The Cheeky Charmer looks back on their first crush and what’s changed this time around


Pre-Valentines Day 1987:

The Care Bears are everywhere, Scott and Charlene* are about to get married and seven-year-old Cheeky Charmer has their first crush on Claire, a girl in their class.

*Google this Millennials and Zoomers 😜.

Claire is the most popular girl at school, and I think she’s beautiful. All the boys want to be her boyfriend. And I consider myself “one of the boys.”  But I’m about to learn the hard way that, in 1987, when you’re a pretty little girl with pigtails, no one sees you like that. 

But, right now, mini-CC is happily sitting between the boys and girls (a default position that seems to fit). We’re making valentines cards for our crushes in class. I’m impressed with my drawing skills – making an arrow look like it’s piercing a heart. Ironically, it’s mini-CC’s authentic self that ends up with an arrow through it.

When it’s time to exchange cards, boys cluster around Claire, drowning her in badly drawn artwork. And that’s when mini-CC pulls their first #LesbianPowerMove striding through them like a baby shark (see last column).

It’s also when I realise what I’ve done. The look on the teacher’s face. The looks on my friends faces. Ridicule. Shame. Shouts of: ‘’You can’t give a girl a card, you’re a girl!”

And a voice whispers from “the dark place” deep inside me, although I don’t call it that yet. The place where all my inappropriate feelings about girls and gender identity get shoved down. A purgatory for my authentic self. That’s where they’ll stay for another 27 years. Because this is the 80s, section 28 is firmly in place, and I don’t even know being gay is a possibility, let alone there’s such a thing as gender-fluidity.

And then I’m drowning in fear and humiliation. In the knowledge this is wrong. That I am wrong. An aberration.

I hide in the toilets with only my shame for company.

I hide behind my mum in the playground, terrified someone will out me to her, although I don’t know what being “out” means yet. 

I hide.

Pre-Valentines Day 2022:

I’m seeing the girl from my last column. We’ve had two dates and already I want to go full Romeo on her.  You know, scaling the side of her house to reach her boudoir. Although I’d probably put my back out which would render me useless once I got there. So, maybe I’ll just use the door? 

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I KNOW I said I wouldn’t do this!!!!!!!!! But this girl’s got my head in a spin and rational thought has exited the highway (the luuurve highway – oh dear God 🤦‍♀️).

When we make love, we lose track of time. Minutes seem like hours and hours seem like days. She possesses my senses entirely, drugging me with a heady intoxication, opening something that’s been locked away since that day at school.

She sees me. The me that’s been hiding all this time. The me that thought I was wrong. She embraces those parts, ignites them like a flame, burning away the guilt and the shame leaving only the core that no one’s ever wanted to see.

She unlocks me creatively, emotionally, sexually.

And I do want to take this slow*. Feel it out. Not pressurise it to be something. I don’t want to end game, to presume we’ll still be together by Valentine’s Day. But the Cheeky Charmer has hope that we’ll be cosied up together for a two person party, shutting out the world and getting lost in each other.

*Yes, I know this doesn’t sound remotely slow but bear with me ok?

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