A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
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SMOKE: Games I Hated

Originally published: 21 October 2005

I was walking along the other day - as one does - when suddenly I gasped in amazement.

No, it wasn't yet another Claremont Hottie crossing the road, thin summer dress swirling enticingly around her edible thighs - I've ceased to be amazed by such sights. They're the norm these days, in Claremont.

What stupefied me was that I realised it's been about 15 years since I've had a scab on either knee.

I used to have scabs all the time from my various scrapes and grazes - scabby knees was part and parcel of being a young, rambunctious fellow with an overflow of hormones.

I loved my scabs, man - I would get great big ones which were nice and thick with pus and blood, and the art of removing them was my special forte.

When I had one I'd test it each day with just a bit of nail under the edge, until I'd loosened it up enough to start peeling it away in bits. You couldn't just rip the whole thing off if it was still wet underneath or you'd get another in no time.

So usually I'd chip away at it from the outside in, until I'd get to the middle which was always still wet and stuck on firmly. Pulling that piece off was a mixture of exquisite pain and near-orgasmic pleasure - perspiration would spring to my brow in an instant but it would feel good.

There was usually one small wet spot left in the middle, and if you managed to remove the scab whole and turned it over there'd be bits of hair and wetness still stuck to the inside of it.

Lovely, man. I really miss my scabs.

What I don't miss is getting them, of course, because that was the worst part. Most of my scabs came from bicycle accidents (I once put my right foot in the spokes of the front wheel of my bicycle - while I was travelling downhill at speed - just to see what would happen, and I've still got the scars from that one) - but plenty of them came from playing what other kids cunningly referred to as "games".

Yeah right. Don't make me burst an already overburdened kidney laughing.

Girls played sensible games. Boys did not.

Take Stingers, for example. A ridiculous game. I was forced to partake in two versions of it: Ball to the Wall and Stone Groan.

The first was the most common way of playing. One person (I can never remember how that person was chosen, but it always ended up being me) would stand against a wall and the others would throw tennis balls as hard as they could at his legs.

As soon as someone hit you they were forced to join you at the wall, and so on. Naturally you had to try jump out of the way.

It had something of a firing squad mentality about it and those throwing the balls took their role as firing squad very seriously indeed.

Nothing pleasant about that game at all. I never even got proper revenge for the amount of times my legs were stung because although I was picked on I wasn't stupid - when it was my turn to throw the ball I'd be very sure never to hit the oke against the wall, or I would have had to join him.

So other okes got to sting me and I got to do nothing back. In my book that's a crap game.

Not half as bad as Stone Groan Stingers, of course. That version of the game was for lads who found themselves without a tennis ball and an insane desire to play Stingers.

Stones became the natural substitute, and the victim wouldn't stand against a wall - they'd have to run hell-for-leather around the playground with a stoning mob tearing after them, trying desperately to hit the running, bare legs with sharp stones.

Nobody ever held back so when you got hit blood was likely to be drawn. Even a very small stone hurts like buggery.

I was constantly having my scrawny legs pelted with stones and tennis balls. Forgive me for not being able to discover the source of enjoyment in that game.

Then there were Lummies. Every schoolboy who's ever lived has been given a lummy at some stage or other - a fierce punch to the upper arm which makes you nauseous with pain if done correctly.

Okes I went to school with decided just casual lummying was no good, and we thus had to play a controlled game of Lummying.

It was quite basic - two okes would square up and one would offer the other his shoulder to be lummied. Once that lummy was done the roles would be reversed, and the two of you would stand there trading lummies until one hollered "Nuff!"

What's with okes generally just wanting to hurt each other? I'm sure there's a reason for it but for the life of me I've never come close to finding out what that reason is.


There was a bastardization of that game which didn't have a name, but which you may recognise.

Once again there'd be two okes facing each other, but this time each would place his hands together as if in prayer and the two would point their praying hands at each other so that just their fingertips were touching.

One oke would start, and he'd have to try and slap the other's hands before he could move them away. If he missed the other oke would take over, and so forth.

Slapping someone's hands may not sound painful but when you get repeatedly slapped over and over again on the hands by a strong, vicious bastard you end up with seriously painful hands.

Another version of that was to make fists instead and try hitting the other dude's knuckles. Let's not go there. The memories are almost more painful than my knuckles were so many times.

Those were the physically painful games I played, but there were others I hated just as much.

Rock, paper, scissors, for example. What a ridiculous bladdy game. I was never smart enough to work out the percentages and usually just went with rock because it seemed the most likely winning implement.

It was like tic-tac-toe in a way - totally pointless. No clear winner. And for an oke who loves his sport as much as I do, no winner equates to wet fish.

And what about Kiss Catch? Appalling, man.

I played this on numerous occasions at church camp and there was one little birdie I fancied more than any other. I loved the idea of playing Kiss Catch as I'd never been like other boys - I loved girls from the moment I could appreciate the difference between them and me. Not once in my life did I go through a girl-hating phase.

Problem was - I never knew what to do with her once I caught her. I was far too shy to deliver a proper kiss so it would always end up being an awkward sort of half kiss on the cheek kind of - it was a nightmare.

Made even worse by the fact that the little tart was panting for it - she kinda liked me back despite my ocean of acne and remembering it all now I see those hungry eyes and full, wet lips just begging to be caressed by mine own.

But I couldn't do it, and of course she drifted away over the years.

In my teen years all physical games were replaced with sexually titillating ones, like Truth or Dare, but these were no better.

In Truth or Dare nobody ever told the truth and nobody ever did a dare, so it was always mighty watered down. All anyone wants to achieve with that game is nudity of the other sex, and since that never happens - and no salacious details are ever divulged - it always descends into one or two half-assed kisses and some pissed, enthusiastic oke mooning the neighbours.

Rubbish, that. Rubbish.

Finally - Hide and Seek.

My problem was that I was too good at it. Nobody ever found me. You must realise - when it comes to hiding nobody is better than me at it, as I've explained on numerous occasions before.

No matter how sparse the terrain I would always find the most spectacular hiding places, and hours later - upon waking up - I'd discover that everyone had long since gone.

It was the loneliest game of all.

So I don't know what's wrong with kids - all I know is their games are crap. I hated every one of them and spent my spare time inventing my own games which I played with my siblings or my cousins.

Thinking back on them now the games I invented all placed me firmly in charge, and I guess that's why I hated all those other games - I was never in charge of my own enjoyment.

Wish I'd kissed her, man. What a loser.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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