Sunday 30th November- After lying in bed stewing for most of the night, I was woken rudely by the girls an hour or so after finally getting to sleep.
“Why didn’t ya wake us? I thought we was going aaht?”
“You should have just gone without us, silly.”
I was fuming. Not only were they blaming me for missing ‘The Biggest Party On The Southern Hemisphere’ but Bev didn’t even seem grateful that I’d missed out on it too on their behalf. Rude! I pictured myself slapping her round the tits in anger and setting her off like one of those executive desk-toys with the metal balls. But before I could shoot them down with my clever-but-cutting verbal assault that I’d spent all night perfecting, they focused on a spot just above my eye and grimaced in unison.
That one syllable had taken all the angry wind out of my sails.
I’d forgotten all about my new piercing, and it seems that sleeping with my head furiously buried under the pillow was a bad idea. Bev handed me her mirror and I stared miserably at the massive grey lump that had erupted under my left eyebrow overnight. Is it any wonder even lower-leaguers like Hamish reject me? I wasn’t much to look at before, but now?
“I look like the fucking Elephant Man,” I groaned, squeezing gunk out of what was essentially a head-wound.
“Nah, you’re not that pretty,” laughed Rachel.
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The girls got dressed and skipped off, and I laid in bed sulking for hours, unwilling to inflict my face upon the world. Instead, I caught up on Facebook and Twitter and got increasingly wound up that everyone back home was coping fine without me. When the girls eventually returned I pretended to be sleep and hoped they wouldn’t talk to me.
“Hey sweetie? We’re heading back out to Victoria Market if you’re up for it?”
“Hmm?” I fake-yawned.
“Rach wants some fruit and stuff. She’s decided she’s getting fat.”
“Or are you still too busy enjoying your pity party?” asked Rachel.
“You are looking a little chunky, now you come to mention it,” I snapped.
“We can do some talent spotting?” Bev teased, poking me in the bum. “You love that!”
I wasn’t really in the mood for our usual game of ‘Shoot, Shag or Marry?’, but I let her pull me up and drag me out anyway because feeling miserable and doing what I’m bloody told has always gone hand in hand. The market was selling the same old crap it was last time, only now it had one thing going for it. No Hamish. No innocent stuttering Scot to reawaken my libido before fucking off with the first available alternative. The only problem was I was now aware of all the other much-hotter guys instead, and every single one of them was staring at me. Or more specifically, staring at the oozing bruise just above my eye. I groaned and searched the stalls for a pair of bigger sunglasses.
“Put a fucking smile on it, luv.”
Rachel had grabbed my arm and was dragging me forcefully over to some fruit.
“What the hell, Rach?”
“Look, droopy drawers, I’ve just about had enough of your moping. You’re stuck with that face, disfigurement or otherwise, but there ain’t nothing stopping you from losing some timber.” She smacked my belly and we both watched it ripple under my t-shirt. “Use this time away from home to get fit. Start eating better. That’s what me and Bev are gonna do.”
Bloody cheek. Her breakfast this morning was a curly wurly.
“Just you, Rach,” said Bev. “I’m out. That salad you made me eat tasted like I’d rather be fat.”
Rachel ignored her and threw a bag of apples at my chest. “Start wiv these. They’re ‘pink ladies’ so they’ll be right up your street.” She then added, “have these bananas n’ all, cos Katie Price once said on Twitter that you’ve gotta mix your colours.”
Bev nodded in agreement. “Yeah, one of my exes was a trainer and he said something about that,” she said as she eyed up the cucumbers. “So I had a fling with a black guy.”
Despite them telling me I was fat and disfigured, I actually had quite a nice afternoon. It’s become increasingly obvious that the only things we have in common are where we’re from, where we are now, and where we’re off to next, so that’s what we talked about. Home, what we’ve got up to in Melbourne, plans for Canberra on Wednesday, and the possibilities in Sydney after that. It was nice, for a time. We laughed and everything. And then we moved on to what we wanted to do here before we moved on, and our differences became apparent again. I was all for some last-minute culture whilst they both wanted their giblets waxed.
