I have grown less and less socially adept over the years, not that I ever was Mr Popular or the life and soul of the party. I cannot pinpoint the start of my fall into hermit territory nor have I tried. I am more self centred than I can ever remember. I hate myself for it and yet I am comfortable in my own company embracing my own in-difference with myself.
I am the not so proud owner of many self help books, as I look around my room as I prepare for my little trip, I notice that roughly one in three books in my unkempt shelfs have inspirational titles. One in three of those have no spine damage and are the result of another “best laid plan” unread unloved and yellowed from the tobacco smoke that often fills my room.
I never used to smoke, not that I was anti it, just never appealed to myself of twenty years ago. So now as I take a long draw on the fifteenth cigarette of the day I hope that self righteous prick I was as a seventeen year old would be appalled. Who was that arsehole to judge me anyway? As the warm smoke still tickled insides of my lungs I poked the dying ember and dog-end into the open can next to me and listened for the brief hiss as fire lost it’s battle with lager.
Three cans already and it was only 10:15am. Still I figured I would need the bold brazenness that my beer jacket gives me. I hate the taste, but Special Brew is cheap and strong just the thing for today. I have an hour until my journey will begin. It will only be short and I hope that it will be the best laid plan I have ever thought of.
Strangely for me all my friends will be there, five of those. Then of course there will be the acquaintances, the people you could just about talk to in the work canteen queue , but you cursed if they sat down with you at a table. “Little Amy doing great at school” I don’t care, and I know that little Amy will eventually turn out to be a disappointment. Where will you be telling me that, over an overpriced jacket potato? No-where. Go away.. But they never do, half an hour of my life I won’t get back.
Then there are the people you can’t abide in any measure, most of the crowd there. These are the people who rub me up the wrong way just by sharing the same air. Mostly people who other folks tell me are “great” or “really funny” they never are. Always cretins, always the fuckers who are bright and breezy before we start that 7:30 morning shift. You might say I’m not a morning person.
I will meet those people first.
I have been planning this day for about a year. Now it’s nearly here I don’t feel anything, no nerves which is unusual for me. I get nervous about everything, that is something I still share with my seventeen year-old self. Little dickhead tried and failed on numerous occasions to get his dick wet only for nerves to get in the way, so whilst others were sowing their wild oats he pre-occupied himself trying to save mother earth. Yes for three years I was a tree hugger. That changed when I met Suzanne or “Rainbow” as she was known. We hung around for 6 months, until she decided that “Woody” or Colin was a better fuck than me. I hugged my last tree when I found them “as one” in my sleeping bag. Last I heard they have four kids and are “very happy”.
It’s a shame they won’t be there.
I am dressed now. My long overcoat will look out of place as the sunshine is high in the sky, but as I always wear it I don’t think even the most fashion conscious amongst them will say anything, Fuck them if they do, there are things far more important than appearance, as they will find out. The jeans that I picked out for today are however are too tight, I think I might change them. I need to be comfortable.
The time has nearly caught up with me. No time to change my jeans now, I pull my polished shoes onto my beaten up feet. These particular shoes always tear my feet to shreds for the first thirty paces, but I hope the Special Brew will numb the pain today. I have no others so I have no choice. I check the locks on the windows, and draw the curtains across so that the glow of my sixteenth cigarette is almost the only thing that illuminates the room.
I fetch my bag, the beer almost getting the better of me as I bent down to floor. My bag is re-assuringly heavy in my hand. I open it briefly to check everything. The tenth time today. I still have all that I will need. I zip it back up, take a brief look around the darkened room, open the door and step out into the sunshine.
Today would change everything.