Thursday, May 12, 2011

Enjoy calm beauty with a unique sense of soul



Its Xmas day in a suburban Tasmanian town. In the middle distance 2wo surfers sit on the beach in awe of the beautiful scenery and of course their own fancy haircuts. As for me and my family, after we piled into the family Kia Rio and listened to one of my more "Weary Willie" CDs (c Mum who thinks I only listen to whingy whiny indie females) and after a drive that consists of no fewer than 2wo arguments about cheese, we're guests in other people’s lives for the day. We have gathered around an increasingly cramped gently decorated wooden table to eat turkey and to exchange whimsical variations of an answer to life’s eternal question - "how's work going?".

Should I go with "It's still going!" or "Yeah OK? How about you?" - decisions decisions...bad jokes, hats, small talk from the pits of hell, it's all the staples of course. Yet something is missing, and I can feel the chill. This is the first Xmas with these people I can remember where it's been as much of an obligation for them to put on the spread as it is for me to faux enjoy it. Strange. I don't tell BJ, for I have built myself up to her at this point as a nihilist hell bent on hating on society, but later with genuine interest I do ask someone how work is going, just to get the party started. Perish the thought...

There's an aching poignancy in 1ne of the symbolically empty chairs on the deck above me later in the day which is making this protagonist decidedly uneasy.

"You can't sit in that chair!" they will say to anyone who doesn't know, only half jokingly. "Grandad wouldn't have wanted you to sit in that chair!" - I never knew either of my Granddads. One was a taciturn old religiously hypocritically religious bore who fell out with my Dad over a christening shawl, and never spoke to him again. He wrote me out of his wives obit in the local paper and claimed just 1ne Grandchild spawned the earth. My other Grandad was a product of his times alcoholic whose own funeral failed to inspire the most base of human sadness. It's thus hard for me to conjure up the feelings 1ne must feel towards a kindly old Grandfather figure. I did know their Grandad though, and upon realising that what their Grandad mostly wanted wasn't to be symbolically and posthumously represented by a worn old out folding chair, but to be left the fuck alone, I begin to think about my life and it's accelerating decline into mediocrity in a way alien to most of my other Xmas's. Certainly more than the 1ne I pulled a Santa hat over my head and fell asleep for 4our hours...

I would muse more on this decline if people would stop asking me how work was going...

Death frightens me. The reduction of a series of complexities in an individual’s life - in particular what really fascinates me, the individual steps in someone’s life that gets them to be, well, them - to basically a series of 4our or 5ive anecdotes that mostly end with the phrase "that was our (name inserted)" terrifies me. I wonder in this back garden how I will be remembered, if at all, as a furry yellow tennis ball slips past my feet and into the dear departed’s once mighty patch of vegetables. It's certainly a little D&M for a backyard game of cricket these thoughts - it's no surprise the kids are able to sneak through for a cheeky 2nd run. Inevitably, some1ne says can you imagine Granddads reaction if some1ne - me - stepped on his carrots. They share a mutual laugh I can appreciate but never fully understand. While they are musing, I run out one of the kids with a desperate throw from the pumpkin patch, which seems slightly inappropriate, but properly Australian...

Even the present opening is rapid-fire and awkward and forced. My Mum insists on buying the "kids" 1ne of those little stockings full of chocolate. Those kids are now 16, and as likely to buy Ice as enjoy the delicious chocolately treat of a Crunchie. Mind you, my own chocolate treats go the other way now - fancy, sure, and it's the thought that counts, but they seem, well, really old man chocolates. I'm only a hop and a step away from a bag of Werther Originals. Some1ne starts telling me a story about their car that seems so inordinately boring time seems to stop. I suck on 1ne of my old man chocolates and nod in all the right places but really I'm thinking if I could hit my Dad on the head with 1ne of the chocolates and if it would hurt. I mean these are big chocolates. The crux of the story about the car from what I gather seems to be that this guy’s favourite car magazine has said his car is a potential death trap. Some1ne takes our photo on a mobile phone. I'm not sure that it will be a keeper. My eyes when I look at the photo are blank while his are animated. What amuses me is my Mum in the background is stuck in a similar conversation. Later I find out hers is about Avenue Q. At least I could contribute to that discussion...what is a manifold anyway?

My own legacy is troubling me. I feel in a fog that won't stop swirling around me, like I've woke up Quantum Leap style in some1ne else’s life, at 32 years of age, without a clue how I got here. Kids I see 1nce a year are on mobile phones and talking about getting drugs at a gay club. When did Hobart get a gay club? Am I still hip? I know who Katy B is, does that count for anything? I say VHS instead of DVD, an instant giveaway. My expression seems permanently troubled, dour, tired even. At the same time, I'm lucky - I'm safe, and whenever I want, I can up and go to any part of the world I feel like. It's truly troubling to have a mid life crisis in the middle of Xmas dinner. In fact, it's only in the mid of this troubling series of questions that I realise that a small child has sat at the Xmas dinner table for about 2wo minutes with a fixed intensity stare that has bored into my skull, while they hold out a cracker. Every1ne at the table seems to be competing for my attention and is willing me to, bluntly, pull the bloody thing just to get on with the day. That's part of the problem as well. I'm not thinking about pulling a cracker, I'm only thinking of her. Whether this is going to work out, whether it's going to change my life. How to explain to a child with no teeth and a pout that could stop a truck that this moment where you hold out a cracker and nothing else matters is as good as life is ever going to get...

I won though, got a party hat and a little monocle out of a cracker. It's still on my kitchen table. Small victories to build on...

4 comments:

Ann O'Dyne said...

apparently Groundhog Day was an amusing film (have never seen it)
but this is GroundBlog Day - Thursdays 12th May again? I am sure I have already commented on your post of that date.

Ann O'Dyne said...

aha! it is the Blogger Breakdown. My subscription feeds (includes you) are coming in repeatedly, so that I get '38 minutes ago' and think your days-old post is new. Blogger is sick this week.
mwah mwah

Baino said...

Hmm definitely smitten at this point. I think I'm cancelling Christmas this year. Hate the faux stuff and my family's falling apart sadly. Clare won't be here preferring to party in Switzerland so . . no crackers this year, wish me an equivalent 'BJ' to stave the boredom of it all.

Miles McClagan said...

I came back and silly old Blogger broke again! No fair...it used to break all the time. Good times...

I'm sorry to hear that buddy. My Xmas is sort of stuck in a loop, it'll be the same this year as every other year. Crackers are always welcome! I wish you true look finding a BJ, however it ends up!