“I really need to get me downstairs sorted,” said Bev. “It’s getting a bit wild. I got out the shower this morning and I thought I was wearing shorts.”
“Yeah, and I need me eyebrows fixed before we leave,” cut in Rachel. “I’m SO underwhelmed with them at the mo. They look like two giant sperms.”
But by this point, I was totally up for some more alone time anyway so we went our separate ways without any drama. They skipped off to have their lady-gardens manicured, and I zig-zagged about the city crossing a bunch of cultural stuff off my Melbourne ‘To-Do’ list. Museums, galleries, the lane-way markets, all that grown-up shit. We met up again for dinner, where they introduced me to a couple of burly guys they’d got talking to in the beauticians. Stu and Graham were ‘just good friends’, both with shaved heads, plunging necklines, and jeans that were at least one size too small (in fact, you could tell what religion Stu was just by looking at the outline). Both managed to drop “my girlfriend back home” into the first minute of their conversation with me, but my Gaydar was going off louder than a foghorn in a library. They stood WAY too close to each other for a start, and neither of them once glanced at Bev’s ample cleavage and I’m sorry but that’s hypnotic even for me. If Hamish had been on the road to ‘Queensland’ (which he may now actually be for all I know), I’m pretty sure these guys were taking a swim up Denial.
“But they don’t even look gay!” Rachel snapped a few minutes later, her eyes narrowing suspiciously as she clocked them disappearing into the toilet together.
“Where did you say you met them?”
“They were in the bleaching room having their bums done.”
I raised an eyebrow but said nothing and she stamped her foot in a strop.
“Oh, why do ya have to spoil everything? You think everyone’s a bleeding bender!”
“Oh, spoil everything, do I? I’ll spoil your FACE, bitch!”
I didn’t really say that, but I thought it.
“I don’t think everyone is a bender,” I said instead. “Just one in eight of us. And that’s an actual fact because I learnt it at school.”
I’ve never forgotten that little statistic, mainly because it was the only reference to ‘the dark side’ in our entire sex education class. My old teacher had blurted it out red-faced before showing us a video of a bearded man with syphilis.
“It is estimated that one in eight men and women are homosexual.”
And that was it. If you were that one in eight, like me, you were going to have to figure it all out for yourself. Mind you, even that single sentence had caused a scandal at the time, as there’d been eight of us around the table. We’d eyed each other suspiciously until I pointed at Stinky Matt and told everyone it must be him. I’ve always felt a bit guilty about that, especially as I’d run straight to my girlfriend’s house to imagine her brother naked.
After dinner, Stu and Graham politely turned down Rachel’s subtle offer of ‘a nightcap’ (she even used the air quotes) and headed back to their shared room, so we returned to the hostel.
“Probably just as well,” Rachel grimaced, limping a little as we walked. “That waxing proper chapped me lips.”
From: [email protected]
To: “My Great British Contacts” Group
Subject: Culture and stuff
Date: Sun 30 Nov – 20:08
Wotcha, ya dags! (That’s not rude. I’m just speaking the lingo.)
Today, I squeezed in some quick touristy bits because we’re leaving Melbourne soon, so I headed over to the Arts Precinct to satisfying my inner-Intellectual. Yes, you’re right, it IS well hidden. I rubbed my chin in appreciation at the wonders of the Victoria Arts Centre, nodded thoughtfully at the Flinders Street Station architecture and instagrammed the hell out of the urban graffiti in Croft Alley. After a pause for breath, I admired the acoustics of the Melbourne Concert Hall, paid my respects at the Shrine of Remembrance and read the descriptions of nearly every painting in the Victoria Art Gallery, the largest and oldest gallery in Australia. Phew.
