Now, it’s something else. An oak tree in a long row of oak trees, desecrated daily by the thwack of walking sticks and the golden urine of spoiled retrievers. Then, it was something quite different: the sacred place to which I retired, nursing the holiest of holies, my bludgeoned teenage ego. That Sophie had brought her friend, June, was excusable; that June wore leather pants and was good at pool, was tolerable – but that Malcolm eyed June all evening and danced with her to Tainted Love (our song, no less) – that was a blow too brutal to bear.
However, dear Reader, I have a confession to make. That’s not exactly how it was. The pants were trousers and the pool was snooker, and I didn’t really give a shit about Soft Cell. (Obviously, too, the names have been changed – although all parties were present and guilty). My ego was not so much brutalized, as born maimed and suffering, not knowing the reason why. I wanted to wear vinyl leatherette, desperately, and through the haze induced by a half pint of lager, imagined I could pocket that eight ball right off the cushion. I was in love with June.
But then again, was I really? Caught off guard by my spastic newborn emotions, I was still too ignorant of my own motivation to know for sure if I was drawn towards June, or toward an idea of June-ness that I couldn’t put a name to. Perhaps it really was quite simple. I wanted to be like her. But not to captivate muddy-faced Malcolm. To catch the eye of the girl with the red hair and the tartan shirt who danced in the middle of a gaggle of friends, Friday nights, at the disco in the Abergask Village Hall.