My city is a city of couch crashers and waylaid drinkers, marooned on summer scorched inland suburbs the day after a big night – peering out over the liquid horizon of terracotta roof tiles wondering, ‘Where the fuck am I?’
I sensed S.M’s invitation was issued from the platonic department. All the more reason to reinstate Booze, which has always been my most reliable wingman. But since riding in cabs wasn’t a realistic possibility given the financial restraints of living on the dole, and without a real wingman with a car I decided to call a rain check with some lie about my sister needing the car. Without owning kids or warm blooded pets I find sisters are a solid substitute when you need to get out shit you don’t want to do. Luckily I have three, which is fortunate since I find myself trying to get out of more shit the older I get.
So after two months without a single internet date I decided to throw in the towel, possibly a little late like Rocky in Rocky IV when Drago punches the shit out of Apollo – because I felt I dragged out of the internet arena a fair weight of rejections and degradation to my dignity. But what are the chances anyone online recognising me in public? Seriously? Actually I did question this since I started recognising girls on the street and at my local and became convinced I’d seen them on online dating searches. Although if it happened I bet we’d behave with evasive discretion like a prostitute and customer recognising each other in a bottle shop queue (not that this has ever happened to me either).
Subsequently, in an act of self-discovery, to figure out what the fuck is wrong with me I thought I should return to where it all started – my first date and my first girlfriend, which are indistinguishable, not because of a poor memory but because it was the early nineties and for some reason the two were hard to separate back then.
What follows in the S.P. incident. All events are true – at least in my eyes. And if anything is altered I blame the synapses in the brain charged with corrupting my memory to protect me from sounding like too much of an arsehole, which is as if should be. It is prerogative of memories to make us seem like fairly decent people (unless you’re a real fuck knuckle) because otherwise life would be unbearable.
What’s weird about my recollections is they are so detached from surviving correspondence of the S.P. incident. It made me consider the duality of the digital age and new technology to both render sacred and insignificant all the minute and memorable moments permanently preserved in binary code.
And in the wake of social networking, text msg-ing, capture technology and character limits the craft of letter writing has become diluted to the bland efficacy of shopping lists.
It paces hesitantly like an animal in a caged zoo on the verge of extinction. And it’s a shame. Letters are awesome. They’re like old photos where we pretended we didn’t know they were being taken, even though we did.
I have heard some people argue in this post post-modern age of digitality it is imperative we remember how to forget – which is bit confusing even though I get what they mean. But I find it disappointing courtships and relationships on threaded beads of touch screen phones are all too easily erased when shit goes sour.
Because sometimes we need to remember – even the unfortunate experiences like the S.P. incident to remind ourselves not to behave like fucksticks.
I was fourteen years old and in year nine when the S.P. incident occurred. I wish I could say relationship, since S.P was my first proper girlfriend. And I know incident has the possibility to demean both S.P and myself – well mainly me. But it was way too brief and full of abject guilt and latent shame for me to call it anything other than an ‘incident’.
I would like to blame it all on an amateur status – virginal and inexperienced and poor judgement but looking back I can’t deny I was just a bit of a pussy willow.
I already had a couple of encounters with girls in my year that were miss-fires and back-fires. The first girl was Z.S. And in the adolescent theatre of hallway locker romances and first crushes friends conspired like buzzards round carcasses with instinct of household insects and nouses like bloodhound noses for winks and hints.
Z.S. and I must have given too much away because it all happened during the turn of a period – let’s say from the Boxer Revolution in social studies to surds in maths class. And in the time and distance walking from block B and block C her friends surrounded me – relentlessly beleaguering me to see if I liked anyone at school, until I finally relented and said, ‘Yes-okay.’
‘Who, who, who?’ they implored like juvenile nightjars.
I thought I was insanely clever when I relented and admitted the initial of her first name to conceal her identity.
‘Her name starts with a zeyd.’
It took me a moment to figure out why their faces ignited with idiotic ecstasy, one by one like birthday candles in rivalry to my smug satisfaction. As a test, right now how many girls do you know with ‘Z’ as the initial of their first name? In our entire year there was only one.
Luckily, (and I use the word carefully, because everything fortunate in school appeared to occur under the auspices of Luck, otherwise it was ruled by her twin sister, Calamity) she officially dug me, which explained why her mulch of mates beset me.
