“Don’t allow yourself stereotypes to rule with you.”
From 10:30 to 11:00 am, in front of the cinema in Preevytip, students from “Naum Naumovski – Borche” were gathering in order to wait for transport and the professors to go to Skopje’s Book Fair. There were two kinds of them: rewarded ones (18) who didn’t have absences through the current school year, and the ones that paid for it.
I arrived with a taxi that grandad found to me. The professors that were coming with us were Stella, Zack, Vince and Virginia. They informed us there would be a bus and a van. The rewarded ones were supposed to travel by the van and Vince was supposed to read us to enter, but his plan was “out of force” by Zack. As you can imagine I entered among the last ones and there weren’t completely free seats, so I settled myself down with the fact that I wouldn’t seat. Like other mornings, like other ridings. Willy and some “Nicky” were added on the back seats, yet there wasn’t a place available for me.
-Let they make you place from behind, Nick. – somebody said.
-The girl is going to sit. – was the voice of someone from the behind.
The fat girl sat.
-Girls first. Those are they rules, what to do? – said Zander.
Those are the rules? Well, how many times have you changed your idol? How many different girls have been in your fantasies? These ARE the rules.
-Who stands? – sb from the professors asked.
Obviously me and one girl.
-Sit there – sb showed me the stairs leading to the middle door.
I sat there. The closest girl commented “Sweetheart”.
-Will you sit there? – Zack asked.
I wasn’t furious. It was nothing comparing to the sufferings of some Christians.
I was looking through the door window when Vince appointed that in this van are the rewarded ones.
-Professor, should Nick be rewarded like this? He has not even one absence for four years. – Sarah defended me.
-Let someone make place for Nick. Let some girl make place for him.
Girl? I mean it’s clear why a girl: the stereotype that I’m closer to girls. Whatever.
-Come here. – The closest girl offered along with some others.
As she was the loudest, I sat next to her. She said:
-I’ve never been absent this year, but last year when I got sick…
-Nick has never gotten a 4 for these four years. – Vince went on.
– He’s not the only one, there are others too.
Excusez moi, somebody said something? Ooh yes, it was the new, inexperienced amateussor (аматесорка) who only nodded her head, because some students knew more than her.
-Although. – Vince supported me. – Have you ever gotten a 4?
-I have. – I said.
-First… (quieter) and second.
And Physic (because of the test on which I could play dirty) and Biology (because… I had chance to delay my project the following week and let E. be the one who gets 2, but… I was good, as Jesus Christ was to people.)
I didn’t feel comfortable as half of my butt was out. I laughed instinctively because… there’s always some event around me. Why me? The girl next to me who btw saw it, was named Ashley, as a friend of her sitting behind called her. Vince walked along the minibus and said to me:
-Nick, don’t be shy, you are 4th year.
After what I looked down.
-Аnd he tightened himself there. – Referring the guy – Darryl – mum’s colleague’s sister’s son, sitting on the other side of her.
-You are sitting between two males and you are bored?
-If only I sat between two girls… – said Zander.
Of course, the individual aspect. What would it have been like if everyone in that minibus/van expressed their opinions that moment? Vince was a very good man with a wrong interpretation of the Commandment number 7.
We were almost in Skopje when Ashley said:
-Can you stand, I to go out? You will sit again.
We did it. When we arrived, we were told to return on that place at half past six p.m.. And to a big surprise of mine the professors immediately separated from us by staying there.
We bought tickets for the Book Fair – 30 denars each and while I was standing in the crowd Cathleen (Zlox) invited me:
-Nick come with us.
-Come with us.
I joined them – her, Sarah, Ashley MacFarlane and a girl. If I didn’t go with them, the boys would have probably invited me, but they would have realized I’d intentionally wanted to go with them, and I wasn’t known for a man with male friends.
The book fair wasn’t fair with me since the beginning as I felt uncomfortable and I walked behind them. Ashley M. must have had left with another gang, whilst Sarah told us to wait and went somewhere. It was a long wait, Sarah didn’t show up at all, so after Cathy made a phone call, we pursued inside. There… I felt like I was in a gelato shop from the strong smell that wasn’t appropriate for a place that put the intellectual pleasure as priority. There were many, many books from literary every gender: live stories, theoretical, historical, religious, philosophical, psychological, kids books, colour books, school book, cookbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias… so that they lost their significance because there were so many of them.
