There is a man enjoying a bit of notoriety on the internet at the moment, for having written a rather brutish letter to a female BuzzFeed writer.
I won’t name him personally, so as not to give the situation any further oxygen (nor play into his hands if – through some truly incredible circumstance – he isn’t joking when he says that the spectacular fallout from all of this is part of his masterplan) but, on the face of it, it seems to be your classic boy-likes-girl, girl-politely-declines, boy-calls-girl-a-bitch, hounds-her-on-the-internet, writes-her-a-1,500-word-email-putting-her-in-her-place, skirting-some-very-serious-safety-concerns-in-the-process story.
I confess, the temptation to do what I usually in brawls, both online and off (viz. hold back until the stronger kids have safely pinned him to ground, then run in and kick him in the spine) is great. But every time I try to take my run up with this guy, I stop. Why? Because I feel like I can’t, in good faith or clear conscience, take a proper shot at him.
For I too, it may not surprise you to learn, have written a letter to a girl demanding that she talk to me. A letter demanding that she give me an answer, an explanation for her behaviour. I have done it too.
I was nine years old.
Her name was Diane Wallis. She looked like a church mouse from a Disney movie and she was, for a good term or two, the reason I went to school without complaint. The reason I laid my uniform out before I went to bed. The reason I made sure never to spill my breakfast down my front. The reason I was careful to pick the eye bogeys from my eyes each morning, because I didn’t want her to think I was gross.
Diane, however, didn’t like me back. In that respect, she was something of a trendsetter. She would be the first of dozens of girls who would feel little more than an affectionate coolness when presented with evidence of my devotion. She was never anything other than polite to me, but the truth was that her heart belonged to another. Daniel Bauer.
Danny Bauer was a friend of mine. We’d known each other for a few years. I didn’t much care for his taste in jackets, and was constantly surprised – surprised to the point of indignance – that Diane would care to spend so much time with a guy whose Parka absolutely stank of damp, but I liked Danny.
Still, he had stolen my woman. So I had to act.
I remember clearly the letter I wrote. I remember where I wrote it. I remember when I wrote it. It was a Sunday evening. I had watched a martial arts movie called Sidekicks – starring Chuck Norris and some kid. It was around the time of Chinese New Year, which I knew because McDonalds were offering their Chinese New Year menu and I had asked for extra Kung Fu sauce with my chicken nuggets when we had gone to McDonalds after church that morning.
After Kung Fu sauce and Sidekicks, I was feeling – as you might imagine – pretty pumped. After a half hour of getting my sister to throw sofa cushions at me so that I could chop, punch and kick at them, I had decided on my angle. I knew how I would win Diane’s heart.
With pencil and paper, I went and sat in the space between the sofa and the living room wall and, in secret, I wrote Diane a letter.
I told her that I had just watched Sidekicks. I told her that I had just eaten an extra portion of Kung Fu sauce at McDonalds. I told her that my martial arts skills were second to none and that she was an idiot – an actual idiot – to ignore me in the way she had been doing.
And then, at the point I imagined she would be reeling from the name-calling, I delivered my killer blow. I asked: What was Danny Bauer even providing her? What use would he be in the face of danger? Does he know karate? Because I do.
I could offer her so much. Protection. Love. Security.
I offered to be her bodyguard.
I closed the letter with that very simple offer. I would provide a close-protection security detail (‘bodygaurd services‘ [sic]) for free if Diane would just let me be her boyfriend. All the defence she would ever need; she just had to dump Danny and go out with me.
I put the letter in her drawer at school the next morning. Presumably she found it. Presumably she read it. I don’t know if we were old enough to gossip to friends about that sort of thing, or whether she kept it a secret. I never heard anything more about it.
She and Danny fizzled out without ceremony, in the way than infant couples tend to. She made no overture at me; my fingers were too burned to make one at her. It was left at that.
I would still show off my Kung Fu moves on the dance floor at youth club. A good half of the shapes I threw in that club were cribbed wholesale from the six blue belt lessons I had signed up for. But if Diane noticed, she never let on.
I never made the offer again. Not to her, not to anyone.
So as the boots rain down on this guy, and he takes a well deserved kicking, I feel it best that I hold back. For were it not for Diane Wallis – and the twenty-two subsequent years in which I have had to refine my romantic technique (and become a largely functioning adult) – I could very easily have been that guy.
Instead, I’ll stick to what I’m best at. Standing at the side, watching the fight play out, talking about myself.
Ash – Kung Fu