04:17:14
Re: It never happened to anyone else
well told, but not sure its the voice of someone speaking to their daughter if they have trouble communicating at the best of times - the bit about kleenex, for example. I Think it needs to lose the 'your mother' line or needs a bit of a rethink overall.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 04:19:15
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks SD. I tried to switch, and hoped that although it was not apparent until the switch, he could've been talking to his son/daughter all along.
Ta for reading and commenting.
Steve.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 04:21:17
Re: It never happened to anyone else
I had it in mind it was his son ... although not really relevant either gender. Perhaps the switch didn't work ... one must try! Thanks, bp.


Author's Reply:

bluepootle on 2004-05-21 04:26:38
Re: It never happened to anyone else
ohhhh, I wonder why I never thought it could be a son? Perhaps because he refers to his wife so affectionately in that moment, it feels like something you'd say to a daughter. How weird. I guess it makes more sense as a son... maybe you could put in a bit making that clear, or that his son is having similar probs? That might work?

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 04:45:28
Re: It never happened to anyone else
It'd be hard - unless he calls him "son" or describes him ... i will have a ponder. When I read Smirking's comment, I thought "daughter?" cos i hadn't thought his audience to be female. I think it's quite an interesting point that when people realise he is talking to someone, this combined with the fact he is talking about "love", the reader assumes it's a female. Interesting! Thanks, bp.

Author's Reply:

KDR on 2004-05-21 05:44:48
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Hi, Steve,
I was beginning to think you'd 'left' us, mate!

The first part of the story - about being a kid - seemed very familiar to me...can't think why...I could at least play football pretty well...okay, as a goalie, but... 😉

The change worked for me on some level. It wasn't as smooth or as clear as it could have been, perhaps, but it did seem to fit. Maybe a bit of tinkering, rather than an overhaul?
For me, there was no confusion over the gender of the other person. After the mention of Kleenex, etc, I assumed it was a boy he was talking to - and a fairly grown-up one, at that. But it was also mentioned that they'd grown old, so wouldn't it be more likely to be a grandson he was speaking to, rather than his own boy?

Obviously, other comments will already have given you much food for thought, so I won't parrot the same stuff (anymore than I have).
The characterisation was good. Roxy appeared to come in from nowhere, but that is often the way in real life. Perhaps she should be mentioned in passing earlier in the story, though; maybe she was trying to speak with him one night while he was obsessing over Joanne?

It's a good story, but I'll look forward to reading it again if/when you resolve the 'issues'.

Karl

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 05:58:44
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Karl.
No - haven't left - just been really mega busy.
Roxy coming from nowhere was quite deliberate - it's what he always wanted and thought only happened to everyone else. He was finally chosen.
Cheers,
Steve.

Author's Reply:

petersjm on 2004-05-21 06:02:19
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Steve, I also imagined a daughter, but until the narrator mentioned growing old, I had actually envisaged a BABY daughter... Perhaps he was holding her, telling the story... Well, that's just the way I took it 🙂

What else can I say? Tender, sweet, touching... Romantic... You have a certain way of turn stark reality into something almost magical. I'm envious 🙂

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 06:33:02
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, PJ.
I guess it could be a daughter - I thought it was a son who was older (which is probably where the Kleenex quote came from). It could well work better as a baby daughter because he is effectively talking to himself then.
Ta for your reading and commenting!
Steve.


Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-05-21 07:13:12
Re: It never happened to anyone else
I won't say anything other than that I liked it very much. Alright then, I wished it could have been longer. Theres' a lot of mileage in the character. Enjoyed this, great read.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 07:36:20
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Skeets - and thanks for making it a fav.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

Claire on 2004-05-21 11:56:27
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Like the ending. I did not expect it. As for who he is telling this to, does it really matter? I saw him as an old man sitting in the park talking to the birds. You have a great story here.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 12:07:18
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Claire.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2004-05-21 16:37:04
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Hi TheGeeza
I thought it was a nice ending and it was a compelling read. Described the atmosphere clear as crystal. Loved it.
Chrisk

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-21 16:42:36
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Chrisk.

