These are really the most beautiful stories. Don't quit, don't give up. I have so much envy for people who acted on their feelings during the high school years. I bought some snakeskin patterned skinny jeans recently, and surprised myself - I *had* to have them, but I'm nearly 38 and they're not really appropriate for me. Then I realised they reminded me of a girl called Emma Beak. We were twelve and both new at secondary school. I had the worst clothes - thanks mum. People took the piss out of me or avoided me because my clothes didn't give out the right signals, but people also avoided Emma Beak because neither did hers. However, that was because she was way too cool. She was a proper little punk, she had her nose pierced and loads of earrings (and this is back when you didn't really see that) and she wore little monkey boots. I remember Tracy Gaskin in the toilets saying to her, are those DMs? And Emma Beak goes, dead seriously and with her lisp, no. These are monkey boots.
and she had spikey hair - I can remember all of her clothes in detail. She used to wear little lace up high heeled granny boots, like victorian boots, too. Everyone was fascinated by her clothes, her eyeliner, and of course she had some leopardskin jeans. But she had no friends. She also wore this purple anorak with a white satin polar bear appliqued on the back, which wasn't punk at all, it was more like something a small kid would wear. She was so confusing, and of course as she was freckled and had a lisp and so much attitude and seemed happy enough on her own in her crazy clothes everyone called her Emma Beak the Freak. We went to the funfair together, it was this rite of passage, a really sexual environment, all the men spinning the waltzers and all these cackling teenage girls and the boys watching them. It was dark and so feral out on the common, and I met up with her and she goes, I'm not going on any rides because I'll be sick.
I said, oh come on, I was caught up by the macho sexed-up bravado of the funfair and so I persuaded her to get on the big wheel. At least get on the big wheel, I said. We went on the big wheel and when we got off she threw up.
See, she said. I told you I would be sick. I looked after her and we sat together, all peaceful, not bothering with candyfloss and waltzers after all,and I had this massive wave of feeling for her, for all her contradictions. She later found out that I wanted these awful naff pointed little stilletos that all the older girls had, and of course she already had a pair, a white pair natch, and she gave them to me. I wore them to the Police Club disco with a pink and white striped skirt, so you can see the kind of prissy princess I was. I don't know what happened to her. She palled up with this girl who was a bit punk, too, but much more straight, and not very bright, and then she just disappeared, left our school, went back to her more interesting life which must have been far more enlightened and bohemian and strange than I would ever have had the nerve to be. I went on to go out with the worst kind of neanderthal boys from the age of fourteen until I was nineteen, when I seduced my best friend. But I actually have a much more significant and tender feeling for Emma Beak, when we were twelve. For her beautiful grace and verve, her polar bear jacket and leopardskin jeans, and because all these years later I now have the nerve to walk about in inappropriate clothes and not care if I don't have friends. I owe her for that.