Those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces

Though it’s written from a female perspective, Janis Ian’s At Seventeen conjures memories of being that age. lauralaitaine and Libby (WINOLJ) saw my college matriculation photo and said “aw, bless, you were such a huge geek”. I had huge square glasses and a pretty unfortunate haircut (although thankfully I’m not that bloke in the front row who is the only one wearing white trainers). I’d never had any sort of girlfriend, and wouldn’t for another 3 years. That’s a long time, when you’re 18. I held as an article of faith the idea that if I did find such a fortunate lady then all my problems would be solved at a stroke: I’d never be lonely again, in fact, I’d be just about as funky as you can be. (Aside: apparently there are people on the Internet who believe that the Mr Jones of the song is Adam Duritz’s willy: fortunately this turns out not to be true).

I’ve turned 30 today, so I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come. It’d be nice if there were a way to speak to the 18 year old me and let him know that articles of faith aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, but that that things would work out in the end (and maybe give him a little sartorial advice). I suppose that’s partly what I’m trying to do when I write things addressed to CICCU members or advise the Young People about Courting.

The stuff about hair and clothes is easy, but only gets you so far. The problem with my fantasy of setting my 18 year old self to rights is the obvious one: much of what I needed to learn cannot be taught. I suppose all anyone can do in giving advice is hope to help another person avoid your more spectacular mistakes, always assuming that those mistakes were the ones someone else would be prone to anyway.

I’ve had a great 30th. I’m amazed that I can fill a house with people who like me (at least, I’m assuming that was the motivation rather than free booze), especially at a week’s notice. That’s just about as funky as you can be.

19 Comments on "Those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces"

  1. Happy birthday 🙂

    When I first met you you must have been, what, 22 or 23? and I thought you were a pretty together sorta guy. Then again, that was in comparison to me. 🙂


  2. Happy 30th! Sorry we couldn’t make it over this evening; hope you had a great party.

    If it’s any consolation, in my matric photo I’m wearing a rather horribly clashing bright-red shirt and tie. They didn’t look horribly clashing in a mirror when I put them on, of course, nor as bright. Alas, to the camera under Old Court sunlight it was a different matter…


  3. Lovely party, we both had a splendid time. 🙂

    At the risk of coming-over all “Four Yorkshiremen”, being 18, geeky and gender dysphoric (and in denial about the latter) is not the best of situations. In the “advice to former-self” thought experiement, your point about learning through experience is well-taken, and I think I’d add that there are probably certain things we all hold very dear which we probably wouldn’t even have if we could “fix” our younger selves. They say youth is wasted on the young, but perhaps it needs to be that way?


  4. Hee! But you WERE a geek. Not that I look wonderful in my matric photo, mind you.

    Glad you had a good birthday! I certainly had a good time and everyone else seemed to as well 🙂


    1. But you WERE a geek.

      Don’t worry, I wasn’t offended or anything: I’m not denying it 🙂 I was and still am a geek, but I suppose now I’m comfortable with my geekiness because I have other attributes too.


        1. Sorry to hijack a thread, but this reminds me… Does anyone by any chance have a recording of either/both of this afternoon’s Channel 4 sci-fi shows? Rather annoyingly, my Freeview box got confused about times apparently due to dodgy EPG information, and therefore failed to record the concluding parts of the two-part episodes of both Stargate and Enterprise. 🙁 If anyone Cambridge-based has either/both and would be willing to lend them for a day, I’d be very grateful!


            1. Thanks, you’re a star! 🙂

              According to my TV guide, the SG-1 episode was 8.17 (Part 2 of “The Reckoning”), while the Enterprise one was 4.19 (Part 2 of “In a Mirror, Darkly”).

              If I could possibly borrow some DVD-ish version of the above, that would be much appreciated. Obviously, I’m happy to collect/return it or pay the costs of any writable DVD media.

              Are you a dancing person? That might make things easier…

              (I’m new at this LiveJournal thing; is there any way I can send private messages without borrowing this journal’s comments?)


                1. romex1nt can’t type right now as I’ve unfortunately managed to break him by passing him a hot drink that was a bit too hot :-(, but he says thank you very much and he will probably be around the CD player at GD on Friday. (I also say thank you very much, as he was in a foul mood this afternoon when he realised that the programmes hadn’t recorded!)


  5. Hey, don’t do yourself an injustice – why _shouldn’t_ there be lots of ppl who want want to spend an evening celebrating your birthday? You’re a nice guy!


  6. Happy belated birthday! Sorry I couldn’t make it in the end – had a weekend of hiding in London, instead of visiting Cambridge. Glad it was fun.


    1. Happy belated birthday!

      And to you also! I’ll post a link to pictures of the party at some point. I also have a video of DavidB and I doing rhumba, but that’s staying off the web 😉


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