By the lunchtime bell we were bone fide – boyfriend and girlfriend. The particulars of this were abstruse as the players orchestrating the affair. Again, this is not to make excuses for poor recollections. I simply had no involvement in the affair.
I was aware enough of schoolyard politic that to consummate a standard high school relationship basically required me to stand beside her for the majority or recess and lunch. I guess so every other motherfuking monkey hanging round the cloisters of the chapel lawn could publicly acknowledge we were a couple. This seemed to me to be about as primitive and banal as pissing on the ground to mark my territory. But I also had a girlfriend – and without a single concept of what that meant I still thought it was pretty cool.
Was it a surprise she dumped me the next day? – with a note passed across the chapel lawn and through a chem. lab to reach me. Fuck Yeah!
I’m not sure if it was because of the note but I dropped a test tube which smashed on the ground.
‘Oh my God,’ our chemistry teacher shrieked. ‘Did that have chloroform in it?’
I thought it did. I was praying it did – just to clarify I went to a Catholic school so I was allowed to exaggerate and say shit like ‘I was praying,’ even though I wasn’t really – hell, our chemistry teacher was from Thailand. He was probably a Buddhist, or something, but that didn’t stop him saying, ‘God,’
I knew chloroform from the movies as the tainted white hanky that was politely slipped over the mouth and nose to incapacitate a kidnap victim. And I was at the age I still believed some of the stuff that happened in the movies probably played out the same in real life.
Fuck knows why we using chloroform. But the answer as to whether I had accidently dispersed chloroform into the air seemed obvious since neither the teacher nor myself, or the other twenty-eight students in the class had dropped like a nut to the chem lab floor.
So I replied, ‘Um, I don’t think so.’
‘Thank Christ,’ the chemistry teacher sighed.
The worst thing about getting dumped by a Dear John letter less than twenty-four hours after I started going out with a girl for the first time is I was immediately convinced it had something to do with me.
This wasn’t helped by the fact Z.S. stated in a forest of other clichés, ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ And as predictably as a drunk man denying the accusation that they’re drunk, I instantly thought I was somehow the cause for the break up. So I started replying the day like it was year, trying to discern what I possibly could have done wrong or differently, which is really fucking frustrating and difficult when it holds precedence in your short life, and you don’t have a previous experience to compare against.
I wish I still had the letter. I probably did something very cinematic like tear in up in a tempest and throw it out to an angry sea. But I do remember it being an unscrupulous and comprehensive condensation of every movie cliché that I would now find hilarious – clichés that were so clichéd they were stripped of meaning. To this day I still have absolutely no idea what, ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ means. All I know is what it’s meant to say, which is I don’t like, like you.
Oh wait, I forgot – this was the worst thing about getting dumped through a Dear John letter less than twenty-four hours after I started going out with a girl for the first time. After the final bell of the day I found out Z.S. was already going out with someone else – a mate from our loose circle of friends. They stayed a couple for the remainder of the year and all through the year ten curriculum.
The next girl was Z.S.’s BF (best friend). K.T. was a serial Bf-Gfer (boyfriend-girlfriender). She had just broken up with M1. M1 and M2 were best friends, shared the same first name, and in the end the same high school girlfriends – which seemed to be a strict law of interaction during puberty.
We were an afternoon down at the local cricket oval.
K.T. did sprint training while presumably I just hung about and watched her. I walked her and my bike back to her house cos that’s what people did in the movies in the late eighties and early nineties. She held my hand. I got a boner and while I was desperately trying to hide it I decided I didn’t wanted to kiss her. Right now it’s hard to identify from the composted memory of nauseous dissuasion what part was the prevailing fear of ridicule, or the fact that she had a really weird and bony body.
I knew K.T. was way more experienced with boys than I was with girls by the simple fact I had no experience. We also attended the same primary school and she was the unprecedented age of twelve and on school camp when she officially went out with a boy for the first time.
I spent the next week trying to convince my mum I needed the new evolution in Nike trainers with an air cushion sole because I had started cross country running and suffered shin splints. And my imagination of air cushioned soles had me effortlessly bounding across the land like I was under the gravity of the moon. By Friday K.T. had started going out with M2.
Six months after this which I easily filled with adolescent anathema and lament I started going out with S.P.
Follow or Subscribe so you don’t miss the S.P. Incident: Part II