How Not to Survive

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8

It’s about time for another confrontation with Sour Face, who’s been circling around for days looking for a reason to have a go, like a shark waiting for someone to drop an unsuspecting foot in the water. She pretty much sits in her room coming up with reasons to hate me as far as I can tell, which you’re probably thinking isn’t that hard to do, but it’s especially easy for Sour Face since in order for her to hate you all you have to do is breathe. I’ve basically been avoiding the kitchen, running up to my room when I get in, and listening out so I don’t accidentally cross paths with her on the way to the loo. But the fact is there’s only so much hiding from someone you can do in your own home, and when I get up the next morning who should be piling up the contents of the cupboards on the kitchen table but the queen of nothing better to do herself.

I’m kind of blown out from this really heavy spliff I sparked up with Eli the night before, and somehow I fail to notice her until I’m almost at the fridge, at which point there’s no turning around. I freeze like been just encountered The Medusa, and Sour Face stares at me as if she can’t believe my audacity and is doing her level best to turn me to stone.

I’m like, Hi Sue – reorganising the cupboards huh? all sweet as if she’s my favourite person in the whole world and this is a totally sane activity for someone to be doing at nine o clock on a Friday morning.

The cutesy Legally Blonde thing doesn’t wash. Sour Face makes this sound like her mouth has just gone into labour, then snorts and starts concentrating super hard on the castle of cans she’s building, like she’s compiling a survival store for the coming Armageddon. I figure, fine – whatever, I can do breakfast in silence, and go to my cupboard to see if I can scrounge together some cereal or something. It’s totally stark naked empty, and not just because I never go shopping. I turn around and see that everything I’ve got (which isn’t much) has been stowed away in neatly in a cardboard box with ‘confiscated’ written in large red letters on it.

I’m like, What the fuck?

Sour Face is like, If you don’t clean the kitchen then you don’t have the right to use it. I’m taking charge of the situation because it’s the only way you’ll learn. If you want the contents of your cupboard back, you’ll have to start pulling your weight.

I’m like, the definition of gobsmacked. Sour Face gives me this very high and mighty look, like her scheme is actually quite painful for her, except that her chin’s wobbling around all over the place and it’s obvious she’s having this real hard time not breaking out into a massive grin. It’s quite possibly the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen, and in other circumstances I might offer to like, find her the help she needs. But as per usual I’m late for college, and what’s more I haven’t eaten since lunchtime yesterday and I’ve just remembered that somewhere buried in the recesses of my cupboard was a packet of Kit-Kats.

I’m like, Right.

I march over the box where she’s stashed the contents to start rummaging, but before I can reach it Sour Face grabs it and whips it above her head, all primed and ready for me like a ninja.

I’m like, You need to give me back my stuff.

She’s like, I’m sorry Jaz but this is the only way I could think of to get through to you. Do some cleaning, and if it’s of a satisfactory standard, then you’ll get it back.

I’m like, Do you even have a clitoris?

You can insult me as much as you like, Sour Face goes, I’m still taking steps.

I’ve basically got two options: either to walk out of the room and let it go, or else take the bitch down. There’s no debate. I reach out and tickle Sour Face under the armpits. She tries to twist away, but I just follow her, and she ends up letting out this scream that could be utilised to contact alien planets and sends the box flying. All of a sudden it’s raining groceries, and we both throw up our arms to avoid being hit in the face by mouldy Satsuma, tins of tuna and microwavable rice. Still emitting her glass-shattering scream Sour Face trips over the chair and then there’s like this slo mo second as she starts to topple backwards, her eyes all wide like she’s falling to her death. She goes straight into her own mountain of cans and the whole thing like, avalanches off the table and onto the floor.

I look around at the devastation, and then back at Sour Face, who’s clutching at a table leg for moral support and staring about her with these huge disbelieving eyes.

Sour Face is like, ARGHHHH!

At this point I figure I’ll grab a cereal bar from the seven eleven and leg it.


I’m only two minutes and forty seconds late when I get to school, which is a personal best and something I’m pretty happy about as it means I’m there before Bingly marches in with her morning coffee, eyes darting back and forth like heat-seekers scouring the field for her first target. Bitch Bingly is this total harpy who like, missed her calling as a torturer and takes us for Shakespeare studies, easily everybody’s most hated subject, which is probably the only reason she does it. She likes to bitch into at least one person before she gets started each day, and she’s pretty indiscriminate about who it is so long as they’ve got legs and a face. She’s not quite in the same league of as thrillingly awful as Jackson, but she’s not far off either, and if those two were ever to like, propagate it’d probably spell the end of mankind.

So I take a seat beside Dean, this prematurely balding tragedy who thinks he’s God’s gift to the planet and who’s chatting away to Jessica, this bucktoothed blonde with boobs like launch pads who’s pretty much destined to be cast as nondescript victims in low budget slasher flicks. Since I’m here early for once I’m like, Hi, how’s it going guys? In response they both give these die-screaming looks and turn back to their conversation.