Yes, I do realise how dull all that might sound to some of you but the truth is, after two weeks of beaches, bars, and bargain-hunting, my brain was in need of something a bit more substantial to nibble on. Feeling suitably cultured, and a tad pleased with myself, I then rushed back to the hostel to catch up on Australian Idol.
Rachel has decided she is now on a health kick, and that therefor Bev and I should be on one too. It caused all sorts of confusion at the salad bar earlier because it turns out Bev is convinced vinaigrette is Viagra for women. They’ve since gone to bed, and last I heard Bev was still waiting for something miraculous to happen to her downstairs area. You’ll be pleased to hear I’m making an effort to get healthier too, and am just finishing a salad of my own. OK, it’s potato salad. OK, it’s vodka.
Love Kev xx
Mum – You’re right. It wasn’t gentlemanly. I’ll say sorry.
Dad – Drink responsibly? You mean, don’t spill it? Ha! It’s fine, I’ve decided to cut out booze until Christmas.
Michael – The most action I’ve seen so far was that time the shower curtain grabbed my thigh.
Just had an angry email from Mum, and she made me promise to apologise to Bev and Rachel for ranting about them in a drunken message I sent the other day. Ok, so maybe I did go a little OTT but there’s no chance I’m going to say something if they haven’t even seen it. All that would do is make a shitty situation worse. Like kicking a dog poo. But Mum will think I’ve done it anyway as I always do what I’m told, so there is no issue.
Ooh, look at me rebelling!
I can only think of one time that I’ve ever even attempted to rebel before. It was before the divorce so I can’t have been more than five or six, and I had decided to run away from home. I can’t remember why, I probably didn’t get a toy I wanted or something, but I didn’t manage to get very far. I’d previously promised never to cross the road without an adult holding my hand, and as I didn’t want to break the rules all I could do was stomp angrily around the block. I’d been back home in less than ten minutes, totally traumatised by the whole thing, and no one had even noticed I’d gone. I didn’t bother again. Before I knew it, Dad was moving out, Mum was struggling to cope, my big sis went off the rails, Gran’s health went downhill, and I had to grow up quick to become ‘the man of the house’. Cut to my twenties, and I think the only rebelling I’ve ever got around to doing is filling the kettle above the ‘max’ line and I’m not sure that really counts.
Anyway, back to today. Once the girl’s had finished intimately creaming their newly bald lady-bits, they put themselves to bed and left me frustrated, bored and alone in the common room. It was barely dark and everyone was out, so I played a game of pool on my own to kill a bit of time. I still managed to lose. I’m now sitting on the fire-escape, cradling a cuppa like some proper old fart, watching revellers shouting and laughing and enjoying themselves on their way into town, and I’m trying to figure out what it is stopping me from going out and joining them.
It has occurred to me that I’m perfectly happy out and about on my own in daylight, but as soon as it gets dark something in me changes. Everything seems different. More intense. There is a pressure or an expectation to act a certain way, at least that’s what’s in my head. I feel I need to stick with the girls, because then I know how I’m supposed to behave. They are my tie to home and I feel secure in that. But the moment I decide to head out on my own at night, I know what’ll happen. I’ll seek out a gay bar and I’ll sure as fuck not be doing it as the tourist I am during the day. I won’t be satisfied just looking at the sights, and whilst the idea of walking into a bar full of strangers scares the shit out of me, I’m actually more worried about what I’ll end up doing rather than anyone else. That buzz of excitement I’ve felt since we got here, that thrill of the unknown and of not being known has been making my pulse race since that first day when I sat topless in a park. I’ve been bottling up any potential bad behaviour and poor decisions for two weeks now and I’m about to burst. I know that once I go out on my own, without any ties to home, that’s it. There will be no going back. The genie will be out of the bottle, and I will be on a mother-fucking rebellious rampage. The person I am right now will no longer exist.
It will happen. And I am terrified and gagging for it in equal measure.
© 2015 – 2018, Kev St. John. All rights reserved.