Alison Ashworth (Aged Fourteen)
My friends and I used to mess about in a park just round the corner from where I lived. We were fourteen and had recently discovered irony–or at least, we had what I later understood to be an ironic attitude to the swings and roundabouts and other stuff rusting away there. We used them, but self-consciously, in the full knowledge that they were amusements for kids, not teenagers: we would jump off the swings when they could go no higher, leap on to the roundabout when it would spin no faster, hang on to the end of the swingboat as it reached an almost vertical position. If we could expose the potential to injure in these apparently innocuous machines, then playing on them became legitimate.
We had no irony when it came to girls, however. There had been no time to develop it. One moment they weren’t there–not in any form that interested us, at any rate–and the next they were. One minute we wanted to clunk them round the ear for being so stupid, the next . . . well, we didn’t know what we wanted.
What did we have that we didn’t have before? Squeaky, two-pitched voices. But they served only to make us preposterous, not desirable. Our testicles had dropped, apparently, and some pubic hairs had sprouted (not that we were in the position to show these off).