Sunday, January 18, 2009

If it wasn't for two songs you'd get no writing, if it wasn't for wrong judgements you'd be seeing me on Twitter



Somewhat inevitably, there are very few pop cultural artefacts in my home that are in not in some way directly influenced by the thoughts and feelings of someone else. For instance, I got into Beth Orton as a direct consequence of trying to impress a girl and went off her when she went out of fashion. However, recently I have found this to be of awkward consequence - not thinking about Beth Orton, god knows what she's doing, although Alive Alone is the single most played track I use when I want to write. Without Alive Alone and My Beautiful by Lennon, you'd probably be mostly looking a blog of Youtube clips. I'm become a far more independent thinker as I progress through life, as I hope the Cascada clip may prove, and am less likely to be impressed by the recommendations of others. Next to my laptop, which as laptops do is current away from it's normal resting place surrounded by bits of paper and external hard drives, is a book that my uncle has given me. Without going into a lot of detail it's a book from the 1970s which, it has been indicated to me, I will find hilarious. I am now quite sure that I will not as a result of this not being my decision to read this book, but as a result of the implication that this book will be an extension of my sense of humour. My Dad, for what its worth, often says naebody is putting him a box - he doesn't mean this literally, although it will be a hilarious family memory at his funeral - he means that whenever someone applies a label or a personality trait to him, he will rebel against it. No one who wears the safe as houses golf jumpers he wears can truly be an independent spirit, but he did spend a week in London stalking the Rolling Stones and sleeping on Hyde Park benches. In that context, it hardly seems right to talk myself up as some sort of No Logo down with corporations free thinker, especially considering I bought No Logo because someone told me to, when even my own father has bigger credentials than me when it comes to personal freedom. In fact, everything I do is in some way influenced - why do I keep a blog? Someone else had one. Why do I support Liverpool? Craig Johnston told me to. Why do I love Britney Spears? Someone told me not to and I rebelled. And why am I completely incapable of forming an intimate personal relationship and converting all my hopes, dreams and fears into audible conversation? Well, that comes from my Dads side of the family...if only because if it is something I can take personal responsibility for, it's something I have the capability to do something about it. And, to be honest, such difficult questions, well, they aren't really Sunday afternoon questions. Not when there's A League on TV, movies on demand, a million other modern day distractions entirely set up just so you can blame someone else for the choices you made and for not getting off the couch. Especially Robert Downey Jr...

All of which is a slightly intellectual way of saying someone told me to go to a chicken shop and try out the chicken there and I did. A new store is usually a hotbed of excellent customer service and patent gimmickery, and this one is no exception. A middle aged Italian woman is huskily trying to persuade a man in jeans that are slipping floorward due to gravity and not the throes of passion that he should take the time to complete the survey on how effectively he has received his moderately priced chicken. Oddly, they don't give me the survey to complete, which is good by me. One hairdresser in Melbourne, after I filled in a survey, took to sending me a birthday card every year for three years. My waitress is an elphin teenager with porcelain skin shoehorned into a uniform and baseball cap, her sole concession to modernity a nose ring that sparkles under the flourescent light. I don't know what to make of her, the sample size is too small. Certainly the problems in her life appear very similar to mine, too much supervision, too many bodies keeping an eye on her, making sure that the pasta salad she loads into a plastic tub is evenly spread out. She doesn't enjoy this supervision and shoots her employers several filthy looks. A fight breaks out in the store, there's a chicken under the heater in public display, and no one is willing to take personal responsibility for it being there. I know if I had been her age, the miniature doll, I'd have said maybe it flew there and been bollocked for it. I know from her expression she couldn't care less about the chicken, and in my head I construct a mutual back story for her and me - working to live, trapped in a dead end job, care factor about her environment and work regulations zero as rapidly aging teachers used to say to me in the mid 90s. Out the back, a balding Italian man, all sweat and aged wrinkles from grim determination, is making chips and cursing just loudly enough for everyone on the left hand side of the shop to hear. When he comes out, he's suddenly a jolly Italian waiter of stereotypical renown, all jokes and smiles and an overexaggerated accent. The porcelain doll looks tired as she hands over my chicken, as if she's about to impart some terrible secret to me about what's in the chicken, but a woman with a Helen Lovejoy haircut stands directly on her shadow, repressing her individuality through the medium of corporate approved standards, and whatever conversational nugget was about to be imparted between employee and better than usual dressed customer. I step blinking into the faded late afternoon sunset, as two men in suspiciously matching polo shirts have a long and involved argument about the merits of Ricky Ponting. Ultimately, they make several offensive comments about another cricketer, and draw disapproving looks from the porcelain doll, who they've assigned the crucial spirit breaking duty of transporting garbage from shop to skip, with a time limit no doubt imposed...

