Best Birth-Day Ever

By the time I reached 36 weeks, I think it’s fair to say, I was not the poster girl for pregnancy. I was the pregnant woman anyone thinking of getting pregnant needed to avoid at all costs. There was no glow. No increased libido. No ethereal photoshoot by the seaside with my partner’s arms wrapped around my naked belly. Wheelchair-bound thanks to crippling back pain, vaginal spasms (yes, yes it’s completely ok to be aroused by my writing of ‘vaginal spasms’’), a 35 kilo weight gain and a constant flow of discharge – I looked like and felt like a creature you’d find living under a bridge, picking at an abscess in between scaring townsfolk and eating children.

 
And so with that in mind, it was far to say I suspected the actual birth of my son would be like that scene from Alien, you know alien bursts out the guy’s gut, blood, horror etc but in my case, I imagined my baby would simultaneously punch out of my boobs, mouth, head and vag, as if he had been wearing me as a human skin suit for 9 months…

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We arrived at the hospital bang on 6am. I was scheduled for a C-section, so I knew by lunch I’d be a mum and that I’d be out of my wheelchair and the last 9 months would finally be over. I was so excited by the idea that I had never thought for a minute that I would actually enjoy a day of abdominal surgery, spinal injections and stark realities – I was going to be a mum. You can’t give them back when you’re the mum…but I did enjoy it. I enjoyed it a lot, thanks in no small part to drugs.

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And boy when they kicked in, nothing could dampen my vibe. Even when I was being told off for trying to high-five the other women in the ward “Fuck we’re having a baby ladies!! We made babies, ladies!!! – it rhymes! I’m a genius…’ (you get the picture). Turns out you’re not meant to do that… “Not everyone is as excited as you Lou,” the less angry-than-the-other-midwife said to me as I lamented everyone else’s lack of enthusiasm.

 
‘But we made humans’ I mumbled under my breath.

 
‘Not yet you haven’t…’ the midwife corrected me, ‘Gotta get it out first.’

 
Buzzkill.

 
Wheeled into the operating theatre and helped to the table, it was explained to me that someone was going to stick a needle into my spine. Right. Into. My. Spine.

 
Five minutes later, after four failed escape attempts thanks to my spasming vagina, I was resolved to my fate and let someone called an ‘Anaesthetist’, who claimed he was a ‘professional’, paralyse me from the waist down.

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From what I remember the surgery was simple enough. A screen went up and a few moments later a baby was presented to me scrotum-first. Thus my first interaction with my son was to be me beaming up at his huge gonads, which would no doubt bode well for our future relationship.

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It’s from that point on things get blurry. The only thing I clearly remember was giving a lot of double thumbs to various other drugged-out new-mums, extolling to all who would listen to my very strong opinions on bathroom bins and telling the flurry of midwives that crossed my path that we should call this whole C-section surgery affair a ‘Macduffin’. Could have been the drugs talking…maybe…

 
Finally, my son was presented to me, not a scrotum in site and with no time for a more proper introduction, he was attached to my boob – to further cement our already Oedipal-esque relationship. Now while in the past someone attaching themselves to my boobs, no questions asked, was not something I’d be cool with, when it came to this little guy I was ok it…

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By the time I wheeled up to my room, I thought to myself how nice a day I’d had. What a great birth experience it had been and how lucky I was. It was a nice thought that lasted all of 4 minutes before the pain meds started to wear off…

 

Chapter 2. The Pain.

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How being Confirmed only confirmed I couldn’t be Catholic anymore.

‘The day of my Confirmation arrived and I marked it by wearing a brand new pair of floral culottes and a cream gypsy blouse. I knew how to play the game and had dressed accordingly – as an adult virgin.’

It’s not easy been 12 years old at the best of times but for me in 1991 things were tough. I’d lost out on the school captaincy by one vote because my rival had strategically asked one of the more influential voters of my year out on a date prior to the election, and as such, defeated, I’d been relegated to Vice School Captain. They didn’t have a badge for vice school captain and it had been proving harder then I’d thought it would, wedging my title into day-to-day conversations.

