I’d prefer a gift voucher over you for Christmas, no offence.

I’ve never been one for Christmas parties, or parties in general. A lot of forced conversations with people I wouldn’t normally make eye contact with on a tram, who make remarks about nuts, giggle at the word nuts, have a few drinks and then later in the evening ask you if you like nuts, giggle when you say you’re partial to a cashew, then pull their own ready-packed nuts out and ask you to sit on them.

Over the years I’ve become a virtual hermit when it comes to the festive season, I’ve also developed an acute allergic reaction to nuts. But this year I changed my mind. I decided to RSVP to every seasonal festivity I was asked to attend, you know to see who my real Facebook friends were these days and start eating nuts again.

Of the two invitations I received, yes colour me popular and dip me in the collective spit of the local high school football team circa 1996, the first one was last week. As usual it got off to a great start.

Arriving, I had my name ticked off at the door and the ‘all you can eat and drink’ invite was whittled down to me taking an orange ‘meat tray’ raffle ticket and being advised I was entitled to one complimentary drink at the bar of my choice so long as it was red or white something, any further clarification and I would need to fork over my own money. Let the festivities begin…

Once inside and armed with my ‘rose’ or as I instructed the girl at the bar my ‘half-half’, I looked around to see if I knew anyone.  Of course I didn’t, which meant I was exposed and vulnerable and having decided to go bare-legged on an ‘I really should shave my legs this morning’ day perhaps this feeling was somewhat exacerbated. I finally settled on making eye contact with someone that looked like someone I knew. I was aware he wasn’t the person I knew but I hoped the loud music, his lack of interest in me and the conversation we were having about funding bodies and Jon Polson would be enough to carry the time over until someone I knew arrived or I started to find him attractive. 

‘So you doing a Tropfest film this year?’ he asked as he adjusted his belt holding up his khaki coloured man slacks.

‘No, probably not.’ I replied.

‘Shame really, I could help you. I made a Tropfest film last year.’

‘That’s great. Did it win anything?’

‘Not last year, but you gotta remember that’s when the global financial crisis hit. It affected everything.’

‘Including your chances of getting into Tropfest?’

‘Amongst other things.’

‘You do know that if it doesn’t get into Tropfest, it’s technically not a Tropfest film.’

‘That’s a really limited way of looking at life Lou.’

‘Well using your logic that means that the short film I made was an Oscar film. It never got into consideration for the Oscar but what if that was my intent, thus it’s an Oscar film.’

‘They give Oscar’s to comedies these days Lou?’

‘Point taken.’

‘I’m making a Sundance film next.’

‘But let me guess it didn’t get into Sundance?’

‘Didn’t have to. It’ll always be a Sundance film to me and my half-brother whose mortgaged his house to pay for it.’

‘What’s it about?’

‘It’s an atmospheric film set along the central coast.’

‘Sounds dramatic.’

‘The lead character’s mother dies and she has to deal with that on the central coast, that’s why it’s set on the central coast.’

‘Great.’

‘We’ve got the DOP, just need to write the script now.’

‘Why bother, with a storyline like that I’d be surprised if it didn’t write itself.’

‘I’ve been watching a lot of Darren Aronofsky lately so I totally know what you mean.’

‘Yeah, good luck with that.’

We both stood there saying nothing to each other, aware it was better than the alternative.

A few hours later, partially satisfied with the all-you-can eat buffet I’d received in the form of half a luke warm prawn I’d split with my friend I couldn’t help but notice someone staring at me and not in a ‘I can only bare to look at you from a distance for fear my heart might burst if I get too close.’ But more a ‘I know you killed my daughter and even though the cops don’t have the evidence to get you yet, I know and I’m watching you’ kinda way.

‘Do you know him?’ my friend asked, discreetly glaring his direction.

‘Don’t look at him!’

‘Maybe the thinks you’re cute.’

‘No, that’s not it. He’s looking at me like I hurt him in a past life or did something to his dog.’

‘Maybe you did. If you ask me I wouldn’t be surprised if you were a total bastard in your past life.’

‘Thanks for that.’

‘Like the guy that gave Marilyn Munroe the enema that killed her; a passive aggressive cog in the history of cover ups.’

And then it hit, like the day a handful of tanbark hurtled it’s way to my face in the St Joan of Arc Primary School playground back in 88 ‘cause my skin was a darker shade of middle class Brighton pale – I knew him. He was the blind date I never went on.

‘Shit, I know who he is.’

‘Who?’

‘Remember that guy who my friend tried to set me up with earlier this year and I had to reschedule and he told me I wasn’t taking our relationship seriously even though we’d never met? I’m pretty sure that’s him.’

(go here for the original story http://lousanz.com/2010/06/21/i-like-my-friends-conditionally/)

‘But he’s blonde.’

‘Exactly, it was never going to work out anyway.’

‘How do you know what he looks like?’

‘My friend sent me a photo’

‘And he got a photo of you?’

‘He told me he Googled me.’

‘Wow he really hates you.’

‘Yep and we’ve never even met.’

‘I thought only past lovers looked at you like that.’

‘So did I.’

‘It’s impressive Lou that men can now hate you even having never dated you.’

‘If I’ve learnt nothing this year, it’s that very fact.’

‘You must feel a real sense of accomplishment.’

‘I do, I really do.’

Sitting on the tram, heading home, trying not to make eye contact with the women shaving her legs opposite me, my phone beeped. It was a message from him:

I know that was you tonight. Have things gotten that bad between us you can’t even wish me a Merry Christmas?’

I wrote back nothing, the volume on my iPod leading me to distraction. The phone beeped again.

I could have made you very merry if we’d ever met. We could’ve had a family by now. Enjoy your coal Lou, enjoy your coal. You’ve been a very bad girl.

Then another beep.

And that wasn’t meant in a sexual way. You’re just not a nice person. I dodged a bullet.

And so I finally wrote back.

Merry Christmas. I’m just glad I got you what you want. Thank God for artillery themed lay-by. Lou

x

…..And Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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