Monday, May 16, 2005

Desperately Seeking Success

Well, I plan a bit of a story telling blitz in the next few days, so if you are still reading, suggest away! Please! Here's one based on the fact that we're currently enjoying Dannii Minogue Success Month!

Desperately Seeking Success

One of the great things about being a benny is the fact that you don't really have to achieve much. The highfliers at our school, particularly Science bound Fiona, were always greatly constrained by expectations, and had to sit up until 3am just to be that much better than everyone else. For people like me, any actual effort was greatly appreciated. My one gift was in bridging the social classes though, and that was where expectation grew, and I felt genuine pressure to make sure that the day to day running of out school was smooth. So it was that I came to the Grade 9 fete, and what you might call my finest hour.

Science bound Fiona was so labelled because of her obsession with getting into NASA. It was good, Megs B noted, to have goals, but not at the expense of everything else. When I think of science bound Fiona, I always think that somehow she missed out on a lot of wonderful activities that the group participated on, so that she could read books in the library at lunch time. When Amber Bennett and Jane Almond had their famous "scrag fight" over Damian Murray in Grade 10, science bound Fiona was the only person that we didn't see watching, because there was a Behind the News special on the ABC at lunch time. Interestingly, science bound Fiona would later sleep with Damian Murray on a hay bale at the Grade 12 farewell bonfire night, but that, as they say, is another story, and we presume that this one night of noisy passion didn't ultimately distract her from her dreams.

The Grade 9 fete was most notable for the amount of sulking that went on, especially from Claire, Amber Bennett, and the boy who was normally my male equivalent, Darren Richardson. For some reason, the folks in charge of our school decided to hold a series of presentations, in which each of the Grade 9s would run a stall, or a small demonstration. It wasn't much to ask, until they decided that they would pair us up alphabetically, and that's when the trouble started. Megs B ended up with Amber Bennett (a disastrous pairing), Claire ended up with Dean Davidson (an even more disastrous pairing, to the point that Claire has never sworn so much in her life), I ended up with a girl I really can't remember called Jessica Garlick (this was years before a girl of the same name would appear on UK Pop Idol of course, and there is a chance, albeit a faint one, that was her - luckily, I found out in time she was pretty churchy and took offence to any puns about her surname) and worst of all, Science bound Fiona was stuck with our school benny, Mark Leaman. It was obvious what was going to happen: Science bound Fiona would spend 18 hours preparing an elaborate scientific display, and Mark Leaman would drink the chemicals and grunt when asked questions. It was not a pleasant prospect, and one that required urgent action. Especially considering that Science bound Fiona was doing so well at the time, there was a chance she would be put straight into Grade 11 from Grade 9. Someone had to do something, and since my job was to take care of these things, there was nothing else for it, but to have a quiet word with Mr Leaman.

I should differentiate here - I am a very proud benny, but there's a difference between being a cheerful, slightly silly benny with awareness, to being the kind of benny who eats silly string on a dare or breaks their arm on a waterslide because their friends told them you really didn't need a mat. So it was with some trepidation that I confronted Mark outside of Grade 9 art (more on which shortly) and gave him a playful punch on the arm. "How ya goin tiges!" I said, cheerfully. "Pretty fucked eh" he said, returning with a typical benny comeback.

One thing about Mark Leaman was that he was fascinated by Violet Crumbles. I don't think he could ever work out quite where the taste quite came from. I know this because he once did a talk about it, which I think was about the most he ever did any work for something, apart from his Grade 6 talk about thongs. So, I went for the weakness.

"Mark," I said, for that was his name, "listen, you have to a talk with Science bound Fiona, you know that don't you?"

"Fucking mole" he said, scowling, forseeing a future where he was chained to the library working hard, instead of being outside kicking a footy. He shook all over at the very thought of this week of hell.

"Well listen, you don't have to DO anything, Fiona will do all the work for you. But I need you to promise me you won't screw it up for her, I mean, don't be mixing chemicals because you think the colours go together"

"That was just that once!"

Claire was getting angsty because she had something important to tell me and I wasn't giving her my full attention, so I had to act fast. "Listen, you behave, and I'll tell you how a Violet Crumble is made!"

He looked at me with rapt awe. His little benny eyes couldn't quite process this information. He just nodded slowly, and went into art. Fiona was left totally alone to produce her inevitable masterpiece, a flowing display of chemicals and smoke and colour, and Mark kept to himself. The big day arrived, and Science bound Fiona nodded in my direction, unable to work out what I had done to smooth this meeting of minds, but comfortable that I had done something. Meanwhile, all I had to do was work out something to tell Mark, and we were all free.

It was then it happened - Science bound Fiona forgot something, maybe misjudged a mix, and instead of chemicals and smoke, there was just a fizz, and then nothing. Everyone was amazed, Science bound Fiona had screwed up. She tried really hard to fix it, but it was just a debacle. Everyone stood in awe, while Mark Leaman stood to the side, smiling his little benny smile.

I went up to him afterwards, and was about to launch into my prepared Violet Crumble story, when he adjusted his Levis and waved me away.

"You know Y, it doesn't do my rep any good working with fucking amateurs" he said, laughing, and putting himself in his favourite chair. He unwrapped a Violet Crumble, and ate it, content in his own little piece of success.


Anonymous Mark Leaman said...

It's always strange to come across your own full name in someone's blog fiction.

Keep up the writing! :)

-Mark Leaman

7:52 PM  

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