I’m like, When did I piss on your Manolos?

They both just carry on ignoring me, as if I’m speaking in Na-vi or something, and I’m so offended I figure I’ll move and sit down beside someone else. I pick Stu, who’s this massive muscle-bound conglomerate who probably pops steroids for breakfast. He nods unenthusiastically to me and tells me the seat beside him is reserved for his girlfriend, Maggie, a nice-but-dim type who usually just ends up giggling hypersonically whenever she’s asked to do anything and would good at like, voicing cartoon characters.

He’s like, Sorry man.

I’m like, OK...

I look around for another seat. The only one left is right beside the door, the seat of doom since it’s the front line and the first thing Bingly’ll see when she walks in. But apart from that impending ordeal, I’m kind of a bit like, What’s up with people? I know I’m not bosom buddies with anyone and that I don’t exactly hang around after class or go to any of their house parties or anything, but is it really necessary for them all to act like such a pack of cunts?

I’m interrupted from these thoughts by Bitch Bingly’s grand entrance, which is always uber-dramatic, just the like the attention-hungry power-maniac she is.

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun! she shouts at us as she throws the door open and sweeps in, making everybody jump, Who here can tell me where this line comes from and what makes it is so important?

She gazes at us expectantly. A bunch of gormless halfwits gaze blankly back. But instead of giving us the answer like any normal tutor might then do, Bingly just sighs like she might as well be trying to educate a bunch of baboons and starts going on about posture instead – like, how important it is for actors to keep their backs straight and sit up strong as if they’re confident reliable individuals rather than slumping desperados.

If you ever want to get a job, she goes, You can’t slouch in your seat like Jarold Jones here. Unless of course you’re auditioning for the Hunchback of Notre dame, that is!

She sniggers at her little joke and there are a few answering titters from the treacherous class of actual desperados before her. Maybe I’m a bit traumatised from my brush with Sour Face, or else still full of un-exorcised rage at being rejected by half the class, but the whole thing just seems so fake and sad that I’m like, overloaded with contempt for it all.

Bunch of fucktards, sighs this voice, loud enough for everyone to hear.

We all start looking around to see where it came from. It takes a few seconds to realise that everyone’s settling on my direction, including Bitch Bingly herself, whose mouth is actually hanging open.

Bingly’s like, What did you say?

I’m silent.

Bingly’s like, What did you say?

I’m like, still silent. It’s pretty obvious that if a reply at this stage would be fatal. Instead I look at the carpet. Of course Bingly’s never had an opportunity for outrage quite like this before, and instead of letting it go opts to behave like I’ve just spat on the family crest.

GET UP! she shrieks, totally unnecessarily since I’m about three feet away from her, GET UP AND LEAVE THIS ROOM IMMEDIATELY!

There’s no point in trying to argue or apologise – Bingly’s practically wetting herself from all the fun she’s having. It’s easily the most exciting thing that’s happened to her all year, and if the universe worked the way it ought to I should probably like, bill her for it. Instead I pick up my bag and make my way out of the room. As I do there’re all these laughs from the class, and it’s like they’re all joining in at a witch stoning. As I pull the door shut behind me I hear Bingly going, And good riddance to negative energy! in this super-smug satisfied voice.

I bet she’ll be in a great mood for the rest of the day. I bet they’ll all have this amazing session reading Shakespeare’s fucking sonnets and everybody’ll get it right away and decide Bingly’s not so bad after all. I peek back at them through the little window on the door – Bingly’s laughing, which is about as common as lightning striking twice, and everybody’s smiling too. It’s funny how having a common enemy brings people closer together. I remember hearing some radio report that said there’s research to show that if people can find something to complain about, or someone they can all jointly hate, it creates a far stronger bond than something they actually all like ever could. I guess this fact is not exactly breaking news to anyone, but that doesn’t change its power to be totally depressing when you think about it either.

I head for the fire escape, which is the only place you can smoke without setting off the alarm and getting charged with attempted arson. I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself here, and even more so when I realise that if I want to get back into class again any time in the near future – which I don’t but is unfortunately necessary in order to like, graduate – it means I’m gonna have to apologise to Bingly. She’s the type to make you do stuff like lie face down and lick her shoes before she’ll accept. It takes me a few cigarettes to come to terms with what I’ve got to do, and I spend a while staring out of the barred window at people coming and going on the street below and trying to imagine all the other things I could have chosen to be. Unfortunately there’s not much else that I want to do, so I stub my last fag out out and head back towards the classroom.

I get back just as everyone is coming out for their break. Half of them shoot me these looks like I’m an embarrassment and a let-down to all actors the world over, which is pretty rich if you ask me, but I stand there and endure it like it’s my due or something. I wait until Bitch Bingly herself appears.