For me though, being at a catholic primary school, aside from my lack of status there was also the religious aspect to contend with. I viewed religious studies as more of a history class to be debated and questioned, than to be understood as blind doctrine and unquestionable truth. Even at such a young age I was aware of the human nature to romanticise and fictionalise our past. The bible – particularly the New Testament, as far as I was concerned was written by Jesus’s frat brothers who weren’t afraid to don slightly smudged glasses when the need arose.  Take Mary Magdalene. The first time I heard of her she was described as a fallen woman – a prostitute who supported Jesus through her own private means AKA private parts. I asked my religious studies teacher if the other male apostles also supported Jesus through their own private means? This was met with a frown and the reminder that the men were apostles and the women in Jesus’s circle were not, they were prostitutes.

‘How do we know that?’ I asked. She carefully explained she knew it because it was written in the bible.

‘By men’ I remarked.

‘I don’t know that has to do with it?’ she replied.

‘You have to consider that don’t you?’ I posed to my teacher. ‘There’s no stories in here written by women.’

‘And?’

‘It’s just they might have offered another perspective that’s all, like they might not have cast themselves as prostitutes in their story.’

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Detention. Punishment: to read the New Testament and make peace with it’s absolute authority.  When I asked for a highlighter and some paper to make notes they agreed sending me to the naughty corner would be a better use of everyone’s time.

I learnt a few months into Grade 6 that in order to graduate I would need to be Confirmed. Whilst most of most schoolmates got excited at the prospect of a spring garden party I asked the more pertinent question ‘what is Confirmation?’

‘It’s the adult ascension into the church, when you take responsibility for your own faith and destiny. Once Confirmed you will be seen as an adult in the eyes of God.’

12 years old!? An adult? Responsibility?

‘But what if you’re not even sure you believe in a god?’

‘Well you better get on it’ my teacher said ‘No belief. No graduation.’

‘This is bullshit’ I mumbled to a friend as we sat on the back fence throwing rotten eggs at the private boys school passing by. ‘I mean are you tell me that once I’m Confirmed I can be charged as an adult in say a court of law?’

‘I dunno’ my friend responded, trying to be supportive.

‘You don’t understand’ I spat at her ‘you’re a born-again-Christian. You chose to believe in god and all that crap. We Catholic’s are forced to.’

We sat in silence as we worked our way through the rest of our eggs.

Part of Confirmation is that you choose the name that you wish to represent you in your adult life. The only caveat, it has to be a saint’s name.

‘Any saints name?’ I asked.

My teacher paused, knowing that if she lied to me I would undoubtedly uncover the truth and then subject her a reckoning of repercussions.

‘Yes, any saints name Louise. Any.’

My mother was all to happy to drive me to the Australian Catholic University library, after finding my own school library lacking in the way of books on saints name. Of course there were the usual offenders, your Luke’s, Matthews, Mary’s and Anne’s, but I wanted something more. If I were going to have to carry this name around with me through life it would need to mean something. And so it was, in the stacks of a university library I found what, or should I say who I was looking for – St Dymphna.

Her story, putting the incest and murder aside, read like the fairytale Frozen. A young princess in Ireland, who’s father stricken with grief at the death of his wife decides to take the saying ‘to get over someone you need to get under someone else’ to mean his daughter, chases Dymphna and her priest (yes, it’s all sounding very Thornbirds) through the Irish landscape, only to finally capture and behead her because she wouldn’t marry him. Even over 1300 years later I could relate. To add to her allure she was also the patron saint of the mentally ill and victims of abuse. Perhaps I could funnel my disbelief in god into my belief in her? Just till graduation anyway…

Not to boast but I’m one of those kids who was baptised by rock star priest Father Bob Maguire and hold onto your hat, book ended it with now Cardinal George Pell when he was only starting out as a career catholic.  For people like my opus dei loving uncle this was a big deal, like being Confirmed by the hand of god. For me it was an elaborate ruse to graduate Grade 6 by letting a man wearing a dress touch my head.

The day of my Confirmation arrived and I marked it by wearing a brand new pair of floral culottes and a cream gypsy blouse. I knew how to play the game and had dressed accordingly – as an adult virgin.

As I approached the alter I quickly turned around to check for the authorities – for surely given that any moment I would become an adult, it was fair to say I might be charged as an adult for my egg throwing shenanigans. They were yet to arrive…

George recited some prayer and asked me what my chosen name was.

