I love you, just not what you’re into.

Since we nearly broke up a few months into our relationship after I told my Lord of The Rings loving boyfriend (JK) that ‘I didn’t care for fantasy’ I’ve made a concerted effort to champion his interests while remaining detached and uninvolved. Like he’s really into historic drama TV shows – Vikings and Hell on Wheels type stuff. Sometimes he even insists we watch them together so I try and make a game of it, guessing how far into an episode I’ll see a woman’s breast, or her rape or perhaps her sale to a wealthy landowner.

He’s also really into reading books about dogs, which is cool, if that’s your sort of thing but he thinks I should read them as well so I can get a better understanding of our staffy. But I’m not sure how much reading is going to solve the issue that our dog, who is so in love with JK, will one day kill me in my sleep, proceed to make a Lou suit out of my skin and resume her rightful place on the pillow beside him.

Anyone in a relationship will admit it’s hard to like all the things your partner does, well unless you’re these guys…

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…and while it’s great to share interests and be introduced to new ones, there comes a time, let’s say past 30 where you just think ‘fuck it’. I mean most of us spend our 20s pretending to like things we don’t in order to get laid or not die alone, so why, as I head into my late 30s should I continue the charade? After all, don’t all of us die alone?

This leads me to where my preamble has been heading – gardening. Yep, gardening.  My boyfriend is really into gardening. He loves it. He’d be a gnome if he could be, complete with short man syndrome and pointy little hat, but alas he is 6’1 and refuses to wear a waistcoat, even though I think it would be totally cute, but whatevs.

Myself, I’m not into gardening.  Never have been and at 36 unless I’m struck by a bolt of lightening and wake up from a coma as a totally different person I never will.  Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good garden as much as the next person, some of my best friends garden but I’m more of an applauder than a performer when it comes to a good mulch or a well watered vegie patch. I love that in my yard I have a slew of burgeoning red cabbages, spring onions I can always count on, sprigs of thyme perfect for soup and even a passionfruit tree. I love that there are pots of flowers all over my house, mainly all gifts I’ve received over the years from JK, and only alive due to his efforts, though my ongoing disinterest in their welfare has made it touch and go on occasion.

But what I love most of all – I’m not responsible for any of it.

And so it was, that on Melbourne Cup Day, I found myself dressed in flannel and a 80s vintage jumpsuit, reading instructions on the side of a bag of fertiliser that assured me it would not burn my eyes, playing gardening assistant to JK, or apprentice as he liked to say. We were planting tomatoes because that’s what you do on Melbourne Cup Day, that and kill horses for sport.

He had requested my company. Said it would be fun. It would be my job to hand him things, fill buckets with things and control the afternoons music selection. One of those things I did with great abandon, the other two, I did somewhat half assed. To be fair he had offered me a way out earlier in the day, suggesting he fix up the hammock so I could read but I was tired of being cast of the bad witch from Wicked in our relationship, so I insisted on helping. My ego thwarting me once more.

We gardened for what seemed like days, no months. Winters came and went, summers were cruel, the springs a welcome break from the intense labor that came with handing JK a watering can at varying intervals and clipping off bits of twine to secure the vegetation. It was exhausting, soul destroying. I think I lost a piece of myself that day…

I was about to give up, walk away, perhaps get lost on the way back to civilisation and Foxtel on Demand and starve to death in our driveway when JK suddenly turned around, smiled, running a well calloused hand through his beard. ‘Thanks for today’ he said ‘I know you don’t like gardening, but I really like getting to spend time with you. It’s been nice.’

With such crippling accusations levelled at my feet I realised he was right. I do not like gardening, that day being no exception, but there is something I like more – spending time with JK, watching him do something he enjoys, so I smiled back in a way that communicated ‘I love spending time with you too, but no, we’re not watching The Hobbit after this.’
There’s only so few compromises I was willing to make that day.

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22 isn’t too young if they have arm hair. Fact.

‘Is 22 still too young?’ I asked as I watched the object of my distraction lie naked say for a few well-placed bubbles, in a bathtub on my local Hoyts cinema screen.

My friend heaved her fist back into her popcorn for one/ for both of us to share.

