Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The unfinished writing exercise of TAFE class, 2002, not the one about Cocoa Puff Man



I learned about patience from a girl at my primary school. I forget her name, but I remember her toothless smile, and the carefree way she would hang her yellow Supergirl bag on the hook, daring it to fall to the floor. For a full year, Prep it was, she would stare at me every single day as I walked past, her yellow polo neck clinging to her spindly youthful frame like a tight cotton trap. If got a lunch order bag, she would stare at me. If I cried during The Wizard Of Oz, she would stare at me. While we waited for that weird ginger kid who everyone hated to finally jump off the fort, she would stare at me. I had never been stared at before, and it was bugging me. I tolerated it for a while, but eventually it got to me. It was when we were colouring in one day. I had finally learned that I wasn't supposed to write one letter on each page of my book, my big giant Ms in captor cursive no doubt the talk of much that boy aint right animation in the staff room, and I was colouring in a pig or some such nonsense. I can't remember whether I was a good colourerer or not - I was a terrible drawer, so it was good, and it felt good, working within the confines of a structured environment. Sure enough, I was in the zone of colouring, every single part of me a perfect synchronicity of crayon and page. Her stare broke that, and with the first noted flash of temper I would display in my life, I asked her what the hell she was doing. It broke her stare, and she indifferently asked to borrow a black crayon. I shared it, but she never stared at me again. I'll never know if she liked me, she was patiently waiting for a crayon, or just thought I had a weirdly shaped head, but I was rude, and she didn't reveal her true intentions - I had broken whatever carefully planned or imagined process she had. Many years later, after 6ix months of planning, I asked a girl out after what I thought was many months of groundwork, and what I thought were mutually beneficial glances. but before I could finish she was interrupting me, to ask a question so pointless and vapid, that I lost all ideas and my entire train of thought. Instead of asking her out, I asked her for a crayon - she didn't get it, but I did, and left her behind that day. In fact, I felt like finding that girl from Prep and apologizing. An interruption to patiently planned thoughts that have taken months to formulate is enough to drive anyone to drink - in her case, water from the bubblers, in my case, a carton of Pura Milk, bought from the fridge of an Upper Burnie Milk Bar, where Jimmy Barnes was on the jukebox, and only Jimmy, on an endless loop, the owner daring anyone to break the spell...

I learned about success from page 115 of a revised edition of the Guinness Book of Records. Once upon a time the book would thud on my doorstep and I would use it to learn about the universe, long before they invented bloody Google. I would intently study weird long necked Africans and big fat Americans, but most of all I would study a picture of a big yellow Lamborghini. Oh how I would study it, in fact I would precociously tell people that if they stuck with my life story, I would one day repay them by picking them up by the side of a puddle in such a car on my way to my hot date with Bridget from the Gruen Transfer. I now drive a Hyundai. No need for connection of points in that life story. Anyway, there was a large and supportive network of people in my early childhood who invested in the early intellectual promise I showed and help me get my dream. My Dad was showered with copies of the Young Composers to nurture my interest in, er, Chopin and other composers (like all magazines in the 80s, you bought one, got one free and the company went out of business by edition 3hree). There was a Sale Of The Century board game in our house with electronic dancing buzzers and so much trivia my head exploded. And best of all, there were airplanes, from a short lived interest in air and space travel from the visit of Haleys Comet. Sure, when my cousins husband who works in air traffic control took one look at the model airplanes my Dad had made, he laughed and said the wings were upside down, but hey, no one is perfect right? And I was sure I would get that Lamborghini, with all the fancy and finery...funny thing is, I was outside a nightclub in Melbourne, and out of a not dis-similar vehicle stepped an AFL footballer with a sub hairdresser intellect of a girlfriend in tow, who walked straight in, made sure everyone knew who he was, and then proceeded to vomit much later all over the floor in a flowing motion that was far more controlled than any of his kicks ever were. To the outside world, I guess he's a success, but there's other things in my life I value now. I'm sure that player, for all his frippery and finery, has no friends of any value. In fact I know so, because as we left the club, we was behind a velvet rope, all on his own, sitting there watching his girlfriend leave with a better footballer, while he looked aimlessly at his phone and waited for someone to ring...