‘Dymphna’ I said.

What was meant to happen next was that he was meant to give it the tick of approval and move me on my way towards a hall filled with cordial and fruitcake but he didn’t. Instead he took a step closer to me and told me that I couldn’t take the name Dymphna and that my name would be Angela. She was a nice saint. A wholesome saint, a less defiled by her father kinda of saint.

‘No’ I said ‘I’ve chosen Dymphna. I was told I could chose whatever saints name I wanted.’

He said nothing. The congregation had started paying attention by now as the line of their own children heading towards the alter came to a grinding halt.

‘Who told you that?’

Out of the corner of my eye I could see my teacher sweating through her own culottes.

‘My teacher.’

‘Oh your teacher’ he smiled ‘but I’m a priest and I’m telling you that’s not true.’

‘I thought you might say that’ I replied ‘that’s why I went to the Australian Catholic University and did some research and no where is it written that I can’t chose my own saints name. I also rang the office of the Archbishop of Melbourne and they said the same thing.’

Silence.

‘Excuse me a moment’ the priest went off leaving me kneeling at the alter, thinking about the reality that might be me repeating Grade 6.

‘Just go with Angela or Mary’ a mother of another classmate hissed at me.

‘She’s the Spaniards daughter’ another remarked under their breath.

The world was turning against me. I had to hold strong.

After about 20 minutes he returned.

‘We’ve discussed it and decided that we will allow you to proceed with the name Dymphna.’

I sighed. I’d have to make do with winning the battle this time and the war; well I’d win that another time. Perhaps after cake.

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For the months after my Confirmation and leading up to my graduation I wrote my name in the top right hand of all homework, essays and tuck-shop orders as Louise Marguerite Dymphna Woodruff Sanz (lots of names yes, but as the woman at the Confirmation service pointed out, I am a Spaniards daughter). This resulted in my parents being called in to address this blatant acting out as my teachers saw it.  My mother was confused and rightly so. Surely, this was my new name? Had they, the school not insisted upon it? Was it not a prerequisite for me graduating? Ok, yes it was, they admitted but I wasn’t meant to take it literally.

That was what hit the nail on the head for me. Whilst I was meant to take the bible and it’s archaic and at times prejudiced views of the world literally – like the women of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John being either Madonna’s or whores, when it came to things like becoming an autonomous adult, who was now according to the church equipped to navigate my own faith and destiny, that was to be taken with a grain of salt, be seen as a token act and nothing more. I could bend my idea of being confirmed.  I couldn’t be expected to blindly follow a religion without question and conversation. Wouldn’t it be dangerous? Fanatical? To  just behave?

And there you have it – it was all about behaving. To be a good at any religion, at the root of it, was to behave and to follow. Not to ask questions about supposed virgin births, frankincense and myrrh. Not to challenge issues of gender, sexuality, women’s rights, domestic violence, divorce, worship, faith, reform, fanaticism and terrorism.

There are good things in the bible too, just as there are some good things in Fifty Shades of Grey (if you just ignore a majority of the book) but as a way to live, as a way to practice a life without question I’m afraid it wasn’t for me.

Now look I could be wrong and when I die I find myself in a place called Heaven with a lot of people walking around wearing t-shirts that read ‘Told You So’ and ‘I’m With Stupid’ but either way I think I’ll be ok. I’ll have a whole new identity – Dymphna – patron saint of the mentally ill and victims of abuse – knowing the allegations about the church I doubt I’ll be short of friends up there.

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oh the drama of the dramatic

I experienced my first walk out the other night at comedy festival. A young couple who seated themselves so far back, I thought for a moment they were trying to position themselves to also catch a glimpse of the other show in the next room, at the very least to experience the touch of faux velvet curtains adorning the makeshift theatre against the whites of their skin.

What amused me about it all was the timing. Having just knocked out a bit about a finger assault of the insertion variety, I could admit ‘ok, not everyone’s cup of tea’, but to walk out in the middle of my ode to seaQuest DSV’s Jonthathan Brandis, well that’s just rude – the man hung himself for crying out loud – I don’t expect laughs, but respect, at the very least I expect that and so does Jonathan.

