Saturday, December 13, 2008

Polite conversation and Xmas Cheer

Maybe it's a male thing, but I'm not particularly impressed by baby photos. Not that people showing me them I rip them out of their hand and throw them at them, but I don't find it particularly wow amazing to look at a small infant in a hospital. To wit, I was putting together my writing exercises this morning which are in a giant black folder in my house (I'm thinking of putting them on a blog, it seems more 2009) when my e-mail churned with pictures of my cousin (the one I don't like) and his wifes (the one his Mum doesn't like) baby. Fine, that's nice, good for him, all is in working order, but then the e-mails kept churning until there were 17 relatively indistinguishable photos of the same infant lying in the same crib differentiated only by photo number and position of the chubby nurses arm. At least it wasn't mobile phone cats. I'm a terrible friend, I'm a terrible listener, but I can fake it until someone gets out the mobile phone cat photos. I'm not interested in my own life 1/2 the time never mind my family. I've got a friend who rang me up yesterday to see if I wanted to go to the works Xmas do and I realised mid way through the phone call once I'd got through my pop culture references and how my day was, he'd stopped talking and I was meant to re-ciprocate and ask him how his day was. If I'd had some mobile phone cats to show him, maybe that would have helped. Tumbleweed passed from phone to phone. I think it should be a new years resolution to pay more attention to people and their day, but as an only child I never really had to compete for attention so it was always all eyes on me (before 2Pac came along) and I didn't really need to ask anyone how their day was. On the plus side, I didn't have to go to the work Xmas party and ask peoples how their work day was. A Samoan man with a Kevin Bloody Wilson beard and an un-necessary hat with a light (maybe it was Brant) fixed my DVD player, so I could go out, and I could ring my cousin and say congratulations on the baby, and I could...but I've still got Stand By Me and Weekend at Bernies to watch on DVD so I just don't have the time. I couldn't look after my sea monkeys let alone a baby. What makes me incredibly contrary is I love listening to other peoples polite inane conversation if I don't know them. As I continue to scrape together my writing exercises, another 28 photos of this same baby in the same crib have come into my e-mail box, as well as an e-mail summation of my lack of quality as a friend for not going to the Xmas party...it's truly the circle of life Simba my e-mail box...no wonder I watch Stand By Me...

Work Xmas parties scare me more than the prospect of a convincing string of platitudes for my cousins baby. I must admit that it's pretty much all to do with the fact that I'm terrified of polite inane conversation and the fact I have nothing to contribute. One of the very few dates that I went on with my girlfriend was when, in lieu of an alleged job interview that I fooled the pares with, we drove to a particular Tasmanian town for a picnic. She planned this picnic incredibly well, and we were on our way to talk in a disarming manner about feelings and spreads, when she pulled the car over sharply into a general store car park to get some smokes. Interestingly, she also pulled over because U2s One on the radio was making her feel unwell, so with those kind of opinions it's a shame our love didn't blossom. The shop keeper had giant round glasses and sounded like the squeaky voiced teen from The Simpsons so she wasn't the hottest girl in the world. My girlfriend took the exact moment I had my hand on a carton of Banana milk to launch into a seventeen minute story about how her cousin, a girl called Shauna with bad teeth and a continuing string of menial jobs, had started going out with a guy called Brad (I presume) who had a job mowing lawns but it was only until h...I'm bored even typing it. I did my best to feign interest but my eyeline was distracted by the fact that this shop had the Actua Soccer video game in the corner sitting unplayed, and then by the fact that squeaky voiced teen appeared to be stealing strawberry chocolates from a tin and eating them by the dozen. I knew I was in huge trouble when after twelve minutes alternating between pondering the possibilities of another glorious run as Morocco on the computer game and trying to grab a security guard to alert them that if the shop owner came tomorrow they would make no profit on strawberry chocolates, my girlfriend stopped talking and asked, maths teacher style, what I thought of her Bradplan. I was about to panic and flail and make something up when squeaky voiced teen decided to step in and say without thinking, quote, Brad sounds like a dick. She even surprised herself with the stridency of her opinion, but at least it dug me out of a giant hole. My girlfriend drew her a filthy opinionated look and left the shop without talking, but me and squeaky voiced teen shared a moment of mutual relief before she had some opinions on Dannii Minogue to get back to in the New Idea. My girlfriend said in the car she was completely and utterly disgusted at the poor service in the store, and as she pulled off and changed radio stations and began to launch into the kind of rant about the decline in standards that you only otherwise read about in newspaper letters pages, she changed radio stations and a completely different radio station decided to play U2s One...needless to say the spreads weren't as spread with as much love as was promised in the verbal picnic brochure...

