I was increasingly isolated at school during sixth form, partially (perhaps mostly?) through my own choice. In this entry, which I’ve cut for length, I go to the pub with two girls I’d known since we were all eleven, Allie and Katie, and a girl who had joined our school for sixth form, Esther. Warning: scandalous underage drinking!
September 11th, 2004
… As for the pub, it was extremely interesting, because I’ve never been in that sort of situation before. It was also rather painful, because of course Katie (and Allie to an extent) were fairly patronising to me, assuming I would not know what to do, or that I was completely lost. I was a little lost with the conversation, partly because they’re an established ‘group’ with their own language, which seems to be, as I put it to Allie, ‘having their minds in the gutter as much as possible’ i.e. ‘doubting’ someone means having sex with them (?). Anyway, this led to much hilarity when Allie said that I was ‘doubting her virtue’ due to a comment I made teasing her about being a woman of little virtue. I tried to retain a detached stance, but this was fairly impossible when Katie still sees me as an innocent young girl. The comments I made weren’t a problem – I could think of things to say. No Katie (and Allie to an extent) seem to have such a strong impression of me as good and innocent that they don’t even really hear the words I say any more. It goes right over Katie’s head; I’m still the same person she always thought I was. They always have to check if I’m all right, when I’m sitting there listening, and talking a bit, just as much as most people could be expected to do when introduced to an entirely new group. There was one guy who went around asking for all our phone numbers, and I gave him mine – with a different last digit, of course. I didn’t see Allie shaking her head at me until after I’d finished typing it. I’m not stupid! I don’t need signals – or surrogate mothers. It made me feel like they’d taken their 12 year old sister along to the pub, and had to be protective because she didn’t really know what she was doing.
I shared a bottle of red wine with Esther and Allie. I hadn’t had much to eat beforehand and it made me really dizzy. I won’t drink next time. It doesn’t matter if they think I’m prim; they think that anyway. Katie had Malibu and Coke, which I had a sip of and it was utterly vile – not because it’s alcoholic, but because it was sickeningly sweet. She seems to drink that all the time. The wine was too bitter, of course.
We played table football, which I am rubbish at. We left at about eleven o’clock. One of the boys (this time one of their friends) asked me twice why I hadn’t come along before, if I went to their school. I don’t know if they’ve dragged pretty much everyone they know down to the pub at one point or another, or if I was coming off as one of their close friends, the same as them. I’d like to think that it was the latter, because it would show that it is their first impressions of me that makes Katie (and Allie, to an extent) treat me the way they do. It has seemed in the past that other people don’t seem to think of it like that, and are even slightly surprised when they make comments like “You can’t corrupt Laura” (paraphrased quote from Katie). When we left, it was dark and the air seemed to be singing around me because there’d been quite loud music on in the pub. My hair smelt of smoke, though I couldn’t smell it myself. They were all going back to Katie’s house, and started trailing off. Allie told me that she hoped I hadn’t felt too left out, and said that they’d make me ‘one of the group’. She’d said a similar thing earlier in the evening. Even then, I didn’t believe her.
She hugged me goodbye in the middle of the road, which was empty, and went off to follow the others. I can still see it now; so clear. It’s just a ritual you have to go through, hugging people. Dad picked me up in the car. He didn’t recognise Allie.
And naturally, of course, I’m not part of the group. It isn’t something that I particularly mind about; and the visit to the pub wasn’t as horrible as I’ve made it sound here. It was interesting, that was all it was; interesting.
Unlike my earlier entries, it’s more difficult to assess how this entry comes across to others, because I remember it so vividly. Although, as I recognise, I’m making out that this was a really miserable evening, I don’t remember it that way. Indeed, reading this back, it seems to me that this entry was written with a very definite purpose; to convince myself that I would never be part of this group, despite their efforts to include me, and there was no use trying. To convince myself that I never wanted to go out to the pub again, even though I had enjoyed some of the night. I think that’s why I’m fixating on so many petty details, rather than the better parts of the evening. When I re-read my diary, I was reminded that I had tried and failed to become what I defined as ‘real’ friends with these girls several times over the past three or four years, and here I think I have finally given up. I’m deliberately trying to cultivate a detachment from the entire situation, from school itself. Far more than my previous entries, this reminded me that, while it would be easy to caricature my teenage problems (I had no friends and everyone was horrible and patronising and Sam didn’t fancy me!!!), at the time, I thought deeply about this situation and dealt with it as best I could. I was very sad a lot of the time when I was seventeen, and it seemed rational to me, after the many friend-related disappointments of the previous years, to withdraw from the game. From an adult perspective, and without altering my entire personality, it’s hard to see what I could have done differently.