The other night, Agent of Death, Her Goatiness and I somehow got to talking about first loves.
Honestly, I was just grateful the topic wasn’t pus.
However, much to my embarrassment, I realised my first love was in fact a girl.
I was 4 or 5 years old, in Junior Infants in primary school, and still firmly of the opinion that boys were entirely nasty. I couldn’t fathom how one was supposed to coexist with them at all – never mind LIKE them.
There was a girl in 6th Class called Diane Hannagan and I loved her. She had blond hair and a wonderful round, smiley face. At the age of 12, she was the height of sophistication – not that I had any idea what sophistication was, but it definitely sounded like something I should aspire to.
My parents were friendly with her parents, all being members of the Limerick Lawn Tennis Club. I used to love when Mum brought me to the Hannagan’s house, which was big and had lots of windows, and a dog, and Diane’s mother who smelled incredibly exotic.
I condemned my parents for not calling me Diane, and desperately wished I had blond hair rather than brown, and a wonderful round, smiley face instead of a face that was just . . . facey. I bitterly regretted my mum didn’t smell like Diane’s (many years later, I realised Irene Hannagan’s magnetic musk was ‘Opium’ in what must have been scandalous application in 1970s Limerick).
I used to hang around the playground hoping Diane would notice me and say hello and maybe even tell me my schoolbag was nice. Indeed, she often did say ‘hello’, because she was a lovely, friendly girl – although she never did tell me my schoolbag was nice, which was undoubtedly an oversight on her part but did nothing to diminish my lustful thoughts that she might one day admire my finger-painting.
One day I was running in the playground, when I fell and grazed my knee. To my abounding joy, my howl of anguish was answered by Diane, who scooped me up into her arms. I still remember precisely where we sat, on the stairs beside the 6th Class prefab building, me on her lap. I couldn’t believe my luck when she applied a plaster.
It still remains one of the most stunningly profound moments of my entire life.
I was evidently a discerning admirer, because Diane Hannagan won the Rose of Tralee in 1984. I defy anyone who could not love this: