Yesterday I got a phone call, while I was in the middle of writing a Twitter thread. It was from my boyfriend, who had – in the process of trying to fix the door – accidentally locked himself in the bathroom. “Can you come upstairs and rescue me please?” he asked. Feeling like a knight in shining armour, making sacrifices for the greater cause of love, I broke off my tweeting and ran upstairs to help.
I don’t get to go on romantic quests much these days. When I was younger I used to see love as this big, dramatic thing, requiring equally dramatic promises and missions: I love you so much I’d die for you. Cross countries for you. Slay dragons for you. If you committed a crime I’d help cover it up, then sort out false passports so we could live together off your heist money somewhere sunny and far, far away.
I don’t get to say that to you, though. Your tastes and desires are simple: there are rarely any rescue missions, or heists to cover up, or evil demons to outwit and win you back.
But I’d do other things for you – for love – instead. Like putting on my shoes at midnight on a Sunday, when big Tesco’s closed and I have to walk to the corner shop that’s further away. I’d trek ten minutes on a Sunday evening to the faraway shop to buy you a Toffee Crisp and some Haribo – just because you fancied pudding.
I wouldn’t slay you a dragon, even if they did exist. But if you asked me to, I’d summon all my courage and slay you a massive spider. The big, scuttly brown ones that lurk in the garden shed. If you screamed I’d come running with a shoe, screeching a battle cry of ‘oh fuck fuck fuck that’s a really really big one dude I’m not sure I can go near it!’ But I’d slay a spider for you, if you needed.
I can’t rescue you from the clutches of an evil wizard, but I’ll fake an illness to ditch a meeting if you’re lonely and need me at home.
And I’ll rescue you from the bathroom, even if I’m in the middle of a Twitter thread.
I can’t go on a mission to find the Holy Grail, but I’d walk ten miles to bring you the house keys if you were locked out in the rain. Fifty miles if I’ve got my bike and a fair wind behind me.
I can’t build you a castle, but I’ll make shelves for your office – nicer than the ones I made for mine because I don’t know any better way of saying I love you than with smooth wood and silky varnish.
I won’t cover for you to the police, but I’ll tell your Nanna you don’t smoke.
I know you’d do the same for me. You wouldn’t steal jewels, kill monsters or ride a destrier into battle, but you’ll stick anything I like on the Ocado order and pretend you wanted it anyway. And if there’s only a little milk left in the fridge on Monday morning, you’ll drink your coffee black and let me have the precious final drops.
These weirdly simple things we do to show how much we care are worth a thousand dead dragons or mounted charges or rescue missions. Because dragons don’t exist, no one rides horses these days, and the only place you ever need rescuing from is our bathroom with the dodgy door lock.
But Tesco closes early every week on Sunday – so I will walk to the corner shop at midnight in flip flops.
For Toffee Crisps and Haribo. For you.