Author's Reply:

razorcuts on 2004-05-22 02:37:10
Re: It never happened to anyone else
i liked the opening para's, real and with my sort of dry humour but was distracted by the football pools reference and immediately transported back to the 70's, bell bottoms,flyaway shirt collars and larry lloyd sideburns,(and that was just joanne)

'the switch' went over my head i'm afraid, i just thought "who's he talking to now?" was even looking over my shoulder in case there was someone reading behind me.

dont take above as criticism as its just my reading perspective and we all individual in that view. really like your words and how you relay them to the reader, its easy (which for me is a must) well expressed and v. funny. how you manage to write in cockerney english is a gift. well done



Author's Reply:

malc on 2004-05-22 03:25:32
Re: It never happened to anyone else
I thought this was great writing. Made me think of Mike Skinner's lyrics. Especially the early paragraphs. Wasn't so keen on the pools win, though. Seemed like an easy get out and would have prefered it him to have a more mundane reason for leaving (like a different but similarly boring job). The 'your mother' bit confused me at first too. And Roxy did come as a bit of a bolt from the blue. But like you say, life's like that. And anyway it would have made the ending corny if you'd introduced her earlier on. But that's nit-picking 'cos it really was good writing. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-22 04:12:12
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Cheers, Razor. Glad you liked it and ta for commenting.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-22 04:15:32
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Cheers, Malc. I guess I wanted to give the poor guy a break and say that things can always get better!
Thanks for your comments,
Steve.


Author's Reply:

Heirloom on 2004-05-22 11:45:45
Re: It never happened to anyone else
One of your better pieces, imo, Geeza. Great conversational style, fast-paced, read smoothly, and you have an incredible amount of information in there considering it's under 2000words. Yeah, very good. You manage to make the mundane seem interesting. Good stuff.
regards
Steven D.

Author's Reply:

Leila on 2004-05-22 13:40:47
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Good title for this interesting story. I mostly read the poetry so my comments won't mean much, but I did enjoy this. Felt you tried to cover a lot of ground (years) and maybe it could be longer. Wasn't sure how well the mother bit was weaved in there, might be a better way to show he is talking to his daughter. As I say I enjoyed it cheers ...L

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-22 18:23:13
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Steven - appreciate your comments. What you been up to? Haven't seen you about for a while.
Cheers,
Steve.


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-22 18:28:34
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Leila ... I appreciate all comments and yours mean as much as anyone's.
I tried to keep the wordcount down - was worried it could start to babble otherwise. Glad you enjoyed it.
All the best,
Steve.


Author's Reply:

Heirloom on 2004-05-23 01:47:35
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks for asking, Steve. Truth is I find it increasingly difficult to find time to spend on here these days. When I'm writing nothing else gets done! I've been working on my novel, "Heirloom" and 3 stories, one of which, "Of Bee And Undertow", will be posted here on Monday. Part One anyway - it's a longer piece like "Used Ticket". Other two stories are "The Wedding Vow" and a sequel to "Plastic Star".

Hey, thanks for letting me place this advertisement in your story post, and FOC, too!

Author's Reply:

expat on 2004-05-23 03:40:55
Re: It never happened to anyone else
One thing I've noticed about your writing, Geeza, is that the reader had better pay close attention because just a few words or a seemingly unimportant reference about something can have quite an effect on the outcome of the story. Not a criticism; on the contrary it's like being a detective – if you don't get the clues, then you won't get the result.
Something I'm not sure about: 'I was always stood in the playground etc'. 'Stood' seemed the wrong tense or is it me?
As usual, a damned good read.
:^) Steve.


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-23 04:34:41
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Steve - glad you liked it.
The 'stood' ... debatable. It captured the voice of the character in my head. I will have a ponder to see if it can be more grammatically clear-cut!
Again, thanks for your reading and commenting.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

flash on 2004-05-23 04:58:42
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Jeez!!!! I must be thick or not very observant, i thought he was talking to us an audience, i didn't pick up the individual thing until the end and again i thought this was a daughter.

I have to be honest and say i was disappointed with the story overall, some nice touches but i was unsatisfied with it somehow, the ending was a bit iffy for me.......maybe it's just not my type of tale.

But always worth reading though, sorry i couldn't be more positive.

Alan

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-23 05:19:55
Re: It never happened to anyone else
No worries, Alan. There was a sudden shift, I wasn't 100% (still not) that it worked myself.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

Faerie on 2004-05-23 07:33:57
Re: It never happened to anyone else
loved the line.. "I was nothing, but something at the same time"..
i didn't expect the twist at the end.. but was so glad that it turned out that way.. your characters are very life-like.. i really didnt like Joanne..
great story

nancy


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-23 07:46:30
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Nancy.
Poor Joanne - she might've been looking for something too? Or maybe she was just a loose woman ...
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

thehaven on 2004-05-23 09:30:48
Re: It never happened to anyone else
This is an enjoyable read until the end which seemed rushed to me and imo didnt work .

But the description of the angst of growing up and first love was spot on.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-23 09:42:29
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks - glad you liked ... until the end!
Steve.


