Thursday, 25 January 2018

You're very mad, Chris

[This post contains use of the word "mad" as a mild to moderate insult. I have been advised that misappropriation of the word "mad" in this context may be seen as offensive. Apologies if that is the case. I have a history of mental illness and have never seen it as offensive, and in my defence, I was 13.]

In my first three years of secondary school, I was very skittish about discussing sexuality in any particular context. I never thought I'd be too interested in sex (ha!), and although I did develop a keen interest at a fairly early age, I didn't want to admit to it. In particular, I didn't want to talk about sex in the way that a lot of the rowdy boys at my secondary school did - using almost exclusively swear words in related conversation(s); the misuse of the word 'gay' as an insult; hyperbolic descriptions of puberty to the point of neuroses; 'whack-off' contests that may have involved biscuits at some point - and we didn't actually get sex education until year 9, which was probably too late.

One of the things I particularly didn't want to admit to was getting an erection. I was, of course, getting erections - quite healthy ones, whether engendered from year 7 reproductive biology, soft porn on L!VE TV or envisioning what it would be like to make love to the sexy, intelligent girl I sat next to in French - although not masturbating them to orgasm, but still, getting erections. I'm pretty sure everyone capable of doing so was getting one every now and again.

I lied, of course, and pretended not to have ever had one.

That's not what I said. When the topic was broached, often by one of the rowdy boys who liked to pick on the bookish oddball in the corner with no friends (let's call him "Chris", that's a nice generic name), I used to reply neither in the affirmative nor the negative. I didn't want to say yes, because of whatever reason, but I didn't want to say no, even though I'd been saying that for a while. I was fairly sure that either answer would have been weaponised somehow, and by midway through year 8 I'd spent the last academic year trying to convince everyone I wasn't gay. I didn't need something else to be spread throughout the school about me, even if it was that my cisgender male biological functions were actually working.

So I went with "you're very mad, Chris."

Chris would ask me at least once a day (although he often said things like "have you ever had a boner?" - me having only found out what the word "boner" meant the year before in the worst way imaginable). He and I were both in the same classes for a few things - including maths and science - and he found it amusing to drift across the room (seriously, his feet barely touched the floor) to ask me exactly the same question, and get the same answer.

"You're very mad, Chris."
"You're very maaaaad, Chris," he would often reply, imitating my posh voice. "Very maaaaaad. Very maaaaaaaad, Chris." At which point he would swan away.

I found this irritating, but it could have been much worse (and would have been, had I snapped and said yes or no); for what it's worth, I actually thought of it as a fairly adequate response. It wasn't exactly a direct insult to Chris, but it was a deterrent of a sort, a way to deflect the question, and relatively quirky by use of the modifier "very". He certainly didn't get any answer from me otherwise, although it didn't stop him asking, and in the end it became something of a catchphrase. I didn't even have anything particularly against Chris - even if he boasted about watching L!VE TV (which I did, but I didn't admit to that either) and may or may not have won a Spice Girls competition (which I saw reported in a local newspaper).

While puzzling my way through Maths one day in a darkened classroom, I noticed a shadow falling over my desk. I looked up, expecting to see Chris - and was slightly puzzled to see "Lisa", one of the bolder girls in the class (although I quite liked Lisa, she was a nice girl), instead.

"Hello, Lisa. What can I do for you?" I said pleasantly.
"I've got a question for you. Does your dick ever get hard?"

There was a brief pause.

"You're very mad, Lisa."

At which there was an explosion of raucous laughter from the other end of the classroom, from a corner of the less-interested boys and a couple of more outgoing girls, to which Lisa returned immediately after getting this stock answer.

"Pay up, Lisa," said Chris, extending his palm.

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