What would you do to be liked?
All of a sudden, Isabel was dismissing me by text. I like to think everyone has been in one of those positions: when someone doesn’t reply. Or they seem suddenly distant. Or maybe they’ve just lost patience with you.
Okay maybe all those things don’t happen to everyone.
Human relations. Who needs ‘em, m- I right’r’m’I’right?
Yes. I didn’t need to be loved. That’s what I said to myself for about five minutes before I broke and decided I needed to do anything it would take to make Isabel like me. I began with the same beginning as all great mastermind projects of the latest century… By making a list. What had I, that would work in my favour?
Item number 1:
So on my phone I had these recordings from my old band. Some of the songs are fairly good, and whenever I listen to them I feel fairly certain that I’m not so terrible a person, and might just one day rule the world. However, the issue at hand was that I was no longer meeting Isabel. I could arrive at the shop, but it was usually busy, and wouldn’t it be weird if I jumped into a shop and started playing my old music?
Actually somebody did that once.
He had just finished a recording of his heavily auto-tuned single. Single not from an album, this was just his first song. His wife was so proud of him that she encouraged him to rap out the lyrics there and then before us all.
Isabel was serving him at the time, and I was working nearby at the shop’s computer. When he began, I turned around – it would have been rude to continue on the computer, right? Right?.
Where do you put your eyes on a situation like that? He kept on looking to me; I thought it was for approval. I would smile and subtly nod. But this was some hardcore rap. Polite smile and nod? What sort of a reaction was that? You’re just another white boy, ‘Nomi
Anyway, recalling that whole event prompted me to decide against leaping inside the store and tackling Isabel with my poorly recorded songs.
So music, that was off the list. Item number 2:
I suppose I was pretty good at Halo?
No, fuck it. I was fucking great at Halo. The first time I played a game was Halo. I came to my friend’s house, tried out this whole ‘gaming’ thing, and on my first try I beat the citadel level in Combat Evolved, which was a level my friend had been stuck on all day. I realised then and there my calling in life. It was my first instance of understanding ‘Natural Talent’. Fuckin’ Halo, I was born to be.
Actually she hated sci-fi. As for gaming, one time her nerd brother bought her ‘World of Warcraft’ on the PC for Christmas. He was the only one who played it… Yeah, Halo, this wasn’t going to work out.
How did the charmers do it? They didn’t have lists. They weren’t in a cool rock band. I was in a cool rock band. Please love me?
The charmers. You know them? Those lovable people you see on the street, or remember from school? That certain kind of cosmopolitan who’ll donate even the saddest of creatures a smile. Are they even real human beings? I’ve seen them, spoke with them, but do they actually exist? I’ve never actually known any of them. Are you, reader, one of them? Bueller? Bueller?.. My class’ charmer was Johnathon Rocks. Although when I think back on that, his fame may just have originated from his name.
Imagine that. Being born with the name Johnathon Rocks. Fucker.
Actually he didn’t have any of the usual charmer traits. He barely even spoke. But his name was Johnathon Rocks. Fucker. It was just a universal law, that he was to be loved by all… Fucker.
If Johnathon Rocks walked into my old shop would Isabel fall for him?
Actually one time a handsome man entered and met her with a cheer and open arms. ‘Do I get a Christmas kiss?’ he said laughing, so they did the European kiss-both-cheeks thing. ‘La bise’ in France; not sure of its name in Italy. I’d assumed they were friends, or they’d been even more in the past. That was genuinely how it seems. Once he left, she said she’d never seem him in her life, and just regarding him as some sleezy British guy.
Maybe that’s where Johnathon Rocks went. He became a sleezy British guy, without even being British. Or one of those charity workers on the street who ask for money. They’ve always got that charmer look. Although, by the way, they’re usually paid on commission. So please, next time you see one of those charity workers,
Well, Isabel was safe from the likes of Johnathon Rocks, I was sure of that at least. But now my list had two useless items and it’d led me into some pointless memory tour. I needed something solid, something to close the gap.
Welcome this tangent: in writing, there’s this old formula to stories: Put your character in a tree, then throw stones at them, and get them down from the tree. Job done, story finished – good job you (When my English teacher introduced this to my class, the next essay I wrote was a short story about a man stuck in a tree).
Hollywood writing rooms are a bit more like this: ‘Alright Xanathos Drago McWolftone is in the tree. Oh shit, the ground’s on fucking fire. John, how does he get out?’
‘Err – wait err, let me think this one out.’
‘No John, you’re on fire. I mean fired. You think this one out…-SIDE!’ – Ben Affleck.
Basically your quality as a popular writer is determined by how well you can solve ridiculous situations. More often than not, the situation is so over-the-top, it’s completely impossible for the character to get out. The tree is one hundred feet high, and Joe Bloggs is falling. How does he get out? ‘Err, he lands on a leaf and survives?’. But not any leaf. It was the leaf from the tree he planted at the start of the movie. Promotion, right there. Nothing needs to make sense, you just solve the thing and it’s solved.
So I want to meet a girl who I can’t meet. Classic. Oldest story in the book. The Greeks were solving this one. The answer’s so obvious, you probably know exactly what I’m going to say.
So she’s in London. Step one of the solution? Leave London. Get far out, and head in precisely the opposite direction.
Revelation: Lord of the Rings is a teen romantic comedy about the shy kid Sam Gamgee’s quest to win the heart of Rosie Cotton. How did he do it? Travelled to the far end of the earth and carried his buddy up a flaming mountain of literal doom. Get it? Hilarious!
Little known fact, Lord of the Rings is actually the perfect allegory for literally everything. A friend of mine was grieving over of a break-up, so I convinced her that The Ring was an emotionally abusive, ridiculously attractive lover.
It’s hard to know what to say a lot of the time. But much easier once you study your LoTR. The ring is love. The ring is money. The ring is God.
… But the ring is not Isabel.
… Yes, indeed.
I will finish this here, before LoTR corrupts my mind.