“You’ve got some strange sexual habits.”
The deputy-head spoke placidly, but I was still scared. I must have had a guilty conscience. When he saw my face, he apologised. He’d just been in the girls’ toilets, I don’t remember why, and seen the graffiti. He didn’t repeat what it was, probably something like Spaid sucks cocks. Revenge, at least, is sweet.
That was in Australia. Most of my blunders have a London twang. I was monitoring some Year 10s. I complimented a pair of girls on their behaviour.
“I like good girls.” Pause. “I like bad girls, too.”
It magnetised their foreheads for a second.
To take things out of the classroom – there are bad girls in the workplace as well – I’ll tell you a story about a barber I used to have. A girl washed the customers’ hair first. The barber never did that.
She was about sixteen. Her arms were bare to just below the shoulder. You don’t want sleeves getting wet. Her T-shirt was tight, very tight, an extension, really, of her normal skin. You don’t want clothes dangling in a client’s face.
The girl wet my hair. She was close enough for me to feel her body heat. When the time came to add shampoo, she pressed herself against my shoulder.
The barber never did that. He was a buoyant sort. His snipping hand had a life of its own. No need to rest an arm on someone's head if he was tired.
The girl was not so lucky. To work the soap in fully, she had to prop her forearms on my brow. Pretty arms, neatly curved. What they felt like on my face, it’s difficult to say. I remember wondering if my eyebrow tickled her, the skin near her pulse.
One day, she just got tired of it. Instead of massaging, her fingers started pulling at my hair, sharp, little tugs that hair washers don’t usually do. It felt like revenge. I had never spoken to her. I didn’t know what to say.
Girls are good at revenge. In school, I gave a bad girl lines to write. Two sides. Something like I am very sorry for behaving badly. When the sheet came back, by the bottom of page two, the message had become I am not sorry, I am not sorry, I am not sorry. It was hard not to smile.
I was sitting at the teacher’s desk. I looked around. A girl had drawn an arrow on the board behind me, like a diagram in Science. The tip was pointing down at me. The other end was labelled smelly.
The best insult, though, comes from the twelve-year-old who called out in class: “You’ve got a dick this big!” She held up a thumb and forefinger as if she was going to pinch the air. There wasn’t much space between them.
Insults and revenge are fine, but they don’t explain why some girls stay behind at the end of a lesson when you haven't asked them to.
“Will you have sex with me, sir?”
A Year 9. She had waited till everyone was gone.
“We could have so much fun.”
She emphasised the word so. When I didn’t answer, or look at her, she went on:
“I’m undoing my belt.” Pause. “I’m taking my jeans off now.”
I still didn’t look. I went to lunch instead. I didn’t think she meant it.