Tag Archives: youth

Story 9: Egg sandwiches

This is the seventh and final day of seven days in which an earlier story is repeated. Today it is Story 9: “Egg sandwiches”. It was first posted on 19 October 2013.

The truth was, she didn’t get on all that well with her son, although she loved him dearly. At least, she didn’t get on well since he’d reached puberty. They couldn’t seem to talk. And now he was eighteen. So it was particularly special when he asked her to come to a social afternoon at one of his mate’s houses to celebrate a marriage engagement. “Just my mates and their Mums”, he said. “And bring something to eat.” It was their way of getting food.

She rather liked his friends, but he never brought them home. All the other parents seemed to have their share of the young set calling around at their homes. Not that they necessarily socialized with them — but at least they were there and, somehow, relevant. She had felt… well, left out. She thought perhaps they scorned her behind her back.

But now he had invited her. “Bring something to eat”, he’d said. “Bring something to eat.” In some silly way (at last! at last!) she felt as if she was wanted.

That morning she boiled some eggs, forked them to a paste and made some sandwiches. She arranged them on a plate with a piece of parsley.

She was a little bit scared. Since her husband had left quite a few years back, and she was left to manage alone, she never quite knew how she was doing. This little party was her way of saying — perhaps without anyone noticing — “This is my son. I think I’ve done a reasonable job”.

The little social started, and she felt so proud of her son. He walked in with her and said to everyone as they entered, “This is my Mum”, and he seemed to mix so nicely and casually with everyone. She had a lovely conversation too with one of his mates — about fishing, and where the best trout places were in the river. Later she heard someone say, “Shit, who made the fucking egg sandwiches?” And, when at the end of the afternoon she went to get her plate to go home, she noticed that no one had eaten anything she’d made.

2344. Old bones

Great Aunt Imelda said that twenty-year-old Harold would “never make old bones”. He was sickly and took no interest in living a healthy existence.

Well, how wrong can one be? That was seventy years ago. That would make Harold ninety; that is if he hadn’t died when he was forty-two. But his bones have certainly aged.

2343. When you were twelve

It wasn’t something Vernon was that keen on. His mother had said “Make sure you and your friend, Bertie, don’t go anywhere near that waterfall.” Vernon was only too pleased not to go near the waterfall because he was a bit scared of it, and had been so all his life. In his short twelve years there had been at least one report of someone drowning at the waterfall. Bertie, however, was another thing altogether. To rock climb to underneath the waterfall was a daring thing to do. It’s what every second adventuresome boy had done in the good old days.

Today there was a fence that prevented people from getting too near the waterfall. There was also a big sign warning of the danger. Neither the fence nor the sign stopped Bertie, and poor Vernon tagged along. You can’t say to a friend in such circumstances, “You go on ahead and I’ll wait here.” The waiting is possibly worse than the going. And besides, if he gets into trouble he’ll need help.

So over the fence and off they went. Many a twelve year old has been as audacious and daring!

It was the best fun they’d had in ages.

2241. A snarling snake

When Alison got the tattoo on her right buttock she was terrified her parents would find out. The tattoo was of a snarling snake crawling in and out of a skull. It was to let her ex-boyfriend know what she thought about him. How he would find out is anyone’s guess.

Alison’s parents had absolutely forbidden her to get a tattoo – “You can get a tattoo when you turn eighteen, but at present being only fourteen is too young to know what you want permanently on your arms.”  But fourteen year old Alison took things into her own hands and got her buttock tattooed where no one could see – well not her parents anyway.

It was quite fun for a week at school, sharing with her friends and giving friends a peek. Rather quickly the admiration wore off.

When she turned eighteen Alison paid the earth to get the tattoo removed.

2087. Loud car

(Warning: This story contains swearing).

Archie worked the night shift. He would arrive home, and after messing about a while would go to bed. He would almost always instantly fall asleep. At least he used to instantly fall asleep. These days the neighbour’s nineteen year old son had a souped-up car, complete with removed muffle.

Just at Archie’s point of sleep every morning the car would start up. The youth didn’t simply start the car and drive off. He would rev it up and rev it up and rev it up. Then he’d go for a quick spin around the block, leave the engine running, and wouldn’t depart for another five minutes or so. By this time Archie was livid.

 Archie had had enough. He leapt out of bed, got dressed, and went over to confront the nineteen year old neighbour.

