Sunday, 11 March 2012

3. A seminal punk band

It is 1am. I don't know whose house this is. I vaguely remember being introduced to someone called Laura, but I'm not sure if it is her house. It is a good party. There is a lot of screaming, running around, people dancing and falling over. Some men are burning things in the back yard.

I sit on the leather sofa in the living room. I look at the white carpet. I don't know why people have white carpets.

I have drunk all my own wine, so I stole someone else's Sailor Jerry. It's a bit too sweet for me, I like my rum less sugary, but I drink it anyway. You do what you have to do.

The last time I saw Amanda and Gin was a while ago. Amanda was attempting to perform a improvised and violent piece of contemporary dance to Fight For Your Right to Party and Gin was talking to a man with cropped blonde hair, running her index finger up and down his thigh. I'm happy, enjoying being quiet, feeling drunkenly mellow.

A man sits down next to me. He is wearing a Ramones T-shirt. He has brown eyes.

Hello,” he says. “I’m Will.”

Hello Will," I say: “I like your T-shirt. I like the Ramones.”

Will says: “I don’t know who they are really, I just bought it because I thought it was cool. I like your boobs. I’ve been looking at you all night.”

There is a crash, a smash, and a chorus of screams from the direction of the kitchen, suggesting Amanda's dance routine has come to its inevitable conclusion.

I say: “The Ramones were a seminal punk band. You really should listen to them, especially if you have their name emblazoned on your chest. How can you wear a t-shirt endorsing a band you’ve never listened to? What if it emerges that you think they’re crap?”

Will looks confused.

He says: “It’s only a T-shirt.”

I say: “But by wearing it you are basically telling a lie. It is making a statement about your taste in music - and, by extension, your lifestyle and personality - which is, in fact, not at all accurate. Don’t you want to be a truthful person?”

"I, uh, I think I just saw my friend come in," Will says, already scanning the crowd for another prospect. “I’m just, uh, I need to go and say hello to him.”

He leaves quickly, as if a speedy exit will somehow erase our entire conversation. He is immediately replaced by Amanda, who is looking shifty.

"We need to leave," she says. "I've just broken the glass in one of the kitchen cabinets."

On the way home, we stop at the petrol station because I have a sudden craving for a Mars Bar. Amanda stands at the magazine rack and sneers at a copy of Grazia while I queue.

Then I realise the man behind the counter is beautiful, which is a problem.

"Beautiful" is not something you often hear said about men. This is a failing on the part of society. I like to say what I mean, and sometimes I don't want to say "He was hot," or "He was goodlooking", or whatever. I want to say "He was beautiful." But one is not really allowed to say this of a man.

Nevertheless, it is true.

I look. I have no idea how to react. This is one of the problems with beauty. I have to carry the Mars Bar, walk, find my purse and give him money, all in the face of his complete overwhelmingness, while drunk. This is going to be an issue, damnit.

There is a difference between prettiness and beauty. Prettiness is manageable. Prettiness is not threatening, which is why everyone likes it. To meet a pretty person brightens your day, leaves you smiling.

Beauty, on the other hand, is usually shocking because it it is so blankly unexpected. It leaves you feeling stunned, especially when you come across it growing wild in council estates or insurance offices, or wearing a Tesco uniform. Like an orchid perched on top of a pile of garbage.

(Once I was spending the day in court - for reasons I may or may not tell you about later - and a woman was being tried for GBH. She was a heroin addict, a repeat offender - shoplifting, theft, assault, burglary. She had got into a fist fight with another woman over drugs, kicked her in the chest when she was down and cracked two of her ribs. She was almost certainly heading for prison, not for the first time.

She was one of the most shockingly beautiful women I have ever seen. Half-starved, feral, unwashed, sulking in handcuffs and a pair of dirty trackie bottoms, and you couldn't look at anything else. When she was brought in, the room went still)

I walk up to the counter. My palms are sweating. He smiles suddenly at me and I feel my IQ drop 50 points. Great. Now I've lost the ability to form sentences as well.

I pay for my Mars Bar. I mumble a thank-you without meeting his eyes. I walk away. 

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