Sunday, May 17, 2009

And then a smug sports reporter rounded off the day with a smirk and a pun...



Since my football team are now utterly terrible, I've been a lot more sociable with my weekends and have been pretty determined to stride out into the cold Hobart air and do something with my winter. It's probably not going to last, and the down side is that I've been up and at em with trying to clear up my room, and there is piles and piles of old junk in my life never mind lying around my room. Since I was hungover from sitting in a pub last night drinking endless shots of vodka while having a lovely chat with a New Zealand couple about how Underbelly is a national comedy in NZ, and a little bit reeling from a pile of Facebook requests from old school friends that I thought were long consigned to the dustbin of historical anecdotes, I really didn't have the energy to clean my room up, and so basically had tremendous intentions that I couldn't fulfil, which I sometimes imagine will be chiselled on my tombstone. Maybe with a picture of Snagglepuss. In truth, one of my main failings in life is that I'm terrible at re-invention. Somedays I feel entirely like the same person who crawled out of bed in Grade 12elve, took a look around the pokey wood stained room I slept in, flicked the switch on the radio and listened to Triple J until Sunday had past, only alternating my routine to have arty discussions about Tazo design over the phone with my friends. However, I do feel different in one way, which is old age is creeping up on me like some horrible bounty hunter dishing out summons that require me to pay in creaky joints and old bones. Sure I have my moments, my Ladyhawke CD has been passed around the trendy young things where I work and the fact that they've taken the pole out of Syrup, much to the devastation of all Dave Dobbyn fans, has enabled me to pass on some sage nightclub wisdom to the kids and feel both trendy wise and dismayed - no pole, where will fat male accountants pick up now - but ultimately I can listen to Back Of The Van on repeat and have an intimate knowledge of popular culture and Kelly Clarksons sexual preferences, but I still feel old today. It seems as though I've come to quite the strange age bridge in my life because I feel asleep like some demented old fan having an afternoon nap on the carpet with achy breaky joints and a headache, while in the background an achingly trendy pulsated in the background, it's little LCD display hypnotically transporting me to sleep, one numbered track at a time...and I had the most wonderful dream as it did so, and like many people 30ty or so, there was nothing I could do to set it all right...

When I worked in Coles in Burnie, it was one of the last businessess that paid in cash - you had to walk up a big flight of stairs and linger around until the woman in the pay office deigned to get up from watching Oprah to pass you a small brown envelope with a meagre allowance in it. Generally they would do this wordlessly and quickly, but 1ne day the little woman inside the booth invited me in with a wave of her hand and the promise of cake and even more cake later. Since to get into the cash office required you to unlock 3hree doors, slide 4our bolts and correctly spell Elmaloglou on an entry form I was pretty suspicious of her generosity. She was an older kind of middle aged lady - jet black hair in a tight librarian ponytail, all dreams set aside for her kids, and she lived in a messy office full of crumpled up magazines with Kym Wilson or Jo Beth Taylor on the front, a mug that had a suitably inspirational slogan on it to perk her up in the good times, Worlds Greatest something, and a jacket hung on a shoogly peg for early exit on Fun Time Fridays. Without saying very much, she sat me down in a chair that was across from her chair, motioned as if she was going to get the cake, and then left. It was all very suspicious as I looked around the office at the piles of magazines and broken dreams wedged into the corner. It was then I realised that I had left more or less alone in the crawlspace with about 500ed dollars sitting on the desk, all in 50tys, and realised I had been set an honesty test. Either that or she was just an idiot and really wanted me to have some cake because she was proud of baking it and went to get some plates without realising the money was out there, I haven't ruled that out. I've never stolen anything in my life - I was genuinely mortified when my mate Martin stole some Blackjacks from the Pakistani shop keeper in Ayrshire and became a hectoring don't steal harpie for the rest of the day - so there was no way I was going to steal the money. My harpie conscience wouldn't have allowed it. After a while though it became clear the whole thing had become quite a strained exercise in parody, because rather than a 10en minute test, it became a 2wo hour test of nerve - simply because the lady forgot that I was in the office, and I couldn't leave to do any work, and proceeded to have a lovely restful day sitting in an office watching Television and eating Tim Tams from a robust tin that wouldn't break no matter how hard I threw it off the wall...come to think of it, she might have been watching me on CCTV and wondered why a robust and upstanding 18teen year old boy wasn't reading Ralph but instead was eating Tim Tams and arguing with the TV...it's just Oprah, she's always annoyed me...

