Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Lollers, the Dreamers, and T (Shirts)

Today in Big W, there was this man standing directly in front of the exact DVD I wanted to look at - this is not an uncommon occurrence, after all, I can sometimes wait up to 5ive minutes in that store waiting to read the latest cricket memoir while a bogan family in acid wash uniform stand attentively deciding whether Sally Robbins was misunderstood or not - but after a moment I realised he was, to hopefully not use too indelicate a phrase, proper mental. He was standing on one foot, his tongue in a perma Gene Simmons tribute, clutching a Peter Brock DVD like a lost child and staring directly into one of the flourescent lights like it was calling home, with not a single eye movement or flicker of consciousness registering across his countenance. He had the same look of distracted brain numbness and shock I had the day I found out Kirsty MacColl does all the significant singing on Tracey Ullmanns They Don't Know About Us (or was it when I found out Paul McCartney was in the film clip?). He had a 5ive day stubbly growth, monobrow, a Bobby Charlton like middle parting slash combover, and I realised that his day was going to be spent in that pose listening to the syncopated hand claps of Izzys new single, with Peter Brock close to his chest, camel coat and jeans doing just about enough work to avoid a nudity incident. When I walked back, he was still there, although he had rolled his tongue back in. It seemed a rather ace way to kill a day in fairness, certainly beat working. I mean, he might have spent the same 3hree worrying seconds me and this bloke with a beard had when we mutually thought for a moment fat sweaty girl had her guts spilling out of her shirt (it was just a T-shirt...I think) and gone into shock. Either way, he seemed richly contented, unlike me, who was extremely disturbed to have a rendition of Toms Diner on the IPOD interrupted by a girl crying in the gardening section. I didn't know what had happened, but she was clutching a length of hosepipe and had the same intense stare as the other guy, but was in tears in that way girls are when they are pretending they aren't crying and are sniffing endlessly. I pretend not to see her, not least of all because she looks like a pity leech, looking for someone to wrap around the legs of and never let go, until eventually even your own most dramatic problems won't compare to her breaking a nail. She only listens to sad, sad songs I suspect, and I don't even stop to see what her T-shirt does. It's a trap - anyone stopping to see exactly what is written in the gold sparkles on the pink T-shirt is going to find a garden hose wrapped around their legs, be dragged out the back, and given a serious talking to about the state of your relationship. Eventually, you'd never call her back, and she'd be round with your favourite sandwich and asking why you didn't love her anymore. Trust me, it's the look of every drunk mis-understood girl in a queue outside Syrup nightclub, the ones looking for the second stanza to their lifes poetry. Either that, or they just got dumped in the hardware section of Big W, with fat sweaty girl looking on - I think that might make me cry as well...

Interestingly, the guy clutching the Peter Brock DVD simply made me think of inertia - and not the quality or lack of of a care in the community system - my own. Naturally I started 2009 with big skywriting hopes that this would be the best year ever, someone would say it as a question once I said it and I would reply in that jaunty way people do in musicals and thus it would be a fact and not just a resolution. But a month has passed, and I'm still the same person - I learned the end of Teenwolf has a man exposing himself in a hilarious blooper, the second verse of the Cheers theme song and I've been sick twice and sunburned. Other than that, the month has passed by in a blur of ennui, cold medications, afternoon naps, episodes of The Simpsons and more afternoon naps. Part of this though is really my fault, I'm not impressed enough by things to go out and investigate the world. When I'm in London looking at, say, Big Ben, I'm inclined to go wow, that's it, cool, where as my Dad will be reading the plaques and trying to harass taxi drivers into giving him a potted history of the place and generally being impressed. I've called him on this - he got too excited by my cousins offer of Jaffa cakes when we were in London. I had just turned off my Gwenno solo songs on the IPOD, and he was in the living going, wow, Jaffa Cakes, what a day, could life be any better, this biscuit filler has really put the topping on what was already an amazing start, I mean, te...I had to tell him to stop, I have to break him down to my level eventually or he'll be on the Wii leaping about on his bad knee. Now that I'm over 30ty, I'm a lot more conscious of time than I used to be. When I was a teenager, entire seasons would go where I would listen to one CD, be lucky if I saw anyone, and would live on Doritos and mac and cheese. Now, I've got this whole thing going on where I freak out anytime something comes on from 1992 - I just have to mention it was so 17teen years ago. My best friend, she's never left Tasmania, not even for a day, and there's nothing that would make her go outside of this whetted isle, not even to go and see Jessica Mauboy (she'd hate that if she ever read it). I was angry with her via e-mail today, angry at her lack of worldwide curiousity, but then I've come home, put on a Celtic shirt and slumped in front of the television, and eaten a big tub of Sara Lee. Another day lost, another day wasted, another day when I should be out playing soccer for Kingborough or sorting my piles of DVD into things that are Teenwolf and things that aren't...but there's a replay of the Superbowl on, so maybe after that...