Her twin works in my local pizza shop. She's the same height, same dimensions, same colour hair, same skin, probably same dipshit boyfriend everyone who looks like that at that age has, a no hoper called Darren or Dave who drives a Datsun and thinks the world would be better if we called all Muslims, although she's sans a nose ring and not shoe horned into a baseball cap. I think her name is Teighan or some such corrupted fancy spelling. The difference is Teighan, I believe, owns the pizza shop or has personal responsibility for all the toppings or something, because she's usually in there on her own. So she does whatever she wants. There's a flickering of recognition whenever you go in there, but she serves you when she wants, and if that means she has to finish reading an article about some celebrity with shinier hair and an ever changing body shape before you can get a small garlic bread, then that's what she will do. I know a friend of mine who swears this is unbearably cool, and would do anything to be with her. Of course, his free spirit isn't strong to enough to take personal rejection so he'll never say anything, but he's attracted to the fact that she's always upbeat and impeccably cool, even going so far as to say that she must have the coolest taste in music, which in his case would be Metallica and other such bands what rock. I think this is one of the reasons I don't ask people out myself, like blue eye shadow girl, since the slightest imperfection can bring the pedestal crashing down. I don't really have the heart to tell him that when I went back into the pizza shop the other day to get my pizza that she was free spiriting her little heart out to Smashmouth, dancing so badly she put my late evening drunken wedding Zulu stylings into the shade. I admire her lack of self consciousness, but I can't find it cool now I've seen such bad dancing. Of course, there's a presumption in my wanderings that the girl in the chicken shop is miserable, that Teighan dancing freely is happy, just as they no doubt take my lack of conversation and nervous darting eyes to mean that I'm miserable when as soon as I get in my car I'm singing along to Shakira, not a care in the world, which in fairness if she saw my bad singing would lead to a long ponderance on human nature in her own blog, although she seems like a Twitter chick. The trick is, she's unsupervised of course, where she supervised after every move, there would be no pizza based self expression. I still remember once ringing a close friend of mine, the girl who inspired my love of Beth Orton, and her being ice cold on the phone. It was the last time we ever spoke, and it's taken me many years to realise, it was really her Mum who didn't like me, and she was in the background. Should I have tried ringing again? Not really - I'd probably spent far too much time constructing the citadel of her perfection, and we'd start dating and there she'd be doing the watuzi to Smashmouth some years down the track or telling me that Big Ms were the devils drink. And we'd argue and mutually realise we were horribly unsuited, and I'd end up writing poetry in a journal and sitting in my base...oh right, you are completely correct Teighan, I should pick up my pizza...it has been sitting there a long time while I've been musing...

I find such brief, miniature interactions fascinating, an entire world, an entire personality assigned rightly or wrongly in an entirely singular interaction. I've seen Teighan before, but not doing enough to form any further judgements, although she did buy Ralph magazine once, hence my dipshit boyfriend theory. I love peoples attempt to spin an image for you as well, in my case my flippant casual joking is a terrible mask for conversational anxiety. With certainty, the care free dancing of Teighan isn't replicated at all parts of life. And then there was Spud - I say Spud for fear of Kilwinning mob based retribution, the most vicious kind of mob retribution, death by exagerrated story telling. Spud used to be our school drug dealer, he'd stand with his back to the wall at all times, tightly lipped, dressed in the sharpest suit Oxfam could provide him with. Largely he was harmless, although harmless was a relative term for a middle aged man in a pimp suit from a charity shop dispensing drugs to school children. By 2009 standards I think thats harmless, bit dodgy for 1991 though. I often wonder if he was driven out by less permissive times later in the decade. Anyway, Spud would tell all the first years about a particularly bloody knife fight at railway station - I was initially impressed, but in my head I still wondered about the Vanilla Ice stab wound/cat scratch theory of bigging oneself up to outsiders. He was also one of the first people I ever knew who tried to apply the logic of Star Wars to every day life. Considering I couldn't stand up to bullies, I was surprised how sassy I was to Spud, but there was just something not quite right about him that I would often feel the need to call him on. One fateful day, as snow fell on ashphalt and weakly mashed potatoes fell on plastic trays, I asked him, straight out, mano a mano, if he really stabbed someone at Ayr train station. There was just the tiniest flicker of self recognition, just the tiniest moment of doubt, and since it was just me and him around and he knew I certainly wasn't going to be buying crack at a reasonable price, he looked for a moment as though he was about to impart that he'd made the whole thing up, but luckily he composed himself through two sharp tugs on his collar - not a euphemism - and said of course he did what kind of question was that. And who knows, maybe he did, and maybe I really did get off with the girl I took to the pictures to see Home Alone when I told him I did...truthfully, our interactions were so brief, limited to no I don't want any crack and that one conversation, that our knowledge of each other was limited, and a mutual complete character study never really came to pass. I think about that a lot, as people pass me by, just for brief moments, that I really might have it all wrong...