I’m like, Excuse me. I want to say I’m sorry.

Bitch Bingly gives me this look as if she’s just sighted a turd.

That’s all very well, she goes, her eyes narrowing as a new crafty scheme to debase me occurs to her, But it’s not just me that you’ve offended, is it?

She nods over at my classmates, who’ve all basically gathered around the coffee and crisp machines at the other side of the corridor – since no one has enough imagination to actually want to leave the building and get some fresh air or nicotine during their break.

Everyone, announces Bitch Bingly before I can beg her not to, Jarold here has something he’d like to say to you all.

It’s like, just kill me now and get it over with. I take a deep breath as everyone smirks my way.

I’m very sorry for earlier on, I go through my teeth.

There are several boos and a couple of cheers from the motley assemblage of A-holes before me. Bitch Bingly claps her hands together all delightedly.

She’s like, There – isn’t it wonderful when people admit they were wrong?

I excuse myself and Bitch Bingly tells me to be back in ten minutes if I want to actually be involved in the next session, finishing with this throaty cackle. I head back to the fire escape where I light the stub of a spliff I was saving for later, which is about the only way to deal with what I’ve just been through. Fortunately I packed it pretty strong, and it makes the rest of the morning just about bearable, bar one point where Bitch Bingly decides to have us all read out in sotto voices and then gives us marks out of ten on the authenticity of our emotional resonance or some such fuck.

I follow people out into the hall at lunchtime totally exhausted from the effort of not flat-lining from boredom. Everyone immediately gathers around the notice board and starts chattering away all excitedly. I’m like, What’s going on? but of course they all just ignore me, too busy pushing each other aside and letting out these startled shrieks and giggles like they’re engaged in this long tickling foreplay session or something. I figure Who cares? and I’m about to ditch the ultimate losers of the universe when it dawns on me what the fuss is about – Jackson has finally posted up our roles in plays this term, which are Antony and Cleopatra and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These are what we’ll be working on for the next two months, all leading up to a glamorous production at some rear-of-a-pub-in-Hackney theatre. It’s nothing to get erect about, but still it’s always good to know who the old jerk has cast you as. Plus maybe once or twice in like, the whole sad saga of the school’s performance history, an agent has even been known to show up.

I plunge headfirst into the giggling shrieking scrum which is a bit like immersing myself in a sea of idiots. After a few seconds of thinking I’m going to go down in history as the reject who got trampled to death by a bunch of overexcited drama students, I manage to squeeze my way to the front. I look for my name and at first it looks like Jerk Jackon’s maybe left me off completely. But then I see it.

I’m like, What the fucking fuck?

I’ve been cast in both productions. As the steward in Antony and Cleopatra, and as Mustardseed, third fairy on the left in A Midsummer Night’s Dream . Reader, that’s right – I’ve been given the zit parts, the walk on jobs that don’t require any acting, except for maybe like, a flicker of surprise when ordered to sprinkle fairy dust over some rambling star-struck retard.

I turn and see Jerk Jackson standing at the far end of the hall, looking over at my giggling classmates all proudly like they’re his minions and he’s their Dark Master. Then his eyes flick over to mine and this light seems to like, ignite inside them, as if he’s saying to me, I can’t believe you fell for that I’m-on-your-side shit! I find myself moving towards him. It’s the last direction I want to go in, like moving towards a rabid snake, but it’s like I’m in this trance. Jackson looks mildly surprised, like he thinks I’m going to go for his throat or something, which is mighty tempting let me tell you, even though he’d probably just spray out acid like they do in the Alien films.

I’m like, Why don’t I have a single proper fucking roll? What the fuck? How is this fucking fair? You can’t do this!

I’m yelling a bit and all the others are turning to look with these actual sighs for faces, like they’re watching some infamous lost cause finally coming to his inevitable bad end.

The Prince of Jerks is like, Kindly stop swearing Jarold, it’s not appropriate! It may not feel as if you have much to do, but without the background artists a play would not be what it is designed to be by –

I’m like, Background artists? Are you fucking kidding me?!

Jackson lets out one of his trademark face farts.

The fact is that those are the rolls my colleagues and myself thought would best aid your development. I suggest you try to acquit yourself well in them if you ever want to move more centre stage.

With these words The Undead Minister tries to give me a curt nod. He’s unable to keep it from turning into an evil sneer though, and quickly starts walking off up the corridor, no doubt worried if he doesn’t he’ll burst into all out giggles. I basically have to squeeze my eyes shut and lock off every limb to stop myself from hurtling after him and attacking him with my teeth. When I open my eyes again I’m seeing stars and like, hyperventilating. Then I totally black out.

Of course nobody bothers to actually come to my assistance, and so when I come to I find I’m lying on the floor and all my gormless classmates are still gawking away at me like I’m this mutant sideshow exhibit. I smile at them and then raise my hand like I’m going to wave and give them the finger.

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