Friday, November 28, 2008

Let's all meet up in the year 2000, won't it be great when we're all freezing cold...



If I go out for a walk at the moment around the shops, I can guarantee one of the following things will happen - at least one of them, by the time I get to track 3 of Circus on my IPOD, a small child will have ran at full pelt into my lower leg, one of either a trolley, wheelchair or pram will jam up the top of the escalator and everyone behind them will have to jump out of the way, this trolley, wheelchair or pram having pushed themselves just in front of me as I got to the bottom of the escalator. I can guarantee that if I go to go around someone, someone will come from the blind side and cut directly through the pair of us (this is usually by track two). I can guarantee that I will knock something off a shelf and it will be something really embarrassing like a copy of Lindsay Lohans Just My Luck and I'll look stupid, and most of all, the absolute certainty is that whatever item I am looking at will become the most popular item in the shop, even if it's Lindsay Lohans Just My Luck. Yes, I'm in a rut clearly. I'm not in a bad mood about it, it happens from time to time. Not even the prospect of a moderately pleasant evening of moderately composed Crowded House tunes seems to be getting me any more than moderately pleasantly excited. As I look outside my house at the moment, there are no cars, no people, I feel like the only person on the planet right now, and I'm pretty bored. That said, I'm contrary because I'd quite like to just sit here for a while instead of meeting friends for lunch and the playing of moderately pleasant tune. The nature for me of being in a rut is that there seems essentially no way out of the boredom, when in fact there's a whole exciting world out there to go and embrace, if only it wasn't raining, crowded, boring, or whatever excuse you want to ascribe to yourself. I think there's something wonderfully Scottish about similtaneously seeking solitiude and stability and then saying you are bored. It's what my auntie does all the time, is impeccably rude to anyone who stays with her than wonders why no one comes to visit. The complexities of my emotions are sometimes strange - yesterday at work, I said 0 words to anyone, and I couldn't work out why, I was painfully self aware I was being a jerk. Then I realised it was because my Itunes didn't properly download the last four tracks of Circus and I had been sulking about it all day...that's not a rut, that's a justifiable reason for immaturity...me and Shaun Udal, united in having a lousy day I'd think...

A long time ago, the last time I was in such a rut, was incidentally the last time I had to properly go home for Xmas - no, not Scotland, a combination of snow (not the singer of Informer), paranoia, football postponments, David Jason trying to be funny and family disputes means I won't be going down that road again - but Penguin, the home of the big Penguin and the Penguin shaped rubbish bins. I felt really bad because I genuinely considered, having failed uni, myself washed up and finished at 22, and so any time spent outside my room sulking and whining and not doing some tedious work for Yahoo was never going to be productive. I was at least well dressed for the elements but emotionally, I was pretty naked, and spent most of my Xmas sitting on a couch watching television and hoping to be left alone. If someone put a DVD on, I would watch it and the clock until I could go to bed. I know this was staggeringly immature behaviour, but I didn't really care, because I was upset damn it! With such a narrow world view, it pained me to have to be nice to people, especially my cousin (the one I don't like) and his girlfriend. His girlfriend had struck me in the middle of one of my more disatrous pity parties, and I had to make it up to her by being nice and asking her how her day was and you know, the usual rubbish that envelops a family Xmas, laughing at whatever crappy joke she pulled out of the cracker. It probably says a lot I can't remember her name, but I can remember her joke. Says a lot. Anyway, point is, that I was one thing or another for that whole Xmas, deliriously fake happy about the whistle in the cracker or whingy sulky bubba wants a boo boo. If you know Tasmanians, you'd be aware that mostly, and I do say mostly, they are incredibly nice people, as long as they aren't bogans, so no-one said anything that could be construed as a rebuke towards my behaviour, but I don't think they needed to. When the ramaki was passed around, I was usually the last to get offered the tray, or at least that's what I thought. The worst thing was probably being asked what I was doing with my life...I didn't know, I really didn't, so how I was meant to verbalise it to people I hadn't seen in five years wasn't really going to be easy. I usually muttered something about Triple J, and hoped it would do until more ramaki went past my nose and I could get away. Now I think about it, I should have behaved far worse, it would have been a lot more fun than watching Xmas pass me by one Chubby Brown DVD, sliced bacon tray and terrible cracker joke at a time...