But that’s the thing about walk out’s, they never live up to the expectation, well mine don’t anyway. I always sit there offended and then at an ill considered time like say if someone’s asking after the health of my mother, I storm out, realise how out of context me walking out would make no sense to the person I was trying to prove a passionate point with and then I have to come back into the room, let them know my mother is in fine health and yes, I know you also tried to sleep with my boyfriend last month, and that’s really inconsiderate given we all know your rash hasn’t quite cleared up yet – and then I leave the room again – the thing about the walk out is you have to commit to it.

Given my audience walk outs didn’t return that night, I take my hat off to them – I often worry about the lack of conviction in today’s youth, but they managed to reassure me somewhat that not all is lost.

There are a few of my own walkouts that still stick in my head.

1. Being dragged to see a NIDA first year graduate piece on movement and walking out. (yes, I know, it clearly doesn’t need anymore explanation)

2. Being dragged to a WAPPA musical theatre graduate showcase and walking out.

3. Finding out my mother was really my father one year at Christmas (ok, not true, but saying I walked out because I inadvertently ate fishing bait thinking it was shrimp and thus was made to sit at the children’s table as a result doesn’t have the same impact).

4. Being taken on a date where a guy superimposed his head over mine in a picture and presented it as ‘our future’.

5. Seeing ‘Scary Movie 3’ and having only myself to blame, walked out.

…and then of course there was my walkout of 2009. I’d been seeing this new guy. He seemed pleasant enough and when I say pleasant I mean he didn’t open up with ‘the divorce was hard for me and the kids’ or ‘my mum is just a great flat mate, you know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, or cut the umbilical cord’ and my favourite ‘I’m really looking for the one right now, but that might be one in a million and so if I have to sleep with a million women to find that one then it’s special when I finally find her, my only hope is she’s still working at Victoria’s Secret.’

We were hanging out with his friends (he was yet to meet mine, so that should give you a better understanding of where I saw this going) at a show I’d produced, in a bar full of my peers, sitting next to one of my friends when he decided the mood was right for a bit of a chat, oh to make it even more romantic, I’d just gone to kiss him and he pushed me away, nudging me back into the other people on the couch just enough so that they’re attention was now turned on us in that ‘they’re looking but not looking’ kinda way.

‘Um Lou, you know I like you and everything.’

‘Ok…’

‘But here’s the thing, when I look at you I really can’t see this being a relationship thing.’

‘It isn’t a relationship thing.’

‘But, and correct me if I’m wrong, I’m pretty sure you’re viewing it as a relationship thing.’

‘Let me correct you then….’

‘Ok Lou, no need to get worked up about this.’

‘I’m not worked up, but we’ve only gone out three times and I’ve never bought up a relationship.’

‘But you’re 30.’

‘And?’

‘Well it’s inevitable that eventually you’ll bring up the relationship thing, if not now then 7 months or a year from now if we were still going out.’

‘If we were still going out after a year then I’d argue that would be a relationship.’

‘And there in lies my point Lou – see to assume it’d be even close to a relationship after a year is a massive assumption and I can’t see myself in all honesty with someone who makes assumptions for the both of us.’

‘You’re an idiot.’

‘Alright, no need to get mean about this, but I’m breaking up with you and I think it best you hear it from me.’

‘You can’t break up with me if we weren’t really together yet.’

‘Can’t I Lou, can’t I?…you really need to stop being so hooked up about definitions.’

I took a deep breath and wondered to myself about whether or not I should take the door till home with me that night or come back tomorrow.

‘Hey Lou, look if it’s any consolation I still find you really hot and I’m still very attracted to you, like I could easily take you home tonight cause you make me very…, but the thing is when I’m seen out with you in public I find it awkward and uncomfortable for me – there I said it.’

‘Ok’

‘And now I’m having to meet all your friends.’

‘I’ve not even introduced you to one of them.’

‘But I know who they are.’

‘Seeing them on TV does not mean you know them.’

‘Doesn’t it Lou? Doesn’t it?’

And so it was at this point I got up to walk out.

‘Where are you going?’ he asked.

‘Home.’ I grabbed my purse and suddenly my friend who’d been sitting next to me on the other side of the couch gently touched my arm.

