Sunday, March 29, 2009

Boogers and Broken Hearts

In 1974, I felt the first stirrings of non-parental, non-brotherly love when I saw my classmate, Matthew H, spend a good deal of time and energy picking his nose whilst we were having ‘choir lessons’ singing with the words on the overhead projector in the school activity room. He then wiped his – ahem – findings on the floor. As a reception student, this seemed like a good idea to me and worthy of some admiration.

By 1976, I was eager for more dramatic displays of male machismo and attractiveness. Roger H and I were busying playing ‘Chasey’ in the adventure playground; a dried up patch of school yard that featured a few earth mounds, climbing ropes and large cement pipes that we’d use as tunnels. Poor Roger underestimated his height and cracked his head on the edge of the first pipe, smacking back on the ground like an overturned beetle in pain and surprise. There was blood in his hair and tears in his eyes and he was sent to the hospital to get a few stitches.

The re-telling of his tale, in my hands, was far more dramatic. “I saw Roger SPLIT HIS HEAD OPEN at lunch time today!” He was therefore my boyfriend merely my being the sole witness to his accident and yet I didn’t feel any need to inform him of that fact.

Later that same year though, I encountered a real smoothie – Brendan V. He had moved beyond blood and guts and went straight for the heart. He followed me home, asked me to be his girlfriend – I said yes – and then was shooed off by my Mum. “Go home Brendan, your Mum will be worried about you.”
“Aww, can’t he have some cordial and some Yo-yo biscuits first?”

Our fledgling romance was one of total disinterest during school hours. He’d totally ignore me and I him, but we’d occasionally walk home together unless someone saw us. “Oooh there they go – are ya gunna KISS her Brendan?”

There was no kissing – how yuck was that – but a fair bit of arm punching, kicking dirt in each other’s shoes and sharing of leftover lunch box snacks. Sadly, by term three he’d dropped me for a much younger woman – pretty little Belinda in year 2.

I eased my broken heart – or wounded pride – by reverting back to what originally attracted me to boys. I cheered on Andrew W as he energetically played on the solid iron rocker in the school yard before he overturned it, smashed his teeth in and ran off with blood spurting from his mouth.

In 1978 I was turning ten and, with two brothers, was a already fully paid-up tomboy. I could run as fast as the boys in our class when the teacher said ‘Ready Set Go’ and asked us to sprint to the end of the footy goals and back; could wicket keep, play brandy and give a pretty decent arm burn, type-writer and dead leg to those who deserved it.

So when Craig W sidled up to me one lunchtime, singing, "Hey good lookin', whatcha got cookin', how 'bout cookin' somethin' up with meeeeeee....." he got a swift kick in the shins for his efforts. This violent response didn’t seem to put him off and I’d get so fed up at his serenading that sometimes the poor boy would also score a nasty jab in the jatz crackers as well. He’d breathlessly stagger off, recuperate and try again the next day.

And dear old David M was a boy I really truly did like, but didn’t have the social skills to do anything to show it other than to push him off the monkey bars and make him cry. Unlike Craig, he didn’t bother returning and to this day I feel very ashamed at my harsh treatment of him and hope that he’s now a happy billionaire with a supermodel wife and lovely adorable children.

By 1979 I was eleven and boys were starting to feature as serving a purpose beyond bashing up and rollerskating became my main passion. Round and round the cement path of our house, with my transistor radio fastened to my jeans with one of Dad's old belts. Or better still, I’d be dropped off at the Murray Bridge basketball stadium with three dollars so that I could hire a pair of real roller-skates (the boots, not the-strap-your-sneakers-into kind) and wheel around the double basketball courts for an hour in an anti-clockwise direction before the bored manager would holler out, "REVERSE NOW" for the remaining hour. I'd limp home with heels covered in blisters, legs shaking in exhaustion and a huge smile on my face. If Stephen M was there, I’d be smiling even more.

It was Ian P, however, who moved me beyond violence or roller skating and into kissing. He’d already cut a swathe through most of the girls in years five and six, and one day he indicated that it was my turn. His reliable messenger, Peter, threw a scrunched-up piece of paper that bounced off the back of my head. When opened, it was obviously in Ian P’s scrawl and read, “Do you like me tick yes or no.” I ticked ‘yes’ and threw it back at Peter, so naturally by the end of recess the entire class knew that Katherine and Ian were IN LOVE.