Regarding me, I was just dragging after Cathy and the curly haired girl. I desperately wanted to be with males, my mood begged for it. I saw Vince who had just turned his sight aside from me, anyway I kept looking at him. He looked at me and raised his head.
-Are you alone? – He looked at the prospect for some Jenny hotel which was in my hand.
-Yes. I’m with them.
The duel between what I want and what I have.
-If get to you see Sarah, tell her that for the faculties that she wants to know is down.
Down? He repeated it.
-Later at half past six.
He left, I twisted the paper and put it in my pocket. In the viewing of the books, among all those stands we saw Zack and Virginia. I bowed my head ashamed not to see me with girls, but I lost Cathy and the curly haired girl. Fortunately, their friends Isabel and Ashley (Zlox) were close, so I joined them. Then… they went to seek for toilet, I joined Cathy again, who bought a book and after some time I realized they were going towards the exit. Luckily I was going behind the three of them, so it wasn’t hard for me to slow down and eventually get apart.
I was alone, lost. I didn’t come in Skopje for nothing – I had to buy book. First I called mum and explained her the situation. She hoped I would run into someone from Preevytip. And like in the movies: someone said “Nick”, I turned around – it wasn’t for me. The cheap offers determined me to buy book from ILI-ILI.
-Can You recommend me some? – I asked the female shop assistant wearing blue blouse and red hair tie.
-What kind of do you want?
-Some novel. A story.
She raised her shoulders and she had a tiny talk, after what she said to me:
-“The reader”. I recommend that one.
-And to tell me something more about it. Content.
In short it was a story about a 36-year-old woman and a 16 year-old boy who becomes her lawyer.
I wasn’t a book lover, but I had finally chosen one, the cover was good, the price was extra – 200 denars – I bought it.
Mum called me with the idea Steven (my cousin who temporarily lived and worked in Skopje) to conduct me through the city. I didn’t like it very much, but it seemed the best (re)solution. Then he (without my approval) called me asking me where I was. I told him, but he didn’t come because he was leaving to Preevytip at 4 p.m.. I didn’t meet anyone from Preevytip anymore, but I did see the singer Rebecca choosing kids’ literature. I didn’t want to have less from the others from the group, so after a phone conversation in which mum told me not to buy a religious book, I saw cheap offers at the stand Antolog, especially “The town of N” about which the shop assistant said to me:
-It’s interesting. An anthology. Buy it boy, 150 denars. It kind of fosters thinking, but you will understand it.
Boy. – Just as Ducky called me. I fell for it. I bought it. My sale was done, the stands were already familiar to me, so the only thing left for thinking was: “Where will I go after I get out?” After I got out of there, I needed to be sure for the place where the minibus was. I couldn’t find it, but I did see the bus for the other Preevytip students. It was better. I sat on a pavement near the parking area and I kind of heard:
-Lord, save him.
It was a group of 3 or 4 guys walking. I didn’t know where to go, I wished a “New ME” that the other won’t judge me by my “hanging with girls” past. I wished it was a regular day. I missed “the mines” specially Ducky. I realized that from then on I would appreciate more the things I had.
I spoke to mum, but she didn’t know where the GTC was. I told her “this is rubbish; from now on I’ll act as I want to, I already have enough experience; They are enjoying, and I’m sitting here…”
But, like I say everything has a plus side: At 17:13 I had received a message from Barbara saying:
-Nikey if you are free I to come to tell me what should I study and to log on fb beep if ok.
I mean all that coming, the fake smiles, filling her sentences accompanied with showing fake interest, stress, losing my time… No.
There was a bridge, mum suggested me to go through it and possibly reach to GTC. I went on it, but dad told mum it was much further than she thought. She wanted me to return. The sidewalk was becoming smaller, and my horizon was hidden from a wall mixed with
curves. Nothing, I came back by the bridge, but I went down and sat along the river. It was hot, I was thirsty, but I liked the atmosphere. Peaceful. Mum worried about me and begged to go back (even back on the fair). I enjoyed a little more and sat on the pavement again after I returned on the parking. I couldn’t find a shop to find water. Out of boredom, I went along a path on the left on the parking. There was a little fenced playground where kids were playing football. How lovely. They do what they want. I saw an object, thought it could be a shop, it was. I entered. The shop assistant was a male.
