Social Pariah

Half past five in the afternoon is never scarier than in February on Tang Hall Lane. Twilight reigns and the Co-op crew cast a sinister shadow across my path. They spit and they swear: they are thugs. And they have to be home for tea. I am terrified in the face of thirteen year olds, blushing and spluttering apologetically for not having my ID on me when they want me to buy them alcohol. “Oi! You! Can you get us some cherry Lambrini?” No, it is against the law. No, I don’t want to. No, because I said so. Just No, dammit. “Oh ok, but just so you know, it’s more expensive than normal Lambrini and has less alcohol in it.” Educating the youth. Keeping it real.

“Hey.” I snapped my phone shut. No one need realise that I wasn’t really texting one of my many friends whilst my cocktail partner was in the toilet. No one needs to know that I’d just beaten my tetris high score. I am terrible on my own in bars. “So, what brings you out tonight?” Discussing our hometowns, courses and plans for the night, I ignore that his eyes remain firmly on my cleavage and wish Katie would hurry up. “So anyway…are you a lesbian?” Pardon me? “I thought you were hot, so I should check.” He makes a fair point, because goodness knows it would be a waste of five minutes if I was gay, whereas since I’m not, I’m certain to succumb to his charm. “Err no…but I do have a boyfriend.” But apparently that’s fine. What’s breaking down a little bit of fidelity compared to a sexuality life choice? If only all boys were so pragmatic.

Pub golf is the messy means to a sticky end. Designed with vomit in mind, participants are doomed to bruises, headaches and abject humiliation. Normally quite a mild mannered if a little nonsensical drunk, excessive mixing turns me at best paranoid and delusional. “Is it because you hate me?” He was leaving, sober and unwell, having already withstood a substantial amount of drunken rambling. “You hate me don’t you? I’m sorry.” A fading voice in my head was telling me to ask him if he’s ok going home alone and say you’ll call him in the morning. “It’s because I’m ugly isn’t it? I’m sorry.” For some reason I choose to ignore his request to see you tomorrow. “Why do you hate me? I’m sorry.” A kiss on the cheek and he’s gone. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. The punctuation of the paranoid drunk.

Two bare pairs of feet pad towards each other. Each girl recognises the painful thwack of flesh on paving slab. My eyes sheepishly meet hers. I’m sure I look more smudged than her. She looks practically clean – definitely not post-coital. Whereas I look horrendous. Matted fringe, crumpled dress and scuffed heels in hand. Who would have thought I just spent the night top to tailing in a single bed with a charitable girl friend who happened to live closer to the bars of my undoing than I do? Perhaps my fresh faced friend approaching will do me the honour of thinking that I am living up to the “walk of shame”. Because, let’s face it, promiscuity is cooler than me.

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