Last October, barely recovered from their 21st birthday celebrations in Las Vegas, Matador announced the latest in a string of contests with frankly amazing prizes. This time around, the challenge came from Belle & Sebastian, to write about love. The prize – a visit from Stuart Murdoch to the winner in their home town, and a song written about the winner to be released on 7″.
At the time my mind immediately drifted to all the things that had gripped my heart and made it leap with joy and sink like a stone in the preceding weeks and months. Everyone’s got a story – it was down to the entrants to tell it. When the prize’s shortlist was announced, I, like many others expected it to contain evocative, storybook accounts of loves won, celebrated and lost; and it had its fair share of those. So much so that one particular entry stood out, less like a sore thumb, more like a unsophisticated mockery of the competition. At the time it didn’t generate much reaction, but when this particularly blunt missive was chosen by Stuart Murdoch as winner of the grand prize there was plenty, ranging from raised eyebrows to out and out consternation. I’ll put myself at the lower end of that spectrum, but I should have known better than to rush to judgement without context.
For it turns out the context is that the winner is a 15 year old kid, who wrote the winning paragraph not long after breaking up with one girl and just starting to see another. Given the context, the piece, the fact that it won didn’t just make sense – it felt quite beautiful. In adulthood it’s easy to forget that the complexities of love, romance, relationships which we tie ourselves up in knots over to spend endless hours untangling, are learned experiences, gained through years of successes and failures, heartbreak and heart-skips. At 15, without the burden of years of baggage, love can be a simple, straightforward thing. Oh to be 15 again. Congratulations, John.
John Ficenec’s winning entry
Advice for Young Lovers: Never in ANY instance believe that you are going to marry someone you are dating/fond of before you are 18. Play the field while you are young. Don’t cheat or be a whore but see what all the fish are like so you’ll know what you like and what you don’t. Don’t dwell on past loves; they are ex’s for a reason. Don’t go out with someone if you have to keep it a secret because when it ends since no one knows you were dating there will be no one there but your actually ex to comfort you and chances are pretty good that they won’t. While you can show some public affection keep it to a minimal of holding hands or a cheek kiss. I always find myself disgusted walking by and seeing people swap tongue right in the middle of public. Yes, we get you are dating and whatnot, but really get a room. Don’t have sex without a condom. Don’t date your best friend. It may sound like a good idea at the time and even while you are going out with them but you know what when the relationship is over so is the amazing friendship. Don’t date people up to 2 years or older until you are 18. Don’t make someone your rebound. It makes them feel like shit and you feel like a monster. Talk to your significant other. Laugh with them ask them questions but DON’T interrogate them. Don’t become too jealous of anyone else. And never EVER get into the friends zone with someone you are fond of. It will scratch away at your heart and soul knowing that you will get no further than friends but that your heart wants to be more than friends.