The thing is ultimately I'm quite happy with peace and quiet - there are times it mounts up into terrifying piles of inertia and I look at the calendar and suddenly I feel like I need to lose 30kgs, write a novel and run up a mountain in the space of 24 hours just to feel like the year has meaning. My friend, the one drifting away from us, once complained that being in a serious relationship with his girlfriend was awful because he couldn't play golf on the Wii anymore. I think everyone has their little moments of discontent, and I am sucker for regret, old men looking at photographs of lost loves painfully aware theres nothing they can do about, then putting the photo down amidst a fog of senility and trying to eat the pool cue - well that's what happened in the Burnie home a lot when we used to visit. Silly old fools we would think, for we were better and would make something of our lives, no munching on the tip of something covered in blue chalk for us, no sirree bob. I know in Penguin many years ago, we had a VFL footballer come and do a talk and just before he got on stage he said to his manager sotto voce but within earshot of nosey old me, in the weariest voice imaginable that his whole life was shit, before putting on his stage voice and becoming Mr Charisma. Since then I've never been sure who's happy and who isn't. I know the last time I was really unhappy, as opposed to say grief stricken or looking unhappy until my parents would shut up - and it kinds of puts things into perspective a little bit. When I was on holiday in Scotland in 1995 - the awful holiday, you know the one by now, endless snow (he didn't do Informer), family fights, everyone I knew had moved on, went to a NYE party without me, oh yeah, that one - I felt so isolated and alone in my little room upstairs next to the cupboard with all the vinyl in it that I very nearly rang a chatline advertised on TV. I was thankfully not drunk enough to convince myself Mindy from Morton in the pink nightie with the frilly collar (most people in Morton seem to me to look like Confessions of a Window Cleaner extras, and have way too much green eye shadow) was my saviour, but it was an idea in my head for a while - and it wouldn't even have been for 4.95 a minute fun involving asking her if Mr Wall was in. Instead, I channelled my frustration into some positive action, rather than running up a big phone bill. I got off my butt, I went downstairs, I rang the tourist info...oh wait, is that an episode of The Simpsons...ha, Ralph has a flute up his nose, maybe I'll sort this terrible holiday out tomorrow...

I've never been publically dumped that I can remember. My girlfriend dumped me in Primary 6ix for being weird, if that counts, but I've not had to break up with anyone in, say, the hardware section of a popular chain store. I imagine it would really change the way I saw a big bag of lawn fertiliser. I'm sure my girlfriend of the time after a particularly hard fought loss to Cripps (oh how we hated Cripps, the team name of Cripps Master Bakers was certainly turned into innuendo at our house) told me to get lost in front of everyone, but she had ATARI, I wasn't going anywhere. As I walk out the shop I can still hear Snuffleuphagus in the hardware section trying to breathe, a kindly staff member with more pens than brain cells tentatively offering assistance. My chesty cough nearly drags me involuntarily into their little world, but I get away with it and avoid her gaze and move on. Outside, a Dad with a leather jacket and a wispy beard that Creedence would sneer at is telling his kids to walk like him. That's oddly specific parenting I think, not with him or near him or where he's going, but like him - this cracks me up, not just because it's obviously a mistake, but because he was a distinct limp. At the back of this ragtag Bogan Bunch, a sitcom waiting to happen, is a small child not interested in affecting an injury to his upper thigh just to join in. He's in a dream, not listening, and not a bad dream like the tongue loller, but a good dream. He's staring transfixed at the world around him, eyes bright and bouncy, T-shirt optimistic, stride pattern galloping, smile genuine. I'm impressed by the fact that at his age, Rosny shopping mall seems like a bloody good place to just have a wander in. His Dad, naturally a keen man in tune with his kids feelings, is yelling at him for not keeping up, bless, but the kid could care less how much he's copping it, such in the amazement he has that, gasp, the girl in Payless shoes had pink hair yesterday and now has black hair! Fantastic! There is no debate about the fabric of time passing for him, no need to dial bored housewives who may vary from photographic evidence, no heartbreak, no despair, and no need to clutch a DVD and invite passers by to guess at your condition. There is only a handful of Skittles, a dreamers smile, and no idea that one day, if stereotypes are right, Dad will beat all that optimism out of him as soon as the footy is over...

