I have quite a few diaries from when I was a teenager and the other day I dipped into one for inspiration on a script I’m writing and I came across this gem. Aged about 14 I wrote a list of top ten good and top ten bad things to look for in my future husband. Entitled ‘Checklist for Mr Right.’ In a diary when I was much younger than that, after seeing the film ‘My Girl,’ there are a few pages decorated with variations of the phrase ‘I want to marry Thomas J!’ Now not only did I not realise at that point (aged 7!) I had already met my Thomas J, I had no idea that I was indeed going to go on and marry him!
Cut to seven years later, my priorities had obviously expanded to a more generalised list and it was really interesting looking back at what I wanted to find in my future husband.
The lists are as follows;
Top ten good
– taller than me
– knows all the quotes from Ace Ventura : When Nature Calls
– always up for adventures
– happy to watch lots of Poirot
– can lift me up
– smiles with their eyes
Top ten bad
– bad breath
– doesn’t like horror films
– bad breath…seriously…eurgh
– dislikes chinese food
– angry drunk
– doesn’t like my family
– has birds
Now I’m sorry to inform my teenage self that my husband has seen the film but doesn’t know ALL the quotes from Ace Ventura When Nature Calls, but with sixteen years worth of hindsight, I’m relatively sure that’s not going to cause problems down the line. I own the DVD so he can always learn them if it looks like it’s going to cause an issue! Otherwise he ticks off every other item on the top ten list so a 90% score is pretty good on that front.
The top ten bad list I think is more telling about my teenage self. The bad breath, and dishonesty are a given, no-one likes either of those! Likewise smoking is not an attractive habit and certainly makes bad breath worse. The birds thing is due to my fear of birds, I don’t mind them being in the world but living with birds certainly wouldn’t be ideal! Likewise horror films and chinese food was quite a large part of my adolescence, I have many happy memories of a group of six of us who hung out together as teens watching hundreds of horror films and eating and playing games and so I can understand why at 14, that was a priority!
Then there’s the materialistic and angry drunk entry’s, at first read you’d assume perhaps someone in my immediate family was an angry drunk and that a lust for the material maybe was the ruin of my family or something. This is most definitely not the case, my parents divorced when I was 12, but it was very amicable (my brother can tell you about the burnt roast potato row of 1997 but frankly that’s about as extreme as it got!). However, I remember at 14 people at school started ‘dating’ (read – snogging in the form room!) and around the same time started drinking and generally trying to be more ‘grown up’. Every Monday morning there seemed to be a new drama because someone had had a ‘drunken’ row (and I say ‘drunken’ because how drunk can you really be on a couple of stolen hooch’s from your parents cupboard which was the general extent of the bingeing!). Likewise there used to be this ridiculous pressure to have brand names clothing (this was the brand obssessed 90’s) and all the latest gadgets or else you were a ‘loser’. For some reason, cost and value were misinterpreted as the same thing. Thankfully things are different now, materialistic people aren’t seen as cool these days, those trying to flaunt their wealth are seen more as shallow and tacky, with more emphasis is on the importance of people and relationships. These two things obviously had an affect on me to an extent that I wanted to avoid both traits in a future spouse! Luckily, one of the first things we bonded over was our love of the imaginative over the expensive; and although we have been known to have a fair few wines, ports and/or whiskys, we don’t ‘get drunk’ and the few times we have together, we’ve just been very giggly and/or very soppy drunks!
It got me wondering what would stand out to Scarlett when she’s a teenager, in those years of teenage angst and Dawson’s Creek type emotions (which lets be honest spill over into our twenties as well!). When she looks around at her peers, what will stand out to her as something she doesn’t want to emulate, or what will she especially want to keep hold of as a teen? I’m relatively sure that she won’t have the same passion for Poirot as I do, and chances are she won’t know all the quotes from Ace Ventura When Nature Calls (“Oh look, it’s the monopoly guy!!” I’m assuming that will have made sense to…say one or two of you readers?!). But there will be things that she won’t necessarily even discover yet till she’s quite a bit older.
As for her future partner, who knows, right now her entire life is a blank canvas. Maybe they are already in her life, maybe it’s someone who’ll steal a soft drink from her aged five(!) or maybe she won’t meet them until she’s much older. Of course maybe she won’t choose a partner, whatever she decides, her tastes will most likely change throughout her life. Mine certainly did, I’m not as bothered about what food my husband chooses as a treat, or which TV detective is his favourite (that’s a lie, it needs to be Poirot!), My husband smokes a cigar from time to time but I find that quite distinguished (1920’s chic!), I wouldn’t want him to be an occasional cigarette smoker and luckily he no longer is. The rest stays the same but he ticks every box. Admittedly, my list isn’t particularly exclusive, I’ve always wanted my husband to be a good man, which he very much is. And let’s be honest, not many women would want a man whose breath smells, is mean when drunk, lies all the time and hates their family! My teenage self kept her options relatively open, which in hindsight is sensible. We all change as we grow older and if Scarlett wanted my advice on who to pick as a life partner (which I assume with quite a bit of confidence that she will not!) I would tell her to try and work out what she wants from her own life first, discover her core values and then and only when she’s confident of those and self assured in who she is, then try and find someone who shares those core values. And of course one hell of a spark helps too!
One thing I will try and pass on is diary writing, at the time I sometimes wondered why I bothered but looking back now is priceless! As Scarlett grows up, I’m hoping she may be interested in reading her Mother’s equivalent age and perhaps in the times when she thinks her Father and I don’t understand her, she may be able to read my diary and realise I wasn’t so different to her (either that or she’ll realise that we’re on totally different planets and she’ll know she’s not quite so strange after all!)
For now I’m putting away ‘the perfect husband list’ and sitting back to enjoy the company of my real life ‘perfect for me’ husband, and then perhaps, just to be on the safe side, it’s time for him to learn a bit more of ‘Ace Ventura When Nature Calls’…!