I was flattered, I really was. Who wouldn’t be?
When an attractive young woman admits to wanting you, naked, coaxing you by saying you’re ‘perfect’ (Yes she really did use that word and my ego grew).
Weirdly, the thought of Wifey didn’t come into my head as this girl messaged me on my phone, secretly. Nor did I stop to consider what effect this might have on her relationship with her future husband, their marriage planned for the near future. I didn’t even think about the fact this girl is an ex-student of mine. I certainly didn’t think about the effect this could have on my beloved kids for whom I would give my life to protect.
No, all I could think was that someone wanted me and was trying to overcome my shy reticence with persuasive, nay seductive, words.
And I would do anything for this girl. I really would.
I pondered long and hard about acquiescing. Could I do it? I could I get away with this? Would it be a scandal? Would those I knew be shocked and horrified to find out or would I gain respect among those who champion free-thinking and pushing of social boundaries?
At my age, you’re very aware there are precious few people in this world who would want to see you naked. Even when I was younger, I wasn’t exactly inundated with offers. To my knowledge I never walked down the street to the appreciative stares from attractive girls looking my fine physique up and down to then overhear “ooh I’d love a bit of that, I would” as I passed by. No, that was never my world. Probably just as well; I’d only squirm – a little bit like I was now.
I was tempted. Really tempted. I had to make a decision and I knew, one way or another, a woman in my life was going to be hurt.
So, obviously, I went and told my Wifey.
I asked her opinion: should I or shouldn’t I? Thing I was in the room at the time reading a book. My teenager daughter looked up at me shocked then, with a look of disgust, went back to her tome. Wifey simply looked at me with puzzlement and then said one word.
She confirmed what I was thinking anyway, to be honest; she didn’t need to do it though with a) a frown and then b) laughing. That was a bit mean, I thought, though quite understandable. I went back to my young friend on my mobile and texted her the bad news. I knew she would be disappointed. She was – and said so.
I’m upset, she texted, but I understand. Graciously, she forgave me and our friendship of many years continued without damage.
Rachel Denwood is a girl I’ve known for more years as an ex-student than I actually taught her for in the first place; yes, I’m that old. From day one we got on well and I could see she had real character and ability even then. Sure enough, she’s grown into an impressive young woman who now officially acts as treasurer (though she does much more than that) for the town theatre group which produced a number of wonderful shows over the last few years. I was devastated to have missed their Fawlty Towers last year which, by all accounts, was hilarious and brilliantly put together. The group is certainly getting better and better, with some excellent local acting talents giving their all to great success.
This year, Rachel is directing the next show but had, temporarily, found herself short of a lead.
That’s where I came in.
And what kind of a show could possibly want a gangly 42-yr-old to show off his dangly private bits?
It had to be The Full Monty didn’t it?
Rachel, I texted, I really don’t look good even semi-naked. Just ask my wife.
Ken, Rachel replied, it’s about six normal men who worry they don’t look good naked. That’s perfect!
Hmm…a middle-aged man who thinks he looks crap naked? Well, I certainly could really get into that role with ease. But no. I couldn’t do it even so.
For the sake of humanity, I wrote, I’m going to decline.
I then spent some time groveling for forgiveness for letting my young friend down. I’m amazed by how Rachel has grown and become such a valued member of Whitehaven’s society. I’m also grateful that she considers me a friend she can call on in need. I’ve never wanted my students to go on to fame (other than for the financial gain I would receive as they shower me with money as ‘the-teacher-who-made-it-all-possible’ – in my dreams bien sûr). I’ve really just wanted people like Rachel; people who contribute to their local community and do it well.
People who give.
I was so close to agreeing to help her out. I was so close to putting aside my horror at the thought of singing, attempting not to screw up my lines and, God forbid, dancing on stage. So close, despite the fact that this writer doesn’t even take his T-shirt off on a hot sunny day in private, I considered the possibility of revealing my all (such as it is) for the titillation of Whitehaven’s highest and lowest.
I think I made the best decision, don’t you? I still felt guilty though. So, instead of my body, I offered Rachel the next best thing I was confident I could give.
I’ll attend the show and write a review. Glowing, if I can do so honestly.
But I apologise now to whoever Rachel has now found for the lead role she wanted me to fill (begged me, so it will forever more be, in my mind). It doesn’t matter how good you are, pal. The chances are, I’ll be in that audience and will think:
Huh! I could have dangled much better than that.
Whitehaven Theatre Group perform The Full Monty at Egremont Market Hall from 29th April to the 3rd May. If you’re in the area, go along. You’ll be in for a treat now there’s no danger of me getting my kit off.
Tickets are available at the theatre group website: www.whitehaventheatregroup.com