Once Oprah finished and some weirdly trendy kids Jen on The Big Arvo style show came on, I was bored and restless, waiting for the test to end. So I jumped on the then nascent and new Internet, since I hadn't really had much of a play around on it. After all, all I had ever done on a computer was play Kick Off on the Amiga in my neighbours attic and some boring flight simulators which put me off being a pilot long before my eyesight ever did, like a shortsighted candle in the wind so to speak. I pottered around the usual suspects, solitaire and horrible Tripod addressed websites, but as happens with most potters not called Harry, I stumbled upon something I shouldn't have. Not porn, I don't think they'd have invented that yet, maybe someone photoshopped Emma Georges head onto someone elses body or something, but there was a 1/2 composed letter typed on the computer, a love paeon to someone that clearly the office lady had typed up in a flustered hurry. It sounded tragically like a farewell letter, all dots and dashes and weird in jokes and names but utterly poignant in tone and resigned to fate, it's uncompleted status and cut off final paragraph - Dear John in Verdana and resignation - leaving the future of this womans world delicately poised. The harpie voice in my head - and it is truly a harpie voice like Ena Sharples or something - felt immediately bad for having seen it even for a moment - I felt like I'd stolen after all, some privacy off her, something like that, and I flicked off it and sat back down in my chair until she came back, saw the money was still on the table but that she was down several biscuits and someone had drawn a big frowny face on the mission statement - I personally blame Janie Jane - in texta. I never said a word as I got up, but I noticed the strangely slumped way she sat back down in the chair, clicked a few things on the computer and stared straight ahead. I never found out if the typed out letter was posted with stamps and despair, but I sort of didn't need to know I guess. I went back to my scanning, packing, staring and moodiness, for all of about 5ive minutes which was all the time I had to fill before going home, walking up to the car past the gaggle of prostitutes and broken trollies, sure that 13teen years later I would remember it in a dream enlivened by the additional presence of orange seagulls and a sunset of a colour no wordsmith in the world could ever describe...

I must have been asleep for about 5ive hours - I came to as Celtic Legend rolled around for the 20th time, Gwenno must have been annoyed to sing the same song so many times - with what people would call a start, but what I called an end. The dream was incredibly vivid - even more vivid than my Lily Allen dreams, and no, they aren't those kind of dreams...often - and colourful, and my brain scanned vigorously for a million little moments of indecision. Eventually, the lady in the office disappeared, replaced by a woman look was slim but facially looked a bit like Drew Carey because she had big glasses and a crazy mad frizzy perm, we all had to open accounts at Bass and Equitable, and the world kept on spinning as one relationship starts and one ends every single minute of the day. There's so many little tiny things I wish I could change, but I can't, and there's so many million things I wish I knew, but I don't. I ended up pottering - there's that word again - around my deck at about 3hree in the morning in the freezing cold air. My brain was more animated than the Hanna Barbera offices, my body itching for a night out at Syrup. There was a party over the fence that was just dying out, the fading strains of techno or some badly remix Ministy album grinding to a halt. My instinct was to shake my fist at them for disrupting my thoughts but there was a minor fight broke out in the garden, someone stormed off in a huff and a car door slammed while several girls who were surely about to catch a death of cold - that would be the old side of my life odometer - in skimpy tops stood around slack jawed and bewildered. Their slack jawed bewilderdness was soundtracked by the fading strains of the Ministry album, and lifes eternal how, what and why rolled on as if perpetually looped. Unsent e-mails, bewildering fights, CDs that sound the same, the confusion that happens when you have to engage with other people, I laughed at them all as the cold continued to chill everyone around me, and I fell once again into a deep sleep, determined that the next day, I would learn my lessons, and not make the same mistakes everyone else does, encased in Dean Solomons wisdom...one orange seagull dream at a time...

It would have been a great end to the story if the unsent e-mail was written to me, but I only tell the truth - it was to Bill, the fat janitor, and if you knew him, it's hardly a Night at Rodanthe in the romance stakes...but maybe it is, who am I judge...

4 comments:

sparsely kate said...

I think you should get a Snagglepuss tattoo, Miles. Don't wait for the headstone. Get one on your shoulder and wear it proud!

I used to work in Franklins in this mall in Canberra in 1993. They payed us in brown envelopes too, and I was actually good friends with the girl who worked in the cash office. I very clearly remember the flight of stairs up to her office, then two doors and then a massive grey security door/wall with a code (I never got told the code but my friend would let me in on a knock)

She'd sit in there and have the mini tv and all the bundles and bundles of cash all tied up in rubber bands. I never ever stole from that place either...it would be like robbing friends.

Thanks for the memorys, Miles! ;)

I feel so old too, now.
Oh, and clean your room mister

Miles McClagan said...

In ink even...exit stage left...

I love Snagglepuss, he's so brilliant. I miss those cash offices and the joyous and chaotic piles of money lying around...minging you can do it just by pushing a button now innit...

Kris said...

I always resented the old integrity test. I'm not a thief, so even the assumption that I *might* offends me.

That said, I'm am quite certain that every single one of the bosses that I have ever had would fail such a test.

Miles McClagan said...

Mine too - although I'm amazed they think anyone would fall for it these days. Oh there's a big wad of cash on the desk, I'll leave you alone with it...come on, that's more hackneyed than the keyboard playing cat!