I would summate more, but Barca TV is on, that should take care of February...

9 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

It's weird how that happens sometimes. I'm always troubled by how when I want to get in my car in a huge parking log, somebody is trying to get in their car right next to me. Despite the gazillion cars in the lot.

I'm with you on peace and quiet.

Jannie Funster said...

Jesus, was 1992 17 years ago? Seemsm like just yesterday.

And what - you're not a Completely Changed Man after 31 days? What's wrong with you, Man!!

And yeah, Wii golf by yourself is a complete bummer.

For me, inertia tugs at my hem every day. Every freaking day. But somehow I flounder ahead. And you will too.

xo

sparsely kate said...

and suddenly I feel like I need to lose 30kgs, write a novel and run up a mountain in the space of 24 hours just to feel like the year has meaning.


Hey, that was my new years resolution!

Life passes us by in such a hurry and the older we get the more we realise that we probably won't do all the stuff we thought we would do.
Sort of like a Marianne Faithful song.


yay! who's feeling happy now?!!

Miles McClagan said...

Trust me, there's no part of where I want to go that there isn't someone in the way, trying to be where I want to be. It's getting very frustrating! Oh for some peace and quiet...

I'm afraid it was, and I'm afraid I'm not! I'm the same person! Damn it, taps fingers on desk. I've never played anything on a Wii - I would kill for an ATARI though...I'll try and flounder on! I'll do my best, as long as I don't have to decide between hard work and playing an ATARI...

It's pretty scary, it won't be long until I have skin like La Faithful...I would dig her husky singing voice, although she lost me working with Metallica. Ann Margaret, there's a singer...

Young Ned of the Hill said...

I miss Kirsty MacColl, what a way to go though, done in by a speedboat whilst your kids are watching - ouch.

On Chisel Beach is a good example of the old fart looking back at the one that he let slip through for a silly reason, though Ian McEwan is more of a girlie read.

And I've had 'Right Here Right Now...' in my head all afternoon now, thanks alot, just dont start on the Neddies.

I also think its ok to do absolutely nothing if thats your calling, we dont have to be doing something or achieving something all the time - it would be pretty tiresome if we all achieved our dreams. God, imagine the lyrics of the songs if we lived in a world where we all achieved our dreams.

Baino said...

I think everyone feels like this from time to time. I feel like I'm in stasis most of the time, waiting for my financial fortune to change but so far, I've stuck with my NY resolution and although it's small, I'm feeling better about my dedication to it. Although my great distraction is the bloody internet! Oops there's another email . .excitement plus!

Miles McClagan said...

I know, it's pretty lousy eh - Sun In The Water is such a great song too. Neds Atomic Dustbin, hmmm, no Carters USM really! I don't think they were ever the future of music like JJ were supposed to be? I know at least Blur weren't patterned on them - There's No Other Way is a JJ pisstake. And you are right, ennui and inertia are fine, and they make for better stories!

Don't you just hate the happy lotto stories? I get so sick of Jinny such and such and her numbers...I want to be rich! The Internet is also my great time waster...between that and AUSTAR, it's amazing I get anything done, like, er, this blog...

Megan said...

I've never, ever cried while holding a garden hose.

Miles McClagan said...

Me neither, although the parking spaces in my local hardware store have brought me to blind rage...