‘Everything ok?’ he asked.

‘Yep, just think I got dumped by someone I wasn’t in a relationship with.’

‘Oh who?’

I pointed.

‘I didn’t even know you two were seeing each other.’

‘My point exactly’ I bemoaned to him, catching my stride as I headed towards the door, but not before my ‘dumper’ pulled me to the side.

‘Listen Lou, there’s no need to make a scene by walking out, lets not make you leaving the last memory you and I have together.’

I thought about it for the moment, maybe I shouldn’t leave, it was a nice party after all, actually it was my party….and it really is at this point that a well timed slap and a solid exit would have served me well, or even throwing him out would have been a compromise, but hey, I’m always the first to admit I’m the architect of my own demise…

‘…it’s just’ he continued ‘there’s a girl here who I really like and she’s a fan of your blog and stuff and if she’s us arguing I think that might just sully my chances with her – what do you say?’

‘I say no.’

‘Christ, you just can’t move on can you Lou, just admit it’s over and the sooner you can get back to a normal life, one devoid of this heart ache our break up has caused you.’

‘What script are you reading from?’ I asked.

‘The script of life Lou, you should try it sometime.’

And it was only at the point did I walk out and I’m pretty sure he landed the other lady, so in hindsight I shouldn’t be so harsh on myself – it was very well timed.

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I can so do Trash-bag; the Lou Sanz story.

While sitting at dinner last night, a plate of over cooked mushrooms in front of me, nursing a can of luke warm lemonade, sitting opposite a friend of mine and his friend next to him I came to the chilling realisation that I might just have used up the last of my material, or quite possibly be well on the way to never writing anything vaguely original again, that my adventures were finally over – that I was never ever going to have an affair with a young German teenager with a great arse who embarks on an affair with an older woman only to find out that she would later be tried for war crimes and would rather face a lifetime in prison then admit her greatest weakness – the fact that she couldn’t read. Ok, I’d just seen The Reader and when put in a modern day context my yearning for the above mentioned would just have been plain ignorance, but the point was –  would I ever scrub a guy clean before I had sex with him again and then write a film about it? (My guess is at this point you really have to see the movie).

The telling moment that this realisation hit was when I recognised the words coming out of my mouth were the very same words used in a conversation with someone else 2 weeks earlier. This was not a cheeky de-ja-vu like experience. This was more the oh my god you’re 29 and if you haven’t realised it already, you’re really rather boring Lou – lets just say I would not have been surprised had my dining companion pulled out a fork and stabbed himself in the eye and if the waitress were to ask him if he was alright he would grin and genuinely reply ‘oh me? I’m fine – I always stab myself in the eye at this part of the story. You should wait till she gets to end, that’s the moment I start sawing off my own leg – tell me are these the only butter knives you have?’

I had become an old person, and not the good sort with that twinkle in their eye, the twinkle of cool little secrets like they knew they were the real life inspiration for the song Jesse’s Girl or the colour lilac was really named after them. No, I was the sort of old person relatives apologised for before and after someone were to meet me and then they might even call a week later to see how their new curtains are going and then slip in another apology just before the final hang up. I found myself recalling my so-called glory days with such gems as ‘ oh my breasts, oh my I could swing from chandeliers with those babies, but now couldn’t even light a match on em in 38 degree heat with petrol and kindling..’ I might as well have boarded an exploratory ocean vessel clasping an emerald jewel that represented my only true moment of happiness and watch as it sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic whilst reliving flashbacks on me on a che-lounge, naked, on board the Titanic being drawn with charcoal by a lad from the lower classes who was yet to go through puberty.

The problem was my contemporary self over the last few years had become more restrained. Once where there were nights filled with boxes of wine and getting dressed to theme to watch MASH with my friends, I was now logging onto ABC iView to watch missed episodes of The Bill so that when I stayed in on Saturday nights I wouldn’t get confused by the narrative through line. When I use to enjoy the destructive danger of shagging friends of mine because ‘well we’re all subconsciously attracted to each other on some level’ and nothing’s hotter or more potentially devastating then an ambiguous and ill directed dalliance, I was now going to Academy considered movies, sipping coffee and contemplating attending over 28’s nights without any sense of irony with people who 6 years earlier would eat tuna and microwave broccoli just in pants with me while I tried to patch up the hole in my squat/house with masking tape and old copies of Smash Hits magazines. There were no more nights of been woken at 4.30am by a friend who felt a compulsion to drink Bloody Mary’s on the roof and watch the sun rise, no now it was a case of no phone calls after 10pm and vitamin tablets and treadmills at the crack of dawn.

