Fifteen years ago today (give or take a few hours due to the time difference), on Friday, 2nd October 1998, I effectively broke up with the girl I’d been dating for a week. This represents one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my entire life, and one which I really came to regret during that period in late 2011 when I grew to hate my life.
How did such a thing happen? Well, first of all, you might be surprised to know that I, a nice guy who doesn’t smoke, drink or take drugs, insisted on making out with this sweet, innocent girl at every opportunity — making up for lost time, you might say, since she was the first girl I’d ever so much as kissed. Wednesday had been the “worst” for this, as I’d had my room to myself and invited her over, but there was no settee, and she didn’t want to sit on my bed because it was an upper bunk, so we rolled around on the rug instead. Oh, how I wish that instead of staying in (since I wanted to watch South Park), I’d suggested we put on our best clothes and go out on the town, making everyone jealous.
(Maybe I could have offered to watch her try on some dresses…? Hey, come on, don’t look at me in that tone of voice!)
Because of this, on Friday she was… somewhat standoffish to me, though we still went out on a date, but back at her room, when I tried to kiss her yet again, she said she wanted us to slow things down. Yes, not end things entirely — she said she “really liked me” and still wanted to date, but didn’t want to just neck all the time. Which would have been fair enough, as I’d been feeling a certain shame for what we were getting up to, except I, with the arrogance of youth, decided I’d explored this particular vein (geology term) enough, and asked if it’d be all right for us to be friends and for me to see other people.
And thus we discover my biggest regret: would that I’d kept my stupid mouth shut and agreed to keep things more honourable between us, instead of mistakenly assuming she would be the “first of many” and trying to, shall we say, friend-zone her while I turned my attention to “easier” women (which also didn’t exactly work out). Maybe then the one romantic relationship of my life wouldn’t be a week-long fling just before I turned 21, and I’d have built more confidence instead of thinking I’d had my one big chance and blown it.
But don’t worry, my regrets aren’t confined to girly action (or lack thereof). When I was 15 or 16, my folks got me a book called Learn C Now (which we were able to use on an old Amstrad PC my grandfather had brought home from work) which, if I’d stuck at it, would have enabled me to learn a useful programming language as a teenager, and perhaps go on to study programming at university. After all, my dream job as a child had been “to write computer games”, and learning C would have stood me in good stead.
Alas, no: despite my intelligence, I bumbled through school without any real plan or direction, and it wasn’t until late in the Lower 6th (halfway through my A-levels) that I decided I wanted to be a geologist, due to some romantic idea of studying volcanoes and finding ways of predicting eruptions and saving lives. Thus, my other big regret is what I studied at university, because again, the choice I made led nowhere — I’m not a scientist today, and I’m now studying, at the age of nearly 36, to be an IT tech support type person instead of a programmer.
Yes, there’s some things I don’t regret as such: coming to London in 2003 to study Astrophysics (since I was well off Geology by then, but at least wanted to apply it in an astronomical context) meant that (a) I met people such as “good housemate”, “female best friend” and “other female best friend” (do I need to come up with better anonymising names for my friends?), and (b) I gained a foothold in London and am still here, over 10 years later. Hey, nothing was gonna happen living in Worthing, right? I haven’t exactly used my Astrophysics MSc in my various “admin dogsbody” jobs, but the fact that it got me into London stops me feeling too much regret. Plus, my computer tinkering reached its peak in early 2004 when I installed an AMD K6-2 processor in my mother’s old PC, and got myself a better machine than the 200MHz one I’d been using for the past few years!
(Okay, it died, but death is a part of life…)
Another non-regret I have: turning down a date when I was nearly 16. Oh, you’re all surprised now, aren’t you? But it’s true, a girl I kind of liked, and who had known me for a year and had forgiven me for being me (yes, that’s a thing), actually asked me if I’d go out with her during an English lesson one afternoon in September 1993. However, she couldn’t look me in the eye when she did so, which makes me wonder whether she actually wanted me to say “yes” after all! While I turned her down out of simple “fear of girls”, the simple fact is, I was enduring bullying at the time, and if she’d become my girlfriend, it would have led to her getting it as well (it was bad enough for her in that one Chemistry lesson when she happened to sit next to me!).
There’s also things I’ve done recently that I don’t regret, like taking up climbing and personal training (which I should have done long ago). And no, I don’t regret getting into Gwar, even if you’re thoroughly sick of me going on about them! Hey, I was into metal already, judging from the presence of a couple of Rammstein tracks in my collection (don’t worry, I’ve bought Mutter now, so I’m not a copyright thief any more!), to say nothing of Jimi Hendrix (“Purple Haze” is widely regarded as the original metal song).
I do regret not going out more when I lived at Caledonian Road; no wonder no-one showed any interest in me on the dating sites, I was living an almost totally withdrawn life, only venturing out to go to work and Japanese classes! On that note, I also regret letting “bad housemate” move into that place with me and “good housemate”, and would definitely have chosen someone else if I’d known how much I’d grow to loathe him; oh, if only we’d picked the guy who turned us down but then came back ten minutes later, having changed his mind — I bet he wouldn’t have slammed doors, left windows open in winter, and shouted “COCK!” whenever he came up the stairs at night. And as I’ve said before, him going at it with his girlfriend (or possibly prostitute, or someone he met through F**kbook etc. — we can but hope) one night in October 2011 sent me into the horrible depression from which I almost never emerged, and which made me fervently wish I’d done things differently with the girl in Michigan… and so we’ve come full circle!
There are things I kind of “regret”, in that I wish they hadn’t happened, but over which I had no control, such as our moving to Worthing in 1992 — and, of course, the deaths of two male relatives 15 years apart, which I’ll go into another time (they both died in December, which seems as good a time as any to write about it). And disasters such as 9/11 and 7/7, of course, but how could I have prevented them without telepathy and/or clairvoyance (not to mention the skills of Jack Bauer)? No sense worrying about events outside my (or anyone’s) control, but regretting my own actions can at least guide me in the future, as long as I don’t let it overwhelm me and make me feel like I can’t possibly do any right… I’m not going down that path again!
Do I regret starting this blog? No, not at all, it’s therapeutic, cathartic and lots of other things ending with “tic” (such as “verbal tic”, of which I’m sure I have a few). Ah, but do I regret anything I’ve written in it? No, unless it’s a speiling mistaik or a tpyo — I stand by everything I’ve written here, however offensive, annoying or copyright-violating you may find it. But I often find myself regretting spending so long on a post that I’m late to bed, so I’m going to wrap this up now. In fact, I’ll try not to spend ages proofreading, for a change!
(Have you spotted any mistakes in this blog post? If so, write them on a postcard or sealed-down envelope and post them to: I’m One of the Three People Who Actually Reads Dave-ros’s Blog, c/o Council of the London Borough of Sesspool, to arrive no later than last night. The first correct answer out of the hat will receive a US drone strike, so don’t forget to include your name and GPS coordinates.)