Octavia Sheepshanks: Week 6

OCTAVIA has a message for Scott Pilgrim…

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I am completely and utterly terrified of relationships. Despite this, one is looming on the horizon – a concept that both excites and terrifies me. My last relationship ended when I was just sixteen, and I think this was a direct result of me getting my hair chopped off. Regardless of the cause, the result was me lying in wet grass outside my house, screaming at the top of my lungs and making a definite decision NEVER to go back inside. Obviously I went back inside, but since then I’ve been very careful not to get especially close to anyone.

There have been a few slip-ups. Earlier this term I got chatting to a guy I’d wanted to get to know properly for ages. I’d heard that he might have a girlfriend, so resisted the desire to flirt, and when he walked me back to my room (it was 3am, all my friends had left and I didn’t have a phone) I took this as a friend-y thing to do. We ended up chatting for almost an hour, and eventually kissed. He said he shouldn’t be doing so, as he was ‘seeing someone’ (although it wasn’t going very well). I said that that was fine, and we could just be friends. He seemed appalled, saying “No! Obviously not!” In the end, he stayed over, nothing more happened, but I very much got the impression that it would do in the future.

Well, readers, I was wrong. “At least Gustav is loyal!” quipped my mother. Yes, if his physical attachment to my bookcase by his own bottom constitutes loyalty. Essentially, though, the whole episode merely served to make me even more wary of intimacy.

But back to the matter at hand. The current man in question, who I will refer to as Scott Pilgrim (if you haven’t seen the film, please do), expressed his views on ‘us’ last night: “I’ll leave it up to you to decide what we are; I think you know what I’d like.”

After he’d left, I did the first thing that came to mind, and wrote a list of pros and cons:



• We already have ‘in-jokes’ such as the Scott Pilgrim one. This arose after a man (who I have never been romantically interested in, or given the impression that I am) threatened to punch him if he continued flirting with me. As a result, I am now Ramona Flowers, and Scott is currently on Level 4 of the game that is winning my affections…although he has lost some points along the way.

• We will be able to coordinate our outfits and make sure we both wear polonecks on the same day.

• I will spend less time watching the end of ‘A Room with a View’ on my own on YouTube, and will be statistically more likely to actually go to Florence and spend time kissing someone in a room with a view.

• We will do other strange coupley things, like this weird but hilarious blog my two friends (a couple) write.

• He likes olives too.



• I don’t want to go out just with friends and people to ask: “Where’s Scott Pilgrim tonight, then?”

• Will I still be able to wear my quite revealing slinky top from Paris when in the company of other men?

• Will I have any fun at our May Ball even though he won’t be there?

• I’ll spend the holidays pining for him.

• Either we stay together for the whole of Cambridge (really scary) or we break up at some point (horrific). Better to pick nothing at all?


And then I realised that I was being ridiculous. Real people don’t operate based on lists of pros and cons. They don’t scupper potential relationships just because they’ve realised the future will be scary and emotional if they get romantically involved. As Scott himself put it yesterday with regards to con #4 (before being appalled by his own cheesiness): “The way I see it, either we have a relationship and I pine for you in the holidays, or we don’t, and I pine for you all the time.”

So I’m going to disregard my list. If you had nothing to lose by emotionally investing in another person, then it wouldn’t mean nearly so much.

I’ll conclude with a message for Scott Pilgrim: Scott, you have completed the game, and I’ll be your Ramona Flowers. Starting from now. Call me.


Addendum: When I told a friend what I was writing about this week, she revealed that Charles Darwin genuinely did write a pros/cons list of whether he should marry his cousin. It’s quite sweet