I knew instantly the answer to the question, that took me an eternity to ask, was NO, even before her lips curled into a sympathy smile, even before my deflated ego ran out of the office door, followed by my awkward gangly body . Damn my stupidity, why would a girl like that say yes, to a pimple-faced boy like me? I need a place to hide my beetroot of a face until I cool down. I don’t think I can go back into the office! What made me do it. Shara, that's who, goading me on. “Go on you are a perfect match. She will adore you, wear the purple shirt!”
I want to rip off said purple shirt and dance over it. I feel like a prize idiot, I will never live this down.
The morning started off so well. The first sign was the radio, eighties disco classic, 'ain’t no stopping us now.,The second, a robin, perched on my balcony window, chirping. The third, I remembered to re set my toaster to 4 minutes from the default setting of five and enjoyed the rarity of golden brown toast instead of the usual charred. The fourth and most promising sign, two magpies quite happily pecking away at the dewy grass at the park, as I whistled on by.
I was confident, I would burst into her office with my winning newly-whitened smile and demand she go out with me for a drink in my casual but intriguing demeanour. I was going to puff out my chest and storm in with my newly-gelled hair and win Jesse, my Jesse, over. Mmm , it seems that the signs weren't at all signs, just ordinary stuff, just everyday normal stuff that didn’t change a thing.
I can see them all laughing at my expense, Marco with the slick hair and bulging muscles, Carl with his oversized smile and undersized penis, jenny from HR told me this, I found it comforting to know. Handsome, confident, girlfriendless and the owner of a very small dick. Who knew?
Please Jesse, please don’t tell them, she wouldn’t , would she?
I will go and buy a sci fi magazine and call in sick, say I had to rush home with a sickness bug, Oh the shame, my eternally red pimply-face will never ever recover from this. I need an emergency fix of Ben and jerry’s to cool me down and further inflate my red itchy skin. As I am going into hiding, I don't give a toss. I would cry if I wasn’t in public . In fact, I might have to go and find a public toilet and let my embarrassed tears fall on to my ugly purple shirt with the too-big collars.
“It looks uba cool.” Shara insured me. What the fuck dopes uba actually mean anyway? I'm going to kill her!
After having a tearful moment in the tube station toilet, a quick sob into a crumpled up purple shirt, which I left in said toilet. I got my B&J's, my new Sci fi comic and set off for home. Now, there is one magpie on the grass and it has started to rain. Screw you life, this life, my life, my shit life!
My flat is coldand damp, I don’t switch on the heating,unless it's freezing, a birthday or Christmas. Today however, is a day for heating and comfort, today I will be toasty warm, wear baggy tracksuit bottoms, scoff and most probably cry a bit. My answer phone is flashing red, just like my face. I feel warm at the thought of it. I press the button.
“Ben, why did you leave like that, I hope everything is ok, can you please let HR know where you are?” Jesse's voice,a slightly pissed off voice and not because I ran off from us or from that horrible conversation, but because I am missing from work and the programmers will be lost with out their geeky mentor at teh meeting. I don’t give a shit. I could no more go back into that office than into a room full of fire. Why, oh why did I do it? What on this earth was I thinking. I fill my bathroom sink with ice cold water and plunge my face under. It's cold, freeze your face off cold, I hold my face there, as long as I can, untill my lips are numb and my embarresment has subsided.
I rough up my hair with a towel from my grimy not-washed-in-a-month floor and head for the ice cream sitting on the kitchen counter. No fear of it melting in here. I puff out my cloudy breath into the clothes-littered room and I crank up the heating.
First, I will aim my anger at Shara, for encouraging me to go after a girl that is so obviously so out of my league, she practically wears a badge saying, keep nerds away from me, in gigantic neon letters! Her answer phone kicks in
“Hey leave a message.”
“Shara, you are a wicked witch, I hate you, it didn't go well, call me!”
Next, I call work, slightly shrinking into my skin as the phone rings, I take the cowardly message option. As if I am calling in for a sick child to the school.
“Hey, this is Ben, Ben Hope, I had to leave, I have a stomach bug, I’ll check in tomorrow to let you know how I am, OK?” I cringe, it isn’t going to answer me back, why do I do that? They must all know? My mobile buzzes through a text.
“WTF MIGHTY MOUSE, where did you disappear too, why were you in with Jesse this morning, were you getting a bollocking, have you been sacked?” My colleague and side kick Weeble. His nickname owing to the fact he is round and short and hairy. My other side kick Wobble is his twin. They call me Mighty Mouse, I actually have no idea why. I don’t actually know how that came about, but it stuck and I doubt if some of my colleagues even know my name is Ben. I am M&M or mighty B, even to Jesse. The gorgeous blondle curvy out-of-my-league jesse with skin thats smells of angels essence and eyes that shine like pools of pretty blue. Jessie who looked at me, smiled, nodded her perfect head and said:
"I dont think so Mighty B!" to the question that took thirty re writes before being ready. And she carried on arranging the papers on her desk, in preperation for the morning meeting, without even a glance. Which is where I should be now, at said meeting, presenting my project to the board members. I might just get fired! Damn that Shara! She can find me a new job! I am going to kill that girl.
my face is burning at the thought of it all, glowing like a beacon of embarresmet, I need to find a way to erase this from my memory. now! Shara, you are going to pay. Shara, eternaly baggy-jumper-wearer and cake enthusiast, my oldest grungy, sometimes gothic, sometimes punk friend. My usualy, spot on, instinctualy blessed freind. Not this time.
Ben Hope, no hope, loser from Delusa. The sentence I have probably re-played in my head the most, second to; you spin me right round baby right round,like a rceord baby, right round, round round. I loved Dead or Alive. I swear, dancing to that record, actually kept me alive.
The cool kids or rough kids from the estate, would sing it to my puny ten-year-old self,Ben Hope, no hope, loser from Delusa, after nicking my dinner,after rolling me about in the mud at lunchtime of flushing my head down the loo. I used to try and run away, my stick thin, bruised legs, not ever fast enough to out run cross country champion Redge and his croonies - Big strong and mean Redge. I always got caught, I became clever though, making two pack-ups, as I knew one would be shared out with the tough-nuts, often, while using me as a table or a seat. I always had a back up in my locker, which I always ate alone, in the bog, after lunch, for which I usualy got detention!
I come from Delusa, an exculsive row, built for the socialy elite, at the top of the hill. Three houses, stood like castles, lording it over the minions from the humble mining village of Rickle. I had two neighbours. The Farringtons and the Grahams, both surgeons, like my dad. Both rich, both too busy for their nanny-looked-after kids and both families, totaly unaware of the torment their kids faced every day. All of us nerds, bullied and thankfully had each other. still do, Shara is one of them, nerd Shara Farrington. The other: Nerd star gazer Rich Graham, astronomist extraordinaire. All of us now twenty five, all of us still nerdy. all of us us partner-free and working too many hours, reading geeky comics and eating icecream from a tub. Thank god for my nerdy sci fi reading freinds!