Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Naivete Is A Cruel Mistress

Reading back through Lady Darley's letters some 25 years after I first received them, it's like meeting her all over again. I barely remembered her before I stumbled upon the batch of envelopes squirreled away in a folder inside a box tucked in a corner of my closet, buried and forgotten.

But even in the joy of catching up, retro-style, some disturbing elements and lack of insight on my behalf come to the forefront in her third letter:
Dear Chris, 
Thanks alot for your letter. It was nice to hear from you. To be honest I suppose I was pretty upset when I received your letter. Well I was thinking that [your friend] hadn't written to me since Christmas and I wondered what I'd done. I knew that she didn't write to me that often but personally I think most people, even though they may be very busy, can take time to write a letter sooner than once every five months, don't you? But please don't tell what I've said because I don't want to pressure her into writing, if you understand. I honestly don't think that came out the way I wanted it to, but never mind!
Lady Darley tends to have some insecurities. But when she writes about them, she almost feels embarrassed about broaching the subject.
At the moment I'm recording some tapes for two of my friends, [Redacted] and [Redacted], they're Swedish and Danish. I met them on holiday in Italy a couple of years ago and we send each other birthday cards, occasional letter, swap music tapes and magazines. They're very nice people!

I got the impression from what you said that you were not recording me a tape back. Well I suppose I can't grumble because I did give you an option, didn't I. I just thought you might want to, that's all. If you don't want to, never mind!
I'm not sure what impression I gave her, and since I don't have a copy of the letter I sent her, I'll never know. I can tell you that I did send her a tape later on, at least one or more.

And then, things get even more personal...
About [Arthur], well if you really want to know what I wouldn't do, then I'll tell you. Owen asked me to go to some place I can't remember. I bet you'll of gathered what he wanted me to do! Well I wasn't prepared to and he didn't like that. [Julie], my friend tells me he's changed, and he's nice now. But she doesn't know what he wanted me to do. Promise you won't laugh, well [Julie] is 'as pure as the driven snow.' I told her the argument was over me not kissing him. She believed me, more the fool her! But I don't mean that to sound nasty, but she'd tell the whole world if I told her the truth.
It goes from personal to disturbing...
I must admit I do still like him, but whenever we both try to become friends again, something goes wrong and we end up in arguments, and I mean arguments. Full scale nasty ones. I scratched his face once by accident and he nearly flattened me. He smacked me across the face and I went flying down the room. He didn't apologize, he just laughed and boasted to his friends how he hit me. I told you how he tried to tell my ex-boyfriend [Garry] I got off with him at a party when [Garry] wasn't there, didn't I? [Garry] believed him and had a really bad shouting match. I told him it wasn't worth us carrying on if he didn't believe his mate [Larry] (Arthur's brother) told him not to be stupid as [Arthur] was a liar. That boy must really hate me, don't you think? All my friends say we love to hate each other, but I don't know. Anyway, enough about Brongwn. Am I boring you yet? I expect so. I'm sorry if I am but well I don't know what I can say here.
Hold a moment. Lady Darley has just told me she was a victim of relationship violence and darn near sexual assault, and she's concerned about boring me? And why the heck was I so clueless not to figure this out when I was a teenager? Why did I press this issue? Now I'm just floored and angry I didn't tell her to get away from this Arthur lout and stop trying to make amends. Such naivety on my part. But I gather when I was younger, people didn't look at this issue the same way.
Well did you hear about the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield? It's about 24 miles away from where I live. I thought it was really horrible, and it's horrible that 95 people have to die before the F.A. decide the fences were unsafe. [Alex], my sister's boyfriend, was telling sick jokes about Hillsborough at a pub. He told the joke to a mate of his called [Jack]. He wasn't pleased because his mate was in hospital recovering from shock. He can't speak. I'm told all you could hear was [Charles], [Alex's] friend laughing and [Alex] hitting the floor. I'm told he's got a black eye. He's also got promises of more if he meets up with another mate of [Jack's], a broken note I believe, and another black eye to match the one he's got. Poor [Alex]!
From girlfriend-boyfriend fights to pub fights. This letter just dives down the rabbit hole. (By the way, the Hillsborough disaster was an incident where dozens of people were crushed at a soccer match in April 1989.)
You could of really though or I could of thought you were a big head saying, you'd done it again: straight A's. Bully for you. I really wish I could get straight A's like you. But I'm really a B-stream student.
Note to self -- never talk about my grades in a letter ever again.
It's really funny, I mean a coincidence that you said I looked like [your friend]. Well my mum has said it as well. She saw what you saw, the same colour hair and resemblances. I had actually begun to think we had become quite good friends, but now I'm not sure. Now I'll tell you something else. I've been writing to a friend of mine called [Amy] for four years. Till we met last August I'd never met her in my laugh, oops, life. Well we'd always written to each other, written and received a letter within two weeks. Well since about November, I've only received one letter from her and she hasn't answered any of mine. I really think she has something to hide, or maybe I said something to offend her. I never hear anything.
The insecurity and doubts surface once more. Lady Darley wishes to be in touch, connected. And when she feels like she's losing touch with someone, it disturbs her greatly. Remember, we are decades away from e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

I read this again and wonder why I wasn't more encouraging, especially when she could spare some kind words for your humble servant...
Why should you be worried about not having a girlfriend? As I told you it's not really the end of the world. You should just try and get on in the world and not try and focus your life on having a girlfriend. But obviously you haven't, and well done! Why should your parents be worried about you not having a girlfriend, I don't understand? So what if you haven't been out with a lot of girls in high school, it doesn't matter. Well I don't think it does anyway. It's the person that matters, don't you think? I'm sorry if I'm overreacting or sticking my nose in where it isn't needed. Then just tell me to mind my own business, alright?
Then she returns to the matter of the friend, possibly girlfriend, who told me me about Lady Darley in the first place.
I owe you an apology. Of course I won't tell her. I'm sorry if I offend you. You really do sound like a nice kind of guy. Not many people would consider both [your friend] and [her possible other boyfriend's] feelings. [She] never really has talked about [him], so what is he like? I guess he really is a nice kind of guy to keep [her] so interested. That sounds nasty as well, doesn't it! I don't think it's my day, or should I say, my letter. This really is very boring, it is full of apologies.
Again... boring?
Your debating sounds really funny, if that's the right word. I really think it would be good if we had things like this in England. I know that I always get scare when I'm up on the stage ahead of everyone. But I expect I would get to like it. Maybe it would become a kinds of a hobby like it is for you. (I wish we got paid for doing work experience, even though what I was going to choose wouldn't get me much money.
She mentions she didn't watch the Oscars like I had asked, and she expresses her sympathies for the case of a girl from my high school who was murdered. I didn't know her, but the case remained unsolved as of her writing. And then, more hard realities...
I'm not sure whether I will be coming to America now because after all [your friend] hasn't written back. Also it has always been my idea. She's never said anything about it. Perhaps that's why she hasn't written back to me, I don't know! Also, my flight would cost me about 600 pounds. This would include me flying from Gatwick which is 200 miles away. Then I would have to fly to New York, get off, go through Customs twice and then fly down to Kansas City on another plane. Never mind, I won't be doing it now.

I was reading your letter at school today and [Laurie] wanted to read it because she saw her name on the letter. I didn't let her, so don't worry.

Anyway, before I go, it will probably be my birthday before you write again. I was and still am looking forward to it on May 19th.

Write Back Soon.

[Lady Darley]
Did I get her a present? I can't remember. But somebody should've gifted me a few clues.

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