As Always first things first. I thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills and of course encouragement. I might add that we don't always see eye to eye, so I take full responsibility for any cock-up in this story.
I still don't know what went wrong between my wife Kathleen (Kathy) and I. Christ, I can't say what went right either, really. When we meet in college I don't think either of us realised that we would one-day fall in love with each other and get married.
Kathy was one fine looking girl; maybe a little on the stuck up side for my liking and a bit too choosy about which guys she dated. Okay, I was a randy little bugger back then who only had one thought on his mind.
Did I chase after Kathy? No, I bloody didn't - I figured she was way out of my league. Hey, don't go thinking that I'm not a good-looking bloke though. I figure I'm not bad looking, even if I am a little on the short side.
But Kathleen's folks came from a more affluent background than I did. So I figured, 'hey, why waste my time, there's plenty of other birds around whom I could lay without any hassle.' But the fickle hand of fate takes a hand in these things, doesn't it?
A few friends and I were out one evening at "The Flag", one of the more unusual public houses around our area. It was unusual because it was out in the sticks and they didn't have any electricity laid on there back then. The only light in the place came from old oil lamps and candles. Hey, even the tills were those old fashioned things with the big buttons that had to be pushed all the way down and then they made a bell ring as the cash drawer opened.
And there was none of your ice cold beer sold there either, just genuine English ale at cellar temperature. It takes a good publican to serve up true English beer, as the stuff has to be nursed like a baby. I wonder what they did when this sterile fizzy lemonade they call larger became fashionable, with no freezers to keep it so cold that you can't taste the shit.
Anyway, as my friends and I were leaving, we became aware of an argument taking place in the car park. It was a dark night and since there were no lights in the car park either, we couldn't see who it was. But apparently some girl and her guy were having a disagreement about who was going to drive the car home.
From what we could hear the guy was sure he was sober enough to drive, but the girl had no intention of getting in the car with him behind the wheel. As I said we couldn't see them, we could just hear them over the other side of the parking area. Suddenly we heard the guy shout, "No bloody chick drives me around!" or something like that. Then a car door slammed and the headlights came on as the car spun its wheels on the loose surface leaving a cloud of choking dust behind it, as it tore across the car park and out of the place.
In the reflected glow from the car's lights we caught a glimpse of the girl still standing there alone. I turned on my lights and they swept across the car park as I drove to the exit, illuminating the girl standing there. As I turned onto the road, I suddenly realised that it was Kathleen, the stuck up little bitch from college standing there.
Don't ask me why. I don't know why we do those kinds of things. But roughhouse that I am, I couldn't leave her out in the sticks on her own. So without really thinking about it, I turned back into the car park and drove over to where Kathy was standing.
"Do you by any chance need a lift home, Kathleen?" I asked.
Of course she had no idea who the hell I was, as she couldn't see me, it was pitch black. But when I turned my Land Rover's interior lights on she recognised me.
"Thanks, Pete. That bloody idiot has just driven off with my damned car. He's as pissed as a newt."
The drunken idiot she was talking about was her then current boyfriend. I'd seen them together at the college. He was one of those guys who use what little brains he has to kick footballs about a field. But he was never going to be good enough to get into one of the professional teams.
They've got a good name for them in the States. Jocks, I think they call them. Probably after the jock straps they use to keep the family jewels safe on the playing field. Always worried me that one - I remember reading somewhere that testicles are mounted outside the body to keep them cool. Tying them up out of the way surely must stop the airflow and to my mind could lead to some serious overheating.
Well, can you think of a better excuse for not running around the sports field like a fucking idiot, when you could be up in the stands chatting up the birds? Hey, who'd want a jock groupie anyway, you'd never know where or who she'd been with and what little unpleasant surprises she could leave you with.
Shit, where was I? I digress so damned easily. Oh, yes, Kathy accepted my offer of a lift and she squeezed into the back of the Land Rover with the others. I dropped her home and that was all there was to it, really. Kathy came up to me the following Monday at college and thanked me again; after that, I never thought about the incident again. But obviously Kathy did.
It was probably a month later when she came up to me in the refectory one lunchtime.
May I join you?" Kathy asked, then before I had time to say a word she had sat herself at my table; she never gave me a chance to tell her that it wasn't convenient at that particular moment.
I'd spent quite a lot of time in the preceding couple of weeks, charming the socks off a particularly lovely little Swedish exchange student and I was hoping that on that particular lunchtime she was finally going to agree to accompany me on a date.
Yes, that is how I used to spend my spare time; I was an extremely successful wolf in sheep's clothing. Come on, I was young and having fun.
Kathy dived straight in and told me how the Jock who had driven off with her car had smashed it up. Not new news to me, as everyone in the college had heard the story by then. We had also heard that the police were threatening him with the charge of taking the car without consent, as well as being drunk in charge and reckless driving.