“I’m trying to get some sleep,” said Archie, “and you have that ****ing noisy old bomb with no ****ing muffler. I work during the night, and honestly it’s driving me ****ing nuts.”

Well, Dear Reader, you know jolly well what modern youth are like. His response is not going to be recorded here. It could be given, there’s no rule about it, but you can imagine it for yourself, and I dare say you won’t have any trouble imagining it. In fact, your imagination is possibly more vivid than what the youth responded with.

Oh blow it! What the heck! I shall say it anyway! That typical nineteen year old youth responded to Archie’s complaint with: “Oh I’m terribly sorry, sir. I had no idea. If it’s alright I’ll fix it when I get home from work this evening. Once again, I apologize.” He shook hands with Archie. Archie thanked him and went back to bed.

Modern youth.

2014. A smoking gun

Jude had not been brought up well. His father was an alcoholic; at least he was until he turned up to work drunk and “accidentally” fell down an elevator shaft. Jude’s mother was addicted to quinine and her kidneys had packed up and she too was dead.

Jude had an older sister who took over his care, but she was on drugs and got her drug money in the entertainment business. She worked from home.

When he was fourteen, Jude didn’t “discover” for he already knew, but “realized” that there were easier ways to make money than to work. He’s made a few contacts via some of his sister’s clients. He looked a lot older than fourteen. School had long gone down the drain. He worked as a pimp with the occasional bit of burglary thrown in for luck.

Then his big break came. One of his sister’s ex-clients said he’d give Jude ten thousand if he did his sister in. Jude said he would but what way was it to be done? The guy said he didn’t care, so Jude got a gun and shot his sister dead point blank. It was all pretty easy.

When Jude went to get his money the ex-client turned him in. “This guy murdered his sister.”

Jude got life. The ex-client got off scot-free. He was clever like that.

1700. The hand we’re dealt

Look at that! 1700 is a round number if ever there was one! Usually for such a significant number I deviate into some true narrative or other. This time I’ve hit a complete blank. I don’t believe in “writer’s block” but I must admit that these last ten or so postings have been like trying to get blood out of a stone. I wanted to get to Story 1700 before Christmas and then have some time off until sometime in the New Year. And so I’ve drawn a blank. Let me think…

Well I’ve thought of something… but I don’t know if I should chat about it or not. Counting up it happened 33 years ago!

The photo incidentally is not of what I am going to talk about – it’s of another group unknown to me, but it gives the general drift.

I dare say those involved have long since moved on. I was teaching Music and English at St John’s High School in Hastings, New Zealand. Hastings had a pretty “varied” population. St John’s High School was a boys-only school and the only High School in the city that would accept students who had been expelled from other schools and couldn’t find another school to attend. That’s how I ended up teaching a class of 24, 14 of whom had a “history”. They were all aged 14. Montzie, for example, had a criminal record since the age of six.

The school didn’t have a great number of resources. My classroom was an old shed set apart from all other classrooms and in the middle of a field. We called the shed “The Shack”. The record player and all the stuff for music were in The Shack. The trouble was: The Shack couldn’t be locked. I told the class that if anything was ever stolen from this shack I’d “have their guts for garters”. (I also had to explain what garters were).

“Don’t worry,” they said, “we’d never steal from you.” We were the only school Music Department in the whole city that hadn’t had all its electronic equipment go missing. And then it happened. One night, the classroom was stripped. The policeman was very nice about it. He took notes and said he’d keep an eye out. That wasn’t good enough for Montzie and friends. Did not the policeman want to know the names of those who took the stuff? Did not the policeman want to know the place in the city where these thieves stored their stolen goods? The policeman was kind of stunned!

With such information it still took six months for the police to act. In the meantime insurance paid for new equipment and when our goods were returned we had two of everything. And Reuben, a master of the “five-finger discount”, would most days bring five or six long-playing records that he’d “got from the shops during lunch break” to replace the records stolen. I explained it was wrong. It was above his comprehension. He was helping out. (And I might add that not even the shops wanted to know because the packaging had been removed).

Many other things happened during the year which can wait another time, except to say I am a master pickpocketer; for they passed on skills you wouldn’t believe. I was never party to their activity, but they were surviving in the only world they knew.

