When I was fifteen or so, I was in a ‘youth intervention program’ at the local children’s hospital It was designed to keep ‘at risk’ children out of trouble via prevention, intervention, education, etc.

The best way to prevent children from going bad, I think, is not by placing them in close contact with other ‘at risk’ children.

I was at Tim Hortons with some other people from the program... It might’ve been Dairy Queen, actually. In any case, we were all sitting around, drinking coffee, eating ice cream. I was chatting with some guy I was in the program with, someone I later dared into smoking a cigarette in one drag. He threw up after.

In any case, we were talking about another girl in the program who was absent from the ice-cream-adventure, that he happened to be going out with. I asked him how long they’d been together, and he laughed.

“What does it matter? I’m gonna break up with her anyway.”

I didn’t understand, not really. “Why?”

I hate her. She’s ugly, she’s fat, and she’s stupid. I’m just fucking her so that she’ll give me her pet turtle. After that, she’s gonna be Ottawa’s newest member of the fucked-and-dumped club.”

I just stared at him. I didn’t understand, not at all. I couldn’t grasp the idea that you’d want to use people, that you’d hurt someone if you could possibly avoid it.

I stared out the window, and watched the traffic go by. I wanted to cry, without having any idea why I felt so sad.

In retrospect, I think I was mourning my naivety.