Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 ABC “Poison Arrow”
 The Foundations “Build Me Up Buttercup”
 Stevie Wonder “Part-Time Lover”
 KISS “Calling Dr. Love”
 Iron Maiden “Run For The Hills”
 Wham! “Careless Whisper”
 Prince and the Revolution “Kiss”
 Diana Ross and the Supremes “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
 Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes “Love Lifts Us Up (Where We Belong)”
That Cupid is one helluva shot. Originating from classical mythology, this chubby little fellow enjoys nothing more than to fire off some arrows and we all feel his affectionate sting at some point in our lives. Reported to be the offspring of love goddess Venus and war-god Mars, Cupid could so easily have become a daddy’s boy and focused his attentions on kicking ass and taking names but, instead, he decided to concentrate on endearment. While his father taught him how to negotiate a bow and arrow, mommy was on hand with the hearts and flowers, and the amalgamation of this dual education was a sensitive little soul whose expert marksman skills were used for the sole purpose of matchmaking. “Love conquers all” was his slogan and I happen to believe that particular sentiment holds rather a lot of weight. You see, the winsome little blighter penetrated me on a number of occasions growing up and I still have the scars to prove it.
I guess it all started around the time that adolescence paid me a visit. Until then I had found girls somewhat repulsive and this had been a two-way deal. It’s funny how both sexes start out at loggerheads and are encouraged to be sworn enemies but that is precisely what occurs early in life. Boys are considered despicable little creatures with little to offer other than their skill in carving up slugs and snails, while girls waste their time with dolls and daisy chains, much to the bemusement of their bitter enemies. It appears as though we are cut from entirely different cloth and remains that way until those hormones begin to kick in. This is where Cupid comes in as he takes full advantage of the chances our bodies are undergoing and challenges our preconceptions at every available opportunity. Suddenly any repulsion begins to subside and the games begin in earnest.
Infatuation is first on the agenda and this traditionally involves a suitor way out of our leagues. Given that we are embroiled in education as those rose petals start to unfurl, school teachers tend to become targets for our blind desire. This is implemented without insight or any great degree of evaluative judgement, and destined to end in tears at some point as those feelings aren’t destined to be reciprocated. A fair percentage of my tutors were male, with coffee stained teeth, and moth-eaten suits which made them exempt from my infatuation. However, my French lecturer was an exception to this rule and I wasn’t alone in my preoccupation. In her mid-forties and pretty much the epitome of hot mama, she appeared to dress intentionally provocatively just to secure the adulation of her alpha subjects, and whatever she did had exactly the desired effect.
Cleavage worked particularly well for her, even though she was hardly what you would call busty. Revealing just sufficient to get us boys salivating in our pencil cases, she also put to good use the romanticism of the French dialect for more aural seductions. Perfume also played a key part in her emotional entrapment as she positively bathed in the stuff and her honeysuckle aroma was the sweetest of nectar to us. Any hopes of pollination were inevitably dashed as she had no intention of fulfilling any of our more lavish fantasies, simply to titillate each of our five senses in turn. Interestingly, I was getting pretty good at French recital until I accepted that she was sent merely to tease us. Ultimately she was replaced by a male, with coffee stained teeth, and moth-eaten suit and my education wilted accordingly. Nevertheless, it was she who had fired up my honey blaster and I was grateful for the enlightenment.
When the grim realization dawned that older women were unlikely to return my affections, I began to look a little closer to home. Those girls were starting to undergo some fairly spectacular changes and formerly flat chests were giving way to all manner of hilly inclines. Make-up experimentation accompanied this metamorphosis and cherry red lips and rosy cheeks further endeared these harpies to me. The ratio was 50:50 so the odds seemed far more favorable for successful pursuit thus the notion of grabbing myself two armfuls of puppy love became my sole objective. Alas, for this particular ugly duckling, my scrawny frame wasn’t looking to play ball just yet. Cupid was certainly present and I would regularly spot him at his distant vantage preparing for a spot of amorous archery. But accuracy wasn’t his strong suit. It turned out that this cheeky cherub had something of a drinking problem and this affected his aim as he consistently shot wide of the target. Not a solitary arrow in his quiver landed in its bullseye and I began to curse his very existence.
Those who have read Four Auditions & A Rogue Tampon will already be familiar with Girl #1 and this represented one such failure to launch. I had become obsessed with the prospect of breaking my duck as others around me were already flourishing in this area and I wanted me some of those hearts and flowers. This particular Nubian princess was way out of my league and I damn well knew as much so, when she agreed to my terms by way of messenger, I was downright flabbergasted. Surely this couldn’t be? I was a minnow, nay algae, pure bottom feeder material and hardly a catch. She, on the other hand, was a bronze dolphin and not obliged to slum it with such gulf weed. On receipt of the intelligence that she was prepared to enter into a romantic tryst with little old me, I promptly celebrated in the only way I knew how – by paying my jubilation forward. She was to be the sole benefactor of my puppy love as I purchased a luxurious box of pralines to lavish her with post-haste.
