15 Feb 2011

Laura said Bullshit.

I don’t know why it was funny, or why it still is, but when Laura said bullshit 20 years ago it stuck in my head until now. Laura was posh, like proper, and was thin with quite dry skin and the world’s most boring haircut. I liked her – she was genuine – but she was also about 3 years away from her first twin-set and pearls combo. She was working at the Mint when we were introduced by a friend who knew me pretty well, but for some reason thought a really dull middle class girl would be a great match for me.

Craig and me needed to be outside. It was a Friday evening, and Friday evenings were the time young men were supposed to be out living it up. But there we were sat in a darkened room in front of the TV. We had the bikes but it was mid-winter and didn’t much feel like wandering the roads with no end in sight. Craig was moaning. I was either going to throttle him or have to think of a destination, to get us out of my room for the night.

I don’t think me and Laura ever actually went out. The Mint was 5 minutes from mine so she’d walk over each night to sit around in my room. Things were simpler back then. I only went to her house twice, that night was the first time we rode up there, almost to the edge of the Kent countryside in heavy snow. My balls were just about kept warm by the bikes engine - 2 pairs of gloves didn’t make a lick of difference to my numb fingers and every half mile or so we’d pull over to warm our hands up before starting off again. The 2nd time I went there was when Laura called bullshit. It was less that she said it, and more how she said it. Her vowel sounds were so plummy that all her ‘I’s’ came out ‘Ah’s’ or ‘Uh’s’. Hence the classic ‘Yaah.’

It was the last house at the end of a close – a large white cube, a carbon copy of all her neighbours. After arriving that first time, we sat in a darkened room in front of the TV. We sat with tea, the 3 of us with nothing to do or say to each other. Her parents were out or we wouldn’t have been there in the first place. The front room door opened and a girl with wet hair and bare feet walked in, sitting herself in a big corner chair without saying a word - all teen attitude and petulance. Craig looked over at me with a grin that lasted 0.5 of a second and yet said: girl/wet hair/shower. We both managed a sly glance and realised she was about 14. We were only a little older than that, but it was still out of bounds.

‘...thuht’s my little sistuh.’ Laura said without looking up. Usually this would initiate some kind of begrudging nod or acknowledging look, but we simply sat in silence for what felt like an eternity, only the tinny voice from the TV filling the space until deciding well, time to get going. I could still feel Craig’s’ look of ‘you chose the wrong sister’ as I grabbed my crash helmet and went for the door, departing with a peck on the lips. It was only ever a peck on the lips with Laura. She was older and posher than me and because of this I felt, maybe a little out of my league at times. But there she was coming to my house most evenings after work regardless, and at the same time I felt like she was saving herself for marriage. And not that I had any expectation at my age, but all that pecking got old pretty quickly.

We warmed the keys with a cigarette lighter, slid them into the ignition and started up, blowing as much warm air into our hands as we could before setting off. The moment we pulled out of her dead end road I remembered the tape. In all our youthful optimism, we’d thought prior to leaving mine, we’d get there and she’d maybe have some booze - we’d sit around have a drink see what happened. So with this in mind I took a mix tape with an album on one side that I had just recorded the day before. And now, as we sped along dark icy roads trying to avoid frostbite and oncoming traffic, it was sitting on the arm of a sofa in the front room of a girl I had absolutely no intention of ever seeing again.

She called me the next Monday as usual. I ignored it and didn’t call back. I knew she wouldn’t just turn up on the off chance I wasn’t home and have to do both the walk back and wait at the bus stop alone. This might make a normal person feel a little guilty or possibly like a bit of a shit. But I had my own rules, and at that point in my life I knew far better than anybody else.

Weeks passed and she got the message. The message was that I was an asshole, but also that we were over. I guess because I never considered us a ‘we’ there really wasn’t much there to needed closure, so I moved on pretty quickly in all areas but one – I needed that tape back. I tried to get into the mindset of an adolescent girl to figure out how long I’d have to wait for her anger to subside. I decided 3 weeks was plenty and so we rode up to her parent’s house for the second and last time.

Suddenly as we turned into the close, my heart was beating in my throat. I discovered, momentarily at least, that maybe I was human after all. Craig remained sat by the curb as I left my engine ticking over and approached to press the doorbell. She answered, and after nearly a month of no contact the immediacy of her bemusement was clear. Swirling within the red anger of her face were the standards; what/where/why..?

Listen... I left a Big Daddy Kane tape here... do you still have it?
Where have you been? Why haven’t you called?
Sorry I have been so busy and there’s loads of crap going on at home.
That’s Bullshuht - Bullshuht!
Sorry. I don’t know. Did you keep the tape?

She disappeared inside for a second and came back holding the tape which I had assumed would be in pieces or totally unspooled. But there it was, fine in the case. Untouched.

Thanks – uh – I’ll ring you.