Things I admire about you:
- You are a unique person and have a strong character
- You make me laugh
- You aren’t picky when it comes to food
- You are proud, and although this isn’t always a good thing, it means you stand up for what you believe in, no matter what the subject is
- You have a very good memory
- You have a way with words
- You don’t let people push you around
- You know a lot of random facts
- You are really smart
- You listen and or always have something to say
- You’re honest and speak your mind
- You’re really good at sport
- You like reading
- You watch a wide variety of movies
- You have nice eyes
- You are very observant
Most importantly, you’re a really good friend who always helped me if I needed it even if you were busy. Despite what everyone says, I still think that you are one of the coolest people I know who doesn’t suck at everything
Please, Peyt, don’t think I’m perfect. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll tell you that I’m very bad at maths, I’m naive, and I’m very inflexible when it comes to change. Apart from being scared of getting up in front of a whole group of people, I’m also scared of heights, cockroaches, small spaces and bald men.
I hope you understand and that we can still be friends. Please, they were just awards which won’t mean anything next year.
She saw a lot of things in me that I didn’t see. This was the result of a... disagreement in year five. So who cares if I skipped a few years? They aren’t that important. Wait, who am I kidding? They’re important to me, they’re days that I know I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life. But they aren’t, however, relevant to this book. As I was saying, although Dee and I were really good friends, we didn’t go without our disagreements here and there. There was this one particular time in year five when it seemed that our friendship was going to break. And it was practically all my fault, as was many other incidents that will be mentioned later.
You see, it started when I stood up to get a sport’s award at assembly. I had come second in the Regional Cross Country and felt pretty damn good about myself. I mean, I was up against everyone in the region. That is, everyone who made it in, anyway. So there I was, strutting up to the stage to collect my award. I almost tripped on my shoelace whilst walking up the stairs on the stage which made the whole school try to stifle their laughter. I had to admit, it was quite funny. It was my moment of glory. The pride was welled up in my chest like a joyous balloon and for once everyone was clapping for me. I even saw Ben Mundy and his mob clap. It was the first time that I was able to stand up in front of a large group of people without any of them ridiculing me or anything. Not that I cared that much, it just got annoying after a while. And bloody hell, it felt good (them not ridiculing me, I mean). As soon as I sat down in my seat, Dee, who had been sitting next to me (obviously) patted my shoulder.
‘Good job, Peyt,’ she had whispered happily before facing back to the stage where the principal stood at the lectern saying something about how great I was to achieve second place in the whole region.
The next part made my blood boil at the time. My moment of glory was shattered into a million pieces.
‘And to carry on this joyous mood,’ Mr Soaden (the principal) had continued, ‘I would like to also acknowledge the achievements of another person who was recently involved in the state music competition...’
At that moment, I had felt rather than saw Dee start with shock. We both knew that she had participated in the state music competition, but then again so had several other people we knew, yet neither of us had learned anything of the results.
‘...this girl had entered playing both, piano and violin, and was up against ten to thirteen year olds throughout all of New South Wales. She came first in piano and third in violin so I’d like to call up to the stage Daedra Polenin...’
I knew that Dee, who had somehow developed a sort of stage fright when it came to large audiences such as this, sunk lower into her seat with her ears turning red. But I was fuming too hard to look at her. Only when the hall exploded with cheer did I feel her get up and briskly make her way over to the principal, shake his hand and collect her trophies and certificates, then almost run down the aisle and collapse next to me in her seat. My victorious limelight was gone. Coming second in Regional Cross Country looked like nothing at all compared to coming first and third in the state for playing a musical instrument which was obviously harder than running. I knew that I should have congratulated her, but I was a selfish, jealous little... yeah, you get the picture.
Mr. Soaden went on about talented students and how proud he was to be our principal. We didn’t speak at all throughout the rest of the assembly.
As soon as assembly was over, I stood up and headed straight for my classroom where my bag was. Since Dee and I were in the same class this year (we were in different the previous year) she caught up to me. I could tell that she was confused and wanted to say something. Through the corridor, people congratulated us about our winnings, but I could tell they were mainly speaking to her and only confronted me to be polite.