‘Yes, she said, in this case it is.’ She took a sip of hers/ mine diet coke. ‘We’ve known him since we was like 13 years old.’

‘But surely if there’s grass on the wicket it’s kosher to play cricket?’

I glanced at the now ex-Harry Potter actor on the screen, dressed in nothing but a samurai sword and a belt, the subject of our discussion.

‘That’s a bit anti-Semitic Lou’

‘It’s a saying, it means good.’

‘Ok, but here’s a hypothetical, if say there isn’t grass on the wicket then my guess is it isn’t kosher to play cricket, right?’

‘I guess’

‘So in that case it’s anti-Semitic because it’s a negative.’

‘It’s just a word, there’s no anti-Semitic sentiment involved at all.’

‘Ok, let’s say I believe you, the other glaring problem is you don’t play cricket, nor do you understand it.’

‘I’m a full MCC member. If anything that gives me carte blanche to wax lyrical about young Hollywood youths who have come of age.’

‘No, no it doesn’t. You treat your MCC membership like that Bikram yoga course you never took.’

‘I took it.’

‘Once Lou, once.’

‘It was full of women that didn’t need to wear supportive underwear even when they bent over.’

‘If you stopped blaming gravity you too could live without a bra. It’s all about will power and you know, if it you had less skin.’

‘So? It’s my membership; I can do whatever I want with it, even if that means never using it.’

‘If I was your membership I’d despise you. Year in, year out leading it on, paying for it so it’s always at your beck and call, getting it’s hopes up every time there’s an Ashes series or a Grand Final but never following through on your promise of attending, so it sits there in the stairwell staring at the phone, a single tear rolling down it’s cheek, masturbating to your forgotten touch, praying that things could be different but knowing deep down inside that you’re never going to change, that you’re never going to change.’

‘We’re not talking about the cricket anymore are we?’

‘Don’t Lou, don’t. It’s hard enough I have a Jewish friend and enjoy the cricket because I’m a big supporter of diversity but I’m afraid if we keep talking you’ll offend me with some remark about nuns and flying and you know how I feel about the church Lou and nuns because I wanted to be a nun once so let’s just watch the movie.’

As instructed I turned my attentions back to the movie now with a slight feeling of guilt wafting over me, either that or it was the smell emanating from the gentleman sitting on the other side of me struggling to hold a conversation on the phone with someone I figured was his wife because he kept telling her the store had run out of control top panty hose in her size and he was in line like a West German matriarch waiting for a bread ration to find them for her and would be home soon – in the middle of a crowded picture theatre. Bless him, maybe we should’ve all pissed off and given him some privacy, after all no one likes to have people eavesdrop on them, especially at the movies.

This wasn’t the first time my interest in someone younger than me had been shot down in a flame of ‘you’re over 30 now; you’re beginning to look more sex pest and less elegant aging beauty.’

In my defence it’s not predatory, it’s not like their age has ever ended in ‘teen’, it’s just that I general date more ‘Magnum PI’ types, you know the sort that could harvest a coconut plantation thanks to the ecosystem that exists in their chest hair’ and less ‘I think it’s a guy, could be a girl, but I’m pretty sure he’s a guy, he’s just very pretty for a guy, maybe if I’m lucky I could teach him how to drive, or maybe his parents will let me take him to Luna Park for the day, or maybe I can pick him up from the airport when he gets back from schoolies week.’

I’ve gone younger only on two occasions; and only once without knowing. The unknowingly bit on the side was a camping fling and he seemed wise beyond his years, well we didn’t’ talk much and he smelt of absinth but I knew he could drive and he was taller than me; everything pointed to him being over 30.

‘He’s 26’ our mutual friend told me when she discovered the extent of our association.

Spitting my luke warm tea all over my Gado Gado I proclaimed ‘But he has arm hair!’

‘That doesn’t mean he’s legal.’

‘It would help’ I couldn’t help but scoff.

‘You’re being an idiot, he’s hot, and you’ve got a really big tent. It’s like fates colliding.’

She was right. He was hot and no one had ever complained about my big tent – there’s always been plenty of room for everyone.

