Being a nerdy girl I didn’t attract admirers the way my friends did. In fact I’d only had a couple of boyfriends before I’d reached 19 and was already feeling that spinsterhood was my destiny. I’d also never been to a wine bar or any type of night club for that matter and had rarely stepped foot in a pub.
Finally the girls persuaded me to go to Red Neds the new wine bar everybody was talking about. Janet had managed to get a table with enough bar stools so that we could sit in comfort nursing our drinks and shouting at each other across the noise of the live band that was playing Donna Summer’s I feel love . We drank, tried to look like we were having fun and Margaret was doing her best to attract some single men to come over to our table. Unsuccessfully. After a couple of hours I’d drunk as much as it was sensible for me to drink and was feeling bored, my book called me and to be in my room alone would have been more fun than I had all evening. We decided to leave. “I’ll just go to the loo before we head off” I said and left accompanied by Janet.
On our return three men had joined Margaret at the table, having obtained stools from somewhere. They had positioned themselves so that we would have had to sit one girl one guy. I remained standing. Margaret made the introductions. They seemed like nice fellows but by now I was just ready to go home. To my surprise one of them, Johnny asked me out on the 14th February two days later. “I’ll pick you up and we’ll go out to dinner.”
“I don’t know.”
“Go on Jane” Margaret said “You’re not doing anything.”
Urged on I accepted, gave him my address and then left. I have to admit that I was excited at the coming date over the next couple of days. I’d never had a really proper date before, with dinner. My friends helped me dress and choose appropriate clothing, wide flared pants, a knitted top and my new platform shoes.
I was ready when he arrived and told him I would meet him in the lobby when he buzzed the intercom. Down I went feeling almost confident until the lift door opened. “Happy Valentines Day” a voice said as I left the lift. I turned. A smiling face and a bunch of red roses greeted me. I hadn’t known it was Valentines Day. It wasn’t a celebration, like Halloween, that we follow in Australia, at least not in those days. The shops weren’t full of the hearts and cards and chocolates and red roses that they are now. Then, I was overcome with surprise, and I was glad that my lack of knowledge of Valentines Day was a good cover.
Standing, Johnny would barely reach five foot tall. At Red Neds it was not apparent that he was short as he had sat on one of those high bar stool. His legs are short, I thought, as I wished desperately that I had worn flat shoes and not the platforms that took me to a height of six-foot. Dinner was an enjoyable affair but although I knew our height differences shouldn’t matter, it did as I struggled to hear what he said as we walked along after dinner, his voice disappearing into my chest. I had to bend to hear him and a goodnight kiss was out of the question.
I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get a phone call from Johnny but he definitely made my first Valentines one to remember.