Friday, November 12, 2004
We don't barely keep in no more...
Every day in every way I despair a little more at the human race. The guy by the door on the train, trying to get off like several dozen of us, had his thumb glued to the ‘close’ button, eyes glazed over. Twice the person outside pressed ‘open’, trying to board, and twice the door closed immediately, stopping us alighting and him taking our place. I noticed straight away, but… you have to credit people with some sense, perhaps, and to interrupt in that situation would surely make the man pressing the wrong button feel embarrassed, stupid. Surely, surely after the door had juddered closed once when it should have opened, he would realise, he would open his eyes? But no. Wearily I gave in. “That’s the ‘close’ button.” Forced and muffled laughter from several directions including his. How does he manage with the day ahead when he can’t even cope with simple tasks like opening a door by pressing a button? How does he tie his own tie? What happens if he’s the first at the scene of an accident?
Naked Pig Girl was on the train again. Two weeks now, I think. She appears to be going out with the 6ft geek boy, who is too old now to be a geek, and possibly too posh too. When I say geek I mean in the “Belle & Sebastian fan” sense (I have three B&S albums before anyone whinges), not the spotty, computer-loving loner masturbating into a cup and wearing £12 trainers. 6ft, maybe 13st, cords, fleece, shirt and tie for work but even at 7.54am his top button is undone and his tie is loose. He probably thinks he’s really lucky to be going out with Naked Pig Girl, because she wears saucy black to the office and dyes her hair and is slightly aloof and might have a past. She probably feels really lucky to be going out with him, because I imagine that he gives her a sense of stability which she never got at home. I know she never got it at home because she used to live opposite my friend George (name changed to protect the innocent, not that he is innocent, not entirely) with her mother and younger sister. Why call her Naked Pig Girl? Her eyes are smaller now, more piggy, her hair dyed away from the blonde it was when she was 13 or 14, her nose more protruding, slightly bulbous almost, making her seem even more piggy. I realise the horribleness of what I’m typing, but I remember her being pretty, seeming aloof, almost condescending. I realise now, I realised then, that it was probably just nervousness, discomfort, a sense of never belonging and not knowing who you are. She has a job that is presumably respectable and a boyfriend who doubtless treats her like an angel, but she’ll never feel as confident as she might, never look most people in the eye. I wonder if she recognises me as the friend of the guy across the street, or, more specifically, as the friend who walked in on him and her naked and bouncing like inept teddy bears on top of each other in his loft (which was where we, as friends, and many of us, had congregated for a year or more and… done things that teenage boys do, things involving smoke and cider and a pool table and late, late nights watching films and listening to records) on Boxing Day almost a decade ago, when she was only 13 or 14 and he was 16 or 17, when I had arranged to come round and see him because I knew Christmas wasn’t easy since his mum and dad had separated, because I knew he behaved like a lunatic and put his mother through hell and because I knew his mum considered me to be a “good influence”. But there he was, just after lunchtime on Boxing Day, expecting friends to come round any time, naked with the girl from across the street, trying to fuck her in his loft. “For fuck’s sake, it’s Boxing Day and you’re trying to shag your underage neighbour. Sort yourself out.”
George stopped going to school in the fifth year because he preferred staying at home and smoking dope. He said he had issues due to his parents divorcing when he was 13, due to being one of twins, due to the other being stillborn. I didn’t doubt him. George was intelligent and, although not good-looking particularly, attracted a certain type of girl, the type of girl that a certain type of man wants to either fuck or save, or, in his case, both and also neither. The inverse of both. Condemn. Drag down alongside him. Because if someone else is sliding then it doesn’t make you feel as bad? I don’t have the most successful life of my friends from school – I still live at home, I earn well below the national average salary, my job satisfaction is not high – Matt earns almost triple what I do, drives a huge company car, is married – A is married (but not for long), earns much more than I do, drives a BMW Z3, has owned three houses – JB is on the way to being a lawyer and has slept with more girls then I’ve had hot dinners (possibly), some of them quite attractive – others have been in the forces and now served their term, have done PhDs and have lucrative biological research jobs, are graphic designers, are in successful bands, etcetera, etcetera. But I’m very happy with my life in general, and I am aware that I have control over what happens to me, and that these differences are differences of focus and desire, not ability or happiness. I passed George in the street on Wednesday. He didn’t see me, or if he did, he hid it incredibly well. He still wears all black, although not in a goth way. It was never in a goth way, not the vaguely creative, make-up wearing, intricately-sculpted steel&leather boots way, not in the Marilyn Manson way. He just wore black because it was… easy. I last saw him about 18 months ago, outside a nightclub/bar in the city. He was sitting with a girl who looked like she wanted / needed saving. It was Emma’s birthday and she was happily dancing with friends inside while I basked with some other friends outside in the warm evening. I went over and sat down next to him and said “Hello George.” It took him several seconds to realise who I was. I can’t remember what we talked about after that, not a word. The girl he was with looked as if she was on cold turkey. Too skinny, drawn, pale, quiet, downwards eyes. She looked like her life was terrible. It was probably the first time I’d spoken to him since we were 19 or 20, and even that was only a chance meeting in a local pub at Christmas. “What drugs are you on?” he had said. “None” I replied, and we didn’t speak any more. 18 months ago he had grown fat, as those given to not much exercise do, and while I am far from slim I am at least athletic to a degree – as 14 year olds he was far more muscled than I, simply due to his genes, and I was jealous, but things don’t stay that way if you sit on your arse and smoke dope and eat muffins. On Wednesday he was possibly grown ever fatter – not obese, not obscene, but… 14st perhaps, and no muscle tone at 5’7”. I doubt he could run, not if he still smokes. And I don’t imagine he stopped. Long hair, black jumper, shapeless and too long, like a pauper’s gothic smock, slightly loping walk, bouncing almost, but now shoulders are completely dropped. At 12 he wanted to be an engineer, I think. How do you get from there to here? At what point do you relinquish control of your life? Or do you ever really have it? Do we make those choices for ourselves? The choice to fuck up. The choice to slide.
11/12/2004 10:56:00 am