Kathy then went on to ask me if I had by any chance overheard any of the argument she'd been having with the Jock before he drove off in her car that night. When I said I had, she asked me if I would mind making a statement to the police.
Apparently there was some doubt as to whether he had permission to take the car. If Kathy had given him permission to drive it, she could well have been charged with aiding and abetting him. Apparently someone had been quite seriously injured when he crashed that car.
Well, I made my statement to the police and the girl I had been with that night made one as well. Most of the guys in the back of the Land Rover hadn't been aware of what had happened; they were otherwise occupied.
You know how things go - I just forgot about the whole thing again after that. What happened when it came to court, God only knows. But, obviously, no charges were laid against Kathy.
But, then a couple of weeks before Christmas, I received an invitation to the Hunt Ball in the mail. Not a function that I would normally choose to attend. You can probably guess whom it was from.
Now, if someone else is going to pay, I'm not averse to mixing with Hooray Henries. What they would make of me on the other hand was a different matter completely. To them, I was one of the hoi polloi. Mind I was a little taken aback by the cost of hiring a bleeding diner jacket.
Kathy picked me up from my house in a bloody Bentley, which turned out to be her father's company car, complete with his chauffeur behind the wheel. I got the feeling that she had decided that my old LR was the sort of vehicle she wouldn't want to turn up in at the Ball.
God, Kathy looked like a bleeding debutante or something, whereas I looked and felt like a trussed up chicken. Come to think of it, it was probably the first time I hadn't been wearing my Levi's in years. I wonder what they would have made of it if I'd worn my Levi's with a diner jacket that evening.
The night was interesting if nothing else. There were a lot of old farts there; oh, you remember what that guy said about hunting - "The unspeakable chasing the uneatable". Well, as far as most of the people I met that evening goes, he was definitely correct in that one.
I think I gave Kathy a bit of a shock, when she discovered that I could dance a passable waltz and I was no stranger to the fox trot. Although later when they started playing disco music, I was really on home ground.
Kathy and I didn't talk to each other all that much as she spent a high proportion of the evening dancing with her many admirers. I was a little pissed off over that as I thought I was supposed to be her escort for the evening.
She did find time to introduce me to her mother and father however. Her old man was something big in the hunt, God knows what. Her parents were polite to me, but that was all. Come on, you all know how to tell when mummy and daddy don't approve of whomever their precious daughter is fraternising.
Could be that was the reason for the Bentley. You know, 'hey, boy, get back into the hole you crawled out of; you're out of your class here.'
The chauffeur drove Kathy and me home — I don't know how her parents got to or from the Ball. There was no more than a peck on the cheek for a goodnight kiss. We never got close to each other in the car, as the bloody chauffeur had one eye on us all the time. Correction he had one eye on me! Smart guy, Kathy's father. The whole evening had been very formal and I could not really understand why Kathy had invited me along.
College had broken up for the holidays and I had a temporary job with the Post Office for the Christmas rush. I didn't see Kathy again until the new term started. On the third or maybe it was the fourth day back, she came up and plonked herself down at my table in the refectory again.
"Hi, Pete. Have I done something to upset you?" she asked.
"No, what makes you think that?"
"Well, you never called me over the holidays."
"Was I supposed to?"
"After the Ball, I thought you would call me and we would go out together again. You enjoyed my company at the Ball, didn't you?"
"Yes, Kathy, I did enjoy the time you spent with me at the Ball. What there was of it, that is! The rest of the time I was a fish out of water. Your friends aren't really my cup of tea."
"Christ, they aren't really my friends; they are daddy's hunting crowd. That was thoughtless of me, wasn't it? I'm sorry I didn't think that out very well, did I? But it was the first thing that came up that I could invite you to. It was apparent that you weren't going to make the first move."
"You thought I was planning on making a move on you?"
"Well, I have been waiting for it"
"Well, when you came back for me at The Flag."
"That was manners, Kathy, nothing more. I wasn't making a play for you that evening."
"Oh, I'm sorry I misread things. I thought you liked me, from the way you look at me."
I've got to admit I had perved Kathy quite a lot over the years. She did have a figure to die for!
"Don't get me wrong, Kathy. You are an extremely attractive young lady and I was proud to escort you to the Ball. But you've got to admit we don't exactly move in the same circles, do we? Tell me, just what did your parents make of your choice of escort to the Ball?"
That was a question Kathy chose carefully to avoid answering.
"I guess you're right. Is that why you've never asked me out in the past?"
Kathy was sounding slightly annoyed about something, not that I could figure out what. Come on, ladies, I was only a young man back then. How was I to know what goes on in the female mind? Shit, thirty years later and like most men I still can't figure how the female mind works.
"Sure is, girl, I know my limits and..."
"Whose knickers you can get into?"
"Come off it, Peter, you're one of the biggest wolves in this damned college. I know - I've watched you at work."
For a moment I didn't have a comeback for her statement. But it had annoyed me a little.
"Ah, cat's got your tongue now, hasn't it, Mr. Super Stud. I'll be honest; I really just wanted to see how you operated. But you've missed your chance now."
Kathy stood up and walked away. One of my friends who had been hovering nearby came over and sat in the chair Kathy had just vacated.
"What did the queen want?" he asked.
"To be honest, I haven't got the foggiest idea. You know she had me escort her to the Hunt Ball, don't you?"
"Who doesn't? We all thought she had the hots for you."
"No, I somehow don't think so. I get the feeling she was subtly putting me in my place. We were chaperoned so bloody tightly that night that I was lucky to get a kiss goodnight out of her. Perhaps she gets her kicks out of slumming it now and again."
"Well, at least you got one date with her."
"Yeah, you could look at it that way. But I get the feeling it was a no score win to her."
We both laughed and the subject was dropped. For the rest of my time in college, Kathy and I nodded to each other occasionally but I don't think we exchanged another word.
About four years later, I was working in the design department of an office furniture company. It was slaving over drawing boards back then. None of this computer lark they use nowadays.
One Monday morning, I looked up from my drawing board when I heard one of the secretaries, Charlotte, showing a new girl around — new girls came and went frequently in that firm. To my surprise, it was Kathy who was being introduced around. As they came near my table I kept my head down until the last minute.
"And this is our resident wolf, Peter. You might think that the sales guys are wolves, but it's Peter here you have to be careful of. He can charm the birds out of the trees, can our Pete."
I'd better explain something here. Charlotte was engaged to a rather nice guy called Mathew. I liked the guy a lot, but he was on the quiet side. Now I did have a bit of a reputation as - oh, shit, word had got around the girls that I was good in bed, alright!
Anyway from what I had overheard or been fed, I'm not sure which. Charlotte had been a virgin when she got engaged to Mathew and no longer was. She apparently was not overly enamoured at Mat's prowess in bed and it was her intention to - how can I put it? - try me out for size. Anyway you get the idea.
Now, I like Charlotte, but she had always blown me off before she was hooked up with Mathew. Now she wanted my body and there was no damned way she was going to get it. Oh, yeah, I flirted with her and drove her bloody crazy, but I kept her at arms length. Unfortunately, Charlotte came to realise that I was taking the piss out of her and she didn't like it.
"Kathy and I are old frie... acquaintances, aren't we, Kath? So you're wasting your time warning her about me, Charlotte," I said. "Don't listen to anything she says, Kathy. Charlotte is annoyed with me because I didn't take her to the party last Christmas."
"I'm sure my boyfriend would have liked that." Charlotte retaliated.
"He probably wouldn't have, but I'm sure you would have, Char."
"You bugger, you're incorrigible," Charlotte said as she led Kathy away on the rest of her tour. Kathy hadn't actually spoken to me; she had just given me what I can only call an embarrassed smile and a nod of her head.
I was sitting in the bar of the pub across the road from the office that lunchtime when Kathy came in with Margo, one of the other office girls. I slid into the corner of the booth I was in, so that they wouldn't see me and continued eating my lunch. Margo was my current squeeze and I didn't wish to get into an embarrassing situation.
The reflection in the mirror behind the bar allowed me to watch them as they purchased their drinks, then they made their way to the booth next to the one I was sitting in. I'm not sure what made me do it but I slid around the back of the booth so that I was then sitting just behind Kathy. They couldn't see me, as the dividing panels were so high. But I could hear what they were saying
I soon discovered that I was the subject of their conversation. I had been out with Margo quite a few times by then. Nothing serious - shit, I had never been serious about any girl up until then. Margo was telling Kathy about our dates. Then Kathy told Margo about me coming to her rescue one evening and how she had taken me to the Hunt Ball, but she went on to say that I had dumped her.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. How could I have dumped her if we weren't dating in the first place? Christ, I just escorted her for one evening during which we had hardly spoken to each other.
What was it about this girl? Every time I came in contact with her, she somehow managed to put my nose out of joint. I slipped out of the booth and left the bar by the rear entrance.
I didn't see Kathy in the office for the rest of the week as the girls all worked on the floor below mine. The team I was on was working on a new line and we were putting in long hours starting early and finishing late. So we rarely saw the rest of the staff.
On the Friday evening I had a date with Margo and went to the cinema, then afterwards on to one of the local clubs. As I drove her home at about two in the morning, I wondered whether I was going to get lucky that night. Margo suddenly asked me a question that I was not expecting.
"So Pete what are you going to do about her then?"
"What are you on about now, Margo?"
"Kathy. What are you going to do about her?"
"Margo, what am I supposed to do about her?"
"Well, I think she's in love with you. But how she can be after the way you treated her, I don't know."
I realised that any chance of getting lucky that night had just taken a leap out of the window.