Girls Night Out
Spending time with Alison was always an educational experience for me. She knew all the unwritten rules about the social behaviour and friendships of nine year old girls that had always eluded me. She had girls (myself included) queuing up to be friends with her, so she and her tight circle of constant cohorts ruled over us all, yet for unknown reasons she would only ever have one favourite at a time.
Generally it would be one of the inner circle, but when she got bored of, or wanted to punish her minions she would select one of the throng of us hangers on: The ritual was always the same she’d choose you, you would forsake any other friends you had, the pair of you would have a fast, intense ‘friendship’ and when she got bored of you, or she forgave her ‘best friends’ or you said or did the wrong thing, she’d loose you. It was a sadistic cult and we were all indoctrinated.
On those sacred occasions when I was flavour of the fortnight I did all I could to benefit from the friendship. Alison taught me many things, from how to suck the nectar out of pink clovers and how to retrieve a lost ball from a bush of ‘stingies’ without obtaining injury, to applying eye shadow and asking boys to dance. She was not particularly attractive; she had large malteaser-brown eyes that would have been innocent had they not been framed by a huge pair of black bushy eyebrows that all too often knitted themselves into an aggressive scowl.
The same dark hair that cascaded from her head dusted her top-lip and formed a furry blanket over her pale arms. Her lips were pink and pouty, her round face was a kaleidoscope of emotion, and her expressions were as changeable as the British weather. What she lacked in beauty she had tenfold in her streetwise know-how. And although she had teachers in despair with her constant chattering, interrupting and copying other kids, her wits and her tongue were scalpel sharp.
One Friday in mid-May I was the lucky one, Alison had hand selected me to come out with her that evening, she had drilled me on what I was to wear, reminding me of out last ‘night out’, where I had worn a ‘save the pandas’ t-shirt and orange jeans. I hated the way she condescended at me but at the same time held her opinion as invaluable. She sat next to me for the rest of the day; I caught her ‘posse’ throwing me venomous looks but I didn’t care. I was the diligent, intelligent host and she was the parasite, copying my answers until our pages were identical.
That night I donned my ‘coolest’ clothes and tied my purple and blue striped fleecy around my waste. I hurried down to Alison’s house and knocked politely at the door. Alison barged out slamming the door behind her. Catching her breath, she seemed surprised to find me on the doorstep; she recovered quickly from the shock and frog marched me down the road. It took me five minutes to realise that Alison was not trying to perform a citizens’ arrest, but was trying to link my arm! We continued down the road in this Laurel and Hardy fashion until we came to the local shop and stepped into its murky depths.
I knew what to do; I carefully selected Alison’s favourite confectionary from the wrack; neon coloured, acid flavoured lumps of sugar and bright pink sticky bubble gum, I paid for the sweets with a precious pound coin that my Grandmother had bestowed upon me the previous weekend. As I left the shop my parcel was torn from me and Alison set on the chewing gum like a hunger striking pig at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. We strolled up the hill arm in arm I didn’t ask where we were going as Alison’s mouth was entangled with pink goo that occasionally emerged in the form of a wobbling, slime covered bubble.
I found myself being led away from the road and the hustle and bustle of village life. Alison took time out of her frantic chewing to converse with me as we walked. “Can you spit? ” she inquired, bemused by the question I nodded, unsure of what I was letting myself in for, “can u spit like this? ” Alison demanded. Almost gracefully she arched her neck back and propelled it forward in a trice, a gargantuan globule of green phlegm shot out of her mouth and landed at least two meters away from her. I stepped back in mixed repulsion and amazement. Your turn” she sang, a wicked grin playing on the corners of her mouth.
I prepared myself for the test; leaning back I gathered saliva at the front of my mouth and jerking myself forward spat it out quickly. A pathetic splash of white saliva appeared no more than two feet in front of me and Alison doubled over with hysterical laughter. As she contended with her mirth I glanced at our two efforts; her disgusting, malignant green ‘flob’ sitting boldly on the cracked paving stone and way behind it my bead of white spittle was hunched apologetically on a piece of moss. I sighed and followed her up the hill.