Fresh-faced, and really really stupid.
There was a girl I liked called Lucy. I liked her a lot, actually. She was 19, cute, quite elfin, with black hair curled into little ringlets, a pretty smile, a lovely face, and a gorgeous body. She mesmerised me with her existence, and I'd often wonder from afar if we'd ever get it together. I never did anything as bold as flirt outrageously and make things obvious - at least I don't think I did - so, apart from smiling a lot and going red in front of her, nothing else happened.
Until that year's Summer Ball. At the end of the evening, some time around 3am, we'd bumped into each other having lost our respective friends, and got chatting. We'd got on so well that we decided to screw waiting for other people and made our way to the free coaches that were laid on to take people back to the beach, then on to the University halls of residence. I lived near the former while Lucy was at the halls, so I asked her if she wanted to accompany me to the Survivor's Photo on the Beach, which was planned for 5am just as the sun was coming up. This was a win/ win situation. The guys I lived with had already decided that unless we were lightweight pussies, we had to meet up to make that photo.
I am not a lightweight pussy.
The coach pulled up near the beach. Half the coach's passengers of drunk or dying students spilled out. At this point, we were nearer my flat, so I asked Lucy if she wanted to go back to mine first.
'Yes', she said.
Splendid and tremendous.
There was a steep hill on the way up to my student apartment, and Lucy started complaining that it was too uncomfortable to walk up in heels, so I scooped her up and carried her home. She didn't complain.
This was going uncommonly well.
Lucy was now in my living room, all the other guys I lived with doubtless still out enjoying themselves. Or more likely lying face down in a road and crying.
'So', I offered, 'Do you want to go down to the beach for this photo?'
'No, I think I'll stay right here', said Lucy.
'Right, see you later then!' said I, and duly headed off to appear as a dot in a picture with 200 others.
Even as I type this, I'm not too sure what fucking planet I'm on. The next day, when I made it down to the living room now full of my flatmates and Lucy, the lads hurled abuse at me for leaving her. When Lucy left to go home, I was hurled more abuse for turning down a very possible shag, or at least an extremely pleasurable fumble.
Only then did it dawn on me what I'd done. So fixated was I on The Goal Of Making That Photo, I'd completely failed to recognise that an infinitely more superior option had shimmied sexily into view.
An ENFORCED CELIBACY MONKEY visited me that evening, and has been on my back ever since, barring a handful of occasions where I've been able to duct-tape it up and sling it in my cupboard.
As an addendum to this story, a year after we'd graduated, we'd managed to blag tickets to the next Summer Ball. We were expecting a washout as all the folks we'd studied with had obviously left, but we were pleased to find a lot of people we still knew from 4-year courses. This included Lucy. I walked over to her and kissed her cheek, and apologised for being an idiot. She gave me a hug and told me it was ok. I continued to tell her how much I regretted what I did, and wished I could make amends. Placing a fresh cigarette between her lips, she told me to forget about it. Trying to be gallant, I reached for my lighter and offered her a flame. In her concentration to reach it, she wobbled uneasily, teetered a little, then fell over.
She was absolutely fucking hammered. She wasn't going to last the next ten minutes, let alone an evening with me trying to gain re-entry. Not wanting to take advantage of her in that state, I gave up.
The moral is: I don't know what the moral is. Don't be me, perhaps.