This is my song.

cassette tapeI’ve never been confident with the opposite sex. Not in a ‘oh my gawd, I can’t talk to men’ way but, thanks to some pretty cruel bullying at school, I just never expected any of them to find me attractive.

Anyhoo, when I was in my twenties I was working as a computer programmer in the Civil Service and one of my team members asked my to accompany him to a concert. We argued a bit over who would pay and I ended up saying no because I didn’t really like the artist (I can’t even remember who it was now). I assumed he was asking me as a friend. We were friends, had been since I started working with him, and I liked him. We would blether away and I’d often give him a lift to the train station. But it never once occurred to me that he had other feelings for me.

I continued in this ignorance for a few more weeks until one day at home time, he handed me a cassette. He had written me a song and wanted me to listen to it as it would explain what he felt.I was flabbergasted. I took the tape, mumbled something or other and went home.

That evening I looked at the cassette. I thought about the cassette. I thought about the song he’d recorded – written – just for me. This was something I had fantasied about. I was fairly musical myself; I played piano, euphonium, trombone, tuba, clarinet and sax, was a member of a couple of orchestras and wrote music for fun. What could be more romantic than to have a song written for me? So I looked at the cassette some more. And I thought about it some more. And the next day in work I took it back and handed it to my friend without saying anything to him. I hadn’t listened to it and my friend wasn’t my friend any more.

I told this story to my daughter a year or so ago and she called my a big meanie. She couldn’t believe the way I behaved. Why didn’t I listen to it?

There were a few reasons, I told her. I didn’t want to be manipulated into feelings I didn’t have for the chap, I was scared the song portrayed me as a right cow, I just didn’t think of him that way… Truthfully, I think I just panicked and self-preservation kicked in. At secondary school one of the ‘in’ kids had asked me out, just for the fun of it. He did it in front of his pals who just laughed and jeered and called me all the usual names. I expected my friend to be doing the same thing. I think I was wrong.

That’s in the past now. I’m happily married with a wonderful daughter and things have worked out for the best, as they usually do. I do sometimes wonder what the song was like though, and whether I have heard it without knowing it was ‘mine’. In any case, I doubt you’re reading this but Ken, I am sorry.

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8 Comments

  1. Margot Kinberg
    Jul 23, 2013

    Nettie – It’s so very hard isn’t it to know how to respond when someone has feelings for us that we don’t share. You don’t want to be cruel, but you don’t want to pretend. I’m glad all worked out for you and I think it shows a lot of growth to even tell the story.

  2. Margot Kinberg
    Jul 23, 2013

    Nettie – It’s so very hard isn’t it to know how to respond when someone has feelings for us that we don’t share. You don’t want to be cruel, but you don’t want to pretend. I’m glad all worked out for you and I think it shows a lot of growth to even tell the story.

  3. Jo Skehan
    Jul 24, 2013

    I understand the feeling of not being attractive to the opposite sex. I grew up with 5 male cousins who all treated me like one of them…they used to make jokes about my freckles (had lots on my face as a sun loving kid), and so when my friends were all dating at the age of 16, I studied for my nursing exams and refused to go out on any arranged double/blind dates. Many years after I had married, had 2 kids and was on the verge of divorce, I reluctantly attended a cocktail do for my then husband’s company, and when it was suggested we party on at a nightclub I went, mainly just to spite the soon-to-be ex who had always expected me to go home to the kids leaving him to party on in peace. One of the more desirable guys there flirted with me which I found rather embarrassing…he gave up but not before telling me that he was amazed that I just didn’t know how attractive I was and that there were at least 5 other guys present that night who thought the same thing…..I reeled for weeks about that, and still find it too hard to believe. It’s a nice thought to hang on to at times though when feeling down about things in my life. I’m sure your song writer got over the rejection Nettie. It’s a nice thing for you to hold on to for those self-doubting moments we all seem to suffer. xxx

  4. Jo Skehan
    Jul 24, 2013

    I understand the feeling of not being attractive to the opposite sex. I grew up with 5 male cousins who all treated me like one of them…they used to make jokes about my freckles (had lots on my face as a sun loving kid), and so when my friends were all dating at the age of 16, I studied for my nursing exams and refused to go out on any arranged double/blind dates. Many years after I had married, had 2 kids and was on the verge of divorce, I reluctantly attended a cocktail do for my then husband’s company, and when it was suggested we party on at a nightclub I went, mainly just to spite the soon-to-be ex who had always expected me to go home to the kids leaving him to party on in peace. One of the more desirable guys there flirted with me which I found rather embarrassing…he gave up but not before telling me that he was amazed that I just didn’t know how attractive I was and that there were at least 5 other guys present that night who thought the same thing…..I reeled for weeks about that, and still find it too hard to believe. It’s a nice thought to hang on to at times though when feeling down about things in my life. I’m sure your song writer got over the rejection Nettie. It’s a nice thing for you to hold on to for those self-doubting moments we all seem to suffer. xxx

  5. Abi Burlingham
    Jul 24, 2013

    Aw, Nettie, that made me go all goosebumpy. I had a couple of not dissimilar experiences, one in my teens, one in my twenties, and reacted the same way as you for the same sort of reasons too. I also still wonder, and would love the chance to say ‘sorry’. Lovely post xx

  6. Abi Burlingham
    Jul 24, 2013

    Aw, Nettie, that made me go all goosebumpy. I had a couple of not dissimilar experiences, one in my teens, one in my twenties, and reacted the same way as you for the same sort of reasons too. I also still wonder, and would love the chance to say ‘sorry’. Lovely post xx

  7. Jane Lovering
    Jul 24, 2013

    I’m sure he understood, Nettie, even if it took him a while. Better to be graciously turned down than dragged through weeks of ‘dating’, only to end by being dumped because you didn’t have feelings for him.
    I’ve never been attractive, and never had anything similar happen to me – men still think I’m their ‘pal’, but, hey, I’ve managed to fool enough guys over the years… I hope getting it off your chest has made you feel better.

  8. Jane Lovering
    Jul 24, 2013

    I’m sure he understood, Nettie, even if it took him a while. Better to be graciously turned down than dragged through weeks of ‘dating’, only to end by being dumped because you didn’t have feelings for him.
    I’ve never been attractive, and never had anything similar happen to me – men still think I’m their ‘pal’, but, hey, I’ve managed to fool enough guys over the years… I hope getting it off your chest has made you feel better.

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