This column is the first entry in an ongoing experimental diary series exploring the life of a fictional teen Vietnamese girl, Mai.
6 February 2005
Today was a momentous day for our friend group. I knew the day would come, but I didn’t think it would come so soon. But it has happened, at last – one of us is no longer a virgin.
We were sitting around at lunchtime, and Nina had a shit-eating grin on her face, like she was exploding to tell us something. I’ve known her since we were five – I can read her like a book.
“What’s the goss, Neens?” Soph asked, and Brit inched in, echoing, “yeah, what’s the goss?”
“You clearly want to tell us something, so just do it!”
Nina suddenly became very interested in her salad, stabbing the cherry tomatoes with a fork, and finally she said it, almost in a whisper, but we all heard it. “Duncan and I had sex last night.”
Soph and Brit burst out laughing, and I think the word “slut” was thrown around a lot, as well as lots of requests for details, and Brit got out her notebook and opened the page where we listed every girl in our grade who’d had sex, and wrote NINA HALL in big red letters on the list.
Nina said it hurt a bit, and like she needed to pee, but that it then felt pretty good. I guess she’s been going out with Duncan for six months, and I know they’ve definitely been doing other stuff in that time, so it wasn’t that big a leap for her. But still, we’ve been best friends since kindy, and it’s so weird that my best friend has now had sex, and I haven’t even kissed a boy, unless you count the time in Year 8 at the disco with Joey’s when David Tetstall forced me to slow dance with him to Angel by Shaggy and sang it to me through his buck teeth and tried to kiss me but missed my mouth and I ran away to the toilet and never came back.
Which I definitely don’t.
I’m happy for Nina, but I’m also kind of jealous. My parents would never let me have a boyfriend, and I’m pretty sure if I had sex now, at 16, they would disown me for sullying their reputation within the Viet community.
It’s Valentine’s Day next week. I’ve been thinking of giving something to Soph to give to Daniel on the bus, but I probably won’t.
10 February 2005
Linh called today. It’s been a few months since she was kicked out, and I really miss her. The house feels empty without her in it, and there are so many things – Daniel, for example –that I want to talk to her about, but it’s not the same over the phone. I feel like an only child and it’s really weird. It was especially weird to celebrate Tết without her yesterday – the first one since she left. No one wanted to talk about it, so we talked around it, but I felt her missing more than ever.
I got $300 all up at Tết yesterday, but lost $40 on the gambling games. Not too bad overall though. I think I’ll go into the city after violin lessons one weekend soon and check out what new CDs they have at Utopia, and of course also buy my ticket to see The Used in May – I’m so excited!
In third period today, someone threw a scrunched up piece of paper at Nina when Mr Watson wasn’t looking. Thank god he didn’t turn around. We opened the piece of paper and it just said SLUT inside. I guess news spreads quickly in this school. I feel like it’s okay when we call Nina a slut, because we’re her friends and we know it’s a joke, but this felt really different, and we spent lunchtime comforting her because she wouldn’t stop crying. I don’t know who did it, but if I find out, they are going to pay.
13 February 2005
It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. I made Daniel a mix CD, and I wrote him a note to go with it, but I don’t know if I’ll give it to Soph to give to him. I’m just worried it will ruin our friendship, you know? We barely see each other, except for when I wave to him from the bus stop in the afternoons, but I live for our MSN chats in the evenings. He’s so funny and smart and he knows all the bands no one else I know does. I remember the first time I met him in real life, after talking on MSN for months, at the disco with Joey’s, and he smiled at me and I thought I would faint, but I was too scared to dance with him so instead I just said hey and then Hilary pushed David Tetstall onto me and that’s when all that stuff happened, and I saw Daniel’s face and he just laughed, and we talked about it late that night when the disco was over. I don’t have many guy friends, but he’s so easy to talk to and it feels really natural and right. Once he told me that I’m one of his best friends, and we jokingly call each other “lover” all the time, but I don’t think he means it. I wonder if he knows I do.
Valentine’s Day is kind of annoying because it’s just a chance for all the girls at school who have boyfriends to parade that fact around. Last year, Anna Hayman’s boyfriend broke into the school in fifth period and hung up a big banner off the balcony that said I LOVE YOU ANNA, and left a bunch of roses and a big white teddy under it. I mean, what are you people even trying to prove?
But at the same time, I wish someone would do that for me. I know my friends and my family and my dog love me, but I want so much more.
14 February 2005
Surprise, I didn’t give Soph the stuff to give to Daniel, because I am a total wuss. I waved to him from the bus stop today, and he waved back at me, and I guess that’s good enough.
Nina, Soph, Brit and I all gave each other gerberas today, and of course Nina got flowers and chocolates from Duncan. Especially now that their love has been consummated, they are truly going all out. It’s cute but kind of gross as well.
I went to dinner with Linh and the baby tonight – Nick was working, so I guess I was the stand-in boyfriend. The baby is so squishy and tiny, I’m sad that Bố and Mẹ never wanted to meet her. Was good to see her and tell her about the things that have been going on, and hear about her life too. I think being a mum really suits her, but I miss her. I wonder if Bố and Mẹ will ever take her back. I know Bà Ngoại misses her as much as I do. I just want my sister back.
22 February 2005
Holy shit, I haven’t really had time to write in the last week because I’ve been so busy with schoolwork and practicing for my A.Mus. I’m doing the exam in May and I’m starting to really freak out about it. I don’t mind playing violin, but I definitely don’t love it and I feel like so much of it is pressure from my parents. I’ll be so ashamed and embarrassed if I don’t pass, and I’ve been trying to practice for at least an hour a day, but with all the reading I have to do for school it’s been a bit hard to keep up. It also means I haven’t been able to go on MSN as much lately, so I haven’t spoken to Daniel a lot in the last week, but he told me he spent the evening on Valentine’s Day playing Guitar Hero with his brother so at least I know he wasn’t on a date or anything.
We finally found out who wrote that note to Nina – it was Lauren Edwards. Could’ve guessed it. She’s having a fight with Rachel at the moment, so Rachel decided to rat her out to us, and it’s good to know who was behind it but at the same time I don’t understand why she’d even bother doing that, other than maybe the fact that she and Nina used to be good friends in Year 5 but then kind of drifted apart. It’s not Nina’s fault if some bitch is jealous of her. We haven’t talked to Lauren about it yet but she isn’t going to get away with it.
I got my ticket to see The Used! I’m going with Soph and Brit, and my cousin Thanh – my mum wouldn’t let us go otherwise, so she bought Thanh a ticket, but I bet she’ll just end up smoking outside. It’s not really Nina’s thing so she’s sitting it out. I’ve only been to one concert before so I’m really excited.
IN YOUR EYES
LIKE MY FIRST TIME
THAT I CAUGHT FIRE
STAY WITH ME
LAY WITH ME NOW
Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen is a Vietnamese-Australian writer based in Melbourne. She writes a regular column for Daily Life and has had her writing featured in publications including Rookie, frankie, The Lifted Brow and i-D.