There were 200 of us assembled in the school hall. The morning had just begun and I wanted out.
There is nothing worse than this, drowning in a sea of navy blue assholes. Everyone had navy blue shorts, shirt, jumper and socks. ‘Hi, my name is Michael’ I offered to shake his hand, but he just looked at me like I was queer. You may wonder how someone looks at you as if you’re queer, well… the corner of his lip twitches as if about to snarl, his eyebrows lower as his eyes focus on their target, and his body pulls away from you as if you’re contagious.
At all costs I must avoid being called gay. I’m not gay, but my big sister’s boyfriend had warned me to keep my back to the wall. He laughed every time he told me this, so I realised it was a joke, but you don’t want to be called gay in an all boys’ high school, especially when you’re only 13yrs old and it’s your first day.
I knew no one. It was not my fault; it was the result of coming from a small catholic school in the countryside. I’d gone from a school with 30 kids to one with over 1000.
The guy sitting to the right of me continued to ignore me. This was not the reaction mum had told me to expect. ‘Be confident. Say hello, introduce yourself, and you’ll make friends.’ I tried the boy to my left ‘Hi, what’s your name?’
Such a unique name. I was beginning to feel unwelcome. There’s been some mistake. I’m meant to go to a school where you’re supposed to learn, and the people around you want to learn, and playtime is just that, playtime. No one used such words in my old school, and my parents certainly never did. Heck, I’d only just figured out what the word wanker meant.
I only hoped that the form class I was about to be assigned, did not have these two assholes in it.
I left the assembly with Mr Jones and 32 other boys. We belonged to Mr Jones now and were referred to as 3JS. A few kids looked as lost as me, some seemed to know each other, and a few were even laughing and cracking jokes. It was the loud ones I was wary of. How could they be so happy while I was feeling scared.
Physically I had no obvious reason to be scared. I was the tallest guy in the class. I was one of those teenagers who sprouted early, reaching my adult height well before my muscles had a chance to catch up. Mentally I was still a child.
As Mr Jones took roll call I took note of who looked like a potential friend, and who a potential threat. Potential threats were not so much people, but groups of people. If someone was alone, then they were potential friends. Such thoughts were novel to me, but I was adapting quickly. I was in a place where people were not your friend, probably did not want to be your friend, and even if they did, they’d have to make sure that you were a suitable friend, that is, you weren’t going to make their life more difficult. But if someone told me to fuck off again, then I’d say it right back to them.
I don’t think nature intended for people to be loners and I didn’t want to be one. Despite my previous failed attempt at making first contact, I wanted to join a group. There’s always been safety in numbers, especially when confronting a sabre tooth, tracking down a woolly mammoth or defending the village. I wanted to be part of a group to defend myself from the rest of the kids. Maybe I could form my own circle of protection. There were two other boys that were sitting alone and hadn’t seemed to have made first contact.
’Michael’ the teacher called. ’Present I replied.’ Several boys sniggered when I spoke and Mr Jones asked them what was so funny, and they quieted down.
The three sniggerers didn’t stay quiet for long. They kept looking over at me, whispering amongst themselves. It was deliberate. I had to react. I approached them at morning break.
’You’ve got homogrips?’ explained Simon when I asked him what the problem was. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I told him he had even bigger homogrips, and he grabbed my hair.
’These are homogrips’ he said, pulling on the bits of hair hanging just in front of my ears. ’You know what they’re for. Your boyfriend holds onto them while he fucks you up the ass. You’re a faggot.’
I’d never heard the word faggot before but it wasn’t hard to figure it out. At my old school homosexual acts were referred to as ’bumming’. Only 18months ago I remember not being able to figure out why men would want to rub their bottoms together, and even though I’d since figured what really happens in such acts, it wasn’t Simon’s vivid description that shocked me, but the venom in his voice.
Why would someone choose to hate me? There was no doubt in my mind that Simon wanted to humiliate me. I couldn’t think of an equally spiteful reply. I just wanted to hit him. ’Don’t touch me again’ I hissed. I took a step forward, and Simon ran.
I chased him, but he got away.
The bell went and we returned to Mr Jones’ classroom.
’I’m just kidding’ Simon said as he took the seat behind mine. My fury had dissipated by now. Perhaps I had overreacted. Perhaps Simon wasn’t such a bad guy. Maybe he was just trying to fit in like everyone else. ’No need to be such a psycho’ Simon added, turning to his friends. ’Psycho, psycho, psycho.’ His friends briefly joined in before Mr Jones restored a semblance of order.
The rest of the day was uneventful. I only met the rest of my teachers and checked out the school gym, nothing important. The only thing that seemed important right now was surviving. If I could find a way to survive then I might possibly have the time to concentrate on schoolwork.
Day one hadn’t turned out quite as I expected, and the problems were not ones you talk about with your parents. I wasn’t going to tell them I had homogrips or that I learned what the word faggot meant, or that I had learned to swear.