My only other Harold and Maude moment came in my mid twenties, in Sydney when my staple wardrobe consisted of vintage mini dresses held together with staples, fish net stockings and cowboy boots held together with gaffer tape care of my film school. It sounds hot. It wasn’t. Think about how you might dress to attend an

‘I’ve never had an orgasm party’ and you’d be bang on the money.

His name was By, 21 years old. He told me my legs were like a stair way to heaven. It was a nice thought, but if anything my legs were more a rope ladder to Wobby’s World, complete with disused helicopter and that look of 100s of disappointed children realised they weren’t at Disneyland.

Our affair was brief; it had to be that way. He had much to do like move to London to live in a squat and pursue an acting career only to develop a predilection for c**k, an addiction to crack cocaine, and chronic STD that would eventually land him in prison – who was I to derail his dream?

As the film credits rolled I realised maybe my friend was right, that 22 was still too young.

‘I think I’m just going to look and not touch.’

‘Great. You know who does that Lou, men in parks that stand in bushes watching women jog by and wear pants with elasticised waists.’

‘So you wanna see the new Harry Potter next week?’

‘Do I have to put you on the sex offender’s registry?’

‘Not yet’ I smiled. ‘Not just yet. I’m on 31, it’s not creepy yet’

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Sex adventures with idiot boy

It was high school and ok, by my own admission my short hair, black Levis jeans, bloodstone boots and Jack Daniels t-shirt had me at a distinct disadvantage with the boys. Not to indulge the stereotype but I wasn’t the kinda girl you’d ask to split a milkshake with, no I looked more like the girl a knowledge hungry high school boy might come to for advice on fisting.

Then came the summer of 96 and with it came the shedding of my sexual ambiguity and out sprung a bonefide boy fancying girl (granted I’d still kept the souvenir of being about 7 pounds overweight, but I wore it well, namely in my breasts, and anyway I was more then willing to work it off with any member of the boys 1st Eight Row team – I had to settle on the 3rds; private school politics).

But the boys were noticing me and I’d recently developed a talent for giggling and batting my eyelashes. As such I found myself being invited to parties for the first time based on my bustling wit and less to do with my earlier approach of ‘you can put it anywhere I can’t reach’.

One such party was at my neighbour’s house on a Saturday night. She was the year above me at school and for a short while we were friends, until she picked up a pamphlet on ‘Bullying, bitching and f&*kwit behaviour’ and became an instant convert. Now there was a boy at this party – Peter, slightly older, less inclined to wash and shave, more inclined to smoke Wini blues and call girls ‘babe’. HOT!

It was set; I had a date with pash rash and passive emphysema and then Jared showed up. Tall, gangly, most certainly a virgin in every regard and recently suspected of playing with himself behind his Cello in music class, Jared opened every conversation with me the same-

‘Hi Lou, can I touch you…get it it rhymes….good times, good times.’

‘No Jared. Shut up and die’.

He’d then spend the next hour or so sulking and then finally I’d feel bad and dance with him and let him touch my wrist.

The truth was though this was high school and hanging out with Jared, well it made me a loser, and at 16 I’d take the potential labelling as the ‘town bike’ over being a known associate of Jared Robuckle any day.

So pulling my t-shirt down and my skirt up I made straight for Peter, he liked short girls and as long as the school midget Katie didn’t make an appearance I was in a with a shot.

‘Hi Pete’

‘Oh hi Lucy’.

‘It’s Louise’

‘I thought it was Lucy’

‘Oh you’re right. It is. I forgot. I’m always forgetting things like that, I’m such an idiot’ (cue giggle)

‘Cool – so do you go to school?’

‘Yeah, I go to your school’

‘Cool’

HOT!!!!!!!!

…and then I could’ve been as in as Flynn, nothing was going to stop what happened next.

I felt heaving breathing on the back of my neck and knowing it wasn’t the good type I was reluctant to turn around, there was a distinct home invasion feeling in the atmosphere.

‘Hi Lou…’

It was Jared – why was he not dead? I’d told him to go and die somewhere. Could no one commit to basic direction anymore?

‘…good times, good times…’ he mumbled.

Something was wrong.