Mind you, she really danced badly though...no one should dance from the arms and have such limited hip movements...I'm getting my pizza from more corporate sources...

9 comments:

Georgie B said...

Ahhh...the art of very small chit-chat.

I do that all the time. Usually though, if I'm actually speaking to someone for the first time, there was a lot (days/weeks) of careful observation on my part, before I got ready to say somethings.

That way, I don't look like a complete jerk in front of someone.

Charles Gramlich said...

I always visit new restruants. Good food, good service, good prices. Later I go back to eating Tuna at home.

Mad Cat Lady said...

You may or may not find this amusing - http://jobilates.blogspot.com/2009/01/youre-in-bad-place-to-stand.html

Kris said...

I found myself sat behind a fat balding bloke on the bus today who was wistfully reminiscing about the heady days of his prime to a short bespectacled lady who didn't seem very interested.

He was telling her about one week where he crammed in performances by The Living End, Grinspoon and The Whitlams. He bemoaned that, "they just don't make music like that anymore, the kids these days don't know what they're missing out on..."

I for one was certainly glad to hear that they no longer make music like The Living End, Grinspoon and The Whitlams. They were all terribly ordinary.

I wonder if in ten years time some
fat balding bloke will be bemoaning the lack of Nickleback.

sparsely kate said...

My Dad, for what its worth, often says naebody is putting him a box - he doesn't mean this literally, although it will be a hilarious family memory at his funeral


Oh how I laughed at this sentence. How funny are you?!

And yes..the older we get the less we go solely on what others tell us is good - we can make our own mind up. Which is why I refuse to stop playing Abba and early Michael Jackson.

Miles McClagan said...

I am so bad at chit chat, even the thought of pre chat preparation is terrifying...I can't be like my Dad just bringing up random things to bring up like the quality of recycling...

I don't go to nearly enough new restaurants, but I'd like to. That good service thing, don't know what that is in Kingston? Might need to look it up!

A bad place to stand? A bus stop in Kilwinning?

Does he know The Living End had an album out last year? Does he think they lost it? I'd have loved to have heard that...a golden age of The Whitlams? Blow Up the Pokies as our anthem? I'd rather jump off the cupboard...

It's the first line of my speech...Dad always said no one would ever put him in a box...I'm quite musically indepdendent now I'm old...what I listen to is my own judgements. Sack the Rolling Stone!

Baino said...

Took me years to learn not to do as I was told . . I'm crap at chit chat with people I like . . great with clients and strangers . . go figure. You eat too much junk food!

Helen said...

Maybe he would find the fact that she didn't care that someone could be watching her dancing to be incredibly cool...

I find that whole "dance like nobody is watching" thing the biggest load of rubbish... a little while ago I went to a concert with friends and a girl who invited ehrself along the day before. SAid girl proceeded to dance as if she was having sex with an invisible person right next to us. We spent all 6 hours of the concert trying to edge away.

Totally not cool...

Miles McClagan said...

I ate way more junk food when I lived in North Hobart in my share house. That and the free ice creams which never made it to charity...whistles idly...and if I did what I was told, I'd have to like MGMT...ugh...

He might, you are right, but not if he actually saw her dance. I can't dance at all. I've never simulated said act, I more just jump up and down. In fairness it was the style of my time. I'd have dumped that girl on sight...too much of a social problem...