He’s going to the party solo, cos I’ve got a headache, and someone’s gotta stay home with the baby. The invite said ‘Dress in your best’ so he’s primping and preening, in front of the mirror, spending a a heap of time and a bigger heap of gel to get his uncooperative hair just so, in that rockabilly quiff, lookin’ like Link Wray’s love child. He’s wearing his jade green shirt with the white piping, country style – this is not a night for wallflowers. This night is for the brave, the bold and the beautiful, Berhampore’s best and brightest, and they’re all trying to outdo each other. Everyone’s in on it, up for it. The punks are in their finery, misfits out to party beneath chipped disco balls. And at the end of the night there’s a game of spin the bottle, because why not, it’s late and it seemed like a good idea at the time. And there’s a woman, the kind who’s never had any reason to fear a game of spin the bottle. And maybe it was the way he chose the men over her, the shadow of his cheek rough against the shadow of theirs……it’s been a long night, a good night, but suddenly the bottle is pointing in his direction and she’s calling him ‘the least attractive man at the party’ and then he’s home, safe, and telling me about it, and how it doesn’t really matter, it was funny, it really doesn’t matter, he doesn’t care. Only I’ve stopped listening, fists clenched, eyes closed, offering up my silent prayer: ‘Jesus, hold my earrings.’



Gem Wilder is a writer, mother, dj, dancer and arts lover. She grew up in Lower Hutt in the 80s and 90s, where not much had changed since the infamous Mazenburg Report days.