I won’t go into detail here as I have done so already but, long story short, my fate was decided by dog feces and ended in outright desolation. So this was how it felt to have my heart broken? Can’t say I cared much for its bitter twang. Actually broken may be too strong a word, but bruises ain’t much fun either. In the time it had taken me to make a complete fool of myself (which traditionally wasn’t a great stretch), she had called time on our romantic liaison and this left me desperate for a rematch. Of course, the personnel would be required to change, but that still left over 200 opportunities for Cupid to sober up so the blow was cushioned considerably. There had to be a better way of snagging myself a love interest and I was determined to fathom a fast-track. Sooner or later I would find my fair lady and, should those fairy tales be accurate, live happily ever after.
Actually, I feel obliged to burst my own bubble momentarily as, while I had to wait until thirteen for my first kiss, I’d already ascertained where to place my stethoscope seven years prior. Should you have perused my Be Kind Rewind memoir, then you will know that I like to refer to this brief but enlightening interlude as The Rabbit Hutch Affair and I shall elucidate my malpractice for the uninitiated. Medicine was never really my thing and I had no claim to consider myself a practitioner, but that didn’t stop me scrubbing up at my neighbor’s fifth birthday soirée. While the other partygoers were lining up for their jelly and ice-cream, I was setting up my own practice in the garden and working on my two-strong patient list. One was her older brother and he received a clean bill of health each time he stepped into my office which was cunningly obscured by said rabbit hutch. The other was the birthday girl herself and, as much as it pained me to be the bearer of bad news on her special day, this was one decidedly unwell little bunny.
Her affliction appeared to be concentrated in one distinct area, that being beneath those cotton white panties. As her physician, it was my job to check any symptoms thoroughly, if I had any hope of making a prognosis. Thus I requested a little show and tell, all in the sole interest of medicine of course, and reminded her of the cursory doctor-patient confidentiality. There comes a time in any young girl’s life where they are forced to come to terms with their gynecologist ogling their vagina, and hers just happened to be at a decidedly early juncture. Of course, I hadn’t the vaguest idea what its purpose was, and still hadn’t even sussed out my own instrument. But I was appreciative of its simple lay-out. Unless I was mistaken, this was a coin-slot of sorts, and not all that difficult to decipher. Nevertheless, I insisted that her check-ups be recurring, just to further keep an eye on her condition. I believe it is known as bedside manner.
This continued for a handful of visits before I came unstuck in no uncertain terms and was swiftly struck off the medical register by none other than her tyrannical mother. To offer a dash of insight into this diabolical gate-keeper, she had a tendency to burst any balls that found their way into her jurisdiction on principle alone and was feared by all local ankle biters. This was my first time breaching her barracks and I had committed the most cardinal of sins right under her very nose. As those cotton white panties dropped to my patient’s ankles in this sentinel’s cone of vision, Def Con 5 was facilitated and it was time to rethink my career trajectory. I clearly wasn’t cut out to be a doctor so I pondered a rapid change of vocation and a crash course in track and field seemed to be in order. With my fire-breathing nemesis preparing to swoop and carry me back to her nest with her razor-sharp talons, I jumped the starter’s gun and ran for dear life.
My first obstruction arrived while attempting to release the drawbridge and flee the witch’s tower with her breath on the back of my neck. This once simple locking mechanism appeared to have new-found complexity and the heat was well and truly on as I fumbled with the latch unsuccessfully. With barely a second to spare, I solved its riddle and was granted the sweetest of freedom. However, hot pursuit was her specialty, and she already had a slipper off ready. I felt that moccasin waving about in my slipstream the whole way home and somehow managed to remain one instep ahead of my adversary. Fear may well be blind, but downright terror did me a favor that day as it kept me on course for the finish line. Once I scuttled into my sanctuary and any imposing threat diminished, I promptly hung up my stethoscope and handed in my resignation. Needless to say, I still kept it handy just in case there was a sudden outbreak of genital sickness but my brief foray into medicine had come to an untimely end.
So about that first kiss then. Well I may have been versed in writing prescriptions but I had no idea how to pucker up and partake in triumphant bouts of tonsil tennis. It was the evening of my end of year school dance and my chosen belle and I had already been dating for almost three months. When I say dating, our entire interaction had consisted of around a dozen words. This was a relationship in the loosest possible sense and hardly boded well for the future. However, this was to be my night. I plucked up the courage to request a slow dance and, for the record, this took around fifteen minutes, by which time the deejay had already informed the crowd that the end to their smoochfest was nigh. Frantic not to let this moment pass, I strode across the dance floor, took her hand, and we assumed position under the fading spotlight.
The busting of moves can prove complicated in the extreme to pull off with any real conviction and my two left feet were ill-prepared to twinkle this night. Thankfully, slow dances are far less aerobic than the usual groove train and entail little more than gradual rotation as we circle our prey. Being of clusterfuck origin, I trampled her toes every step of the way and, at one point, it appeared we may both lose balance as we struggled to find anything like shared equilibrium. However, after just about navigating the mine field for a full two minutes, I dug deep a second time. Leaning in for that all-important first kiss, I was positively delighted to observe her cherry reds pursing to welcome the advance of my own. This was it. Cupid had come good when I needed him most and, while my guilty feet had got no rhythm, my lips were about to engage in active service. If touchdown was slightly awkward then what followed was truly unseasonable as I blundered in the most ridiculous manner conceivable.