Now that I think about it, I sort of get this slightly guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I mean, I was jealous just because my best friend had two awards for playing instruments and I got one for running.
‘What’s wrong?’ she had asked once we were inside the classroom.
Unlike in high school, in primary your bag stays either on a hook or, in my case, next to your desk. We knelt by our bags to store our winnings and pull out lunch.
‘Nothing,’ I had said a little too happily. ‘Why?’
Dee had folded her arms then and straightened up. ‘C’mon, Peyton, I’ve known you for five and a half years now, I know when you’re upset about something.’
I knew she was being serious because of the use of my full name. ‘It’s nothing, alright? Just drop it!’ I had grabbed my lunch then and headed off out of the room without waiting for her.
She had run out after me without taking her own. I was halfway down the corridor when she caught up to me.
‘Will you just tell me what’s wrong?’ She demanded. ‘Are you angry at me or something? If so, what did I do? Please, Peyt, tell me.’
I remember feeling really frustrated then. I was just made to look like the crappiest winner in the school and she had the nerve to ask me what the matter was? ‘Look, Dee, it doesn’t matter, alright?’
Dee had looked at me squarely in the face. ‘Listen, Peyt, I care. I’m your friend. Besides, talking about a problem is the first step to getting rid of it. C’mon, you should be happy! You came second in the region! That’s really good!’
That’s when I snapped. ‘Not when it’s compared to coming first in the state for playing a damn piano and third for a violin!’
‘Is that what this is about? You’re angry at me just because I won the music competition?’ Now she was sounding angry.
‘No, I’m angry because you got recognition on the same day!’ It was lousy, but it was true. If she had been called up a week later, the fight wouldn’t have happened. ‘You never get bullied or teased for anything, ok, so you don’t know what it’s like! I do! And when I finally achieve something that people will congratulate me for, it ends up looking crap because you get a much better award on the same day! Coming second in the region looks like nothing at all compared to coming first and third in the state! You wanna know why I’m angry, Dee? I’m angry because you’re too damn good and I suck at everything, even at what I’m good at! Look just... stop being so perfect for a change, it might do you some good! Now leave me alone and go hang out with your perfect intellectual friends!’ Yes, I admit it; I was being a complete bastard.
She just gave me this look as if she couldn’t or didn’t want to believe her own ears then turned and stalked away. I had regretted my words almost as soon as I had said them but didn’t go off after her. I remember seeing her, from behind, lift a hand to her eye.
At lunch and recess, the motley group I sat with consisted of Ron Wiseman, Ruth Monk, Amy Han, Gavin Baker and Dee. We were pretty much the outcasts of the school society; Ron was a year ahead of us and had two different coloured eyes and had to go to “back on track” which was this program for kids who couldn’t learn as fast as others (it was different to special education). Ruth had leg bracers and spoke with a lisp. Amy got picked on because she was Chinese. Gavin was from the country. That speaks for itself. Dee was pretty much good at everything except sport, maths and sciences (later I found out that she wasn’t ace at geography either) and never got picked on. She had heaps of friends, yet she stayed with us. Sometimes I wondered why she hung out with us losers.
Anyways, when I turned up without Dee, they all asked where she was. I told them I didn’t know. It was a white lie. I guess they sensed my anger because they didn’t ask me about her for the rest of lunch. In truth I dreaded the time when the bell rang, mainly because Dee and I sat next to each other in class. Lucky for me it was art day which meant that I could go to another table. We lined up outside the classroom but I saw no sign of her. I was relieved, taken aback and worried at the same time. When we got into class, the teacher told us to get out our art diaries and other stuff and move to where we were working. We were making a mural for the back wall to go with the theme of the term which was rainforests. I was supposed to be drawing all these pictures and Dee was supposed to be working on the actual wall itself seeing as she was the creative one.
Five minutes into the lesson I still hadn’t spotted her. Not that I was looking, I was just being more observant than usual. I was drawing a life-size picture of a cassowary when suddenly, she pops up out of nowhere and throws this folded piece of paper on my picture and hurries off to the other end of the room.
