“Milksop” Definition: (Noun)
- A coward, a weakling, a child. Derived from bread soaked in milk given to invalids or children.
“Mollycoddle” Definition: (Noun)
- An effeminate man or boy. A Milksop. Derived from ‘Molly’, a pet name for Mary and used to indicate a Homosexual, + ‘Coddle’, to pamper or overindulge.
“Milkboy” Definition: (Noun)
- A pubescent boy, dark haired and dark eyed with contrasting pale skin, portrayed as attractive by his slight and effeminate physique.
Chapter 1 Milkboy
Everyone calls me socially awkward. I guess that’s true. I can’t seem to talk to people like other people talk. You know, that small talk. The weather, “how has your day been?”, Fake interest in their family, their kid at school. I am not disinterested. It’s just I don’t think to ask, until their gone, and then five minutes after that I think maybe I should have spoken about…something, to them. I think I make people nervous as well, because I’m so quiet, they think I’m moody and when I smile, I don’t have a winning smile, I bare my teeth. In the animal kingdom when an animal bares it’s teeth it’s a threat, “I’m going to bite you if you get too close, so back away”, I think people see that. They don’t stick around too much. Don’t expect me to tell you about witty conversation; go read Wilde. I’m going to talk about something that people don’t talk about. I don’t talk about what people usually talk about, but what people don’t talk about, I want to talk about.
I am sixteen, and now you don’t care what I have to say. Nobody gives a damn about whining teenagers. We haven’t lived enough to say anything of meaning and our lives are so much easier than when you were a teenager, if you ever were one.
If you are still there, my name is Faran. No, it isn’t Muslim or Indian. Actually, it’s Saxon English, my mum told me that a lot when I was little. She had this pocket-book of baby names and had underlined the ones she liked. I’ve looked at the book and compared to her other choices; Bertram, Oswald, Stedman, this one wasn’t so bad. She said she wanted to give me a name that would get me ahead in life; as if our name carries our destiny and we are not failing or succeeding on our own terms. Maybe that’s why my mum has never made anything of herself, she didn’t follow her name. Divorced, two daughters, one son, a dairy farm from the departure settlement that she says is killing her. Maybe if she was a clarinet player she’d be a millionaire and be doing what she was always meant to be doing in life. I don’t believe in fate, life just throws crap in your way.
My sisters are ok. I’m the youngest, they had to bring me up more than mum, but they get bitchy. They hate the farm. Sometimes I do too. My oldest sister works in town and is saving up for her own flat, my second eldest is still at college and is learning to drive. I think she’ll pass her test, she drives the tractor around the farm enough, we all have for years, because we all help with the work. It isn’t like doing chores, when dad left we all knew we had to work and help, but now mum doesn’t want us doing anything else. I was ok with it till I started college.
I go to college in Seabourne, it’s a town about twenty minutes away by bus. It’s where the old go to die. A Georgian watering place, that hasn’t seen any renovations since then. The highlights of the week are the tribute bands on the pier, old people love tribute bands, but why does it always have to be fucking Glen Miller? Aren’t all the people who listened to Glen Miller as kids dead yet, or do you reach certain age, say seventy-five when you suddenly stop listening to thrash metal and crave poorly played brass big-band?
I hate the idea of getting old. The way they shuffle along the high-street in faded cardigans, purposely getting in the way, stinking of urine and Werther’s Originals. The town does have it’s benefits, a cinema, old and cheap, many theatres, bars, some with decent bands once or twice a year and Shelley lives there.
We’ve been going out for nearly a year. I don’t remember when we became, ‘a thing’, or even if we dated, but now we are going steady, if ever we were unsteady. We had some shared friends at college, we talked and just spent time near each other, until people just assumed we were together.
She studies dance and drama, she wants to be on stage and is part of two local theatre groups. I think she’s pretty, long blonde hair, petite, dolly looks, lots of teeth and braces that sometimes makes her mouth look like a letterbox. She walks with a little skip that makes her bum wiggle, like a magpie; she dresses in bright clothes, usually with sparkly bits or sequins; bits that dangle.
I don’t see her as often as I’d like. She never comes out to the farm, she doesn’t like the countryside, the air, the smell, she says it’s boring. She spends her lunch breaks in trendy café bars; drinks sugar free vanilla, soya, decaf, lattes with extra vanilla. We go to the cinema a lot, she calls it revising, and we shop a lot in vintage clothing stores, she sees herself as a Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor, all glamorous and sophisticated and tries to dress like she’s in the golden age of Hollywood.
I don’t go in for it much myself. I wear Vans, skinny jeans and Ts; if I’m dressing up, I’ll get a smart shirt. I have dark hair in a soul-boy cut and fair skin, so dark colours suit me, but I like to wear something vibrant, just one thing of bright colour that cuts through my muted wardrobe, something that says ‘I don’t give a fuck what you think, life isn’t monotone’.
I’m just starting out on Electrical Engineering and I.T at college. I’m not great at either. I commit myself, sure, but I can’t seem to do better than average. On career day we had interviews with the advisor. We were sat down in pop-up cubicles and asked what our hopes were for the future. I remember sitting there my mind blank. I had thought about it. I’d spent some time asking my mates what their plans were, but I had no dreams to be great at anything, or if I could be.
“Right.” Said the careers advisor, a dumpy woman in her fifties, already be-cardiganed.
“Let’s take a look at your grades and see what subjects you excel at.”
