A Saturday night out
That started the moment you woke up
Butterflies in your stomach
So much to do, so little time.
The greasy tenners earned
In the pubs and golf clubs
Burning a hole in your pocket
Entrusted by the others
With no older sister or brothers.
You have been given responsibility
Now if only that other lazy fucker
Would get out of his bed
And go to the Strand and get the beer
Maybe you could relax.
Wishing the hours away
Till you wolf down your tea
Trying to maintain some semblance of control
If your folks knew how much you were looking forward to it
They’d never let you out in a million years.
A lap of the shower
A careless shave
Leaving nicks of red on your throat
Gel in your pocket
You try to leave the house
Looking like an altar boy
What they don’t know can’t hurt them
Around the corner, you fish the plastic bags
Full of cheap lager out of the hedge
The cheap carrier handles
Cut the fingers off you
But you’re the man.
Your eyes flit from one side of the road to the other
A couple of lads with hoodys and a Stanley knife
And this could be a very short night out
Even though the coast is clear
The lights take an age to change.
The lads are outside the church
In the shadows in the carpark
Safety now in numbers
Let the fun begin.
Everyone cracks open a can
The nervous laughter becomes easier
You put the gel in your hair
Looking for all the world like
A punk that swallowed an altar boy.
You’ve tucked your jeans into your boots
And unbuttoned your shirt
Your hands jammed in the pockets of your cheap jeans
As if somehow it makes you a star.
Two Wrigleys later and the bouncer pretends to be fooled
Despite your eyes being
Like pissholes in snow
Your balance threatened by the turbulence
On the high seas of drink.
You go into the hall
The wall of music hits you
And you cling to it
Like an old friend.
It’s a thousand degrees on the dancefloor near the stage
Your sweat darkening the jacket you’re afraid to remove
For fear it won’t be there when you get back
Because it wouldn’t.
The DJ slows it down
Playing the same records your parents danced to
Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen”
As she refuses you for the fourteenth time
Like the girl, the irony is lost on you.
Your disappointment doesn’t last long
Blinded with hormones and stupidity
You didn’t see her watching you
But you ask
And the girl with the jet-black hair says yes
She holds you tighter as the seconds tick away
Both of you knowing that soon the tempo would kick up again
And the moment might be gone forever
“Alternative Ulster” is not a song
To fall in love to.
In your head you sound like a movies star
“Let’s go outside,” you say
In reality you’ve barely managed to squeak out the words
But she nods silently anyway,
Wishing for this.
You lead her by the hand
Trying desperately to think of something smart to say
In danger of drowning in your shallowness
If you were ten years older you’d know
That her tiny hand in yours
Was all you needed.
For the want of something better to say
You kiss her
And she swallows you whole
Your head spins
With the teenager’s conviction
That it’s never safe just to do nothing.
Deep down you know you’ll ruin it eventually
Scaring her, scarring her fragile beauty with your stupidity
So now it’s just a case of postponing it
As long as you possibly can.
You sit there freezing
Squeezing her tighter and tighter
On Monday kids will park their bikes here again
But tonight it feels
Like the Garden of Eden.
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