Pin the Tail
Stand up, you have been picked.
Smile sheepishly. Scratch your head as if you have been completely taken by surprise.
(Yeah right, it was always going to be me from the start.)
Stare hard at the donkey. Remember where it is.
Let Laurie tie the blindfold around your head, do not wince so obviously when she yanks the knot tight.
Wait for her to remind everyone about the rules, wait for the giggling and snickering to die down.
Pause. Get used to the sudden orange darkness. Feel Laurie’s warm hands on your shoulders as she spins you around.
(One, two…does she have to dig her fingers in like that?)
Hold the tail given to you. See the donkey in your head.
(That dumb poster took forever to stick on.)
Ignore the excited voices telling you to go left, to go right, to take two little steps forward. Let the rising hubbub wash over you. The bubbling chatter of your drunk-on-raspberry-lemonade friends must not distract you.
Pick out the voice that is different, the one that is lower, unfamiliar.
Now, pick out the other voice slightly to your right, the high-pitched sing-song one, telling you to spin round and round, off you go, when will you stop, nobody knows.
Stand still for a moment. Wipe away the sweat forming on the back of your sticky neck. Ignore the dull ache in your stomach.
Now listen to the deep voice again. Do you understand what it is chanting?
Ignore Laurie loudly whispering about what a “dummy” you are for just standing there.
(She’s right though, I just gotta get this over with.)
Take one step forward.
Ignore the low voice. It is chanting gibberish, backwards nonsense. Soon it will start growling. That is normal.
Focus on the high-pitched lilting voice. The one that sounds like a xylophone and a piano all in one. The one that is floating above the rest.
Does it not sound familiar?
Put your left hand out. Take three steps forward. Your hand should be touching the poster now.
Somebody has dropped their drink in excitement. Ignore the sudden outburst of hooting and hollering, the fading footsteps as someone (Wendy? Peter?) runs downstairs to grab paper towels.
Focus on how the blindfold is starting to make your face feel hot and itchy. Let the discomfort push you on to completing the game.
(Whatever, I’m tired of this. Laurie and her dumb friends can go suck eggs.)
Notice how the growling has become louder? Notice how it is rumbling in your chest like a freight train?
Now, do not jump when you hear the sing-song voice say your name right in your ear. Do not jump when you feel one, two, three fingers rest on your outstretched arm. Ignore how your skin buzzes like pins-and-needles.
Let the hand guide you to where you should pin the tail.
You should hear a ‘pop’ in your ear. You should now be able to understand the growling, the incantations.
Your hand should be hovering in mid-air, still holding onto the tail.
Do you listen to the guttural voice? Or the light airy one? Which one does not make you feel as if you are falling into a deep endless chasm?
Pin the tail on the donkey.
Now, do not move. Do not remove your blindfold.
Let Laurie and her friends crowd around you, feel their warm bodies jostle against yours as they take a look.
Listen to their laughter, their groans, their smacks to their foreheads.
Listen to what the voice is jabbering. Keep your blindfold on. It will not be talking to you again.
Stand still. Wait for the giggling and snickering to die down. The screaming will begin shortly.
Notice how different each one sounds. How it is as if you are surrounded by mountain lions.
Hear the splattering and squelching, the ripping and tearing. Feel the sudden splashes against your body. Smell the coppery sweetness in the air.
Ignore the churning in your stomach, the rising bile in your throat.
Place your hands over your ears if you wish. Squat down and rock back and forth if you wish. Do not remove the blindfold.
Just stay very still. You have been picked.
(Me. Me. Me from the start.)