-Is there water?
I said only “water” because I was thinking whether to say “spring” or “mineral”.
-What kind of? Ordinary?
Maybe he didn’t finish it because he looked straight at me. Bingo! I remembered the keyword:
-Sparkling – I said.
He didn’t ask me for the firm from, neither for size of the container. He simply knew I wanted it cold and small and “Gorska” was his choice. He was a good man.
After I refreshed myself, while I was returning, the kid’s football ball strayed towards my right side. I wanted to get it for them, but I saw it late, holding two books and a bottle. And I so wanted to help them.
-Come on. – I said to the kid who went after the ball. Meaning: I didn’t succeed, you got it. I got back and I went along a new street on the right on the parking.
Got back, again I went along the path the kids played football and remembered my unsuccessful childhood tries to play it.
On the parking it was good I saw the minibus and I also saw Zander, Daniel and Marky.
-Nick did you buy yourself book? – Said Zander.
-Yes. – I answered.
-I wanna eat, let’s go buy food from somewhere. – said Marky (Tip: Don’t understand me wrong but when you are in company don’t try to speak about yourself very often. Selfishness is a sin. At least start with a try to balance 1 sentence about me, 1 about one of them or ask them the same question, “You?” I’ve got that from experience :)). They didn’t invite me. I went on the street. I went on the “right street” again. In the conversation with mum I told her about Zander:
-…You know how my opinion about that kind of people becomes lower.
I don’t consider it as a sin, as I understand it as establishing an opinion on a normal level – If I wanted to be friend with sb, now I don’t want to, but I still love the person as I love all the people because they all came from God. I used to love them primarily because at least they don’t commit suicides, they love themselves – they love what God created.
Mum: Why lower? It’s not their fault. You don’t want.
-I’m always open.
Then I went along the street on the right again further. When I returned Daniel (Speaker) asked me:
-Nick which books did you buy?
-One “The reader” and one “The town of R”.
-“The reader” and “The town of R”.
It was N, but what kind of difference would it have made to him?
Time approaching to 6:30 I entered with Vince in the minibus.
-Take a place from now, not to stand later. – Marky warned me.
-Sit somewhere. – companion to Iris.
-Nick sit. – said Iris.
Nick sat on what previously was Ashley’s place. Darryl came but:
-Sit, sit, sit, sit. – he said after I was willing to stand.
Soon Ashley, who I didn’t recognize at first, came. I stood up, but…
-Sit, sit. Ashley won’t sit. – she only left a bag down.
I did what she said. She explained her friend sitting behind me that it was stupid to her not to narrow ourselves.
She passed to the front and I offered again.
-Hey sit. God forbid.
After a while the supposed 6:30 was delayed to 7:00: No organization.
-Is there someone who stands? – Vince asked.
-I stand. But I don’t complain.
-Do you want to stand?
-No, but I don’t want to narrow myself.
Ashley’s personality totally reminded me of Melanie Collins’s. Fast, but good. She sat near the door where I sat before and she spoke about food eating with her friends.
Then someone got transferred in the bus and 2 male guests came in our van who made company to Ashley. I think she looked me after I said:
-Come, sit Ashley.
-Nah, when I’ll want I’ll tell you.
So my place wasn’t safe. The ride started. The two males occasionally looked at me, I didn’t turned towards them, but I did think I may get asked by them after I and Ashley replace. Action! The question was when and did she say she would sit next to me only on word?
After maybe half an hour from the starting:
-Stand up, I to sit. In two minutes, then you’ll sit again.
Remember the two minutes.
I left my two books on the space above the seats and decidedly was targeting the circle where Ashley sad.
-Make place for me. – I quietly said to the guys smaller than me. The one who was leaned to the door had his leg elongated. He gave me place.
Quiet. I looked at the place on his right.
-Where are you from?
Directly, just as I want it asked me the I’ll call him “the tall guy”.
[From now on, it’s a version constructed from notes:]
-Where do you live in Zlox?
-There where you turn towards “the opposite.” What’s your name?
The tall guy asked who the question was for.
-For both of you. – I showed my fingers.
-My name’s Christian… They call me Chrisy. He is Max. What‘s your name?
-Which year are you?
-We are first.
-What do you study?
