AIDAN SMITHSUMMER 1980, the song on the pub jukebox was Funkytown by Lipps Inc and she was Karen - blonde curls, cute smile, all the way from New Jersey, and our first cultural misunderstanding was my joke about the name of the sports shop she managed, The Athlete's Foot.Karen was the most exotic girl a cub reporter on the Dalkeith Advertiser could hope to meet and the one occasion we incorporated lips sustained us through a year of letters (hers on orange paper) until I disembarked the Laker Skytrain at Newark.At the end of the night we bought a bottle of Bacardi and headed off to the beach, where I drank a bit too much, but remember having a lovely time.
Normally, I bemoaned that I surely wasn't so geeky. The next day she was getting on a plane to interview Nelson Mandela in New York and I was returning home to report on Celtic's Scottish league games for the club's magazine. Yet rapidly we peeled away the social layers to find ourselves discussing the true nature of life and love; the heart and soul she poured into every conviction was mesmerising.
With her, I seized on it as a chance to engage her in conversation. At the edge of the dance floor, it seemed as if we became wrapped in soundproof bubble, so utterly was no utterance lost in the blare.
Unlike every other girl in San Antonio, she was funny, interesting and - crucially - seemed to be quite keen.
In what I assumed to be a miraculous turn of events, she asked if I wanted to ditch my pals and her mum and set off on our own. Emma and I got on famously, and in my teenage hormonal haze I thought maybe she was my perfect woman.
Until a captivating young Argentinian woman sitting side-on to me, but just sufficiently within eyeline to clock her striking looks and knee-high boots, leaned across and asked: "Has anyone ever told you you look like Quentin Tarantino?
"In those days, when I sported both real-live - often dyed - hair and sideburns, I did get that comparison the odd time.
In what seemed an instant, though, the lights were up and she was declining my invitation to continue our ruminations at an all-night diner.
That was that, I thought, but as we walked out of the club door and into the dead of night, she clasped me tightly and brought me alive with the most passionate of kisses.
We'd got a bit ahead of ourselves in those letters and she hadn't told her folks about me.