My first girlfriend proper was Rebecca, but she considers herself my second, and this depends on whether or not you count Soldier Girl. I certainly came close, but I'm not sure if that counts. I'm still angry with Rebecca for contacting Soldier Girl, who has nothing to do with the fact that Rebecca was a cheating whore, to ask if I seemed like an "attention-seeking tosspot" (her words) just after she'd dumped me. Soldier Girl didn't know.
And why should she? But for the record, I'm not.
I met Soldier Girl on the Internet when I was 17, and I knew who she was, but I didn't know that I knew until she gave me a hint and I clicked. I'd seen a picture of her doing a Knightmare-related activity somewhere on the Internet. And so I added her to MSN (having first spoken on IRC) and we talked. And we talked and talked and talked.
And very flirty she was on IRC too. But only with me, for some reason. Plenty of viable people in the chat room and yet she chose me to flirt with. I still don't know why. But I flirted back. I was 17 and totally inexperienced in matters of the heart, unless you count crushing defeat. And she liked that. And everyone else in that chat room seemed to like it too. It was a rather wry moment, especially when one of our number suggested we set up a #kissingroom for me and Soldier Girl. (We didn't, but at the time it was a nice thought.)
The reason I call her Soldier Girl is because she was at the time a corporal in the ATC. Yes, I know the ATC is an RAF-based organisation, but The Polyphonic Spree never made a song called "Aviation Girl", so I'm sticking with Soldier. Anyway, this was my problem. I struggle with the concept of anyone that young having aspirations to be in the military. I know it happens and I fully accept that it does, but I'm the opposite end of the spectrum; I'm a pacifist to the first degree. I used to work for a peacebuilding charity, I vote Green, I wear a white poppy in November, I sign petitions against violent conflict, I donate to peace charities, I sing songs about how we need to end wars and I think the easiest way to help our country's poor and infirm is to disband the military and operate a home defence and local laws policy instead, using the billions of pounds saved to enhance the NHS.
I'm in the Woodcraft Folk, for God's sake.
And the really stupidly inane thing is, I didn't say any of this. I told her I was a pacifist, but that's the sort of thing I casually drop into conversation, you know...
"Well, of course, Professor, Iago is a villain, as described in the Dramatis Personae; however, since he has been passed over in favour of Cassio, his machinations are precipitated by I'M A PACIFIST the foolish actions of Othello preceding Act One..."
...and of course I cared, really I did. I should have known that we weren't overly compatible. But I acted as if I didn't care. It would have been rude to question her doing something I thought was a step in the wrong direction, and as opinionated as I am, I do try not to be rude.
So we talked and we talked. IRC and MSN gave way to conversations on the 'phone and via text. And the first time we had a telephone conversation, she suggested we meet face to face. I even sent her a picture - she'd sent me about seven - although the only picture I had was one of me dressed as Robin Hood. Fortunately, she was from Nottingham, so she identified. Uh, I think. And so we arranged it, we'd meet up face to face at some point. I tried to organise a date and the first couple of times it didn't work. Eventually we managed to meet for a few hours on a Bank Holiday Monday.
It was a very confusing day. I was enthused and giddy. We met up; she was wearing very weird clothes. The two friends who were with me were slightly put out. They went off to see other parts of Nottingham while Soldier Girl took me back to her house. Nice bedroom, covered in movie posters. TV up in the corner, nice computer cluttered with mess including a piece of paper with my 'phone number on it. We watched Knightmare. We talked. Then she gave me the sign to ask her to be my girlfriend, so I asked her. She said yes, of course. We kissed! My first proper kiss. It was unusual. I liked it. We went on a date, if you call walking to McDonald's a date. Yeah, I know, I'm cool.
I went home that evening. I was high as a kite by then. School next day was a confusing blur, and I don't remember anything about it other that I spent lunchtime in the sixth form common room listening to Pleased To Meet You by James. I wanted to get home so I could talk to her. So I got home, turned on my comptuer, waited... and felt a very sick feeling in my stomach. I knew something was wrong.
And it was.
Soldier Girl turned up on MSN and immediately asked me if we could hold off going out for a while. I got the hidden message without needing to be told. We weren't holding off, we were breaking up. So that was my first and only relationship so far. 25 hours and I'd messed it up already, even though I hadn't actually done anything wrong yet.
I didn't go to school the next day and the few days afterwards I was very tearful. My mother didn't understand, she didn't know how much I had invested on it. But I was extremely stressed at the time, AS-levels coming up and so on, I was battling depression at the time and now this. It was the worst time that I had experienced so far.
Soldier Girl, for her part, immediately became very cold almost immediately afterwards. She was very irritable, and the simplest "hi!" on MSN could incite an outburst of rage - "see? you won't leave me alone! fucking leave me alone!" - I even helped her set up a LiveJournal and whenever I left a comment (which was infrequent) she told me to shut up. I didn't understand and while I didn't say anything about still wanting her, I still did. But she was being very cruel to me. The kind text messages kept coming but she was mean, cutting and sharp otherwise.
Eventually I found out why she didn't want to go out with me after all. It was a valid excuse and it didn't involve any other boys. In fact, it was boys in general. This I understood. I didn't understand, and don't understand, the reason behind the whole "making-me-feel-awful" thing.
The academic year after that, Rebecca asked me out, and I accepted gratefully. Soldier Girl was still being nasty, but she soon began dating one of my friends afterwards. That didn't resolve anything, but effectively it did. I didn't get closure, but I moved on.
I've only met her a couple of times after that - always in a group, once with Rebecca in tow, although I accidentally bumped into her at a Bloodhound Gang gig.
Soldier Girl is now married to a Welsh boy who gelled his hair into a single huge spike for the wedding. She has a son of one year old and occasionally turns up on MSN.
Only I don't say hello any more.