I went to primary school with a girl who knew a lot about things. She told us a story about a guy who lived in her apartment block. This guy would sit on his bed with the door wide open, wearing just a towel. There was something else about a girl who wore roller skates sitting on his knee.
There was another girl in primary school who told us a story about a bunch of cousins who coaxed her into doing something she didn’t want to do. One cousin kept watch to make sure the adults weren’t coming. The girl was crying as she told us this story. She was sitting on the concrete steps that led up to the school library.
I play around with the word ‘dishonest’. I cut the word up and place the emphasis in the wrong place. DISH----on-est, instead of Dis-HON-est. I try to convince myself the word has no meaning, because if I can do that, my lies seem less significant.
I didn’t want to kiss the boy I had been assigned to kiss. I can’t remember his name. But he had a square head, mousey-brown hair and dull, dough-like features. He came to class one day saying his Mum had done his homework. The teacher laughed. The teacher and his Mum were friends. I think they played tennis together.
Doughy Part 2
I didn’t want to kiss Dough Boy. I wanted to kiss the American boy who’d been hit by a car and had no friends. The American boy had blonde hair and a limp. I kissed the boy I didn’t want to kiss, but by that stage no one was paying attention because all the popular couples had kissed already. So, I needn’t have kissed him at all.
Some of the popular couples continued to kiss, long after the game was over. They seemed to get pleasure from this strange act, or at least they pretended to.
The girl who knew a lot about things got busted graffitiing the boys’ toilets. She was banned from the school Christmas picnic. While the rest of went to the pool, she sat at her desk, with the overhead fan blowing hot air around, and the supervising teacher eating lunch from a brown paper bag.
Perhaps something bad happened, and I’ve forgotten. Or perhaps nothing happened, and I’ve forgotten. That’s the gift – and the frustration – of memory. We forget the insignificant things because they don’t matter. We bury the significant things because they do.
In the latter years of high school, I rolled around in the grass with boys who were drunk. I imagined they were women. I imagined I was a man. I imagined they were men, and I was a man. Afterwards, I’d walk home in the dark, carrying my shoes.
At Infants’ School, all students were required to participate in Square Dancing. An old man in a cowboy hat called out instructions from the stage. Swing your partner. Doh-see-doh. As my social standing was quite low, I was assigned the least popular boy. His name was Mark and his hands were always sticky.
The girl who knew a lot about things
The girl in primary school who knew a lot about things was talking about condoms one day. I said, “What’s a condom?” She smiled and said, “Oh, it’s this white thing you put over your head.” And she made this gesture, as if she was pulling something down over her face. For a while there I thought there was a close connection between condoms and the Ku Klux Klan.
Which one is it?
I play around with the words ‘apart’ and ‘a part.’ Sometimes when people say they want to be a part, they display behaviors which indicate they want to be apart. It can be quite confusing.
You’re going to have to do it one day
During the early years of high school, I went to a party at this girl’s house. I was sitting on a trampoline with a couple of other girls. One of them had just kissed a boy around the side of the house. She asked me if I was going to. I said probably not. She said, “You’re going to have to do it one day.” I had never thought of it like that: as something I had to do; like wearing a bra, moving out of home, getting a job. I thought I had all the time in the world to avoid kissing boys.