Yes, to all you literary perfectionists, I am perfectly aware of the fact that I am continuously changing tenses. It’s a bad habit and will most likely happen throughout the book, so either stop reading or get used to it. It’s not that I’m admitting that I’m bad at writing, I’m doing it on purpose to create atmosphere and put it through to the reader that the book was written by me, the way I talk and the way the words instantly pop up in my head. If you don’t believe that I can write better, there will be formal reports written by me later on. Besides, I like the idea of writing the way I talk at different ages. It was something she always commented on in my stories.
Slightly annoyed, yet slightly intrigued, I remember slowly unfolding the piece of paper expecting to see something along the lines of:
Peyton Ripley, you are a horrible jerk who doesn’t give a stuff about anyone else. You are so self-centred and you think that no one else’s feelings matter just so long as you’re happy. You’re also very ungrateful and deserve neither friends nor sympathy, not even the attention of the school bully. You complain about people not accepting you for who you are, yet you don’t accept others for who they are. Go sit on your hockey stick and rotate you horrible hypocrite. I never want to speak to you ever again.
To my relief, I didn’t get that message. I got the one that you read previously with all the dot points. I almost cried. I was touched by what she wrote about me, and miserable about the fact that she was right, they were only awards. I’ll tell you now that I felt a helluva lot worse than just guilty. I’m the one who should’ve written her some sort of apology letter or something.
I didn’t speak to her for the rest of the lesson though. When the bell went to go home, Dee didn’t wait around. When I finally left, I had to run to catch up with her. We both walked home since we lived just a few streets away from the school. She was just turning the corner when I caught up to her and stopped, panting like a dog. I could tell that she was mildly amused.
‘I read your letter,’ I had started lamely after I caught my breath. ‘I just want to say... You’re scared of bald men?’
She had started laughing. ‘That was a little joke for you. But yes. I don’t know why, they just give me the creeps. I think it’s the way their heads… well… shine.’
I remember looking down at that moment, overwhelmed with guilt. ‘I’m really sorry for what I said back then. I said some pretty stupid and hurtful things. I’m sorry.’
Then I told her everything about how I should have been the one writing an apology letter and that I had felt really guilty and so on. She totally agreed with me.
It’s awfully funny the types of things that ten and eleven year olds get into arguments over now that I look back at it. At the time they seemed perfectly serious and normal. Just goes to show that extreme changes do happen every day as life goes on.
 For those of you who don’t know what that is, to put it short, it’s a type of race.
 One was dark brown, and the other was an even darker brown, almost black. He said it was something to do with pigmentation. Now he’s doing medicine at Macquarie University.
 Not anymore. Now she runs faster than me and is going to start a course in physical education. She sort of reminded me of the book Forrest Gump.
 It was funny in a strange sort of way; they teased her by speaking in a mock Chinese accent, funny thing was she spoke better English than them and had more of an “Aussie accent” than Gavin. She also got called a commie at some stage (communist for those of you who don’t know the term), the funny thing about that was that it was by a guy with a Russian background.
 When I say “country”, I mean country country; kangaroos all over the place, sheep out the back, water-tank round the side and wooden triangular roof cottage with a rocking chair in the shade of a couple of gums. He ended up going back to the country in the middle of year nine, down south this time, a small place called Berry. He sent me a letter not long ago. Now he’s doing maths in the university at Nowra.
(Drink at own risk)
· 1x blender (lid needed!)
· 1x large spoon of sorts (ladles not counted)
· ?x drinking glasses for victims/taste-testers
· 1x eyedropper
· 1x cup of lemon, lime and bitters (preferably “Angostura” or “Bickfords” although “Schweppes” will do)
· 1x cup of ginger beer (preferably “Bundaberg”, although “Cascade” is good enough. Stear clear of “Saxby’s”)
· 1x large spoon of beer/wine/bourbon (if you can’t find any, don’t worry, you can’t taste it in the end)
· half x large spoon of coffee
· one eighth x cup of FRESH water
· half x teaspoon of sea-salt
· 1x teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce
· 1x teaspoon of barbecue sauce
· 1x teaspoon of tomato paste
· 3x large spoon of ice-cream
· 2x large spoons Milo
· half x cup of milk
· 5x finely chopped strawberries
· 5x finely chopped grapes
· quarter x extremely finely chopped mango
· Anything else that you may want to add. I used crushed Oreos.