As far as feeling like a failure was concerned, it wasn't helped by having to spend Xmas with Russell Robertson, the all conquering Penguin born (well, they came 2nd, so I guess not all conquering, but semi conquering hardly fits the story) Melbourne footballer who had just played in the Grand Final that year. Obviously, it was a completely contrasting homecoming for him and me - he came back a hero, I came back a slightly washed up couldn't hang on to a girlfriend ex Triple J employee who was feuding with a gay guy at work over the right to go and buy bubble gum after the doors were shut. You know, just a slight contrast. No one was making me free ramaki just for gracing the pub (which was celebrating Xmas with a pool tournament and that traditional Xmas song The Gambler by Kenny Rogers) with my presence put it that way. Of course, he was also incredibly nice, and it wasn't his fault I had failed uni - I mean, who knew turning up to class was a pre-requisite to passing...we had a lovely chat about the time he accidentally broke my calculator before he was swamped by people who's connection with him with on slightly sounder footing than a worn out anecdote about the smashing of Texas Instruments. I know that standing inside a pub all alone isn't really my favourite thing in the world at the best of times, but when the only people who talk to you are asking if you know Russell, well, you might as well do a runner. And so eventually, tired of mid strength Boags and amusing stories about footballers, I decided it was time to go for a wander. In situations of social discomfort, especially when I was that age, I always do a runner, usually to a swing park, and to be honest no one would have noticed I had buggered off anyway. Outside the local chemist, that was where it started to rain, a brief and terrible downpour that made me do a runner for some shelter. In the rain there was a homeless guy, swigging wine from a bottle. It probably didn't surprise me the way I was feeling that I actually thought, wow, even he's happy...yep, no one more happy than the homeless. That was my thinking, my self pitying thinking, and it was exhausting me. No wonder I was in a rut, my thinking was so tedious it was like a giant weight, and I couldn't dig my way out of it with a pithy reference to a popular band like I normally could. I decided that the only way to get through it was with at least some positive thinking, even if it was forced, and what better way to do it than to wander through the rain, shiver in the cold, step over the homeless guy, go and get a terribly overpriced item of fast food from the convenience store, and get out a video for everyone as a show of good faith...obviously not Chubby Brown, I like to think I have some standards...

Penguin video store used to be a terribly small and painful place - a Mom and Pop video store with a tiny glass door, Police Academy perenially in the new releases and tapes everywhere across the store because the place was so tiny, it was like the videos were stacked in a phone box. Reaching into the pile could, just like my local KMart used to be like, produce any combination of videos - Deliverance and Bambi say, or Just My Luck and Gone With The Wind. It also never shut, at any time of the year, it would stay open every day until midnight, with weary staff propping up the desk with a cheesy smile and a tag on about Jaffas on tap. As it happened, I ended up just about making it into the video store just before it closed, soaking wet, with a strangely upbeat point of view about the homeless, and at least some sense of Xmas cheer. I can't remember what I was looking for - maybe Deliverance, a good old fashioned Xmas treat. The man behind the desk had a bewilderingly patterned Hawaiian shirt, brown, white and floral, with a droppy moustache that hung to the south and the west, his hands busy with paperwork and his eyes inattentive and tired. I was scared to ask him for any help since he was clearly a man burdened with stress, but eventually I had to, as I couldn't locate anything suitable. I thought I was pretty reasonable in my request, but he didn't listen, so I had to change accents to go to a more aggressive Scottish tone, and he looked up, both furious and exhausted, the physical embodiment of my own mood, and said something terse and unintelligible. I repeated my question, which was again I thought quite reasonable, it wasn't like I asked where the Guttenburg titles were, and he said under his breath and his moustache "this is progress, this is Xmas..." - I had no idea what he meant by progress, but I think from his paperwork he was going broke, and he pushed his paperwork to one side angrily and helped me as best he could, and there we both stood, frustrated, out of time, freezing, bewildered, done in, left behind, tired of living on lifes edge, with not a good thing to say as the holiday season rolled in...

It felt, oddly enough, a lot like Xmas...

8 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

those things used to happen to me. That's why I don't go out anymore.

Kris said...

It could have been worse: you could have been in Ulverstone.

Baino said...

Awww Miley. . that was a sad post. Now I want to invite you to Christmas, beautifully laid table, fabulous food, decorum, grace and good times - until about 8 when it all goes to Hell and the drinking games start!

Jannie said...

I just watched Bambi with Kelly yesterday morning and Deliverance with Jim last night!

Did you get your bubble gum after store's official closing?

Miles McClagan said...

Well, as I'll get to in a moment, after last night it may be some time before I go out again!

Yeah, but if I was in Ulverstone, i could have had a pizza at The Red Grasshopper and sat at the Floral Clock contemplating life...

I think this Xmas should be OK, I don't think anyone is going to make me watch a Roy Chubby Brown video! I will take up the invite though if there's any danger of a hows work going conversation! In the UK, everyone is in bed by 8, that's our tradition!

How funny is Deliverance...just some tops comedy...stocked up for Bubble Gum at Xmas...delicious!

squib said...

loved the last lines there miles :)

Megan said...

I never knew that about The Gambler.

Miles McClagan said...

Well, that's what I think of at Xmas...terrible depressing moodiness!

In Penguin, the gambler is a song for all seasions...some of them even Valentines day!