The highlight came when I was selected (because I was pretty good at it) to represent New Zealand at an International Youth Theatre Festival – with theatre performances from Germany, England, India, South Korea, Australia, United States and New Zealand. It was inordinately expensive to get a theatre team to the festival and to survive a week. That is when I started to write little musicals for elementary schools and market them. Within two easy weeks, we had enough money to travel. I suggested we do a performance about New Zealand’s many endangered species. And would you believe? The class wanted to dance it, and from all the five-finger discount stolen records to dance to they chose extracts from Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloé”. At least I’d taught them something!

It was street-dancing. They did the choreography themselves. It was an outstanding hit! The boys were so well behaved and more charming than I could believe. At the end of the performance the audience didn’t clap; they stood and sang a song they all knew. It was very moving. The newspaper reviews were stunning.

I dare say these kids would be heading for their mid-forties now. Those who aren’t dead are possibly in prison. I know a couple have done murders and some are destroyed by drugs. A teacher can’t keep in touch with everyone.

But they were one of the nicest and most talented group of kids I’ve ever taught. A pity they weren’t dealt much of a hand.

(A Happy Christmas and New Year to all! See you some time in 2020!)

1686. A rose in name

What a delightful person Rose was. She would brighten any room; any company. Her laughter tinkled like crystal bells that caught and reflected sunlight. Her smile was wonderful but her lips merely reflected the gaiety in her eyes. Her hair hung down in natural ringlets. No need to flat wrap her hair with a curling iron; Nature did it for her.

People said it was all in the name; Rose in name, Rose in nature.

All that was years ago. These days she has thin lips and a slightly pointy nose. Her laughter is like the cackling of a witch. As Ms Angelina Bright from down the road declared, “Her straight grey hair is best covered by a pointy hat.”

People said it was all in the name; Rose in name, prickly in nature.

1588. Saplings

Let me tell you how proud I am of my son. Now that I’m older and he’s independent I couldn’t be happier knowing that he was brought up right. Micky is his name. When he was younger there was nothing I taught him that he didn’t pick up straight away like he was a natural. And he was obedient. I only had to say once “Do this” and he’d do it. I rarely had to belt him for not doing things right. Spare the rod, spoil the child, as the saying goes.

You get a kid when he’s young enough and they’re flexible. It’s like a sapling tree. It bends and you can train it to grow in any direction. But once the tree is older there’s no bending it. It’s fixed in its ways.

Well I’m happy to say my son is now old enough for the habits instilled in him earlier to become permanent. And that’s why I tell you that I am proud of him. Sometimes you get things right. These days I don’t need to tell him what house to burgle or how to go about breaking in. He’s a natural. Train a kid early enough and they’ll look after you come what may.

1455. The song of the skylarks

Mrs Drogmire (everyone knew her as Dear Mrs Drogmire for no one knew her first name) lived alone in a cottage somewhere in the country. She had lived there since her husband died almost fifty years ago. For the last twenty years she had retired from her work with the Manufacturing Association where she developed flame resistant fabric for furniture and vehicles.

These days she read, gardened and knitted. Her husband had passed on before they had even thought of starting a family. But who needs grandchildren to fill in a busy day?

The country thing that Dear Mrs Drogmire loved the most was the skylarks. Their singing, high in the sky, brought a great deal of joy to her summers. These days, with her slightly fading eyesight, she could rarely pick them out in the bright sky, but her hearing was still acute, and their singing was as if made for heaven. She would sit in a chair outside with a good book and a cup of tea, and the skylarks turned life to bliss.

And then two youths came by with their slug guns and started firing at the singing skylarks.

“What are you doing?” asked Dear Mrs Drogmire.

“We’re practising,” they said. “These skylarks are good target.”

“Don’t shoot my skylarks,” said Dear Mrs Drogmire.

“Why don’t you go drown yourself, old lady?” said the youths getting in their old truck and driving off.

They came back the following week. Leaving their truck the youths walked up the road and into a field. They started shooting the skylarks again. Suddenly their truck burst into flame. It was a gigantic explosion. Bits of truck flew into the air all over the place.

“What happened? What happened?” exclaimed Dear Mrs Drogmire dashing out of her house. “Thank goodness you weren’t in the vehicle when it overheated.”

“The cause of the explosion is unknown to us,” said the visiting policeman. “Not even the sweet little old lady who lives nearby saw a thing.”