Yep, I had lost my spark and this was further cemented when my friends friend asked me when was the last time I’d ever been a trash bag – not to be confused with the last time I felt treated like trash (November 2007 – March 2008). My friend attempted to sum up his definition in a 20 minute speech left on my voice mail, but to paraphrase it’s someone who involves themselves in trashy like behaviour generally culminating in ‘pashing, falling asleep, waking up and pashing again’. Another friend of mine described a trash bag as a girl who’ flashes her vagina more times then she should when drunk and scratches it ‘- for the purpose of this story I will refrain from using that definition.

The problem was when posed that question myself I was too quick to answer but then stumble as I couldn’t even form the words ‘well there was …no, because before then…and then I was in a longer term relationship…well there was the time I got drunk and made out with my ex in a room with a disposable bath mat…nup, but it doesn’t count cause he was my ex, but I was drunk, but we both wore pants so guess it doesn’t, nup….so if you wanted an exact date I’d say maybe 2001 – 2002..are we counting consecutive months?’

Both of them looked at me in that way that high school guys look at their mate, the one with the chronic acne and flatulence who can’t play sport because of a plaque build-up that tells everyone he’s been f**king since he was like 12, like all the time and he’s done your mum and your sister and the teacher – that look that says please stop, we understand, this is uncomfortable for all of us.

My friend leaned back, as if to offer advice, after all he was rounding the corner into his second year of trash bag behaviour, behaviour I warned him might result in a penile examination with a stick and a swab at a sexual health clinic perhaps sooner rather than later – as was his cause and affect in life he saw this as a positive thing and this was a guy who had revealed earlier that night that he bought girls pop corn at the movies in the hope it would fall down their cleavage and he could watch them retrieve it – so it really was my own fault if I was follow any of the advice that was about to come tumbling out of his mouth.

‘Lou, you just don’t do trash bag’ he said it in the way that your mum tells you she doesn’t think your boyfriend likes you as much as you like him.
‘I can totally do trash bag’ I searched for some back up, any back up.
‘Saturday night, I was trashy then.’
‘No Lou, you were a little tipsy, but not trashy.’
‘But I was covered in glitter and had a short skirt on.’
‘We were all covered in glitter and if everyone who wore a skirt was a trash bag, well I don’t think I need to explain just how common the idea of being a trash bag would become, it would lose it’s meaning.’
I needed something anything; I was too full to cover up my inadequacies but finishing off my now cold and congealed mushrooms.
‘I totally chatted with that guy from South America, in fact you could even say I flirted with him.’
I offered up my hand for a hi-five moment but as usual got nothing.
‘If I remember correctly Lou you chatted to him about his wife and how their wedding was.’
‘Yep..like I said flirted my arse off….’
Even I was left wondering how in the past I had ever got to first base with a guy.