-Geodesy. Do you know what that is?
-About the Earth.
I asked them about their school success.
-Do you escape from lessons? – Christian asked me.
-You’ve never ever escaped from a lesson?
-I have, in first year. From two lessons.
It wasn’t my fault. I’ve been misinformed about our transport by Barbara and Elaine, so I’m not sure if I can consider it as escaping.
-Do you have a brother or sister? – Christian went on.
I was asked if I knew his relatives from Zlox, some Mary and Barbara, I didn’t. Then he was asking if I knew some guys from my village, many of which I didn’t.
-I know him.
He went on understanding it as “I don’t know him”. I didn’t correct him.
-Who do you hang out with? – He asked me.
-I don’t hang out.
-How come? You’re fucking up.
-I’m not fucking up. I don’t hang out.
I was real.
-You don’t have any friends?
-I had one that I went out with last summer, now we don’t hang out.
-Well, call him, do you know his number?
He smiled, I smiled too.
The dark helped me to look him all the time while I was talking.
– How, you should live with roommates, what faculty will you sign to?
-I don’t know, but I want to commute.
-Why don’t you want to sit?
-I don’t know them.
-Well, you didn’t know me. … If a girl appeared naked in front of you, what would you do?
-I’ll run away.
“I’d cover her” was the appropriate Christian answer.
-You’ll run away. How will you get a girlfriend?
-The time is passed for me. For you it isn’t.
-For you it’s passed.
-Perhaps you have experience.
Not in the sexual sense.
He asked me if I bought a book. Then it was my turn:
-You read books?
-I read erotic books. I have that big pile. Do you want to give you some?
It’s sinful, but… I appreciated the closeness.
-I’ll give you sometime.
He informed me he was going to fall if the door opened, so I made place for him narrowing my legs.
From time to time, Max cooled me with a leaflet, but I was afraid. Christian was observing me when we weren’t talking, I didn’t look at him then, that’s why I looked at him when he wasn’t doing it to me. Twice.
-Do you have Facebook? – It was Max.
-How is it?
Then I was supposed to dare to ask Cathy if I could travel with them from Preevytip to Zlox. Ugh, really?
-You want me to say? – Christian wanted to help me.
Both friends were pressuring me, Christian even touched me friendly on the back of my neck. But that wasn’t typical for me. I could ask, but I never saw Cathy from their perspective. OK, I decided to dare for them:
-Cathy, will you plan me to go home with you, with taxi, later?
-OK, we’ll plan you…
As they saw communicating with a female wasn’t strange for me as they thought it was.
-Like that. – Christian supported my action.
-Will you treat him beer when he’ll come in Zlox?
-OK, I’ll treat him.
When? And how? And why it always has to be beer?
Next, Ashley added a comment to a topic of ours. I turned around:
-You’re listening too?
Ooh, I had audience. She said something about me that managed to provoke me:
-She’s offering herself alone – I said to Christian who repeated me.
Max commented “You’re afraid again.”, so he gave me one of his leaflets for me. And it was the one I wanted to take earlier on the fair, but I didn’t. Wow!
Another “girl” situation:
Christian demanded me to poke Ashley sitting closely. OK, why not?
-What’s the matter? – she asked irritated after my second time.
I couldn’t answer.
Soon Christian shifted to a chat with the girl cozying up above him. I wasn’t surprised to hear the inevitable Skopje’s “Eats shit” by his side, he even cursed. Girl, win the battle, the WAR is mine. I was the one who had the matching gender.
The rest of the ride was passive to me, Ashley never asked me to switch our places again. When the guys came out they didn’t say “goodbye” to me. I don’t take it for granted, they probably don’t have a cult towards saying “goodbye”.
In Preevytip, while the passengers from Zlox were waiting for transport in a circle, Sarah told that I had started to go to Zlox on foot at a night in second year before Brenda stopped me with a taxi. Zander expressed interest:
-Where did you get to?
-I don’t know.
I knew, yet as he was unimportant, I showed let’s call them “energetic” smiles.
The first thing I said after I arrived home was “I’m in the mood” to mum. I didn’t tell her the reason. I hid some photos on my Facebook profile depicting me with girls. I didn’t have any new friendship requests, anyway.
I didn’t like the day, but the evening served as justification for my discontent. Thank You God. I Love You.