My worst work Xmas party experience though was a couple of years ago at an event that was booked in a restaurant that I believe had a bucket of sea trash as it's prime menu feature. This was in the transitional period between the boss who simply rubbish and the really evil boss who spent his Sunday nights stroking a white cat and plotting evilly how to alienate our work place one disciplinary regulation breach at a time. I had nothing to contribute to the displaced masses of our workplace in conversation because I had been completely drunk all day, due to the horrific nature of early morning drinks at a pub with a girl who refused point blank all day to believe Meredith Brooks and Tracey Bonham were different people but who certainly liked to get the wallet out to buy shots. By the time it came to sitting down and picking between the bucket of sea trash and the mega bucket of sea trash, I was completely and utterly wasted, and not in the self aware way that fifteen year old girls on a shandy on a netball trip will say, I mean if there was a seat and someone stole it, I'd still try and sit down. Which made it a wonderful moment when one of my friends stole my seat and I did try and sit down and fell on my arse. I didn't even make it to the bucket of sea trash course, as my other friend, the one who isn't talking to me at the moment because he's allegedly too scared to face us due to the poor state of his finances and our judgemental faces, told me where to go after we had an argument about, something, I don't know, prawns, and then I stormed out in anger and disgust. Now, even in my drunken state I was aware that storming out pre sea trash wasn't a good look, but my feet wouldn't stop their outraged walking...I stopped walking one and a half 1/2 an hours later outside a second hand book shop and I have no idea how I ended up there (well I walked obviously, but you know what I mean), but even more strangely I was reading a newspaper and had a packet of Hubba Bubba. It was such a wonderful hobo moment I wish I had a brown paper bag and could grow some stubble. Still, there was a pretty shameful walk back to town when I realised that my embarrassingly camp flounce off was going to be a cause of fevered water cooler discussion. I've got a cheek pointing out everyone else off for flouncing off when I walked off like that. Meanwhile, back at the party, 1/2 the people didn't have their sea trash either as they formed an awkwardly triangular search party to try and find me. Obviously, they never did, as I was unable to be found until I wandered through the door on Monday morning to a barrage of text messages, indolent stares and people with strong opinions on the fact they didn't get to eat their sea trash. All I could was ride out the embarrassment one abusive e-mail at a time, smile politely, and wait until everyone had got the taste of camp flouncing (and not sea trash) out of their morally judgemental teeth...

Two years before that, I had a much better experience, albeit one that didn't start too promisingly. This was at an unofficial work Xmas party, which in our case means moral judgement goes out the window. I knew I was in trouble when an elaborately placed and I presume lovingly tended to plastic reindeer the venue shared with our group ended up being stolen and put in someones car. The party dis-integrated quite quickly once it was realised the lightest alcohol available was a three drink cocktail and the most serious song the DJ had was Dancing Queen, and after an hour everything was just horribly wrong. Ordives were flying through the room, bald men where having drinks bored over their head by housewives, and the DJ was getting heat on himself for turning down requests to play more 80s songs and continuing to stick doggedly to his list of camp 70s standards. Then he had an olive thrown at him and it was on for young, old, drunk housewives and camp. By the time I has nose to nose with a flying fishstick, it was time to go home. Luckily, this time I didn't flounce out, I preferred a quiet sneak down the stairs, but I realised when I tried to sneak out that I didn't have any money for a taxi and no way to get home until someone else went in my direction, at which point I sat on a couch at which point people began throwing sugar packets at me. However, as I sat there rolling my eyes at immaturity I was far too sober to join in with, a woman with hypnotically bouncing eyes and a hairstyle of mass confusion came and sat next to me and began talking to me based entirely on the principle that her own work function had descended into similarly immature chaos. The conversation seemed like pointless moralising until I realised this was a flirtacious conversation based around the fact that only her and I had the moral character to rise above the immaturity of throwing food around and Peter Allen songs from the DJ. Her killer pick up line, and you might need to Google this to appreciate the full hilarity of this but it was delivered in full flirtacious breathiness, was that she had the biggest house in Mount Nelson...a line that was so patently silly and hilarious that I had to go back to her place just to check the veracity of the line fully and confirm that actually she did have the biggest house in Mount Nelson.

