Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boy Scout

The girls liked him for his humour. He was sharp. He knew this, even through the fug of anesthetics he remembered the way he would answer them, rapid fire responses most of which made them laugh. Sometimes he could carry out several conversations at the one time. The girl on the phone, the three girls on Facebook, MSN. GChat, the text exchange interrupting his verbal conversation with a startling little vibration. He had become adept at multi-tasking which everyone said a man could never do. Sexing the brain. The ludicrousness of gender differences mapped out in neurological pathways.

He had heard a programme on the radio about experiments with rats. Girl rats navigated by little plastic houses that they dropped into a maze like markers. Boy rats seemed to navigate by an idea of North. Remove the houses and the girl rats struggled to find their way back home.
The boys boldly scrambled to their internal compasses like good scouts.

He remembered his moment in the boy scouts vividly, the compasses, the backpacks, the tinned food and the space-food sticks that everyone seemed to be enjoying that year.

He could not make fire. His campfire flared into an excitable crackle and then sank onto the damp ground, charred and exhausted. He held the compass aloft and followed the little arrow towards north, but somehow every turn he made led him towards an impassable stream. They followed him, snickering as he stepped out into the mud and fallen tree branches, waving him back only when he had tripped and sank into stagnant water up to his groin.

“You’re going the wrong way man. This is so the opposite direction.”

They slapped him on the back and dug their elbows into his ribs and snickered, spitting fragments of masticated space-food bars into the air. He grinned and said something witty and made them like him more, but he did this through a fist of silent rage and he wondered how they didn’t see this. How could they laugh and slap him on the back when he hated them just a little and wished that they would fall into the stagnant stream and maybe he wouldn’t rescue them so quickly.

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