Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No video, just the song



Its 10en am in a windowless, self contained office at the end of the world. We're packed onto a candy cane stripe couch created in the era before ergonomic support listening to a gay man talk about his life’s passion for sales. I presume he's gay; he has a silver band on his finger that screams commitment ceremony, has a camp Frankie Howardesque lilt to his voice, and compares everything to buying shoes. I spend most of his power point presentation thinking about what to put on my new mix CD and wondering about why he knows so much about buying shoes. The only time I buy shoes is when 1ne of the limited collection of people who care about such things point out that my shoes are falling apart. I generally wait until I can see sock. To be honest, his camp frippery isn't what's distracting me. Nor is it my couched in closeness to my ironic ex girlfriend on the candy cane striped couch - it's his spelling. I realise when I get into my typing groove I'm not Bertrand Russell, but this is his life’s work. He loves what he does. He couldn't be more passionate about anything in his life. An evacuation alarm disrupted him mid flow and he looked crushed. Genuinely upset. And yet, right on the middle of the projection screen, is the word "destiniations" - it's really bugging me. I don't know whether to mention it, but not saying anything is driving me mad. My ex ironic girlfriend is drinking Diet Coke - this is worrying me because she's drinking Diet Coke because I was drinking it. She said what are you drinking as she walked past. I said Diet Coke, and now she's drinking Diet Coke. I know from the brief messy relationship we had that she was inclined to try things I liked in the name of "getting to know each other" - she even stole my copy of "Formica Blues" on vinyl. Did I get it back? Great, he's asked me a question now. See, thanks a lot overactive easily distracted brain. My response in all of these situations is basically to say something clever and abstract - not today though. I hadn't even heard the question but I know what to say...just like buying a pair of shoes...he might have asked me what the capital of Nigeria was, but he seems to accept my answer. Now, back to apathetic drifting...

I used to work with a girl who was Scottish like me. Hell of a nice girl. 1ne day her partner moved all the furniture out of her house and left her, and she had a bit of a fit. Nice girl though - partner was a knob. He spoke to me for ages about bottle caps at a Xmas party. Anyway, 1ne day I was telling a story about, I don't know, let's keep the theme going and say vinyl records. Tasmanians are for the most part very polite and will let you finish your story. However, I could see on this girls face even as she stood there she was incredibly bored. I asked her about it and she confessed - it was the most boring story she'd ever heard. I shrugged it off, and not just because as some1ne married to a guy who knew lots about bottle caps she was in a great position to judge boring stories, but the thing was, it was a moment of cultural recognition. If I wasn't Scottish, I probably would have missed the telltale but subtle signs of when a Scottish person has lost interest in listening. My office where I work has become full of office cultural recognition. To give an example, the new girl will expect praise from the girl in the end office. The girl in the end office will not give praise out because she thinks everyone should just do their job. So I can now essentially walking around giving the first girl a thumbs up and a big smile while telling the 2nd girl that hard work is its own reward or playing down achievements. It's become so predictable my ability to pre-empt their conversations, I don't even have to think about it. I didn't even notice I was doing it until today. I didn't realise I was on everyone’s side until 3hree separate people said how sad it was they had dis-continued the Milo Bar. The only way to be more popular round here is to speak in a camp voice about shoes. They love that guy around here. You should have seen them listening to him...I even tried to point out the spelling error...no dice...

Into this conversational ease about discontinued chocolate bars and the eternal struggle between relentless toil and a justified reward comes a spanner deep into the works. My ex ironic girlfriends was soon to be ex now officially ex - an abbreviation is required at this rate - moved out of her house at 3hree am this morning after they had a huge row. I only know this because I was in the middle of my own tutorial to some1ne in the office about how to steal the audio off of YouTube clips - I'm sure I spelled YouTube right, and yes, I said it was like stealing a pair of shows, an in joke they missed - when I heard her tell some1ne. She hasn't slept all night. In our relationship, we never got to the comfortable conversation stage. We got close, but I'm possessive about the things I like. I don't give up musical secrets easily. My favourite song changes 9ine times a day. I'm not some1ne who can easily solve your problems, since I attack everything with a Scottish fatalism. So our conversations never became easy. Today, I can't offer any real words of sympathy, lest I get back into the old routine by which I'm offering therapy in lieu of a relationship. Instead of saying something soothing, I'm pretty much mute and focused on trying to drive a straw deep into my purepak Orange Juice. This proves to be almost impossible and I'm soon incredibly angry at this inaminate object that has no recourse to argue with me. The girl with the mod haircut will later show me pictures of her cousins. She says they are always smiling. Indeed, on 1photos evidence, that is true, but then they've just been given toys, so I can't judge. I say for some reason I hope they never lose their smile. I don't mean this to become the piece of wisdom it becomes when later retold. I just meant it as something to say, but now it's being quoted round the office with everyone adding layers of depth to it. My ironic ex girlfriend stormed out of the office without saying goodbye to anyone. Some1ne said she'd lost her smile. They all looked at me. Great, now I'm quotable and out of Milo Bars, what else can happy today...they stop making the Burnt Sienna crayon?...

It's late in the day now. I've sat down at an Internet kiosk to find out a basketball score. There's a guy at the computer next to me licking an ice cream really loudly, in fact, suggestively to be honest. He keeps looking at me in a funny way. I really have no desire to be picked up a man in a Buffy T-shirt licking an ice cream like a rabid animal and glancing at me like I'm afters, so I quickly pack up and leave. This sadly leaves 1:43 of my Internet time scattered to the winds of time, but it's for the best. There's a girl in ridiculously painted shoes on a green bench as I walk past. Her shoes are painted in gold spray paint, to the point they hurt my eyes. She's on the phone trying to explain to some1ne abroad or some1ne foreign what Tasmania is like. She says it's like the Southside but the Southside of what and where remains unspoken. She laughs. It's an easy conversational in joke. Either that or the glare from her spray painted Wizard of Oz homaging shoes have driven her loopy. It's getting late, and a string of cars are stopping me from crossing the road, 1ne final barrier to my car and the road home. The camp guy from the training session is getting into a cab. He's explaining in detail exactly how to get to his hotel. The taxi driver has a blank expression on his hateful face. His beard even seems to be twitching angrily. They have a long argument by the side of the road about cabcharge vouchers before eventually settling on a price, and disappearing into the crazy world of Tasmanian traffic. I'm sure that getting a taxi is somehow like buying a pair of shoes, but I'm too tired to make the connection. The CD in my car is for some reason cued up to Chase That Feeling...when I saw the Hilltop Hoods at Big Day Out, it seemed as though everyone in the whole crowd knew every word to every song before it was sung...somedays at work I feel as though I know every word that'll be spoken before anyone even thinks of it...most days anyway...the car starts, and off I go, another day conquered...

It's not quite living, it's not quite dying slowly, but it's positively definitely maybe somewhere in between...

3 comments:

Kris said...

One day someone will write an epic poem about bottlecaps.

Kath Lockett said...

Nah love, you're not dying slowly - you're creating windowless office poetry for the rest of us.

And the 'new' (how many versions did Nestle do in the end) Milo bar was utter crap. If they'd stuck to the original bar which was essential a brick of compressed Milo powder coated in chocolate the world would be a better place.

Miles McClagan said...

I hope that person puts it on Youtube so we can bask in it's greatness, maybe with bongo drums and performance poetry...

I wish I'd called the Blog windowless office poetry...I am so angry about the demise of the Milo Bar, I've almost written a letter...almost...big brick of Milo, what do people want!