You might have been a clown but you would not marry the fat lady. That would be a cruel way to sum up your feelings for Roma, who quite possibly reciprocated. You were both so funny. That’s why Martin invited you to the Real Informal. What an honour! You and Roma exchanged hysteria about it.
Martin was a surfie seer. He improvised poems to melt cool chicks.
Martin’s Real Informal was his riposte to the hideously banal Sixth Form Formal, held the week before. Acne under a disco ball; five repeats of Smoke on the Water; slow dancing to the Carpenters; your speech as captain to your peers:
I think I can honestly say that I won’t reject — I mean, I won’t forget my time here, and I’m sure you all feel the same way. Even the bad bits — like Mr Hanson’s woodworking class — well, I didn’t like it, although I suppose we all need a seed birder, I mean a bird seeder, feeder, a birdseed — but what I wanted to say is: you suffer, you learn, you learn to suffer, and that’s a good thing. Right? I’m sure it’s good for something. We will all find out soon enough, when the exam results — I know Eddy can hardly wait, can you Ed?
You ran like a tap until Mr Mitchell turned you off.
Thank god for the Real Informal. You joined the cool people handpicked by beautiful Martin and went to the grove of ti trees between the sweeping curves of the highway on-ramp, the highway bypass, and the highway itself — a hidden Tasmania of traffic-bounded ground, a teenzone beneath the notice of adults.
There was beer. There was Blackberry Nip. There was Southern Comfort. The cool crowd lolled in the long grass, smoking.
You could not drink the beer. You made a joke of your inexperience, coughing beer out your nose. The Blackberry Nip was another story. Lolly water. Soon you were giggly-girl-goosey with it. You talked faster and faster, louder and louder, funnier and funnier. Everyone loved you and you loved everyone. Okay, they did not want you to hold them tight, but you understood, you understood totally. Totally.
Your limbs were popping off on little errands of their own and your head, wow, you knew exactly how Tony’s rocker-dog felt sitting in the back window of his HB Torana.
But Roma told you to shut up because you were such a loser. You started singing.
I’m a loser!
I’m a loser!
No, no, no, said Martin, with a twisted smile on his beautiful lips, but he didn’t want to hug you either. It was sad. Oh, it was funny how sad it was. It was sad, but it had always been sad, and now it felt so much better, just saying it — you know? — that you were a loser, so ugly, such a clown, nobody could take you seriously, you were pathetic, you knew it, but it was all cool.
You tripped over the shoulder strap of Natalie’s Indian bag and laid yourself out. You thought you might be a bit drunk. How they laughed! And maybe you were a bit more drunk than a bit drunk, but the truth was that everything was being recorded, you were in the scene and also standing outside, like a director, watching and recording. Nothing was being lost. You were learning the big lesson of your life.
© 2021 Craig Bingham
Next: A to F. Part 1.5. Enthusiast.
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