Monday, September 17, 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part two

Since I’m already on a nostalgia kick and feeling older every damn day it makes sense to be listening to songs from when I was 12 years old, struggling with burgeoning pubescence and sprouting hairs all over, and I know it’s hard to believe now but I wasn’t always this cool and back then I couldn’t get the girls to even look at me, let alone talk to me.  Back in 1975, I’d thrown a birthday party for my 12th birthday, it falling just a week before Christmas and being the last year of primary school which had finished just a few days before, I invited all my school friends to celebrate the coming of age and the end of our primary school years, even asked some girls including ‘Lisa’ *, a girl born on the same day as me so she was sort of my twin, and I wished my soul mate so it was kind of to celebrate her birthday too. Or at least that was what I told her as I blushed and mumbled my way through the party unable to tell her that I actually “liked” her, not that it was much of a secret anyway, I was pretty shit at hiding my feelings. As far as preteen, innocent 70s era country town parties go it was okay even if there was a lot of teasing and joking and as Lisa left, the car pulling out of our driveway, four of the boys grabbed me, an arm and leg each and carried me out the front calling for Lisa to come and give me a birthday kiss. As much as I was struggling and wriggling and calling them names, I was hoping against hope that the car would stop, that Lisa would leap from the back seat and in sloooow motion, run to me, declaring her own crush instead of the usual snigger and sarcastic comment. Of course it didn’t happen, the car kept going and the boys, tired of the sport, dropped me on my arse in the driveway and headed back to the food. 
 I’m pretty sure I played Slade’s  Coz I Luv You at the party, more than once too, cos those hormones had me held down and simpering. Still it was a fair song at least.  And anyway, I had other crushes, pop star Suzi Quatro for one, her poster hanging on the wall above my bed, then there was Heather*, 18 years old and married to the town’s gun full back Garth*, they were a “power” couple – young, sporting, beautiful, a country town version of F.Scott and Zelda I guess, though of course I didn’t know F.Scott from billy the kid back then. For my birthday they gave me a cassette of Status Quo’s Hello album. “Time to educate you,” Garth said as he handed it over, “Stop you listening to that poofter music.”  Which was kind of funny since he had T.Rex on 8-track, the kind of music he considered poofter music. I knew, I played it and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath every time we were at their place, which wasn’t nearly enough for my burgeoning hormones. I gave Heather the Janis Ian single “at Seventeen” for Christmas. She took it gracefully. I didn’t tell her it cost me all of five cents, hell I just mumbled and blushed and beelined to the 8-track player to put on T.Rex – Great Hits so they wouldn’t notice I hadn’t got Garth anything.  I’d only just discovered T.Rex, sure I’d heard some of his songs on radio occasionally but he was on his way out by 1975, not that it mattered to me. That collection with all the hits - Telegram Sam, Metal Guru, Children Of The Revolution, Solid Gold Easy Action, The Groover plus b-sides like Jitterbug Love, Midnight and Shock Rock– all of them just blowing me away no matter how many times I heard them, that was the tentative start of my Bolan fixation.  Garth wasn’t the only one with T.Rex albums either.  My school mate Dave had a big brother whose collection was ripe for the raiding and I would go around to Dave’s when his parents weren’t home and play them on the family stereo.  As we got older we were allowed to borrow them but for now it was Dave’s lounge room and we’d pour over the record sleeve looking for clues, reading lyrics and looking at the photos while Bolan held court. 
I’d finally got secure, got to the top of the small town school heap in 1975, after years of stupidity and teasing, fights and shyness, unable to live up to my own expectations and now I was heading back to the bottom, high school was looming but summer was still fresh and I still had a month or so of good times before I had to take the bus ride to the ‘big’ school in Millicent and I was going to make the most of it. The hormone induced ballads, the rush of hearing T.Rex, Sweet, Slade, Kiss, the smell of freshly cut lawn, the sprinklers on the football oval on those stinking hot nights when even the grasshoppers couldn’t be bothered moving, riding our pushbikes to the caves, the dump, through the pines and backtracks, lapping the block over and over, trying to cram everything we could into every day of the holidays, Dad at home for the Christmas break as he was every year, relaxing, beers at the club, soft drinks for us kids and then there was the swimming lake, the beach, the heat and the girls, finally, the girls. I wasn’t completely innocent, just naïve.  There had been the usual ‘doctors & nurses’ games with the girls but it was usually a stomach ache or leg strain, teasingly close (though we still weren’t sure what it was close to!) but never more than that. I lacked the confidence to really talk to the girls other than goofing off and playing the fool, at least then the girls laughed with me not at me.  There was a weekend at South End though where the girl didn’t laugh at me, in fact she seemed genuinely interested in me.  It was a strange feeling, especially after being rejected or was that just plain ignored by Lisa.  We had gone down to the beach side town because friends were camping there, well caravaning anyway and in the next van was a girl, Beccy, from Victoria.  She was my age and a little bored I think and I soon found myself walking along the beach with her hand in hand.  It was like a movie scene, a pristine beach, the sunset and two teenagers, (okay, nearly teenagers) walking hand in hand on the sand.  All it needed was Slade singing Coz I Luv You over top instead of my nervous chattering.  Beccy had to go home two days later but at least for a couple of days I’d had my own summer romance, as short and innocent as it had been.  It would have to do for now and the rest of the summer was spent  roaming the pines, building forts, playing records, riding bikes and trying to ignore the fact that high school was looming. Funny now when I look back and realise that though I thought there were no girls interested in me, there were a few.  It’s just that we were so innocent back then, so naïve, that the girls I attracted just wanted to hold hands.  The romance of comics and books, Archie and Veronica, there was no way of knowing what the hell to do with each other’s bodies anyway, or at least we were too scared to do anything about it.  So I stumbled through those early years of my teens with “good” girls (some of who actually weren’t but gave up waiting for me to realise it!) and naïve hope.  Listening to Slade brings that back, I’m still naïve but now I ain’t so innocent.  Still not sure if that’s a good thing…

*names changed to  protect these people being seen as being as lame as I am…  

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