Stratford-On-Guy Series 2

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Fifteen short stories recounting the high school days of the late 1990s and early 2000s of ten teenagers in Melbourne, Australia Samuel Beck is a teenage boy living in suburban Melbourne, Australia. Throughout his adolescence, he recounts some of the most interesting moments between him and his best friends in their high school years, both in and outside of school

Age Rating:

Sam's Birthday

Year 8 – 1997: February 2

I slowly woke up to a loud knock on my door. Why the hell would my mum want me waking up this early?

“Come in…” I sleepily groaned, lying on my bed, on my back

I turned my head to my calendar and my eyes popped wide open. Now I wish I didn’t invite my mum and sisters to come in.

They walked into my room, singing loudly, “Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!”

I groaned loudly and hit my face on my pillow. I wished I was still dreaming this.

“Happy birthday dear Sam, happy birthday to you!”

Though that was only twenty seconds, it seemed to have lasted an eternity. Even though none of my friends or other family members were around, it was still humiliating to have people sing Happy Birthday to you, while you would just stand there awkwardly. It’s a form of torture.

“Guys, it’s 7am. How on Earth do you have so much energy this early?” I asked

“Uh…Sam, it’s 11am.” Claudia replied

“What?!” I shouted, only to look at my clock and see she was right

“Time to get ready, Samuel.” My mum said

“Already? The party isn’t until 1.”

“Yes, but you’re the host, remember? You have to be there an hour earlier.”

I quickly got up from my bed. Fortunately, it usually took me only about five minutes to get dressed, though a long, warm shower stretched that to almost a half hour. As soon as I had finished, we all got in the car and my mum gave me my present. She wanted me to wait until after the party, but I couldn’t wait that long. I frantically unwrapped the present to see an orange marsupial running towards the front of the cover away from a boulder. I was ecstatic.

“Crash Bandicoot?! NO WAY!” I yelled. I wanted this game for months now.

My mum just laughed, “I knew you’d like it.”

We arrived at the local bowling alley and waited for the others to arrive. After about 10 minutes, I turned to see Liz and Craig walking towards us.

From far away, I waved at them and yell, “Hey! Over here!”

Liz quickly ran to me while Craig slowly followed. Liz hugged me tightly, “Happy birthday Sam!”

“Thanks Liz.” I barely managed to get out. She finally let go.

“Please don’t hug me, Craig.” I said

Craig laughed, “No, it’s fine. Here’s your present, though.”

“Thanks.” I put their gifts on the table

The three of us just chatted until about 15 minutes later, when Dave and Mike had arrived. They gave me my gifts and we continued to chat, waiting for Tiffany.

“Guys, can we just start playing already? Where the hell is Tiffany?” Mike asked impatiently

“I know! It’s been 45 minutes already! Can we just play, Sam?” Dave exclaimed

“No, guys! We have to wait for Tiff.” I said

“Oh, we’ve waited enough. I’m gonna start playing.” Liz got up angrily and went to our designated bowling lane.

“Yeah, me too. Besides, after this we get food. That’s what I’m here for.” Craig said, also getting up. Shortly after, Dave and Mike also got up, and so I did as well.

Since it was my birthday, I was the first one to bowl.

“Watch and learn.” I said, throwing my ball, “Ok. 5 pins. Not a bad start. Let’s try again.”

I rolled the ball again, and missed this time. Dave’s ball would always go too far to the left or right, while Mike would rub the ball and blow into it each time before he threw it. Why? Some superstitious crap, I suppose.

Up next was Craig. Before he threw the ball, Dave joked, “I’m surprised you didn’t knock down all the pins just by walking.”

“Or you could just eat the pins.” Mike said. Craig rolled his eyes and then rolled the ball.

When it was Liz’s turn, she got up and said, “I’m gonna show you boys how it’s done.”

“Come on, Liz! You’re a girl. What makes you think you can do better than us boys?” Mike asked

“Excuse me, Mike?” Liz asked jokingly. She thought Mike was joking too, but it was really hard to tell.

Still, Craig joined in on the joke, “Yeah, you’re just Little Lizzy. You just sit there like a lady and watch us play.” He put his arms around her waist as she looked at him in shock.

She elbowed him in the belly, “Shut up, fatty!”

“Ow!” He yelled, grabbing onto his torso, “She may be Little Lizzy, but damn, does she have some muscle.”

Liz bowled and got a strike on the first frame. Pretty promising.

At the end of the match, Tiffany still hadn’t arrived. Liz had won the game, scoring 135 points while Dave finished last with 67 points.

“Ok, you sexist pigs; what do you have to say for yourselves?” Liz said, putting her left leg on the table.

We all sighed and said, “Sorry Liz.”

“Yeah, we get it. We’re men and we suck!” Dave said

Suddenly I felt somebody’s hands touch my shoulders as they crept up to me.

“Hey there, Birthday Boy!”