‘I really like you Lou…’ and with that he threw up all over me, and looking at Peter’s face as he ran away I suddenly knew why so many teenage girls killed themselves, oh and then it started to rain.

It’s not often you get someone’s life placed firmly in your hands, that power to decide if someone lives or dies and unlike the time my little sister locked herself in the fridge and I knew the right thing to do was let her out before she suffocated to death, I was conflicted over to whether to save Jared from choking in a pool of his own vomit. Surely it was his decision – conscious or unconscious?

The rain was persisting and so realising I wasn’t going to be getting to know Peter in the laneway next to the bins anytime I soon, I dropped to my knees and picked up Jared’s head. He drew breath, tried to open his eyes and then started vomiting again, this time down my top –, my own personal money shot.

Seven hours later I awoke to find Jared passed out next to me, one hand trying to reach my wrist, the other trying to get down his pants. Quietly I picked up my shoes, reconciled that the vomit was going to have be shampooed out of my hair and made my escape.

That should have been the end of it, but oh no the Victorian government had to be all serious about school being compulsory and ‘you will be going back to school on Monday Louise –whatever happened on the weekend, well young lady you’ve made your bed and now will just have to lie in it.’

‘But mum, that’s problem – it was the wrong person, wrong bed’.

‘Explain to me Louise, when did beggars become choosers?’

I retuned to school, ready for the stares, the whispers, the gossip, the tabloid press, but to my relief there was nothing but by my own admission it was 6.30am in the morning and I was hoping to make it to the library before anyone noticed I still existed, and that’s when I discovered Jared standing by my locker, my vomit covered bra clutched in his hand.

‘Hi Lou..can I-‘

‘Why have you got my underwear!’

‘You left it behind and why are you yelling at me?’

‘You have my underwear!’

‘Underwear you took off when we spent the night together’

‘Underwear you threw up on’

‘Yes, when we were doing it’.

My world stopped.

‘’We did not do it – you were unconscious’.

‘How do you really know we didn’t do it, you were asleep’.

‘Basic logistics idiot boy’

‘I’m just saying I didn’t feel like a virgin when I woke up the next day’

‘Well I didn’t feel like a virgin when I woke up either, but then again I didn’t go to sleep one!’

‘Exactly! Ha! You admit it – we sooo did it.’

‘No, you threw up on me and kept passing out in pools of your own vomit. No one would come near me because I was also covered in vomit and so I spent most of the evening holding you up over a toilet.’

‘Maybe we can just agree to disagree on this one…?’

‘No’

‘Oh’

I watched as he fingered my bra.

‘Can I have that back’

‘Finders keepers’

‘What!’

‘Ok’ reluctantly he handed it back, his fingers now lingering around my wrist.

‘What do you want Jared?’

‘I just thought now that we’re officially boyfriend and girlfriend…’

‘Are you retarded?’

‘I just wanted to sit down like adults and talk about us, thought maybe I could buy you a milkshake?’

‘Oh and then what? We go down to the army barracks and I give you a hand job?’

‘Christ Lou, that wasn’t what I had in mind…I mean after we did it I thought we’d be talking blow jobs if anything’.

I’d like to say Jared mysteriously lost his penis that day. I’d like to say that I wasn’t so easily swayed by milk products and declined his invitation of a milkshake – to be honest there are a lot of things I’d like to say I never did.

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He didn’t touch me, I left my pants on.