My associates had been culpable of feeding me a line as their suggestion that my tongue should get to work hadn’t been explained quite thoroughly enough. It was my understanding that I should use my licker to slather every last nook and cranny and this much was accurate. Alas, what they failed to clarify was that this spring clean was supposed to take place in the other person’s mouth and not my own. It is not an easy thing canoodling with any sort of conviction while licking your own teeth and fighting off gag reflex. So this proved as this was our one and only embrace. In the same manner that taking eight driving examinations before passing made me safer on the road, this desperate episode ensured that I tried harder in future. By the time I reached seventeen, snogging had become second nature and practise made perfect in no time. As a forty-one-year-old man, I pride myself on my kissing skills and have long since learned the true key to its mastery.
Ultimately it is all about being adaptable as both parties will enter the fray unaware of their companion’s chosen method. Should you remain stuck in your ways, then satisfaction may well end up a one-way deal. However, once that rhythm is struck, there really is no more superlative a pastime. Casting an eye back on my stumbling evolution, I was the equivalent of a sexual mule. You ever deep throat a donkey? And I’m not speaking of its junk, minds out of gutters please. That’s another memoir entirely. I was that jackass and word got around in no time that kissing me was akin to straddling a spin cycle. Those slender years that followed were largely bereft of activity and I had to console myself with plain old infatuation once again. That plus my incredibly vivid imagination and a pot of my mother’s hand lotion. Speaking of which, I feel I must dispel a myth here. You see, I never greased up prior to any bouts of self-wrangling and neither did I actually misplace any gym socks. It was a simple throttle dry tissue catch affair for this particular wanker. Perhaps that is another trick I missed. Dagnabbit. Anyone got a DeLorean handy?
Despite briefly losing my rag with Cupid around the cusp of sweet sixteen, he eventually curbed his alcoholism and began to hit the target with far greater regularity. One such bullseye arrived at the tail-end of my adolescence as I inexplicably managed to punch, not just above my weight, but pretty much every other alpha’s within a fifty mile radius also. Known as little more than a lower-middle rung clown in school, I only went and hunted myself the prom queen. Moreover, she fit rather snugly in my net, and agreed to let me drag her back to my cave and do with her as I wished. Others were dumbfounded by our union and I walked the streets with new-found swagger as I had achieved the unachievable and damn well knew it. Once little more than a groping jester to my peers, I was now the proud owner of a pedestal, one which she took great pleasure in perching herself upon.
From the very offset I knew I was likely doomed to failure as she was doing me a favor just by lowering her bar to my lowly level in my opinion and mournfully saw it precisely the same way as I. That said, this didn’t prevent me from sipping from this font while the flow was good and, against all odds, it even made its way as far as the altar. Our nuptials lasted just shy of a year before the dreaded words “I love you but I’m not in love with you” were delivered. That’s like saying “I wish you to sink your incisors into this prime rib but without actually sinking your incisors into it”. It’s the whole reason why being a herbivore never appealed to this meat guzzler in the slightest. Remember what I said earlier about heart bruising? Well this was full-blown organ fracture and a pain I didn’t care for a great deal at the time.
You know it’s bad when your grief has to go through a certain group of motions before you don’t feel like you’ve had your chest punched by Kimbo Slice. Denial, anger, different indifference, refusal to be beaten, reinvention, replenishment – that’s the long and short of it. Being a former love doctor (knew that shit would come in handy sooner or later), I had an idea how to patch up and rebuild my mangled muscle and my skepticism for the concept of true love and soul mates soon subsided. My time behind the rabbit hutch had served me well and each subsequent heartbreak was thus scrubbed for accordingly. Which ultimately brings us back to our old friend (silent R for many), Cupid. His precision may well be off on occasion and I’d hardly class him as an Olympian. But he has still been known to fire a fruitful arrow on occasion and those searching for love should hang on to that one hope of eventual sobriety. Once that hand steadies, focus resumes, and the little fella’s arrow takes flight, we’re truly lifted up where we belong. As a matter of fact, isn’t there a song about that?
The Love Doctor Will See You Now
What better way to close than with one last final check-up for those clean bills of health? I have polished up my stethoscope, scrubbed thoroughly, and know precisely where to apply those band-aids. Coin slots grow rusted over time and a doctor’s best friend is good old-fashioned honey basted Turtle Wax. I happen to carry a tub in my mobile first aid kit and would only be too happy to oblige a quick rub-in, for the purposes of health and safety you understand. We’ll have you shipshape in no time, just you wait and see. Hell, I’ll even waiver any medical bills. Regrettably, I will still need to take a long, hard look at those injuries. Tell you what, slide down those cotton white panties, to the knees should do for now, touch your toes, and try not to clench. You may feel a brief prick but I promise you a cherry lollipop at the conclusion as a parting gesture (with full doctor-patient confidentially of course). Next!