I learned about failure from my Dad. The way he tells it, I was training for the state soccer team on a windy November day at Montello soccer ground. I wasn't without hope, or so I thought. Montello was a harsh field of dreams, uncut and unmowed pitches as far as they eye could see adjoined with disparate little hills of dirt - metaphorically and literally, you could climb the hill or fall down it on your arse and make a mess. I can't say my Dad has been a pushy parent - on the contrary, he finds my sporting failures endlessly hilarious. 10en people stood in a line, a line I was at the back of. They all took penalty kicks, they all hit the ball in the same place, the coach saved all the penalties, and carefully explained 10en times that the ball really shouldn't be hit straight at him, but placed, tucked into the corner of the net. Inevitably, I ran up and hit the ball straight at him, then went back to studying cloud formations with my shirt tucked into my shorts. The way Dad tells it, he was laughing because rather than learn from the lessons of the previous 10en kickers, I had copied them and thus failed embarrassingly, what he doesn't mention is when I looked over, he had his jacket pulled over his head, and looked utterly forlorn that he had got out of bed to watch such a stupid child. That's how I tell it anyway. I remember that as the biggest failure of my childhood, that and the whole blackboard spelling debacle. Funny thing was, many years later, I was at Love Street, watching St Mirren play a game against some team miles better than us, Hibs or something, a cross came over, and our striker, on a run of horrific luck, missed an absolute sitter, from right underneath one of the posts. As he looked into the crowd of groaning, gurning St Mirren supporters in mid whinge, if his mind hit the pause button as he looked at the plastic bucket seat where I was sitting, he would have seen me pull my jacket over my head, in disbelief as to what I was seeing. I should have sympathised, but I didn't, I was one of those yelling and screaming, but if he wanted to take a moment to tuck his shirt into his shorts and decide whether a cloud was a sheep or a dog, well, I certainly wasn't going to deny the man his moment...if he wanted to drink from a Chocolate Big M, I'd have understood that as well...

I learned about love from my first ever girlfriend. Her name was Sarah, she was a twin, one of two I believe I'm right in saying. I don't know if we kissed, there's every chance we didn't, that we simply bonded because she liked Punky Brewster and I thought it was OK and that was good enough for everyone. She was a philosopher, and more or less my first 3hree girlfriends were. Although her philosophy was breathy and tended to be about how wonderful she would find the simplest things, she was definitely inspiring. No-one could pick up a leaf and find beauty in it like Sarah. When we broke up, I remember feeling upset, more upset than I did when my sandwich had paste in it instead of cheese, or more upset than when I couldn't find my Ju Jitsu Heman figure when I needed him for a battle. I'm sure there was a moment when Punky Brewster came on and I missed talking to her about what happened, some hilarious mix up involving her friend or a chewed up video tape, and felt sad. Our breakup was wonderfully mutual I think, I don't remember any acrimony. All that happened was that when it was lunch time, we just were a little bit further apart in the circle when we sat down and ate our lunch. Damn it, paste. Many years later, I was at a night club, watching one of my friends break up with their girlfriend. He was yelling and screaming and she was crying and yelling and he was stomping and she was screaming and the music was thumping and the joint was jamming. And such things. They both left, her face like one of those wronged wives on the CI channel, his face like someone who would be watching the football from the hospital. A girl tapped me on the shoulder and said something about what was their problem, I said they didn't watch enough Punky Brewster as children, she laughed and asked if all my solutions to problems were so childlike, sat next to me, and that's how I started the most significant adult relationship of my life. It made me wonder if adult relationships were overrated, and when we broke up 1ne year later because, you guessed it, the solutions to all the problems in my life were so childlike, I still hadn't worked it out. Incidentally, this is my version of events - she says I asked to buy her a drink with such clammy desperation it was endearing, and she felt bad for me. I prefer my version better, although with her version, it ties in a bit with how I asked Sarah out, and in both cases, it could have been a Big M I was offering...