I suffered what the doctor called a ‘drug overdose’ the other day. My first ever! (Well I refuse to count my slight addiction to Sudafed in 97′ that had me thinking I looked like a supermodel, whereas in actual fact my mother preferred to use the term ‘crack addict’ – nor am I going to include the time I discovered the untold pleasure of mixing a nice Sauv Blanc and Panedeine Forte on a hot summers day listening to Joss Stone…. lets just say I was discovered thinking I was a guest on Parkinson discussing my ill fate romance with Steve Coogan…).. No, this time my foray into the numbing world of drug abuse was not my doing. It was all the fault of my father and his special ‘sleeping tablets’ and that coupled with my inability to read instructions led me down a very dark path that resulted in me standing in my knickers saying ‘no -that chairs mine! Mine I tell you!’ My father had been well intended; after all it was me that was insistent I catch a bus back to Sydney. It was me that thought it would be ‘good material’ but I’ll save the bus story for later – it’ll be in my new book entitled ‘THINGS I SHOULD NEVER HAVE EVER DONE’- there will be a sections called ‘Men’, ‘Transport’ and ‘Flatmates’. (Oh…feel the subtext). Dad gave me 3 tablets of something called ‘Still Knock’ – he said it was a mild sedative that would help me sleep, take the edge off life. He demonstrated himself with the aid of a neat scotch some Vallum and then the final touch – Still Knock, a Beatles album and a cold shower. I know I should’ve said no, but there was so much romance involved with the idea of travelling the highway, fucked up, kicking back. Maybe finally I would find a Sid to my Nancy. Let’s just say it didn’t exactly play out that way. About an hour out of Melbourne the bus driver put on Match Point and to escape the pain of it all I knocked back a sleeping tablet, blew up my neck cushion, undid my fly and prepared to doze off…after about 30 minutes I started to get concerned – I felt nothing, if anything I now found myself engaged in conversation with the woman seated next to me and started to prioritise important dates in my new diary – maybe sleeping tablets were the new speed? Only one way to find out I thought and grabbing my hip flask and I downed another sleeping tablet, turned to the girl next to me and I’m ashamed to say – I think I uttered the phrase ‘So little lady you from round these parts?’ Four hours later and I was still wide awake and trying to avoid the advances of a small Italian man who was sure I was famous and on the run – finally I turned to him and admitted that yes, I was Angelina Jolie and I just needed some space from Brad – it was all so suffocating this new relationship and no one seemed to understand that. Small Italian man said he’d understand, he’d understand so much that he was willing to share his lap blanket with me – to this day I still don’t know why I declined such an offer. As the sun came up and I was still wide-awake I decided that maybe I’d gotten it all wrong – I was meant to take all 3 tablets! God now it made sense! So down went the 3rd and last tablet as we pulled into Central Station and from that point on everything is a bit of a blur… I know I got in a taxi and suddenly felt very ill and directed him straight to the doctors, thinking I’d finally come down the dreaded Christmas flu – it really hadn’t occurred to me that alcohol combined with 3 sleeping tablets on a bus in the middle of nowhere was to blame…no, it took a doctor in a white coat to explain to me that I had taken 2 too many tablets and then he proceeded to ask if I was a happy person – of course I’m not I remarked, I’m a tired person…a really, really tired person. Finally making it home I decided that a cold shower would help. I thought about it long and hard but couldn’t quite will myself to the shower so I settled for a moist towellette on the couch and then I think I passed out. I woke up intermittently throughout the day, especially when my boss rang concerned about a text message I’d apparently sent him that read like so ‘C23t ma…work..no fe 3l nbad…help mexxx!!!!’ – ok, so loosely that translated into I don’t think I’ll be coming into work I think I’ve been shot with a tranquiliser gun!’ When I woke up a little later to the sounds of Tyra Banks show, lying in nothing but my knickers and a singlet top but I still had my Cons tightly on my feet I knew something wasn’t quite right. I’d even made myself a sandwich but had no recollection of any of it and now I standing at the front door knickers only and telling my next door neighbour that I was fine to bring the chairs he’d borrowed inside on my own – I just needed to sober up first and maybe put some clothes on. He offered to come inside and help me find my clothes but as was the case with the small Italian man I had to say no…and then I think I passed out again. I woke up to find myself fully dressed, chairs stacked neatly inside and a note that read ‘Don’t worry, I didn’t touch you’….ahhh, refreshing. Making myself some coffee I decided to do some work, but got bored of that, put my pyjamas on and convinced myself a good nights sleep was all I needed. Just as I dosed off and began to dream of being on Parkinson again my mother rang to let me know that I should drink fluids and that if I found myself passing out again to call her. I told her she was being unreasonable, we fought and fed up with the stress of the day I grabbed some Panadeine Forte, a nice chilled glass of wine, my David Duchovny biography and took myself to a place full of wonder and excitement for tonight I was going to dream myself to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Eddie Maguire was finally going to notice me, really notice me…

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