Monday, October 13, 2008

Natonement (it's a post, not just a pun)

One thing I'm finding as I get older is that the things I hold dear are becoming more and more common and easily accessible to the common man, making it harder and harder for my sensibilities and pleasures in life to remain exclusive. Take, for instance, the Hotel Costes series of CDs, fantastic CDs, but supposedly exclusive to a particular store in London, but there they are in JBHIFI in Melbourne...so common...I'm a bit grumpy at the moment anyway, and it's not just because fashion is moving in decreasing circles. I'm really questioning a lot of things in my life right now, basic things like how I interact with people, could I do more with my life, how much I hope Circus is a good album...you know, the basics. One of my worst qualities (apart from oddly crippling conversational shyness that will make you think I'm Marcel Marceau) is that my brain is never off, so even when I try and get to sleep, I'm still active mentally, and so resting is quite hard. At about 3am, I might look asleep, but my brain is basically thinking about, say, a camping trip from three years ago or how I would book an episode of Smackdown. I think what I really need is some sort of big creative project, something that engages my brain more than the mindless monotony of the work I do, maybe making a big art installation out of now less cool Hotel Costes compilation CDs. My Dad at least has his football management computer games to stir his intellect, and my Mum has the Crime Investigation channel and her theories on the particularly creepy murder of the day (you know the one) but I'm not sure what I have - oh well, I'm sure it will come to me. On the plus side, I saw a kid on a skateboard plough into a bus shelter - no, it's not intellectual, but in small doses, that sure is funny...

So when I went to school in Burnie, I had a massive crush on this girl called Rebecca, the girl who sat in front of me in the old style desks akimbo system and who was basically already a woman even in Grade 8. However, she spent of our time together being hauled out of the class for some kind of infraction (I went to a horrible school in some ways, given they found my surrealist writing stylings worthy of an F, and were always on at me for my non school Adidas bag). I never really articulated my feelings to her, and instead as I mentioned before once these feelings faded I spent at least some of my time pashing a girl who worked at the bakery in Penguin called Vicki and pretending to know individual members of Guns and Roses (they weren't big in Scotland OK!). Incidentally, Rebecca was once taken out of class for one of her suspensions while I was listening to "The Day You Went Away" by Wendy Matthews on my walkman, true story. Anyway, the first instance I ever saw at my new school didn't, oddly enough, involve me, unless you count my homeroom teacher trying to get me to say things in a Scottish accent (oh that it was 2008, and I could have her up on racism charges). It involved a kid called Dave, who it's fair to say wasn't especially smart or articulate - he was in the army primarily because he thought Fiji was about to invade - and Dave came from Natone, and Natone was a fairly rural place, in fact I was I believe the first foreigner he ever met. After PE one day, someone decided to spread around the school that Dave liked Rebecca, and after about, oh, a day of this kind of malarkey, which took the focus off me putting blutack in someones hair, and Rebecca being all "Ugh no way", he did something quite sad and sweet...he cried. Just sat on the school steps and cried, cried because his denials just weren't registering, and the reason I say this was sad and sweet is because in Scotland he'd have the living shit kicked out of him for the rest of his life, but in Burnie, believe it or not it actually lead to the rumour being completely and utterly ended (although obviously from what I saw, he seeming did like Rebecca) and everyone being nice to him. I was pretty stunned, and wondered what kind of world I had stepped into, where kindness had replaced the daily barbaric cruelty I had become accustomed to in Scotland. When I said this a little bit later to Vicki, she rolled her eyes and said "Why do you have to analyse people - some people are just nice and some people are just tossers" - it was definitely clear which side she had Slash on...I didn't bring it up again, just in case my supply of pashes (and cream buns) dried up...

About six weeks passed (or Girlfriends entire career) and for some reason, I did something I haven't really ever done since, and it was so completely unlike me, I really don't know why I did it. I said to Dave, as a joke, and pretty much in front of everyone, that I had heard on Radio Natone that he had won a prize, and he had about 48 hours to claim it. I don't know if this was bullying, but once it caught on, it was a bit laugh at the div kid and stupid optimism. This isn't my usual style of comedy at all, I'm not a cruel person at heart, and believe me, I've been on the end of many of these jokes and, well, it would have been quite a simple joke had he simply told me that it was complete crap and there was no Radio Natone, but he completely believed me, with his good hearted intentions. In the meantime the joke was picked up on by everyone who congratulated him on winning the prize - it got a little bit out of hand when someone, a girl called Cloud (no, really, think of the children) tried to get him to ring a phone sex line to claim his prize, but it was just one of those stupid things that just gets way out of hand, until Dave rather plaintively began to question if he'd missed his chance to win the prize and got quite upset and frazzled. I still feel quite bad that I was on the other side of the pick on the kid fence for once, and rather than let it run, I decided the only thing I could do to stop an entire school gathering around a telephone while some poor kid rang a phone sex line thinking he was going to win a prize, was just to tell him, look, I'm sorry, there's no Radio Natone, it was a stupid joke, here have a Push Pop, and we'll all move on and pick on that kid from Riana who puts everyones bag in the bin. He looked confused, and then a bit hurt, and then he said "Oh, I knew that, it was really Danny Krzyznki who won the prize" - there obviously was no Danny, but he had clawed back some dignity, and slightly turned the joke back on me. I sort of apologized, but not for the right things - I should have apologized for picking on his intelligence, and not for the joke, but ya know, I'm not going to turn this post into Degrassi Junior High, I felt bad, and that was pretty much that...