1. Collect and set up utensils.
2. Add ingredients to blender.
3. Place LID ON BLENDER!
4. Turn on blender.
5. Blend until it looks like a sloppy liquidy paste of some sort.
6. Pour in glasses.
8. Drink some yourself or enjoy the reactions.
Warning: Do not make, serve, or drink any without serious consideration. No, it is not fatal, but if not made properly doesn’t taste as good as it normally does. Good for wanting an excuse to stay home from school. Side effects may occur and vary from person to person.
Yes, I am sick. But tell me honestly, how many people go through life without making some sort of mutant food/drink of some sort? By the way, the first time I made it, it actually tasted reasonable. Before I added the various sauces, that is.
This odd recipe came as a result of a day of boredom during the holidays when we were in year six.
It was the middle of April and I was over at Dee’s place. It was an unusually warm day so we decided to make a drink. Literally. Her dad was home, and—
Before I go on, let me tell you about Mr Alexei Polenin. He was born in 1962, six years after his parents moved here from Russia. Back in those days (and up until 1989 and the fall of communism) the Russians weren’t liked that much and the White Australia Policy was still in action (although not as bad as it was earlier). Alexei is quite an entertaining story-teller. According to him, his parents, among the last to do the dictation test in 1958, came to Australia as migrants fleeing from Communism. Coming to Australia made sense, I mean, compared to Russia, it’s on the other side of the world. They passed the dictation test largely because both his parents were multilingual; Vladimir Polenin (Alexei’s father) taught languages at a university in Moscow. It was just by luck that Vladimir got the test in Greek and Tatiana (his wife) got it in French. After a lot of hard work and persuasion (or “communist manipulation” as Alexei jokes), somehow Vlad landed a job as a teacher and Alexei was born.
He’s got brown hair and blue eyes and always has a story. He’s into all that psychological Sigmund Freud stuff (ergo Dee’s interest) and listens to music that sounds like Monks or Hindus praising happily. I’m not saying Monks and Hindus to be offensive; I’m saying it because it’s what he told me. On one CD the people are Hindus, apparently singing in the ancient Sanskrit language. It sounds very interesting. Even if you don’t like the music you can’t help but feel happy after listening for a few minutes. No matter what it says, though, I’m not sure I believe Alexei when he says he understands any of the words, or should I say “word”. He drinks “herbal” tea, smokes “herbal” cigarettes, eats “herbal” cakes, and grows “herbs” on the private balcony in the master bedroom. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a drug addict, he does it to... “Keep in touch with the world” using his words. He can speak nine different types of used or known languages fluently and can play the bagpipes and harmonica. He’s also into yoga and votes for the Fishing and Lifestyle party. He isn’t strict and wouldn’t even mind if we were playing with fire works just as long as we cleaned up our mess and we didn’t kill/break anything/one. He’s a kindergarten teacher.
So anyways, it was a Tuesday in the April school Holidays. Dave was out “job-hunting”, Mum and Dad (and a few members of the local police force who had different reasons) were out Dave-hunting, and Dee’s mum, Steph, was in hospital for the next few days because she had just had a baby, Michael. We had been round to see them earlier and now, Alexei sat in the lounge room with his feet on the coffee table and a joint and a copy of War and Peace in his hand.
Dee and I had just gone upstairs, partly to escape the smell of marijuana smoke, and partly because the entertainment room was there. The entertainment room was more like a mini cinema. Think of a flat widescreen television (which was a bigger deal in 1999 than it is today, and it’s still a big deal) with surround sound, a video and DVD player (that was also big news), and even a mini fridge within reach of the lounge. I guess I’ll say it now in case you haven’t picked it up; Dee was rich. Back then, we joked about their wealth being gained through some sinister dealings with gang members on Alexei’s behalf. Now, although I don’t believe that Alexei was a drug dealer, I’m not entirely closed to the possibility of that theory.
