Sunday, January 30, 2005

Desperately Seeking Breakfast



Once again, since the lovely Sju Sju mentioned breakfast in one of the comments, here it is, and I hope the standard isn't broken...

Desperately Seeking Breakfast

By the time we'd got to Grade Eleven, my life had come in an odd circle. I was back to being in much the same position as I was in Grade 5, in a position of organisational importance, especially in terms of school leadership within the social sphere. I didn't quite make it to school captain, but it was close, between me and Jennifer Danielle Wiley, and I had the student numbers, but I think it was rigged, and that was all ahead of us anyway, as on the eve before Grade 11 started, I was "invited" (as in - yer going, pack yer bags) to attend a leadership and development camp for all the Grade 11 brightest and best. I'll be honest, I've never been the brightest or best, but I have always had a cross sectional ability to mingle with all types, plus I think they wanted me to paint them some banners, but anyway, I was on my way to school spirit camp, to be wined and dined, and lectured about my responsibilities as a member of the "elite".

I'd never really thought about my abilities to negotiate across the classes, it just came naturally. I looked across at Jennifer Danielle, who was trying too hard to impress Damien Hunter, with a tale about Harvard or something. I met his eyes with a casual glance, and he smiled the kind of smile people smile when suffering ends. Then, painfully, he drifted back into the conversation, and I went back to my book, or at least, to my surfing magazine. I still didn't know what I was doing there, and I was missing the beach. I rubbed a cramp in my leg, and shut my eyes, where I had a fantastic dream about being on stage, singing Hobart Paving by Saint Etienne to a captivated crowd of hunky surfer types.

The school had booked an expensive conference room, and we filed in dutifully, into a room with the most magnificent breakfast buffet I had ever seen. There was every kind of toast, french, brown bread, white bread, soy bread, twenty seven types of jam, coffee, and not just out of a Nescafe jar, expensive, Colombian coffee, as far as the eye could see, expensive herbal teas, giant rolls, sizzling, frying bacon (not much good for me mind) and best of all, little variety packs of cereal, which I love to this day. The thrill of getting six different types of mini packets of cereal, to treasure and enjoy, was overwhelming, at least to me. They piped in gentle, swaying harp music, as we ate, in an overwhelmingly peaceful atmosphere. "Only the best for our leadership group!" said Mr Morris, patting me on the back. I still felt a slight sense of betrayal of my kind. I am, and was, a benny. Sure, I was a benny who was able to hold it together and not do anything stupid, but the likes of me wasn't supposed to be on Student councils, eating fancy breakfast. I was meant to be sitting up the back of assembly, snorting and saying things like "this is so boring!" - I had stumbled uncomfortably out of my class, and it felt like bluff.

I was going to hold my hand up, say I didn't belong here, and try and steal some Nutri Grain on the way out, when Jennifer Danielle began boring Damian Hunter with tales of her Amnesty International work in the summer. I'd learn later than JDW was really, REALLY keen on Damian Hunter, and all but exposed herself at him at the end of Grade 11, but still, at this stage, it seemed like all business on her part, an attempt to unnerve some of the other students with her school spirit and charity work. Damian, for his part, reached for a big roll, and motioned to me that he wanted to shove it in JDWs mouth. I giggled, and then, oblivious to her own boring story, announced to all and sundry that during the summer, "her Amnesty Group had helped released Mohammed Yoodaman".

"YOUDAMAN!"

Out of nowhere, a girl we had never heard of, a new girl, Sarah Owen, had suddenly just come right out and said it, what we'd all wanted to say, and better than that, she said it again, raising a glass of orange juice.

"YOUDAMAN! WHODAMAN! YOUDAMAN! NO YOUDAMAN!"

She giggled to herself, as tumbleweed drifted across the room. I shifted uneasily in my Docs, unsure of what to do or say. I was obviously fond of intentionally bad comedy, but I hated watching people's jokes absolutely dying. It was clear no one in this room knew the You The Man/Youdaman chant that was on David Letterman at that time, no one except me. Sarah stood there, waiting for peals of laughter that were never coming. I wanted to give her a hug, so awkward was the tension. She bowed her head, gripping her orange juice tightly. I had to do something, it was clear that I had found a fellow benny, floundering out of her depth, and so I paused, took a deep breath, and spoke through a mouthful of Nutri Grain...

"Don't worry, that's too highbrow for them..." I said, nodding at JDW.

"I don't get it," said JDW, scowling.

"It's a joke on a TV show," I said, munching on some oatmeal. "It's funny if you know."

At which point, drinking her apple juice, JDW called Sarah Owen over, and they began chatting, and eventually became friends, who together threw one of our bitchiest, most insane Grade 12 parties that we ever witnessed. As I stood back and sighed, Mr Morris came up to me, munching on some porridge.

"That's what you are here for Y, you smooth troubled waters," he said, smiling.

"Got any pancakes?" I said...after all, bennys out of their station don't like to brag. We just go about our business, from breakfast until dinner, hoping we don't get found out...and somehow, I had survived, and my work was done...

3 Comments:

Blogger sjusju said...

the standard is well-and-truly upheld in a proper and workmanlike manner!

i love a hotel breakfast, indeed i do. the most original 16th birthday party i ever went to (in that short stage where i'd somehow broken into getting invited to the middle-layer-of-cool-girls parties) was a breakfast buffet at the hyatt... ooh. la. la.

the best thing was i didn't have to worry about trying to act cool in front of the medium-cool girls because i was way more interested in loading up my tiny plate with as many danish pastries and fancy croissants as humanely possible. presumably so were the medium-cool girls, and in a break from the usual neurotic frisson of social hierarchy-mangling, we had a really nice time.

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