Okay, so I was at a party at #2’s on-off girlfriend’s house. She lived with her father, who seemed to be away frequently. #3 was there and I was trying to act casual; this was spring 1993, and our doomed short-term relationship had been the previous summer, but I was still pining for him. Luckily for me, another doomed short-term relationship was imminent.
I was sitting in the living-room with a couple of friends, listening to some strange boy going “one two one two one two” at great length, when the doorbell rang. #7 opened it with a bag of grass in one hand. The next thing I knew, #3 was running through the room yelling “The feds are here! The feds are here!” and my friends and I found ourselves leaping over the neighbours’ back gardens.
#7 was seventeen, two years older than me, but he could pass for twenties. As such, he was an ideal person to go into the off-licence for us, because he never got ID’d. He claimed to have been busted at school for dealing drugs, to have made it into the papers. He was into punk. How exactly I started hanging out with him is unclear, especially how I started hanging out with him just the two of us. Things progressed quickly, though.
We wandered around town one evening, sat in Ward Park and listened to Sheela-Na-Gig by PJ Harvey (below) on my personal stereo. He had a band (he said) and he wanted me to sing for it, said he’d teach me to play guitar.
I got a couple of mix tapes from him, which introduced me to the Dead Kennedys, Lard, Nomeansno and a whole bunch of other bands, including his favourite, Alice Donut. Again, it was a whole new world of music to which I was previously oblivious.
#6 held an all-night party not long after I’d started bonding over music with #7. My friends and I made up vague stories for our parents about staying overnight with an unnamed female friend. We weren’t about to do anything much other than drink, really, but we knew we’d never be allowed to stay over if they knew we were at a boy’s house.
I knew that that would be the night, but I don’t remember whether #7 or I made the first move. For the sake of argument, let’s say it was me. I was already drunk and blurry and we were, for some reason, on the floor of the dining-room. And then I was being sick into a glass of water in the kitchen. This was not me at my finest, but I guess after a sufficient recovery period, we were good to go again. I remember us making out in #6’s bedroom with Suede’s video for Animal Nitrate playing on the TV. And I remember all of us arranged under duvets in the living-room, watching The Breakfast Club, and I was with #7 and we were officially going out. Basically, what I remember most about that party was that I got to pass out with a boyfriend for the first time.
For the first week or so, I was happy: I was going out with a punk drug dealer who could buy me drink and basically score me a whole bunch of cool points.
It changed pretty damn fast, though. After that first week, I didn’t hear from him for a few days, and I was suddenly uneasy and didn’t want to crowd him, didn’t want to push him. After a few days of fretting, I finally gave him a call and was relieved that everything sounded normal. He reckoned he might show up at the youth café on the Friday night. But he didn’t. The next afternoon, #6 and I ran into him in town. I was angry that he was being so blasé with me, but I didn’t say so. I was afraid to in case it made him dump me faster. It was this weird survival strategy I developed as a teenager that totally never worked: don’t complain, don’t show you’re stressed, don’t be yourself, and then maybe you’ll get to live happily ever after. Turning to this strategy was always a sure sign that the end was right around the corner.
It was still cold. I think everything I remember about Bangor involves being cold. You could see your breath. When #6 gave us a little space, #7 turned to me and said “I don’t think we should see each other any more.” “Okay,” I agreed flatly, because it wasn’t like I could change his mind. #6 had gone into Underground Music and now we were outside the door. “Are you coming in here?” asked #7, who didn’t even seem to have noticed that I was pissed off. I went inside, purely to pretend I wasn’t bothered about breaking up with him, and flicked through records for a while as if I cared.
While I was moping with a couple of friends that night, distraught because we couldn’t even get any alcohol, he was at a party getting off with Amanda’s cousin, and then later with this girl called Anita, who he immediately started going out with. I met her the next weekend, while #7 was on a school trip to Greece. She was disappointingly nice, but out of the blue she volunteered the information that she’d already had sex with him. I did not need to know this, especially since he had failed to so much as grope me. They lasted for a month or two and then he dumped her fairly callously when a bunch of us were out drinking at the Point, and that was the night that I got off with #8.
On my 19th birthday, I came out of the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh after seeing I Shot Andy Warhol. I glanced at the Big Issue vendor outside, a crusty with a big beard, and said “Sorry, I’ve already got a copy.”
He called after me: “Hey, didn’t you use to hang around Bangor?”
~ by Nine on 15 October 2008.