Ian said, “Meet me at the incinerator straight after lunch,” playfully punched me in the arm and ran off to play footy with the rest of the boys.
“I know what he’s gunna do – he’s gunna KISS ya!” Philippa shouted. She'd know; she’d already been one of his conquests.

I was nervous and excited – did it have to be on the lips? Did I have to do it like Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in ‘Grease’? Would I match up to his other girlfriends? Would any teachers walk by, see us and tell us off? Or worse still, tell our parents?

The time came and he was standing there, confidently waiting. This wasn’t a first time for him. He closed his eyes and puckered up. Clearly it was expected that I do the work by swooping and planting one on his mouth.

I did so in about a quarter of a second and before he had time to open his gorgeous brown eyes I ran out of there as fast as my legs could carry me. By the end of school the message had spread that I’d kissed Ian P at the School Incinerator.

The following day, I decided to dump him. Kissing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in my opinion.


Benjamin Solah said...

Wow, cool stories. I'm impressed by your memory.

I remember having a girlfriend in Kindergarten named Samantha McGuire. She was really short, with bright red hair and a jealous best friend. Our mums thought it was oh so cute.

And she looked me up on Facebook a few months ago. Our mums still talk about us.

drb said...

Yes, maybe you should look up your beaus in the facebook too!

Met my first love only at 17! Hated boys before that, thought they were stinky and stupid. Still think teenage boys are stinky and stupid.... Especially those who carry on like pork chops in public places...

Totally agree with the nursery rhymes that boys are made of snips and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails,

Baino said...

You hussy . . all those men before you were even 11! I love the note hurled by the 'friend'! So romantic.

franzy said...

No, no, no! You're supposed to draw a box in the middle labelled "Maybe" and tick that! Since you didn't think of it, may I join Baino in labelling you the Intergalactic Hussy of Murray Grade Infants.

ps. Guess The School Photo - Third row, extreme left?

Kath Lockett said...

Benjamin did you 'confirm' her as a friend and more importantly, is she still cute?

Dr B - of course they were stinky and stupid - that's what I loved about 'em!

Baino, there were always friends to hurl notes, thump you on your potential-lover's-behalf and to tell the rest of the class...

Franzy, I don't know if Ian had time to think of the 'maybe' option - he was only ever used to seeing 'yes' get ticked! And yes, that is me, far left, third row looking for all the world like I forgot to put me dentures in.

Benjamin Solah said...

Yep, I confirmed her and we caught up. She's still cute too ;)

squib said...

I guessed that was you too. Cute pic

We got in trouble in grade one for playing kiss chasey because the boys didn't like it

TOM said...

Girls scared the crap out of me through the 5th grade !! Maybe cause I grew up with three older sisters who tried to boss me around!

drb said...

forgot to mention that you had very cute ad stylish teachers, the were so slim and tall!
None of my teachers were as attractive!

River said...

Great memories Kath. My best friend in Grade 3 was C. Smith. We loved each others shoes. Every morning at school we'd swap shoes, then swap back again before going home. Sometimes I'd go to her house with her after school to play for a while, but she never came to my house. I remember being moon-eyed over several boys in turn, but none of them ever noticed me. Probably because I was too shy to punch them in the arm or whatever it was girls did in my primary days. I didn't get kissed until high school and then it was by an "older man" who'd already left school. We were 14 and 16.
I love the school class photo, is that you in the second front row, third from the right?

River said...

Damn! Third row extreme left was my other choice.....

Anonymous said...

Oh, so funny when i can work out who they all were. I remember getting caught by Andrew W in kiss chasey as i poked my head carefully around a corner. He managed a kiss on the lips before i could cry out in horror!!
I shudder now at the thought!

I never tire of hearing the Roger H and the pipes story...and so well told.

Still can't work out who Brendan V was though??

Lynda D

Kath Lockett said...

Lynda, Brendan Vance- only at our school in year three. Very naughty and smart. And the bane of my mother's life for most of 1976!