Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: Never Have I Ever

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Theme for this week was “secrets.”

_

 ‘Let’s play Never Have I Ever,’ he says, and the torment begins. You never know how to play Never Have I Ever right. The basics are fine – say something you’ve “never” done, everyone who has done it takes a drink. No questions asked. Except questions are always asked, when the confessions are surprising. And that’s what they are: confessions. Drink-engineered forced confessions, the equivalent of a child being pushed into the box by their parents, made to tell the old community stalwart every mundane hatred they had that week. I did nothing this week, Father. Too bad. Confess.

But at least priests don’t judge you, or don’t say they judge you, and at least priests aren’t normally halfway into a bottle of Jagermeister and pissed off as they learn who’s been sleeping with who. The point is to say what you’ve done, and see who else has done the same. The objective is laughter, over-sharing, and realising you’re not alone. The danger is being the only one who drinks, and the silence as everyone looks down and tries to forget what you’ve said, as everyone’s opinion of you lowers simultaneously.

You sit there with your rum and coke and you don’t want to drink it as quickly as the game will make you, you want to savour the bottle because it cost you twenty quid, but at the same time you want to drink with everyone else, you don’t want to be the only one sitting with a full glass after ten minutes, the only one with a boring, unsecretive life. Everyone forms their circle round the table, filling their glasses, taking preparatory swigs so they will stand the exposure.

So it begins. The first “Never Have I Ever” involves sex. Because they all involve sex. They say it can be about anything, but at this time of night, with this level of booze, it is always about sex. If your sex life is boring, tough shit. If you haven’t had sex yet, even bigger tough shit. You can try to talk about masturbating but they might not see that as good enough. All part of the game.

It goes round. Sex in other people’s beds. Breaking furniture from doing it too hard. Fantasising about your teachers, your cousins, your best friend’s siblings.

It comes round to you. You grip your glass and you don’t want to talk about that kind of thing. You want to lighten the load.

‘Never Have I Ever…accidentally flushed my goldfish down the toilet, when I thought it was dead but it actually wasn’t.’

It was the worst moment of your eight-year-old self, now tossed out among people you’ve barely known for three months. Some smile in sympathy, ask about it, mention films where that has happened, some folk mention their own pets, but most are silently unimpressed.

‘Next!’ he shouts, eager to get back to the good stuff.

Round one, failed. You sit and try to drink slyly when the weird stuff begins to come around. Being caught masturbating. Sex in front of the cat. ‘That’s not a secret,’ he shouts, because everyone knows cats are indifferent, and everyone’s done it, right? And the shouting across begins. No, it’s weird. No, it’s normal. The confessor takes a huge gulp of their drink even though it’s not the next turn yet. Everyone takes secret drinks, outside the game. Get it over with. Laugh at your own shortcomings. The headache tomorrow will take away the knowledge that you let nine people get a glimpse at the vulnerable core of you, the horny, shitting, unacknowledged part.

It’s you again. Your mind is blank.

‘I can’t think of anything.’

Seconds stretch. They are looking at you. ‘Come on,’ they start to say, ‘just anything,’ when you know that’s a lie. It has to be good, it has to be weird but not too weird, but people are getting restless, annoyed, an off-sync chorus of ‘Come on, anything!’ has started. People are splitting off into their own conversations. More drinks poured with shaky hands. You flail inside.

‘Um, Never Have I Ever…Never Have I Ever…stuck my finger up my bum to see what it felt like.’

Silence. Millisecond darts of eyes from person to person. No-one touches their drink. Not even you.

‘Well,’ he says, and that’s all he says, because no-one has drunk. No-one will touch that. You are ashamed of mentioning such a thing.

‘Next!’ someone shouts, and the other person begins immediately, having saved their confession from their last turn: ‘Never Have I Ever…’

You quietly take your glass to your lips and have a tiny sip, saying in your head that it’s for your last go, because it was true, and you’re sure you’re not the only one, but you can’t say anything. Better forget it, and hope everyone else forgets too.

‘Never Have I Ever….cheated,’ says one quiet girl, and five people drink. The atmosphere dives into bleakness. Will anyone be able to drag the fun back into this room?

Before the next secret starts, a can of beer flies off the table – committing suicide, you think – and onto the floor, and everyone starts talking and moving, trying to get towels and kitchen roll to clean it up, complaining about the spillage onto their clothes and shoes.

‘I’m going to the loo,’ say three people at once.

‘I’m going for a fag,’ say another two.

It’s over, thank Christ, it’s over. The host puts on the TV and turns it to a late-night foreign game show. Everyone adjusts their seats to watch. You grab your rum, and realise you’ve run out of mixer. Nevertheless, you pour yourself a triple. Down in one.

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Written by G.J.

25/07/2013 at 8:24 am

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