It was all in a thin pink folder. Salmon pink and flimsy cardboard that made the folder look more thin. Do they expect us to have more in there? Why have a folder for two A4 sheets of paper? Is this where school funding goes? Her lips were pursed as her eyes flitted from the top of the paper to the bottom, frowned as she flipped to the second page which obviously had far less on.
“You have good grades in English and Biology. Quite sturdy middle rankings across most subjects”, her way of saying, “You’ve just about scraped a pass on everything, what the fuck am I supposed to recommend to this idiot child?”
“I always say, if you are unsure as to where you want to go in a career, that the best advice is to play to your strengths. So, you could follow the humanities route, a good qualification in English can open many doors, especially in the officey admin sector. Or, you could concentrate on the sciences and attempt to specialise there, but I will say that it limits your occupational field, so jobs won’t be as easy to come by as the skills are far less transferable than with English. However, if you really push yourself it could prove to be far more financially viable in the future if you specialise.”
I was fifteen. I looked down at the table with my two pages of grades, decorated with upside down C’s, D’s and E’s. In that moment I saw myself thirty years from now, sitting across from a disinterested teenager trying to tell him to buckle down and chose between two paths with little data on which to draw a decision. I saw the cardigan. I also saw myself working in a dentist, sticking my face in people’s mouths, breathing through a paper mask the reek of gingivitis; the fate of failed biologists majors, the ones that knew they’d never specialise in a scientific field and didn’t have the brains to be a real doctor.
Play to my strengths. I like the farm. I’m quite good with my hands there. No one would call me strong, but I don’t have much fat on me. I can handle cattle, the tractor, the feed, the milking, there isn’t much I don’t do there. We had a land rover break down in the middle of a field once, mum was going to get it towed as it was on its last legs but I spent my evening fixing it and it’s pretty much mine now.
Engineering makes sense, my grandpa was an electrician and it pays well, stuff is always breaking, people always want someone to run around and fix things after them. I.T makes sense, I live in the middle of no where and we have to use computers and phones and stuff. I have a computer, its old and I’ve replaced bits in it a few times now to keep her working, she’s slow but does the job, we needed one for the farm to track invoices and deliveries and stuff but only me and my sisters could use it, so it stays in my room, my sisters just use their phones anyway, better quality camera to take selfies on.
I don’t mind college. I like seeing people and messing around, outside of class there never is anywhere for people to hang out so we go into town or just doss around in the hallways. The classes are actually pretty easy, the tutors don’t tend to push us too hard, maybe because they don’t want us pushing back, or maybe it just means more work for them. I have more mates in I.T, all guys. There are only two girls in I.T and they always have the look of people who have just walked into the wrong room.
There are fewer girls in engineering. None actually. The guys there are pretty shitty. You know the type. Always smoking ciggies, listening to drum and bass, and talking about their latest lay. I don’t give a shit too much. Don’t like many of them. They think being crap to each other is funny. I remember first day there and it was as if they were all old friends, not a group of people who’d only just met. Maybe some of them were, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d each been held back a year of four. It was obvious I didn’t fit. Too quiet, too small, they saw me as a target.
“Hey! What’s your name?” says Mattress Number 1.
“Faran, what’s yours?”
“Faran! You a fucking Paki or something?” he says loudly to a suddenly interested crowd of leering granite stacks.
“No, it’s English. You know, English? They may have tried to teach you some in primary school. Obviously, it didn’t take.” Laughter to this but now the mattress is going red.
“Sounds more like Muslim to me.” Says friend of Mattress Number 1. Let’s call him Smaller Mattress.
“It isn’t, it’s English, and I think you mean Arabic. Actually it’s Anglo-Saxon.”
“What you think your better than us bruv?!” The question mark followed by the exclamation is on them, not me.
“You from some posh fucking school, what you doin’ here?”
There is a circle of them now. I’m in the middle, like someone who’s just fallen into a nest of silverbacks in mating season, and they are enjoying this new sport. The lecturer is late.
“I work on a farm, I’m not posh”
“Farm! What kind of farm, you some sort of sheep shagger?”
“Not sheep, cows.” Yeah, I didn’t phrase that well.
“Ha you a fucking cow shagger? Your too small to fuck a cow. I bet you bend over for the cows to fuck you.”
“I think you mean bull, and no I don’t. Look I’m just here ‘cos I want to learn.” I try to back out of this now, it’s shit, and where the fuck is the teacher?
“Yeah, what are you doing here pretty boy? Don’t you know hairdressing is in building C?” asks Silent Up Till Now Mattress.
“No, but how do you know hairdressing is in building C? Let me guess you’ve just transferred?” scored a few laughs there, but the circle kinda gets that when I insult one of them, I’m insulting them all.
“Nah mate! ‘Cos I’ve done every girl in building C” he boasts too much jeering. “But somehow I must have missed you.” Laughter all round, and yes compared to the rest he is the witty one, although the homoerotic element seemed completely lost on him.
This was where the lecturer turned up. Old and flabby mattress, smelling of ciggies, with springs poking out. He called attention and seemed happy we’d got to know each other so we didn’t need to do an ice-breaker exercise. He went straight into the register and when my name was called, they started mooing.
They take the piss out of me often and the more I give back the more I’m accepted. Just don’t know why I should try so hard for shit heads. The mooing didn’t stop on the first day, it continued with every roll call and the teacher never got why. They said I smelt of dairy, called me Cheesy, then Milky which, because I’m so damn pale, they all found hilarious. Lastly, the one that stuck so much now everyone calls me it, even on the other side of the campus in the I.T department, even the fucking-oblivious lecturers, who constantly mispronounce my name. They call me Milkboy.
©Marquis of Letters 29/03/2019