Thursday, May 14, 2009

...you might think you're ordinary, but you're quite the opposite to me, just because you like to sing and dance along to R&B...



At some point in the middle of Grade 3hree, in the middle of marbles season in fact when relatively fit and strapping young kids would unveil the finest bag of marbles KMart could possibly afford and spill them onto the lawn in a fit of macho bravado - you could say it was balls out, but that's too John Inman - we went on a school trip. It wasn't much of a school trip, it was more a picnic to Burnie Park, and we had to walk down a long and winding road to get to the swings. I was telling my friend Mark that on this walk if you looked high into the trees there was monkeys, which he wasn't buying at all, and it was a cold grey Burnie mid winter morning with a strong north westerly likely to mitigate that all monkeys had to and have a snooze somewhere warmer, like Launceston maybe. I turned around to continue this monkey based chit chat when I suddenly realised everyone had gone. Teachers, parents with nothing better to do who behaved like teachers, the woman with the dodgy haircut who made the cheese sandwiches, other kids, monkeys...all gone. I was completely alone in the middle of the park, cold, skivvied, and even though I imagine I knew the way to the park - it wasn't exactly finding the way to Amarillo, you just walked in a straight line until you got to the climbing train or saw a swan - I panicked a bit and sat down on the ground, mucking up my little King Gee trousers as I did so, plonking into a puddle. When I did that, I noticed that I had 2wo companions on my journey through the wildnerness, a kid called Adam who I don't remember at all outside of this particular day, and a kid called Kasey. We were all as mutually lost as each other, and not sure what had happened. It dawned on me much like the horrible night at some club in Hobart where I lost all my friends in a 10 foot room but made up for it by hugging a girl in my drama class for an hour, a moment of overthinking and daydreaming had caused me to leave the group behind and there I was, confronted with 2wo children to escort down the road to freedom where I would eat cheese sandwiches and we would all laugh hysterically about the time we got lost in the park. Well, that was the plan - as someone in the school leadership group I was supposed to take charge of the situation, be a leader, be a man...but I was 8ight, hungry, cold, dis-orientated and worst of all had a wet arse...they wanted Churchill, they got Downer...whatever line 9ine of the school leadership pledge was, the one about looking out for people was, I couldn't remember it, and Kasey was looking at me like I should hand my badge over...

So we sat on the ground for a while looking at each other. Adam spoke first. He had apparently got lost from the group while trying to tell a swan off for being boisterous. As I said, I don't remember Adam at all. In my school photo he's looking conspiratorially to the left as if he's seen an escape route or a different coloured skivvy, and he has a toothy grin that seems to suggest evil intentions. Since Adam lurked in societys shadows toothily grinning and looking to the left, as I now imagine he did every day, he was certainly enjoying the captive audience experience that being relatively lost in the middle of the day brought him. He wanted to talk about one thing - what he wanted to be when he grew up. This was not a conversation I wanted to have - still don't to be honest - so I wasn't really listening as Adam splashed water around joyfully wiwth his Clarks shoes and espoused several theories about his future life. For some reason I tended to attract a lot of people who were obsessed with growing up, my later girlfriend Debbie for instance who was obsessed with robots. Adams vision of his future was relatively prosaic though - he was going to work in the toy division of Fitzgeralds - a local department store in Burnie that I mostly remember for their parade of quite creepy mid 80s Santa Clausii - testing out toys and making sure they worked properly. The reason for this, according to Adam, was because he had seen someone in Fitzgeralds playing with a Transformers toy while at work, and he was completely convinced that whoever he had seen was radiantly happy and thus it would be a perfect job. I didn't understand the concept of work myself, but he made it sounds awesome, and so Kasey and I agreed this was a tops dream to pursue. What was odd though was that Adam, having got his big idea out in a toothy burst of excitement, really had nothing else to say. He was spent, he was done, and he plonked down to the ground as if the air had gone out of him. It's why I don't remember him for anything else really - he got everything out in one go, ambitions, Transformers, toothy grin - and that was it really. There was an awkward silence because after you are burned out at 8ight with nothing left to say, it's fair to say you should at least the poor guy in peace, with a moment of respectful silence...

