Steven wanted to be a dentist. It was pretty much the first thing he told us when we were all bunched together in the dusty classroom on our first day of high school. A couple of weeks later when we were invited over to his house we saw that this was not an idle remark.
Where our bedroom walls were decorated with posters of pop stars and footballers, Steven had diagrams setting out tooth implementations and anatomical drawings of the jaw with brightly coloured nerves, muscle, blood vessels and bones. And then there were, of course, teeth – real and false.
Where we had shelves of plastic dinosaurs and superhero figurines from cornflake boxes, Steven had plaster casts of jawbones, gums and teeth grinning down at us. The instruments were locked away in glass cabinets and only his parents had the key.
“They don’t exactly encourage my interest,” Steven shrugged, explaining his parents take on all this. “They just tolerate it. But Dad says the instruments are a sort of collection, and too expensive for me to play with.”
Of course, we tried to pick the locks, but the spikes, saws and drill heads remained — tantalisingly — out of reach.
We didn’t really see Steven’s interest as strange. We all had our own interests — drawing, electronics, collecting beer caps — that each appeared obscure to anyone else. DIY Dentistry was just something that had never crossed our horizon before. And if Steven didn’t see it as weird, or no weirder than Andy showing us his Eastern-Block beer caps all laid out neatly on cork boards with little hand-written labels, why should it bother us?