I jumped and turned around. It was Tiffany, “Hey Tiff. Thanks for the gift.”

“We just finished playing a game of bowling.” Dave said

“Aww, damn! I missed out!” Tiffany cried out

“You also missed out on these guys’ comments.” Liz pointed to us

“Oh, will you get over that, Liz?” Mike groaned, “We were just kidding!”

Well, that solved that mystery.

“She sucks at bowling because she’s a girl!” I joked

Tiffany’s glare could’ve killed me, that was if looks could kill.

“I…I…I’m just kidding, of course.” I stuttered

“Right…” Tiffany continued to glare

I think Liz and Tiffany were trying to make some feminist statement here, despite that we didn’t mean anything we had said. The two of them also beat us in the second match, but in the end, it was just a stupid bowling match to celebrate my 13th birthday, so we didn’t really care and all had a good laugh after.

Unfortunately, after the second bowling match, I had to hear people sing Happy Birthday to me again, this time it was more people and my friends had to watch me drown in my embarrassment. Sometimes I wished Michael Jackson would come over and sing Samuel It’s Your Birthday. Oh, well. Can’t always get what we want.

After eating lots of cake, I finally got to open my presents. Not just from my friends, but even the ones from other family members. I truly felt spoiled. I got mostly video games, but also a few clothes. Nothing wrong with that. It was the thought that counted, I suppose.

All my friends came with me to my home. About two weeks before the party, I told them that each one was to bring at least one CD for us to play. All of my friends had different tastes in music, simply judging from the CDs they gave me.

“Ok…uh…Radiohead, Pixies, Portishead, that’s obviously Liz…” I said as she grinned. I continued flicking through the albums, “Uh…Rick Astley? Really, Dave?”

“Oh, come on! He’s a good singer!” Dave exclaimed

“He’s ok, I guess…” I said, then continued, “Yeah, yeah. Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Ace of Base, that’s clearly Tiffany’s.”

“Actually, screw it. We’ll start with one of Craig’s discs.” I said

All the others groaned while Craig smiled. I had opened the case to an album called Brighter Than a Thousand Suns by Killing Joke. Just the album cover alone grabbed my attention, though not as much the disc itself, especially when I looked at the back of it.

I turned to Craig, “Dude, do you have a pet cat or something?”

“No…why?” He was confused

“Because that would explain this.” I showed him the CD, covered in scratches

“Oh…oops. What can I say? It’s a great album.”

“God, you should hear him play Wild Mood Swings by The Cure on repeat. His dad bought it for him last year for his birthday and now it’s the only album he plays!” Liz exclaimed

“So, that’s the kinda crap you’re into, huh Craig? This gothic rock stuff?” I said

“Well, yeah, but don’t even ask me to dress like one. I’ll look like a total jackass.”

“After seeing how you devour cake; I really don’t think you should be caring about how stupid you look.” Dave remarked, “Also, Craig, I wanted to ask, since you’re into this kinda music, do you like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds?”

“Yeah, they’re pretty good. Not my favourite band, but I enjoy their music.” Craig replied

“Ugh! God! Nick Cave. Have you seen that guy’s pouty lips? I could kiss them all day.” Liz said

“But your brother’s name is Nick.”

“So? That doesn’t mean…oh, wait. Come to think of it, my brother’s hair looks like Cave’s and they both have that same resting bitch face. Never mind. I don’t wanna kiss him anymore.”

We played some songs from each of the albums while playing Crash Bandicoot for the first time. Dave played the first level and got the gem as he smashed all the boxes. However, Liz did the next level and died a few times. Despite getting every box, she received no gem. It was at that point we realised that in order to get the gem, we had to make it through the level, smashing all the boxes without dying. One question, though: how the hell was anyone supposed to do that with so many obstacles in the damn way? Games like this required a lot of patience, which none of us had since we all wanted to have a turn playing the game. I got to play the boulder level, which I surprisingly survived. That one got my heart pumping fast, as if I was actually running away from a boulder.

When Mike was playing the game, he asked, “Hey guys, where are Steve and Melanie?”

Tiffany looked around, “You know, that’s a good question.”

“Oh, they always miss out on parties,” Dave said, “They say they attend, but never do.”

“Every party, they do this.” I said

“Yeah, I didn’t see them at the swimming or athletics carnival last year. Though in those cases, I really don’t blame them.” Liz said

“Me too, but this is your friend’s birthday. Let’s hope they at least got you a present.” Craig said

“Somehow I doubt that too.” I said. Craig, Liz, and Tiffany dropped their jaws a few feet to the ground

“I’m serious! They don’t bring presents either!” I exclaimed, “Tell ’em, Dave.”

“Yep. It’s true. Bunch of cheapskates.” Dave scoffed

Despite those two couldn’t make it, this was a fantastic birthday overall. Great present, had friends and family around. Couldn’t have asked for more. I know I haven’t had my 18th yet, but this has definitely been my best birthday so far; that I remember, that is.

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