We watched a bit of one of the Monty Python films; I’m pretty sure it was The Holy Grail then went downstairs to “make a drink”.
‘What are you two up to?’ we heard Alexei call out from the lounge room.
‘Making a drink,’ Dee had called back.
Looking over my shoulder, I remember him sitting up slightly. ‘Make me one too, right, Dee?’
‘Right, Dad,’ she answered absently then turned to me. ‘What are we having?’
I was sitting at the table around this time and spinning back and forth on one of the swivel chairs that were bolted to the floor. ‘Dunno. Let’s just chuck everything together and see what happens.’ I had responded. That always happened with me. If I didn’t know what I wanted, I just mixed it all together and hoped for the best. It’s not that I’m very creative; it’s just that, at around this time, I had wanted to be a chef. I still do, sort of.
Obviously we got a little carried away, what, with the use of the different sauces and all. If we had used a normal blender it would have overflowed for sure. Lucky for us, Dee’s blender was huge. In the end, we ended up with a sort of reddish-brownish watery paste with crushed Oreo parts and chunks of fruit. It wasn’t much for looks, but never judge a book by its cover, I always say.
Around this time Alexei staggered through the door from the lounge room and sort of stopped. It looked more like he had just walked into an invisible wall.
‘What’s that?’ was all he said.
‘It’s our super-shake,’ I replied, taking the jug of the blender off the actual... thing that the electricity goes into.
Dee got out three tall glasses. ‘We couldn’t decide what to have so mixed together a bit of everything.’
Alexei had sat down on one of the swivel chairs and peeped at our concoction unsurely. ‘If I get sick drinking that ...’ he paused for a moment then smiled as if a sudden thought had just occurred to him. ‘Never mind,’
Sometimes that man was just un-understandable. He’s the type of bloke who doesn’t care so much about what you do when it comes to “having fun”, just so long as he can be part of it or it benefits him in some way.
As it happened, we all bravely took a mouthful at the same time.
If I hadn’t been taught better I’d have spat it all out. I think the same would have applied to Dee and her dad.
‘What the hell did you put in this, boy?’ Alexei demanded after swallowing the stuff.
I couldn’t help smiling at his reaction despite the fact that it was rather vulgar in both taste and smell. ‘Everything you see on the table.’ I concluded proudly.
Alexei shook his head in disbelief, crossing over to the fridge to retrieve a bottle of water. ‘I hope you don’t plan on being a chef when you grow up, Peyt; or opening your own bar. You’ll end up accidently killing someone.’
‘I don’t think that it would taste that bad if it didn’t have all those sauces in it,’ Dee stated. ‘I mean, when you think about it the stuff we use would make an extremely interesting spider.’
Since the day was hot and the three of us didn’t have that much else to do, we made it again; but this time without the various sauces, salt, and coffee.
That turned out reasonably better.
Don’t ask me where getting sick comes into it. We either have high immune systems or didn’t drink enough of the stuff for anything to happen. But trust me; you can throw up your previous meal after drinking it.
The second time we made it happened a few years later. That’s right; I kept the recipe and played Frankenstein for a second time. I won’t go into too much detail here, but I’ll just say that it was at our year ten formal. And heck, you should have seen the look on their faces. It was priceless.
 Many people call them “joints” these days
 These are: English, French, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish, Icelandic, Latin and Greek. He can also speak several other languages that no one ever uses or knows (as far as I know) including Gothic English, Saxon (not Anglo-Saxon, just Saxon), Sanskrit, some form of extremely old Gaelic and even a bit of “Faliscan”, whatever that is.
 Quite smart once you think about it; if you don’t like Labor or Liberal, don’t vote for either of them and go for the one that (unfortunately) definitely won’t win. That way you don’t get in trouble for not voting and your vote doesn’t go towards either party. Well, not directly anyway.