It started with a mosquito bite on my leg. That I scratched. Manically. And then it grew to the size of a small root vegetable – perhaps a kumara. Well, certainly the colour of one. It occurred to me that perhaps this was slightly unusual. After a few days I was incapable of walking and was confined to a deck chair by my parents’ pool. I instructed my family in laying out a little side table with all the essentials – the January issue of In Style and a vodka and pink grapefruit in a tall glass.
Eventually I conceded that I must submit myself to a doctor’s appointment, which in hindsight was an excellent idea as he diagnosed my kumara as a nasty abscess in need of draining. I am pleased to say that I behaved like an intolerable drama queen during the entire operation. Apparently I have a fine pair of lungs because I screamed really quite enthusiastically when the doctor inserted a pair of scissors into my wound to hold it open. How was everyone else’s summer? I turned twenty-two with a leg stuffed with gauze. Awesome.
And so begins the new school year, and out comes the first issue of Salient. I bet you opened it, quickly scanned the contents page, noticed I wasn’t there and felt indignant. Where was your fave columnist? Well you’re not the only one who was outraged. You thought I’d deserted you, right? Calm yourselves my dear friends, there is no way I’d leave you without so much as a highly dramatic farewell column and releasing a CD of 70’s disco covers.
The university is brimming with over-eager first years who haven’t yet sampled my goodies, self-important second years, anxious third years, bored fourth years… and the category that I fall into – frighteningly immature fifth years who really need to move on. FIFTH YEAR FOR GOD’S SAKE! This is not normal. Really, you’ve got no excuse for being in fifth year unless you’re a law student. Law students are stuck here forever.
This is my third year in Salient, having joined “the team” in 2003, and brought with me a bubbling cast of supporting characters. I will introduce them once more for all you virgin readers: last year’s flatmates Hugo, with his Maria Callas shrine, Charlotte the virtuoso violinist and Jeremy the beer-swilling womaniser (also devastatingly handsome) who insisted he gave up smoking on December 10 – but this is yet to be confirmed. There’s Ben, who I took as my lover in 2001 and was too lazy to swap for a younger model; his three flatmates who recently went all executive on me so that now I’m the only poor student left of my group of friends; not to mention a plethora of relationship victims, drunks, public defecators, bisexual dentists, musicians and celebrity girlfriends.
In my three years of writing for Salient I have had my fair share of hate mail and other verbal abuse, plus the occasional good telling-off by a certain senior member of staff who hates my guts. In saying that, there’s plenty of nice stuff as well – I get asked out, have poems written for me, lots of well-wishers around exam time, and people want my opinion on really serious, important topics such as politics. Unfortunately politics is not something I go into – there are other writers who deal with that sort of crap. I like to write about very simple things that everybody understands. Things like sex, shopping and chocolate (everyone needs an occupation).
I have lived in one hostel (Weir House – I hear now they’re making it the “study hostel” which means nobody will have any fun there anymore. If you live in Weir House, send me an email <emilielestrange [at] hotmail.com> and let me know), and three different flats with various eccentric flatmates. Moving is so god-awful that I don’t think I will leave my current flat until it’s time to flee the country altogether. This year I live with Charlie the Friendly Lawyer who thinks I am like, so funny; a girl named Veronica who loves being stressed and whose fishwife voice can be heard from the street; and my boyfriend’s ex-flatmate Rob, who finds joy only in rocks and extended versions of blockbuster New Zealand films. Readers from previous years will be sad to hear of the departures of Hugo, Charlotte and Jeremy, but I’m sure that they will return at some point in some shape or form.
Anyway back to the story. Not that this column really has a story. Or, indeed, a point. It’s more of a “previously on Emilie Le Strange” column.
I hope that everyone had a pleasant summer holiday, if you managed to have a holiday. When you’re about to launch into your fifth year of university, there is no time for frivolous fun in the sun and whatnot. So mine was a working holiday, although I did manage to have a couple of nice adventures – went out to dinner with my Dad and a kunikuni pig walked into the restaurant and started squealing; did a road trip with Hugo and realised, embarrassingly, that we both knew all the words and the dance moves to the entire SpiceWorld album; worked in a jewellery shop and tried on everything, then took digital photographs of myself laden with jewels and emailed them to everyone I knew. That sort of thing. I also managed to score ten glorious days in Hawke’s Bay, read three Jilly Cooper novels and then tried to write my own (without success) and then of course there was my twenty-second birthday party which was held once the leg had healed. Tonnes of fabulous and important people were there, all the young, hip, movers and shakers from Wellington and beyond.
If you are new to my columns you will quickly learn that I use words like “fabulous” all the time because I am dreadfully insecure and want people to think I am some sort of It Girl, which I am clearly not. I don’t think an It Girl would dine in pig-infested restaurants or grow a kumara on her leg.