Charlotte Hogarth-Jones: Social pariah

“OMG you’re like soooo blind!” “I know, please take my glasses off, you’ll make the screws fall out.” “No wayyyy mannn this is SO WEIRD. So like, can you not see me now?” *thrusts moist palm dangerously close to my lovely soft face* I dodge the lurching hand, simultaneously resisting the urge to snatch back my much needed specs for fear of looking like Piggy from Lord of The Flies. “No I can see you. I can see that you’re breaking my glasses. Please take them off,” I ask, trying to sound nonchalant and ever-so-slightly authoritative instead of whiney. “Whoah! This is like SO cool. Can you see how many fingers I’m holding up? Hey, HEY can you read this? Can you see colours and stuff? Duuudddeeee….you are like so so SO blind.” *randomly grabs any items within a metre’s range and combines with moist palm for yet another bout of vigorous, unrestrained and haphazard thrusting at my corneas* “No I can’t read that, you know I can’t read that, you’ve got my glasses, remember? This has been cracking fun for both of us, and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your time mocking my impaired vision. Can I have my glasses back now?” “Yeah ok ok, oh wait um hang on, um shit I think the screws have come out or something?”

“Are you ok?” says guy behind till. I’m a bit taken aback. “Um yeah I’m good thanks, I’m great. I’m really good, I’m alright.” Bugger, that was a bit enthusiastic, don’t think he wanted that much information, try and cancel it out a bit. “I mean, I’m fine thank you, I’m ok, um are you?” “Yeah, it’s just you’ve been here for ages so we were wondering if you were alright?” A girl who looks like the girl from the ring rears her ugly head from round the corner of the stock room. Presumably she’s the other half of the “we”.
I thank till boy for his concern and explain that I’m avoiding an essay, hence the 40 minutes taken to choose a packet of basmati rice and a corkscrew. I assume this draws a polite and finite end to our little tête à tête. But till boy is not content to let this lie. Till boy is twisted. Till boy is hoping for blood and tears. “We thought you were mad,” he goads. “Oh *nervous titter* um well I’m not so…” Till boy withholds the change. This could go on forever. 40 minutes is fine, above an hour in Costcutters is obscene. I prise the coins from his claw-like grasp and scuttle home, leaving behind 20 minutes worth of carefully selected corkscrew.

“DRINK IT,” the assembled Ring of Fire circle hollers menacingly with a crazed look in their eyes. Some people just can’t resist organising the fun. Okey dokey then, I’m not one to shirk from the concrete rules of enforced drinking. What is this I’m being proffered though? Whisky? Bacardi? Oh no wait, it’s vodka. Except with a cocktail sausage. “What is this?” “It’s a weiner” they reply, drunkenly snorting into their lukewarm Pimms, spraying vast quantities of saliva across the laminate flooring. “I’ll drink the vodka but I’m going to strain the meat products through my teeth,” I venture, waiting for the backlash of the hot, alcoholic breath of my friends, adopting the ‘brace brace’ position favored by airlines worldwide. But something is very wrong, there is no backlash. The revelers have indeed become so fixated by the culinary delight which is the cocktail sausage that they are now doing some form of party food Olympics, displaying a flexibility and deft acrobatic disposition rarely seen in drunks. If only there was pineapple on sticks. Then we could have done javelin.

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