Library Loverboy- The Interview

Was the library proposal man mad or just crazy in love? Probably both.

It’s not often that the smoking area at the front of the library gets transformed into a scene from a musical, and whilst I’m sure various indecent proposals have been made there in the past, the events of Tuesday evening were a Hartley first. Clearly it takes a big heart and even bigger balls to pop the question in such a grandoise fashion so like true nosy parkers we caught up with chemistry bod Dr David Cook, aka “the man in the bear suit”, and asked him some intrusive questions.

Firstly, congratulations and thanks for briefly making Hartley a far happier place…How did you come up with the concept? It looked like some serious thought had gone into the whole production, what with the lights and singing and so on.

I think the genesis may have something to do with the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. In case you’ve never seen it, it’s basically the Taming of the Shrew…in a high school. There is a great scene where Heath Ledger wins back Julia Stiles with a surprise performance of  ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’. I’ve always wanted to make a grand gesture like that, to sweep a girl off of her feet. Unfortunately I have no discernable talents or charm. I knew I would need some help so I looked for a choir at the university and found the Jazzmanix.

Did she really have no idea? You must have let a few of your friends know what was going to happen…

No, I don’t think that Aidee had any idea. A couple of days before the event I told a few people what was happening because I would need some help with the final preparations. The Jazzmanix only knew 5 days in advance and they didn’t know exactly when they would be needed until the night before we pounced. Even so, the word clearly got out. I knew that things were a bit out of my control when I heard somebody from BBC Solent was coming.

Were you worried she might not turn up?

A little bit. I had arranged to pick her up from the library between 6 and 7 but there was always the chance she might head home early. When we were all assembled outside I sent her a text to say I was waiting and she told me she would be another 15 minutes. This had me pretty nervous. Aidee is from Mexico and (in my experience) they have a pretty…elastic interpretation of time…and she’s quite tardy even by Mexican standards.

What was the bear costume all about? In the video we saw it looked a bit Donnie Darko, I’m sure it was a lot cuter in real life though.

I’d like to make clear for anybody who wasn’t there that it was a teddy bear costume with a picnic basket and a big friendly smile. Just in case people are picturing North America’s apex predator! It was meant to be cute and allow me to get close and maneuver Aidee into position without being recognised immediately. But I see your point. I very nearly abandoned the idea as “too weird” and unnecessarily complicated…then again I had already invested in the costume. However there was a moment, when we rehearsed the “bit” and I was dancing with a hairy Portuguese fellow (who I’d not met before), while a choir serenaded us in a lecture theatre…when it struck me as surreal! I imagine this is the sort of thing that haunts the nightmares of David Lynch.

Is Hartley a significant location for your relationship? Did your eyes meet through the sagging bookshelves?

Ha ha no. We met on a summer-camp in Massachusetts in 2005.

Will you be having the reception in Jesters? I hear Chick-o-Land (Extra) offer very competitive rates for catering.

Ha ha, yes after Tuesday I should probably do something to lower Aidee’s expectations for our future ;o)
Honestly I think we will have to do everything in Mexico. Aidee is a good Catholic girl and I think we should have a proper service etc with all her family close by.

How are you dealing with your new found fame on campus? You’ve achieved legend status in one move, some people spend their whole degree trying to reach that level of popularity.

It was pretty exciting going on the local radio and some strangers did smile at me today but I’m sure I will remain relatively unpopular. I’m socially inept and quite grumpy most of the time! Also I should probably clarify that I’m not a student at Southampton anymore. I feel bad if there’s been any confusion because I know people think it’s sweeter for a student to go to all this effort…when technically I’m a grownup. I graduated ages ago but I’m still here because I work in a lab in Chemistry.

Thanks a lot David, all the best!