Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The diamond that wanted to be a lump of coal



Around my neck hangs an invitation, an invitation that has apparently made me a much more interesting person according to my people on the ground. Although I feel the same - I still want to join Twitter and post updates like I'm throwing cats at a pencil case until the authorities investigate - it is provoking envy and offers of cash for me to relinquish. I'm rarely in this position of envy, and habitually throughout my day I have thrown it into conversation, just because it annoys people I am going to something they can't. It's made me think that if I was somehow in a position of real power, I'd be insufferable, I'd be constantly flicking the ears of underlings and firing them if they didn't know how many games Graham Yallop captained Australia for. Maybe. Certainly articulating this invitation and what it entails makes it seem a little silly, but it's fun to taunt, even just a little. Such festive thoughts of social bettering were a little disrupted as I gambolled carefree past a sandwich shop, and a bearded guy in a camel coat was praying. Or he was possessed, I'm not quite sure. He was facing away from his dining companions, and he had his eyes shut, and his hands clasped, and in the outdoor setting he seemed oblivious to how uncomfortable he was making the female who wasn't his girlfriend, and eventually she shuffled off to buy some rather unreligious T-shirts from the T-shirt shop that blasts pumping techno out all day long but still seems depressing. There really isn't anyone to envy at midday in Rosny shopping centre, no aspirational figures, no social leaders to look up to. Shuffling bogans, bewildered old people, shop keeps with a do not touch that merchandise folded arms stance, tinkling Lily Allen in the background not loud enough to hear. Fat Sweaty Girl is back working, exhausted as ever. She's taken a younger girl under her meaty wing, and she's pointing out all the features of Big W. The younger girl has this horrible frozen expression on her face, as if the horror of her starched blue and white stripey shirt has begun to imprison her soul. Her mind, wherever it is, is already dreaming of Syrup, of the weekend, of escape...I want to tell her, just to really get at her a bit more, about my exciting social event, but her eyes are rolled so far back into her head as fat sweaty girl shows her how to use a pricing gun that, well, it would just be cruel...

There weren't many aspirational figures to follow in mid 90s Burnie - a girl who's Dad owned the furniture store here, a firey brimstone football coach with spittle flecked tones there, but they were merely aspirational figures for those who wanted to stay in Burnie and while away their lives toiling outside KMart and pondering the fate of the South Burnie Hawks over chocolate milkshakes. In the library room where we sat and pondered our fates, me with pen in hand making notations in a tattered notebook that ended up being far more gossip riddled than I had intended, we would ponder what was to become of our youthful selves, and when the pondering became too ponderous, we'd go out and drink beer instead. I was enrolled in the slightly facistic sounding Young Achievers group around about this time - not just for the irony - but because well everyone else was doing it, it being some sort of after school project which was supposed to teach you how to run a business, and it was a good excuse to hang out at the Pulp Mill every Tuesday and eat free Mars Bars and hit on girls with nary more than the odd quip about Spiderbait. In truth, my enthusiasm dimmed for the project on night one when I wasn't voted the group treasurer - who knew that basically coasting through life was uninspiring to the electorate? Damn girls with enthusiasm and ambition and, quote, plans, unquote. Ah well, it just gave me more time to eat Mars Bars and come up with slogans for our bumper stickers. Since I couldn't treasure and I couldn't sew, I wasn't much use to the business project, so I became social co-ordinator. To boost morale I would come up with time killing games such as throw the rubberband over the spike, whatever happened to LL Cool J, and plan far off parties and social events that never really got off the ground. I think they gave me an office, thought I suspect that I've made this up, and I actually just went into someones office to play Solitaire on the computer. The glimmer of light in all this though was our planned trip to Hobart, the big city, to allegedly sell our product at Salamanca Market, but which really was just an excuse to stay at older girls house and get smashed on alcopops and then go out and smash Hobart to bits - which were new in 1996, I read it in Select. This trip was talked about in hushed tones in the library and it began to take on a life of it's own, it was talked as if it was going to make Satyricon look like an episode of Keynotes with Richard Wilkins. Even Kylie, the girl I really liked, took the time out from her busy schedule of indecision and confusion to ask me to take care...take care? What was I getting into? Well, the classroom for Maths if you don't hold me up for much longer. Like chinese whispers - or like Chinese Democracy - I had no idea if this trip to Hobart was going to be my wild road to ruin, but it sure was going to be fun finding out...bring on the achievement I said, for young and for old...

