The Back To The Future thread has me reminiscing about my own school days.
I just pulled out one of my old diaries and one of the first pages I happened upon was a particularly sore memory.
“Today”, it goes “I made another effort to get in with the cool boys. I managed to stand at the edge of the group for a few minutes without being told to go. Encouraged, I took out a cigarette which I lit without anyone paying enough attention to me to notice I wasn’t actually smoking. The plan was going well – all I had to do was wait for a moment to join in the chat with one of my prepared put-downs for one of the more detested teachers and I might be in.
Then I felt a nudge on my shoulder
“What about you?”
I had been busy concentrating on holding my fag properly and scanning the horizon to see if anyone had noticed me mixing with the cool kids, so I had lost track of the conversation.
“What?” I affected what I thought was an air of confidence.
“You got a girlfriend?”
Oh no. Half an inch of fag ash fell from my cigarette just as every head turned on my direction. This spaz! Of course I don’t have a girlfriend. But I can’t display weakness at this crucial moment..
Maybe it was something in my voice, but this response was met with yells of
“He’s lying!” and finger pointing.
To my surprise, it was my initial interrogator who came to my rescue
“Sharrup you lot!”
Then, accompanied by a big grin, my new friend told me he believed me. Just for a moment, I thought I might be making progress. Then..
“So – what’s her name?”
I have to stop.
Just reading these words again, decades later, I can feel the cold sweat on my back. Needless to say, having been put on the spot to make up something in a split second, I found myself, a future Afterworder, turning to the safety of my record collection. My mind started racing as I considered the options
A free spirit with easygoing parents. I met her at the swings at the caravan park. No. Definitely not. Too much the archetypical dream girl. Implausible.
I’m thinking it’s an English name, serious, bespectacled.. Oh crap – I have an image of Crackerjack host Peter Glaze as a teenage girl. Ugh! Next!
Out of the question. She’d obviously be at boarding school as her dad lives in a volcano.
From the debating society with her CND badges. Our first date was a demonstration at the U.S. embassy..
Nah – best steer clear of politics.
Earthy, freckly, thick-of-forearm. Probably attainable. But Victoria? Around here?
I suppose that also rules out the enigmatic, bipolar Charlotte Sometimes.
Reader, by the time I got to the perpetual flu victim Jean Snothappening, everyone had walked off, still laughing in my direction.
Of course, you’ve never endured such a humiliation. But if you had been in my place, what girl might you have invented and what qualities might her name suggest?