Kasey took up the conversational slack while I was busy seeing mandrills in the trees where none existed. Kasey had got lost when she bent down to velcro up her trainers and taken far too long to complete the velcro matrix. Technically Kasey was the first girl I ever kissed, under the big yellow caterpillar after a less than frantic game of catch and kiss. Unlike a lot of playground ground games we played, catch and kiss was incredibly sensible and well organised, with all the explanation of the games rules in the title. I don't know who was chasing who on this fateful first kiss Tuesday after school but the rules of the game suggested we had caught each other and pecks were exchanged. Kasey was also a good runner - in that self evident way were you don't yet know there's a million Kaseys out there who are the fastest person at their school so you just presume Kasey is going to the Olympics because she can run to the shops quicker than you. Boy could she run though. She swept the tomboy fringe from eyes and began a time killing story about the time she had to run to the shops to get a Violet Crumble for her Mum - for some reason, it sounded like quite a sad story, it wasn't told with any real joy or panache so it sounded like her Mum was horribly obese and housebound and couldn't get herself to the shops because she couldn't fit into a car. That's how I took it anyway, because when my Mum wanted chocolate she'd get in the Torana and get some, and in that self evident I don't know how the rest of the world works but I'm right way an 8ight year old way, I knew I was right and she was wrong. Something about the story must have struck Kasey as a bit sad, because having told it, she also stopped talking suddenly and sat down in the puddle also. So there we all sat, quietly in the gloom, no-one speaking, no-one even moving or doing anything other than getting more wet and cold...by the time I realised 2wo pairs of little eyes were on me, waiting on me to say something to illuminate our predicament, I knew what to say, what to do...I was ready, poised...

Which of course wasn't true, since I not only didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up nor had any kind of parental horror story masked with coded humour to pass the time. So to get us out of the puddle, I suggested that the only way out of our plight was simply to run like crazy in a random direction and hope for the best. It was all I could think of in a crisis situation, but it didn't work, because they both sat there staring at the ground. It was time for the blue badge wearer to show his leadership skills, and so I got up, with my wet arse in tow, and began what you might call a slow trudgy jog through the park - through the puddles, round the corner, past a grumpy swan, round the corner, back to where I started because I took a wrong turn at Alberqueuque, and then off again with my arms pumping like less than impressive untanned pistons. I've no doubt that I impressed no-one with my running technique, but it had the desired effect, because Kasey was soon running behind me, then next to me, then in front of me, then a long way in front of me, then a skivvied dot on the horizon, then she lapped me and then probably the angry swan lapped me and you get the general idea. At least until she stood on the footbridge waiting for me to catch up and we could see cheese sandwiches and teachers and the creepy woman in the distance. She was walking and talking as we made our way through the mist, and we were patting each other on the back, because we had survived, and in our own way we had all helped each other get over being lost. We were met at the footbridge by a teacher who was pretending to have been concerned but like being confronted by a dodgy Cockney rug salesman selling dodgy cockney rugs, we just weren't buying it, because he was eating a kebab slowly as he allegedly fretted. It was then we realised Adam wasn't with us. We looked at each other, we looked at the teacher, we looked at the kebab, we realised we had failed to stick together as a group...until we looked over and saw him eating sandwiches at the top table, not a care in the world, and while we had no idea how we got there, he was eating a Twistie, grinning conspiratorially and staring to the left, not a care in the world, at which point I collapsed on the grass exhausted, ordeal well and truly over...

It was a hell of a 10en minutes, that's for sure...

8 comments:

Baino said...

Haha . .loved this one. It's like that moment of horror when you lose a toddler in the shops and then they appear nonchalantly sitting on a display couch after peeing on it. True story! Hmm, second Transformer movie is out in July I think - can't wait.

Ann oDyne said...

Baino? that couch would have had a price-slash for being shopsoiled and you could have bought it cheap a week later.

Dear Miles - that saga was positively Tolstoyvian.
2wo 10en 8ight an all - hey: typo alert "10 foot" after that 'Hobart club' line, and I just read somewhere that the old English pronunciation is Hubbard. That'll never take off down here.

Jannie Funster said...

Ooo, I remember catch 'n kiss from 7th grade (that was 12-13 years old.)

His name was Floyd, we'd been to school together since 1st grade.

Sorrry, TMI. 'way TMI.

:)

Miles McClagan said...

Did you have to buy the couch? I have a perennial fear of being forced to buy something expensive that I've broke in hilarious circumstances...I hope Grimlock is in the 2nd movie...then I'd go!

Or you could have done that, and snapped it up for a bargain! I'm angry I missed out my numbering system...more typos need to be pointed out to me!

No, that's great, we're all friends here! If mine was with someone called Floyd though...

squib said...

Haven't had much of a chance to read your blog lately, Miles. Have missed your wonderful writing though

they wanted Churchill, they got Downer LOL

I've always wondered what the plural for santa claus was and now I know!

Adam sounds ever so creepy

Miles McClagan said...

I think he just is frozen in aspic in my memory Adam. In the same photo as his school photo, in a skivvy, toothless and eating a cheese sandwich. I like to think he never changed one iota...

Ann oDyne said...

'he never changed one iota ...'

The iota must want to change,
and unfortunately, they never do.

Miles McClagan said...

Well he'd have to change skivvy, or at least upsize, but I would like to think he still enjoyed a tasty cheese sandwich....