As Peter Allen might have said, when my baby morally judges at me, I go to Mount Nelson...

12 comments:

sparsely kate said...

I am quite good at polite small talk, inane party banter and giving the sincerest new baby well wishes.

You need to bring me to all your work functions!

Charles Gramlich said...

Having raised a baby, I have a pretty good tolerence for baby pics. Some of them are actually as cute as I say they are.

I don't go to Christmas parties. Nuff said.

Miles McClagan said...

Well you are more than welcome to go to my work functions, but I'd have to go myself first! I've given up on them as a general rule, the mobile phone chat brigade is far too troublesome...

I don't mind like three baby pictures, 32 was a bit much...Xmas parties are sort of forced on me in some way. We have a big cage on the lawn of our drinking centre...it sort of kills the outdoor mood!

Mad Cat Lady said...

Stand by Me is an awesome film. I saw it once as a child and bawled my eyes out. Freaky to consider that two of the actors are dead now (that I know of – possibly there is more – possibly it is an accursed film and nobody has noticed it yet - I think there is a conspiracy theory here that needs to be developed).

Hair of mass confusion – hahahahaha

So you went home with a stranger because you didn’t have the money for a taxi fare?

Mount Nelson - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mt_Nelson,_Tasmania – this is terribly funny.

(WV: stshinte - like somebody trying to swear with a stutter)

Helen said...

I am pretty ambivalent abotu Christams parties. I always dread them, but occasionally actually have a good time... AMybe because I've never worked for anywhere that had more than about 10 staff members, which cuts the inane stories down a bit. although the girl with a spastic colon really has to learn to stop telling me about what ehr stomach is doing today...

Miles McClagan said...

It's in my DVD player to watch, as soon as I get a chance (thank god the bloke fixed the player) and I wouldn't say that, she was quite attractive, she just had strange hair...she still writes, bless...maybe the word for the next post will be Nelson?

Oh I HATE medical news...there's a woman who tells me about her lumpectomys all the time...I don't wanna know! I'm a bit the same, if I went, I'd enjoy myself, but getting out to go terrifies me...

the projectivist said...

i am completely crap at small talk.
i suddenly feel like a malfunctioning robot, as though i hadn't been programed properly, rising up outside myself and looking down on a struggling non-conversation.

are you going to the work xmas-do then miles?

Miles McClagan said...

No, I missed the work Xmas do and the work Xmas breakfast...it was apparently pretty ropey anyway, and they didn't get any dinner until, like, 9:55, by which time I was tucked away in my comfy comfy bed...rock and roll!

Baino said...

Nope baby pics are only to be enjoyed by the baby's parents then when they look back after 20years, they realise that yep, their baby was totally ugly and looked like all the others.
Ah our Christmas do is on Friday, I'll daydream through it and arrange to be picked up early.

Miles McClagan said...

Quite right, I find babies indistinguishable, in photos or in real life...no one seems to party on these days anyway, everyone goes home early, so we don't get bouncer harassed...and without daydreaming, this would be a rather empty blog...

Jannie said...

Ah, a bit late getting to this one, Miles.

I've drinking all mornings and chowing down on sea trash, got a little side-tracked from reading me beloved blogs.

I never got the baby photo thing either, until I had one. A baby, that is.

Miles McClagan said...

Sea trash is nothing if not a distraction...I can imagine if I had a child, I'd be all baby photo centric, but ya know, 28 e-mails is just stretching cousinships isn't it...