Thursday, November 1, 2001

On being a boy

I write on little bits of paper that get coffee stains and fruit juice on them that also come in handy for wiping up spillages, however the absorbency of my little bits of paper could be improved. I carry them around in my pocket and occasionally try to pay cabs with them, maybe once I’m a famous writer that will be more effective.
My brother’s address book works on much the same system, it’s actually his wallet, he keeps all those little bits of paper that people give him with their numbers on, and that’s it. It never gets transferred into an actual address book. One time I went through it with him and he had three separate bits of paper with various, different numbers on them for me, so maybe it’s a family thing.

It got me thinking about growing up, thus I got out all the letters I had kept – you have to remember we grew up in a pre-email era. One of the letters was from CP and she has drawn a picture of a telephone on it labelled ‘a very cheap phone call’ because she couldn’t afford to call me – what a weird world we grew up in. I can make the following conclusions from the letters:

· Despite what has been said all my life, I did write, though obviously not to my parents.

· I was witty (everybody says so! – one person said I was as mad as a kiwifruit, but I think that’s positive).

· Everybody (male and female) was obsessed with the opposite sex, even if the boys just list conquests the girls wonder ‘if he really likes me’.

· I seem to have had some kind of reputation for drinking alcohol.

The great shame of course is that I don’t have my letters, I can only guess at the literary masterpieces (one was actually referred to as just that – I have it in writing) that have been lost forever. I know that one should write about what you know, I shall have to make it all up – obviously I have big blanks due to excess alcohol consumption as a teenager.
The GM has suggested I should use a pen name, but I already have one - Francesca Dubois (a little too Harlequin Romance perhaps?).
When we went skiing at Tekapo, there would normally be an odd number of people and one person always had to share the chairlift with a stranger. So you had 12 minutes to weave a complete fantasy life to your unsuspecting lift mate. We kept the same names in case we happened to bump into the same person again, but I don't think I could ever have kept my glamorous life details straight had that occurred. This all came about after a particularly traumatic episode for me when I told the truth. I was 12.
I was in my first year of boarding school when I took the lift with an old woman (at least 20). And so it begins:
‘What school do you go to?’
‘I go to boarding school in Christchurch’
‘Oh - do you go to Christ's College?’
Crushed 12-year-old girl with horrible short hair because someone forced me to have it cut off before I went to school (what is that all about - sending me off to school looking like a convict? - oh I get it) replies:
‘No, actually I go to St Margaret's College (pause - waiting for embarrassed apology)’
‘Oh - I went there’
Me thinking – ‘oh my God, what am I doing at a school where people come out as stupid and insensitive as you - you wrinkled old hag!’
It's enough to drive anyone to write romance novels, or alternatively take a 12-minute flight of the imagination on the chairlift at Tekapo.

But that wasn’t the last time it happened. About 10 years ago (grown woman now with small but perfectly formed breasts and hair 10 years long) I got caught in a bit of a downpour and returned to work looking like a drowned rat with hair plastered to the side of my face. This guy I worked with stopped suddenly and said in a shocked voice – ‘God Caro I never realised how androgenous you looked!’
I looked slightly horrified (mind flashing back to chairlift and earlier unmentioned childhood trauma playground scenario – ‘let the little boy go first’), and Michael says ‘Oh no – I meant it as a compliment’ Ah yes - of course, that was the look I was going for. Michael was, and I am quite sure still is, gay.

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