Author's Reply:

spacegirl on 2004-05-23 12:53:53
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Well Suggsy I enjoyed that. Unlike most people I never wondered who he was talking to. I always assume that the writer is talking to me. I did like the way Roxy came from nowhere "love comes in the most unexpected places"

Rose

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-23 13:08:19
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Rose,
I could say something quite risqué in response to your quote, but choose not to, in preference for good taste!
Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

pgarner on 2004-05-23 19:43:43
Re: It never happened to anyone else
"So when I won the football pools, I knew my leaving drink would be the last time I saw her..."

I love this line, it says so much and it's not even the whole sentance!

Great work.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-24 03:50:18
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

dancing-queen on 2004-05-25 06:31:09
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Hey Steve, only just noticed this one of yours. I enjoyed this - I liked the voice used here. I was thrown a bit by the '...your mother would confirm that' bit and I was thinking what's my mother got to do with anything LOL - so I think if you're intending on this being narrated to the character's child, maybe give us a hint of it a bit beforehand somehow. Or I'd take it out as I think even without it we know he's telling this to somebody, whoever it is.

The other thing that confused me was this bit: "So Roxy, my dear late-departed wife, appeared in the rich moonlight and took my hand " - at that point I thought that Roxy was a ghost and I completely lost the plot for a moment. After re-reading it a few times I realised what you meant. I think it's the way it's been worded there that can confuse a bit. Given that he's supposed to be relating this to his child, I don't think he'd use that 'dear late departed wife' phrasing, would he? How about having him say something like:

"So Roxy appeared in the rich moonlight and took my hand to see if I was okay. I took her hand in marriage the following spring and never regretted a single moment, right up until her death."

You might find another way of rephrasing it, but see how I've shifted the death bit to avoid any confusion?

Apart from that, it was a really good read. Well done - DQ 🙂

Author's Reply:

Kipper on 2004-05-25 16:17:44
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Please allow me to ad my two peneth!
I too feel that the 'pools win' could be bettered - for me it was the only flat note in a lovely tune.
I also felt (towards the end) that I was evesdropping on a conversation between a man and a child, perhaps a grandchild, but did wonder; did it need to come after Roxy's death? Sorry if I missed a point there.
Re. the 'playground'. Could it be "I waited in the playground, waiting to be picked" That line took me (and I'll bet a few others) back to the time when I too waited to be picked, and prayed and prayed and prayed that I would not be last. I can still remember the feeling of shame when I was.
A good tale well told.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-25 16:20:15
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, DQ. I didn't want to reveal all before - as this wasn't a "surprise" or "twist", but just something a little unexpected. The switch may or may not have worked, but it may have just petered out otherwise. I think your wording may read that he did regret it when she did die! lol.
Ta for reading and commenting!
Steve.


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-25 16:22:58
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Thanks, Kipper. Yeah, the pools win was quick. I wanted things to happen for the character quickly (to make the point that things can happen fast and to everyone), and I could probably have moulded it a little better.
Ta for reading and commenting.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

dancing-queen on 2004-05-26 10:46:46
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Um...isn't he supposed to regret her dying?

Confused DQ

Author's Reply:

dancing-queen on 2004-05-26 10:50:13
Re: It never happened to anyone else
Oooooh sorry - just had another read of it and I see what you mean - it can be taken two ways, can't it? Oh hell. That wasn't much use to you, was it? LOL - Oh well, I'm sure you can find another way of phrasing it that makes sense all round. DQ 🙂

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-26 16:03:56
Re: It never happened to anyone else
lol ... too much sherry at lunchtime for DQ me thinks. 🙂
Thanks, DQ.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

zenbuddhist on 2004-05-28 05:34:05
Re: It never happened to anyone else
well it certainly didnae happen tae me anyways.....not that this is [too] bad or anything ..one point on the comments what fuckin difference would it make if he wis talkin tae his daughter or his son....ah can just see me talkin tae ma wee laddie like that when he gets older eh?....hey son yer dad`s a fuckin WANKER....look forward tae the yer next yin Stevie- boy....Z

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-05-28 05:47:28
Re: It never happened to anyone else
lol ....
Cheers, Zen.


Author's Reply:

molly13 on 28-03-2013
It never happened to anyone else
Hi Steve. I liked this ditty. The line, 'She was such a sweet thing; so nice, so smiley, so single.' was memorable for me, even if it's a bit of an alliteration overkill. It told me far more about your MC's insecurities and sexual frustration, even though the sentence is all about the girl he is infatuated with. Good stuff.

Thanks

Aaron

Author's Reply: