28 October 2001
Friday, Oxford St, 4.15pm
Knit caps, berets, belts, stockings. Pick
and Mix. Bangles, necklace, earrings, wigs. Hello Kitty. MUSIC. A girl
pulls on a hat and grins at her friend and starts to wiggle to Kylie.
I slip past her: my face can't decide what to do. Ignore; always the best
choice, but am I too grown-up now to select that option? Smile, indulgently
- no, that marks me as the outsider for sure. Scowl - for why? She's,
what, fifteen, a mass of hormones, her unraddled skin stretched tight
across her face, wings of yellow hair down the side. She's undeserving
of hatred, doesn't merit my measured frown. Ohhhh, Top Shop, how you taunt
We push through the crowds, flow across the road. H&M for men. This is
the scented chamber of my fantasy. Boys swarm around; I am an interloper.
I touch: brown drill. Grey tweed. Plaid. Tan corduroy. Striped shirts
dangle on high. Duffle coat boy pushes past like a lost sixth-form prefect:
I study under lidded lashes. Boys tag-team between scarves and hats, socks
and pants. I stand aside to let them pass, looking up at their foot-higher
faces; a blur of smiles shouts grimace teeth and hair. The louche and
dusty slung-armedness of Tommy posters, of Ralf Lauren ads.
I am here to 'help'. To help myself more like. I study man in his
unnatural habitat. Surruptitious. We fondle fabrics. A sling of trousers
weights his right arm. I lose myself: kneel between racks, smooth powder
on my face and gloss on my lips. Return to study tanks and pants. I picture
grey argyll peeking from under my friend's trousercuff. We wll make of
him a dandy, a British teddybearboy.
The changing room is the forbidden zone. It breathes. It sucks boys in:
it spits them out. I picture: arms crossing to lift a jumper: a glimpse
of a hip over low-slung trouser; lips puckered in curious ponderance.
A duffle coat on the floor, a golden fringe trapped for a second under
the grip of a jumper's neck, then springing free. A hand in the hair,
ruffling. Turning to study the back. Lifting the jumper: do the jeans
hang low enough? I sense it all: loiter like a burglar outside, tinker
with a dufflebag, toy with the fringe on a scarf. Someone stole my sexless
girlbrain and replaced it with this. It tingles, it hovers, it watches,
it wants. It is alive, heavy; sizzling with connections, observations,
We pay and go.
previous : : : about
: : : next