Thursday, June 12, 2008

Today is June Thirteenth

Yes, it most definitely is. I've finally figured out--with two days to go, no less--that the time here is equivalent to home time plus 12 hours, which I knew but did not connect. So yes, I now know that it's June 13th. And I haven't written for four days.

On June 9th

We went to the pool all morning. Hanna and I were there alone with Nate for several hours, getting along just dandy. At about noon, Annie finally came with Brian, catching us just as we were wrapping up. She told me to get ready to go out with Colin and Tim to a recreational club. Colin's friend, Margaret-Ann, had invited him to come to a club she belonged to. Margaret-Ann was with a friend, Sophie, who was intimidatingly pretty and dressed like I think I'm supposed to as a girl my age. They seemed like nice-enough girls, although Sophie kept repeating the phrase "Oh my frickin God!" over and over to such an extent that I almost blew up at her.

First off, Colin, Tim, and I caught a subway into the middle of the city, where we hailed a cab and took it all the way to the club. Clubs are very big in Hong Kong, as I've both noticed and read, be they family recreation or gambling. Ours was the first, obviously. When we got out of the oddly silent taxi ride, during which no one said anything to each other, the girls were standing there being all giggly. You can just guess what I thought of that--'Oh, great, I'm in for a long afternoon with this kind of people? I'm so glad I made the social effort.' Because it had truly been an emotional schlep to drag myself out of bed and go meet a couple of girls who I'd never met before. The threat, of course, was that they could be really cool and good-looking and exclusive for all I knew.

They treated Colin unlike a nerd. This threw me totally off-balance because when Colin lived down the block from my family, we were the freaks of our school, the geeky crew who didn't really want to hang out with each other but kind of had to, along with Tim. Combined, we represent the epitome of our stereotype: between the computers, braces, twitchy nervous habits, senses of superiority, and the piano, we're a freaky gang. (Our parents are all friends, dooming us to a life of being grouped together.)

But I'm pretty sure Colin likes Margaret-Ann, so they're good friends. Add to this her tight friendship with Sophie, and you've got an equation for a (at least a little) popular guy. Who doesn't like a ladies' man?

Sitting at the western fare dining area on the deck surrounding this weirdly huge rec club, I felt a pang of awkwardness. I was so confused. Just because Tim and I didn't know those other two girls didn't mean no one would have anything to say, did it? I'd done everything right so far: I'd come, I'd smiled a lot, and I'd gotten a Sprite instead of a seltzer so I would look cool and not wimpy. Maybe it was the fact that Margaret-Ann had already gotten a Sprite...maybe it made me look like I was copying her...Goddamn being social! It was so hard! Was this what a group date was like? Jesus, was this what hanging out with other kids was like? 'No wonder my "friends" are always coaching me as to what to do and say,' I thought, amazed. 'No wonder I haven't got a boyfriend! I'm completely socially inept!'

When the torturous three-quarters of an hour of eating was through, we went up to the "Teens Room," skillfully both lacking any apostrophe and indicating a sense of trying too hard. We played foosball, air hockey, ping-pong, and pool. God, pool took the longest time. In total, we were probably up there for about two and a half hours. And somehow, even among people I would probably not see for years, most likely never see again, I managed to make myself the outcast.

This is why I have a blog.

Then--it's getting painful to relive this, so I'm making the rest quick--we went bowling, back to the game room, and at LAST, Colin, Tim and I took a cab and a subway back to the settlement where Colin lives with Annie, Brian, and their ever-traveling dad.
coming soon: june tenth, eleventh, and twelfth

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