I’m really going to stop walking home. Sure I need the exercise but for the sake of my sanity and at the risk of exacerbating my already impotent nature when it comes to relating to the average person, I really think I must stop.
To be honest though, this is not something that has gradually been eating away at me, adding to my state of restless sleep and unsatisfying daily minutiae; it has it’s nexus firmly rooted in an encounter I had on Tuesday, and before you judge me with me with your judging hats (I should know, I own 3 in various colours) this is not an over reaction, well 3 days later it isn’t, but possibly on retrospect it might be seen as a slightly over zealous and ill thought out move on my part.
Her name was Betty. She was, and is one of my on-and-off again friends. The sort that always seem like a good idea at the time, but 20 minutes into a lecture from them on how cork shoes never really got a fair run, not to mention Espadrilles and it’s all Jennifer Aniston’s fault, you can understand why Brad left her for Angelina – you stare at them with all the hatred you can muster and then come to the crushing realisation that being with them only makes you hate yourself more.
But my Betty was worse than that; spending more then an Australia Day lunch with her made me want to do things to myself, bad things to myself. Like the time I actually contemplated going home, foraging around my clutter cupboard for my tennis racket, far from it’s glory days of Under 15 Round Robin matches and immersing it in a bath of rust and lime scales for 24-48 hours, where upon immersion complete I would de-string it, leave it in the rain and then after a couple of whiskeys insert it either orally or otherwise into myself and scraping my insides out.
And yet here I was now, walking in the middle of the city, unaware that she was right behind me – that is until she yanked my iPod ear phones out of my ear, and then in front of everyone I screamed ‘I’m being assaulted’ which was not only humiliating to myself, but a point of great concern to everyone walking past who really quite clearly didn’t give a toss – I felt comforted in the knowledge that had I been being assaulted the most I could hope for was a couple testing out their new iPhone posting yet another urban stereotype on YouTube with the tag line ‘the girl who got over excited when her friend touched her.’
Now, here’s the thing, I’ve only recently surrendered my Sony Discman because after scratching my forth copy of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation and then being informed it is no longer available to purchase in any other format than Mp3 (yes, I felt like chaining myself to a Sanity Christmas display stand as well) I conceded defeat and got an iPod, nothing fancy, you can’t touch the screen, but it’s mine and I’ll be damned if anyone other than myself or a mugger yank it out of my ears…
‘What the hell?’ I spun around only to come face to face with Betty.
‘Hey’ she offered back – no apology, no nothing, as I struggled to pick up my head set and stuff it in my hand bag.
‘That kinda hurt’ I muttered…
‘Hurt – what hurt?’
‘When you pulled my head back via my earphones just now’
‘Did I?’ she stated – it wasn’t a question, she knew what she had done – let the dance begin I thought. Let us dance.
‘I haven’t seen you since Australia Day – you never call, why is it you never call Lou?’
‘I invited you to my birthday’
‘Ahh, yes, Sex and the City was on at the IMAX the next night and I really needed to rest my eyes.’
‘And I invited you to my show’.
‘Oh…well Andrew didn’t want to go.’
‘I got a new boyfriend, well he really started out a f**k buddy but than I thought come on Betty you’re over 25 and you have to start getting serious about your life, like what if the world ends and you have no one to get on the Arc with, like I’m sure they’ll be a boat for the singles, but really what would God get of saving them, I mean really – how committed are you in saving humanity if you aren’t willing to breed for existence right? And anyway, Andrews doesn’t really like funny girls, which has really kept me in check, I can tell you.’
‘You know Andrew anyway; you went to high school together’
‘Yep.’ – we never spoke, most of our interaction coming to down to him coming up with a scoring system of how many things the boys in class could get down my top without me noticing.
‘So what’s new with you Lou?’
‘Still living with your parents?’
‘That’s not very good is it? – Not very good for your ‘life’ hey?’
‘I don’t have a ‘life’ so it suits me just fine. I’m actually very busy.’
‘You just said you weren’t doing much.’
‘Well its just stuff, like I have (oh please Lou, don’t stoop this low) – I have a couple of scripts I’m developing.’
‘That’s great Lou, just great. I tend to think screenwriting is like how everyone was in a band in the 90’s won’t you agree?’
‘Not really, I think there’s a lot more to it –‘
‘– I’m just trying to say that isn’t everyone developing a screenplay? Like my autistic cousin Benji could have something development if he was so inclined – surely you agree Lou?’ – Again, not a question, more a statement.
‘I guess if he was motivated that way’
‘Don’t be cruel Lou, for god sake he’s autistic.’
I had nothing to say, she was right, I had been cruel – cruel for thinking that at right that very moment she was talking to me I was thinking that I really wanted to be home self-harming myself live on the web.
‘What you listening to anyway?’ she grabbed at my iPod and examined for evidence of music.
‘Dannii Minogue?’ she quipped, reluctant to give it back to me like a mother who just discovered her toddler was playing with laundry detergent.
‘Yes, Dannii’ – judging hats on!
And she scrolled through my selection I could see her face despair – but that was cool, I was ready for this, and I’d been waiting for this moment all my life.
Her head shot up ‘You’ve got her entire back catalogue Lou.’
‘Yeah, lots of people do.’
‘That’s not true, is it Lou?’
‘As a matter of fact there are a lot of us out there who think Dannii has done a lot more for modern music than anyone is willing to give her credit for.’
I knew it was a bold statement, yes, I also know there wasn’t much to back it up and her ill fated marriage to Julian McMahon and her slight dalliance with being a darling of the Right in 2002 following a poorly interpreted magazine interview about the French fascist president at the time did tear at her credibility – but I wasn’t backing down.
I snatched my iPod back.
‘How soon we forget how important she is culturally to us! – I mean what? Have we all forgotten Secrets! Or how she made every frumpy brunette in Australia actually think they too could be on Young Talent Time! Or how she was nominated for a Gold Logie! And yes, we’d all like to forget ‘This is It’ but you can’t honestly say that Neon Nights did not have some well earned party anthem highlights, and sure she looks a little strange now in the flesh and slightly out of proportion – but she’s the accessible Minogue and for that, and that reason alone I will always go to bat for her and so Betty if you want to make something of this go right ahead, but her music gives me a much needed spring to my step as I walk home and no one is going to take that away from me – no one….especially not the likes of you.’
For a moment she said nothing, nor did the crowd that had gathered for my rousing ‘Pro Dannii’ speech. For a moment I expected a slow clap to start rumbling up through the crowd of 5 or so, I expected Betty to look at me with tears in her eyes and thank me for finally making it ok to like Dannii, something so many of us have been seeking permission for, for years…
…but as the crowd left to go and watch a guy talk to himself on the other side of Bourke St Mall, I was not left with a liberated and admiring Betty but was faced instead with a Betty who know longer knew the person that stood before her.
She reached her arm up to my shoulder, but quickly pulled away, as if correcting herself.
‘I – it’s just don’t think we can be friends anymore, well not for now anyway….you seem a little lost and I’ve made a promise to myself to only surround myself with people who have direction and a firm grasp on what is right and wrong, and from what I’ve just witnessed Lou, you can no longer tell the difference. Take care Lou.’
And with that she looked at me one last time, clutching my iPod and started to walk away…but it was ok, I had Dannii and you know what that’s all I needed.
And so, looking back and with the kindness of hindsight it would be wrong of me to stop walking home, sure it reaffirms that my talent lies almost exclusively in alienating people and losing friends (to misquote a book) but more importantly because if no ones actually listening to Dannii does she really exist?