From Jester To King LXXXIX
By Simon Barget
On Fridays I tended to miss a bunch of school and this would always trouble me. And although I had double free for the first two periods with double German or French for 3 and 4 followed by General Studies for my fifth period, it just wasn’t on. I was so good at languages that the lessons didn’t matter. But it was important to be there in person to make sure you weren’t just lost or forgotten. I’d always wake up really late and when I went down for breakfast it was usually about 11 and by the time I’d realised the time and that it was in fact a school day, it was too late to bother because if I tried to go in now I’d probably not get there till lunchtime and I’d miss most of German or French or have to walk in mid-lesson. And I was always intensely annoyed with not only myself but also at my mother, at the way she seemed so ambivalent about the whole thing as if I was big and dirty enough to make my own decisions. And that’s precisely what incensed me because I wanted guidance and most of all a reaction; I yearned for some sense of urgency and expression of condemnation, a sign that Friday school mattered just as much as other days, because I knew that if I didn’t have some external bolstering I was going to carry on missing the lessons and there would be a point past which I wouldn’t be able to claw it back. That was the point at which I started to feel overwhelmed and like I wasn’t going to be able to breathe. Ultimately I felt that my mother either knew it could get to this point and didn’t care one way or the other, meaning she was uncaring, or she didn’t know, which meant that she paid little attention to her own boy’s scholastic endeavours. And I remember sitting in our breakfast room and having the same conversation every single Friday:
Me: Oh shit it’s almost 11:30.
Her: What do you expect me to do about it?
Me: Should I bother going in, I mean even if I go now I won’t get there until after lunch?
Her: I don’t know, it’s up to you.
Me: Why do you never help me with this, it’s so annoying?
Her: You could take the car if you want.
Me: But what am I supposed to do with it when I’m there, drive back?
And this is basically how it ended with her ridiculous car suggestion where I’d have to drop myself off then drive myself back, but then I’d be home again so I never saw how that would help me. Every time I had this conversation with my mother I could feel the lessons going on without me, the boys ensconced in school, teeming about busily, safe and there, not having to worry that they weren’t there and what people were thinking about them, not having to worry how to get there, not having to worry about not knowing what they were missing and it all stacking up to a point that would be impenetrable. And this was the thing that haunted me, and not only that, I could never remember what the last two periods in the day were, so although I had this frantic urge to make it in for them, I knew I’d always feel that when push came to shove it was hardly worth bothering and I’d end up convincing myself to stay at home, and that precise thing had happened for the last god-knows-how-many weeks and they were marking my card and I was falling further and further behind into the abyss with a non-committal libertarian for a mother treating me as if I bore full responsibility for my own actions which was a ridiculous notion.