It was 10:30, when I was in a sleeping bag since the older girl and her friends had all gone to bed and no one else was up that I realised - as I would be with Chinese Democracy - I had been rather mis-informed. It's part of why I hate Robbie Williams, because his cover of Freedom was the first thing I heard that morning, as the girls milled our with perky glows and made breakfast and said that last night had been awesome. I felt that they had rather missed the point. I felt incredibly deflated that such a massive build up and only delivered an early night, intermittent disturbances from a ticking clock, Robbie Williams and muesli congealed in a bowl. Deflated, I had to get out of the house, and got hopelessly lost in some sort of decrepit broken down sing park with jutted metal corners on the swings and where the kids learned hard lessons about life as drunken hobos slumped against walls that seemed to go on forever. Where was I? Somewhere, some suburb, with a drunken feeling in spite of my alleged sobriety. A dog was looking at me suspiciously, but I didn't feel like engaging him in a stare off and he shuffled off to sniff a rogue frisbee just because it felt like the right thing for him to do at that moment. Pondering what went wrong, I began to think things had possibly gone wrong when my friend - perpetual motion machine, maths calculations, that guy - had taken as false ID a photocopy of a passport page with one of the numbers crossed out in pen. By the time I realised I was hopelessly lost, I really didn't have the energy to debate it in my head. By the time it started to rain, I really pondered the temporal nature of cool. To take the taste of muesli out of my mouth, I ended up in a local shop scrambling around for change in my pocket trying to find enough to be able to scramble up a bag of Twisties, and as I mused whether pocket fluff still counted as currency, the shop keeper looked deep into my bloodshot eyes and made the universal fnuh fnuh gesture which one male makes to another to indicate he knows what you got up to last night. Yes mate, muesli for breakfast, it was one bacchanalian delight after another...but there was something about his little gerbil face that compelled me to lie. I don't know why I did it, but the party I made up in my head just to tell him about was an absolute riot. So deeply did I immerse myself in my story - I bet it didn't have paragraph breaks - that it took me a full minute after I left the shop to reconcile with the truth of the evening, maybe when a piece of muesli caught the back of my throat. It was nothing compared to the story I told Kylie though - that one had live music and depravity you couldn't dream of. Yes, someone ate Fruit Loops...the horror...the horror...

Back in the present, I've got Lily Allen on, and my sense of social importance has well and truly dimmed as I mill about in my slippers reading books on Dream Team Football. I often, just as I drift to sleep and when I don't have Jennifer Adams dreams, think about the nature of envy, the exaggerations slipped in to my life like pills in the cereal. Not just the never to be named Tasmanian celebrity in Sandy Bay who had a party going in his house with flashing lights and loud music while he sat in the living room on his own eating mac and cheese, but every day. Will my much hyped social event be another disappointment I'm forced to cover up with tall tales and cheeky winks? Who knows? In KMart, a gang of giggling bike panted girls - and again, I'm at that age where my reaction is less of a Sid James cwor and more of a why aren't you in school finger wag - are eyeing off one of the shop assistants. Shame on them for fancying shop assistants...anyway, as they check out that way he puts the toys on the shelf, one of them casually walks past and says hi. Oblivious to the scene he's causing, he says hi back with no real grace and certainly no cwor, but the girls take it as if he zomg totally loves them, and go off giggling into the sunset - or the electronics department if you are less poetic. I would imagine this call and Kmaresponse will become massively exaggerated on Twitter tonight, especially by the girl scowling at the back with her imitation Fisher Price My First purse and store bought pout who no doubt is convinced that zomg he totally likes me. Ahead of them will lie the same experiences I went through, the crushing disappointments of over hyped parties and the surprisingly amazing oh my god we said we were just having one beer what happened to my keys why have we been hugging for an hour parties that have no hype at all. I'm sure they'll figure it out, and I'm sure they'll move on from Twitter to something else, and I'm sure they'll realise in time that it's not worth chasing some boy with slicked back hair who can't even hook a Randy Orton WWE figure onto a hook at the first attempt. As for me, my phone is still twittering with text messages from a friend trying to get into the party - I turn it off, turn it off so I can swear at Max Sharam on the TV, and then go to bed aware that tomorrow, I do it all again...

And by again, I don't mean learning to use a pricing gun...that poor, poor young girl...

6 comments:

Mad Cat Lady said...

But what party DAMNIT

I HAVE to know stuff, you know. You can't just dangle some supposed envied party invite without telling us what it is *pout*

sparsely kate said...

Nobody ever trusted me with the pricing gun when I worked at Franklins budget supermarket back in 1991. I sure would like to go back and give it a shot.

Thoughtful reading as always Miles Miles (only a tiny bit sad and winsome)

Miles McClagan said...

It's pretty lame, it's not worth detailing, but it's making Tasmanians jealous...so, er, hooray!

The pricing gun is a hugely important weapon in a store. Don't mess with it...so I've heard, people get fired for the slightest misuse!

Charles Gramlich said...

you have a knack for describing people in interesting ways. "her meaty wing." Very salient.

Baino said...

So where are you headed? So you watch Spicks and Specks as well . . .I have a party next Friday . . it will be dull and full of geeks and I'll have to 'whip it up' a bit afterwards and pretend I had a fantabulous time talking about Delicious andTwitter and social networking sites and the wholesome virtues of laptops with luminescent apples on their lids. Perhaps I wont go.

Miles McClagan said...

Salient, and very very meaty...trust me, fat sweaty girl could fly to Germany...

Ah, Twitter, what a strange phenomenon, one day to be as outdated as the BBC Micro, and the trendies don't see that coming. That party sounds like it needs whipping up...I should come and bring an ATARI, they'd love that!