Still, it did gnaw at me a little bit. It didn't gnaw at me enough to, say, not tell some smart arse kids from the primary school Santa was really their Dad, but it did kind of bother me that I had been mean to someone without the capabilities to fight back. I decided that I would at least do something to make it up to him. Our end of school trip took us on a minibus to some waterslide park somewhere (possibly everybodys talking bout the new slide win...um...no one knows that advert, lets move on) for a BBQ, and although the mood was spoiled by the issuing of report cards (mines being a wonderful testament to sloth) spirits were high. We began a game of cricket as the BBQ was being prepared, and the sausages were being slowly broiled to a tepid non fatal level of edibility. As it turned out, I ended up batting, which I'm sure amused a lot of people, the Scottish person trying to bat, but I can vaguely play cricket, it's one of the few sports I can play at a non benny level (thank god we didn't play rugby). After a long time sitting forlornly on the roundabout, Dave got to bowl, and when he bowled to me, I had a big deliberate swing and a miss, and let him bowl me - he was delighted at this and everyone had a go at me, but it was just a little gesture to let him get me back. The fact that a year later he bowled me again when I wasn't letting him is, er, inconsequential. As Dave wheeled away like Dennis Lillee, Cloud came over to me and had a conversation. It was a nice conversation, pleasant and all, until the very end, when she smiled a brace filled toothy smile, and told me about how later on they were going to push a girl called Kayla into the mud, if I wanted to come and see. I politely declined, and sunned myself for the rest of the day lying down on the only park bench that wasn't covered in litter, karmically re-alligned, a little bit less popular and cool for not being a bully, but feeling better for it, lesson learned...

As for Cloud, turns out Kayla pushed her in the mud and took a picture, but that's a story for another day...

9 comments:

squib said...

I think what I really need is some sort of big creative project

Yes! I keep telling you! A NOVEL

Oh poor poor Dave. I said something horrible once to a boy in grade seven and I've felt bad about it ever since. It's so bad I'm not even gonna fess what it was. I recently asked him to be my friend on FB and he accepted me but I still think he must remember what I said

lol at the Wendy Mathews bit :)

Miles McClagan said...

A novel about 1992 Burnie! It'd sell like hotcakes! And yes, poor Dave, I feel really bad, my high school guilt, as yours, continues to rankle, but I still at least sort of made it up to him. I've never done anything bad to Wendy Matthews though...

Kris said...

Dave's tears would not have gone down well at Parkland's High in 1992...

Mad Cat Lady said...

pft - i think you should make a giant plug about 2metres in diameter and anonymously place it on the beach in the dead of night and never tell anybody that it was you wot done it.

Kath Lockett said...

I just hope that Kayla ended up marrying Dave.

I'm with Squib (why 'Squib'?) - you need to write a novel. NOW.

Miles McClagan said...

Parklands wasn't the kind of place for emotion, that's true, but Dave was a such a div kid, perha...no, he'd have got the shit kicked out of him...

Who's to say I haven't done that already? Giant plug? So 1994...

I do need to go back to Burnie one day and see who everyone married...especially Dave...I just presume he's in Iraq somewhere, telling everyone about cricket.

Baino said...

" . . who has now married a Danish sailor" . . . you know 'our' Mary! Impressive. Curly straws! You're a traitor to the bendy straw!

Baino said...

You are the second 'oddly crippled' shy person I know who would talk the leg off a chair on a blog but can't come up with the second line when making a pass . . .have I got you down pat?

Please, don't encourage him to write a book until he learns to use shorter sentences and the power of the paragraph!

Miles McClagan said...

I like novelty straws of all vintage, but yes, bendy straws represent y'all, without them, parties suck. As for my shyness, it's a lot better now, but it's just a Scottish thing - we don't do emotive conversation well (something I will reflect on in my long, paragraph and punctuation free novel I'm sure you will lap up...)