Wednesday, 31 October 2012


I had my tormentors in secondary school. As a peaceful, clever little outsider, I attracted what at the time felt like all the bullies in western Europe. I had the one who tried to spread the rumour that I was gay, mostly because I tried to tell him there was nothing wrong with being gay. I had the one who consistently poked me in the side for an hour and a half because he knew it would frazzle my nerves. I had the one who threw acrylic paint all over my blazer because he could. I even had a mortal enemy... kind of. He threatened to kill me, anyway. (There was one guy who actually tried to kill me... but that's another story.)

My mortal enemy was everything he wanted to be, and in many ways the opposite of me... apart from intelligence. We were both naturally clever - the difference being that I used it. He didn't, really, apart from take advantage of being in the top set for everything by misbehaving - in the most subtle of ways - so I saw him in practically every lesson until the very end of year 11. The most memorable of these lessons was always our Thursday afternoon geography lesson in year 8, being both the penultimate lesson of the day (English, my favourite, was after it) and the only lesson wherein we didn't have a teacher for the last ten minutes, as he had to go from one site to another for his final lesson of the day (or to smoke. One of the two.).

As you can imagine, the class relished this extra free time, but we did have to stay in the classroom for it. My mortal enemy and his henchm... sorry, "friends"... would use this time constructively by indulging in such intellectual pursuits as composing a song about the size of the boobs of the girls in the class (and myself; I was included in the song on account of the fact I had "big tits"), throwing various things at the back of my head with precision aim, and packing away their stuff early and getting in a power-nap. But this post isn't about that.

Halfway through the year, my mortal enemy decided he wanted to date my friend, Ruthie, who I had originally heard about through someone - it may have been him - declaring eruditely, "oh yeah, she's well fit." Ruthie sat next to me in Geography, and it was during one of these lessons that he decided to ask her out. Although "asking out" isn't really the active phrasal verb here, as he didn't really want to go anywhere with her. He just wanted to get hold of her.

No, I didn't know either. Apparently it meant a long, passionate kiss with tongues, as opposed to sex, which is what I thought it meant. You hold someone before, during and after sex, right? So I was surprised when she replied "yes" to "can I get hold of you?".  As a result, I enquired as to why Ruthie had so readily agreed to let him do so.
"He wants to get hold of me," she leered. "Do you know what that means?"
"Yes, of course I do," I lied smoothly.
"Well, then."
"But you're underage," I pointed out.

Approximately three million people laughed at the same time. None of these people - not even Ruthie - would explain to me what getting hold of someone meant. I had to work it out myself.

Once I had, my mortal enemy wouldn't let go of the fact that I once didn't know the meaning. I'd coveniently forgotten to tell him that I now knew it meant a kiss, so he went out of his way to ask me if I'd ever myself gotten hold of a "gel" (/ɡɛw/, not /dʒɛl/ - although I can't think how else to spell it), evidently hoping to elicit the same response. Naturally, as an ILB I hadn't (I was 13! Very few people had!), and I was pretty adamant that the only person I'd be snogging would be a girlfriend - it took me four more years until Soldiergirl was my first kiss, and that happened after I asked her out. So, although that prediction was correct, it didn't stop this conversation happening between us:

"Have you ever got hold of a gel?"
"No, I've never had a girlfriend."

"But... have you ever got hold of a gel?"
"No, I'd only do that with a girlfriend, and I've never had one."
"Have you ever got hold of a gel?"
"Have you ever got hold of a gel?"

Repeat ad nauseam. Of course, he continued to persist - day in, day out - in asking me this, partially in order to elicit the "underage" line from me again, which I think even he eventually worked out wasn't forthcoming; he ended up doing it just to annoy me. And, to be fair, that was a bit of a success.

Silver lining. He'd stopped talking about my big tits, at least.

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