I learned about resillience from...oh sod this, I give up, I'm going for some chips...

14 comments:

Samantha said...

NOoooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!! don't mention chips!

i may die - i am dieting - i am eating healthy wraps - i am not thinking about chips and gravy AT ALL!! I don't even like chips (i <3 chips) no no i HATE chips
*sob*
*flees room*

Miles McClagan said...

I wanted chips in 2002, there wasn't much I could do to change that!

Now, I only want a nice sandwich...honest!

Baino said...

I learned to cheat when my mother wouldn't allow me to have paste sandwiches so I swapped my salad ones for fish paste on white bread with a kid at school who didn't like his lunch - his name was Kevin Fish . . if only she knew.

The Man at the Pub said...

Have you tried watching Punky Brewster lately? I have... and it's sooo lame!

Kris said...

The thing that I miss most about the Upper Burnie Milk Bar is the Blue Heaven Slush Puppies.

I have yet to see them anywhere in Tasmania but that Milk Bar.

I'd forgotten about it, but now you've gone and reminded me of them.

Time to grieve again.

Miladysa said...

I'm a bit of a starer myself.

I once went for a ride in Mr Lamborghini's canary yellow Lamborghini Diablo with a friend - part of the registration was 666.

Miles McClagan said...

Paste sandwiches were like acne, rejection from girls and Collingwood losses in my childhood. They were always a let down and always horrible. I would have swapped my paste sandwiches for yours, no doubt. I was a big fan of cheese...

The last episode of PB I saw, Punky spent 10en minutes doing a close up aerobics work out in gym gear...I felt vaguely uncomfortable, so I left before the dog broke the TV...as always happened...

The distinct lack of products which use Blue Heaven as a flavour disgusts me to this day. I wish I lived in Upper Burnie on a Summers Day in 1988, drinking a delicious drink and renting Hotshot with Pele...

I never got into a Lamborghini, I've been in a Ferrari, and it was great...the skids we had around the corner were so much fun!

Doc said...

That's a hell of a lot of learning for just one article. I think I need some chips now.

Doc

Kath Lockett said...

....yeah but did you wash your chips down with a chocolate Big M?

Pepsi said...

We had to suffer through fish paste sandwiches once a week at school - disgusting stuff.

You can have one of my crayons anytime you feel the need of one.

I learnt resilience just by getting up again everytime someone tried to knock me down, till now its going to take one hell of a right hook to knock me down these days ;-)

Miles McClagan said...

I love chips - they are truly the most educational food...

It was probably a Blue Heaven Big M...that taste was so delicious...I miss it...sigh...go Big M!

Fish paste was horrendous...I had that once, it was awful...sharing your crayons is a sign of a great person...and resillience is hugely important these days! I admire that you found how to do it!

JahTeh said...

Memories, Blue Heaven malted milk in a steel container made with real milk, real ice-cream and fake blue then next door to the cake shop for the fake cream and jam slices or across the road for the real cooked in lard chips. Even when I was young I believed in not moving far for my food.

I missed you Miles but my internet connection would infarct every time I tried to load your blog.

sparsely kate said...

He was yelling and screaming and she was crying and yelling and he was stomping and she was screaming and the music was thumping and the joint was jamming.


That description above made me happy on the inside - so good!

Oh, I liked this post a lot.

Miles McClagan said...

What's the trouble? Too many words or too many mad stupid Youtube clips? You've made me very happy, cos those steel containers are a big part of my childhood. Oh how the anticipation would build at Fitzgeralds waiting for such a treat...

Thanks! Although I don't think there's any post that can't be improved with the inclusion of a reference to a jamming joint...