In my head I knew my last 18 months hadn’t exactly been the passionate faucet of life I would’ve liked it to be, but surely there were stories I was yet to experience, surely my addiction to the drama of it all had to manifest itself somehow…and then I remembered…
‘Ok, I might not be a trash bag or sexual deviant but I like to think I’m trashy when it comes to other things.’
Picking up his friends discarded marshmallow he looked me straight in the eyes – there was no backing down now Lou.’
‘Go on..’
‘So I’m not trashy when it comes to men, but when it comes to the law that’s another thing entirely.’
‘You’re saying you’ve broken the law?’
‘Not exactly, but I certainly have some disregard for it.’
‘Wow, disregard, sounds hot Lou – are you going to finish those mushrooms or can I..?’
I pushed the plate towards him.
‘And how have you been trashy bout the law of late?’
‘Umm…well I totally turned left when I was advised not to.’
‘Advised?’
‘There were workmen, they suggested going round them, but I didn’t listen I turned left.’
‘and?’
‘In hindsight they were right, I should have gone around them, the traffic really backed up once you turned left.’
My clutching at straws was now starting to look like a monkey attempting to open a plastic banana – more amusing for those watching then the actually monkey desperate for food.
‘And tonight I parked a little too close to a fire hydrant.’
‘Really?’
‘Yep, so much so I would be surprised if I hadn’t been fined.’
‘Wow..your social deviancy knows no bounds Lou, I mean if I wasn’t a man of common restraint I’d jump you right now at this table.’
He leaned back even further to clearly show he was mocking me.
I’d had enough.
‘That’s it, I’m going. I don’t need this – my life is full of rich moments, it’s a like a tapestry, yep a really rich tapestry and I have adventures, sure I don’t have to give everyone I meet an oral exam like you do but oh the fun I…. don’t answer your phone while I’m talking to you!…oh isi it? …say hi for me.’
And with that I left, hell bent on finding some drama for my life, some material to get me through my formative comedy career years.
Sitting back in my car, waiting for the motor to warm up I received a text message from my movie companion.
It simply read ‘Hey Renegade of common road laws – did you get a fine?’
I looked at my windshield and then at the fire hydrant I was parked a good 2 or metres away from.
‘No, no I did not ‘I replied.
That was it, I had said it, and I had conceded defeat. My phone beeped again and for a moment I thought it was my friend telling me everything was going to be alright, that I had the potential to be a trash bag, that he believed in me, but it just read: lol – my life which now so desperately lacked drama had now been summarised as a laugh out loud moment -and so next time I decided things would be different, yes, next time I saw him I wouldn’t take that butter knife away from him, he could saw his leg off if he wanted, who was I to fuck with natural selection and after all I was desperate for material and really what’s funny then someone nicking an artery…

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The unrelenting fury of being right most of the times…

I’m not a big pill popper at the best of times, but recently after finding a lump under my arm (nothing serious) and a last minute scheduled flight to Edinburgh, I was a little stressed. Based on this, my doctor prescribed me some Valium, a little bit of sensory deprivation he called it ‘in a bottle’ for my long haul flight.

Previously the only thing that had kept me sane on while ‘flying’ thousands of miles in air was the idea that on board my flight was the cure to AIDS and my ‘miracle’ flight was going to be ok, cause the world needed to be ok; that the pilot had an important dinner date he needed to keep at the other end, promise he’d made to his little girl that he’d be home for Christmas/ her birthday/ that school play – and he was going to honour that promise no matter what, because no matter where he was in the world he lived for her happy days and to keep that blood oath he’d made to her on the day she was born, that he’d always be there to see her face when she opened her presents on Christmas day/ her birthday…you get the idea, and is wife would be there too and she’d smile, a smile that said ‘you’re a good man’.

The pilot’s story would unfold in more detail as I made it closer to my destination, but with the recent spate of planes being pulled out of the air, I was concerned that my pilots wife had found out about 6 year old on and off affair he’d been having with a ground crew member in Hong Kong and now they were involved in a bitter custody dispute over their daughter – about where she got to spend Christmas, and maybe he had begun to think that without those Christmas/ birthday mornings he had nothing left to live for anymore. Valium was my only hope in making it to Edinburgh – I could only rely on myself from now on.

I’ll say at this point – I think it’s not wise to take a pill before entering customs, where upon getting through passport control you draw attention to yourself when both of your comfy and functional flight shoes fall off and you fall over them and fall on a customs official.

‘If you could just step over here with us madam’

‘It’s ok really, I’ve just taken a pill and it’s gone to my head’

‘You’ve taken a pill?’

‘Yeah, in case the pilot decides he can’t go on anymore’

‘Are you saying there is something wrong with this flight?’

‘Oh, I think I know what this is about – I’m not a terrorist’

‘Why would you say terrorist?’

‘I always get stopped at airports under suspicion’

‘You’ve been stopped before under suspicion of terrorism?’

‘It’s sorted now, Interpol got rid of the flag next to my name’

‘Ok, madam if you’d like to accompany us this way’

‘But I’ve got a flight to catch.’

‘You’ve just admitted to Australian customs officers that you were once detained by Interpol under suspicion of terrorism.’

‘You’ve taken it all out of context, this always happens’

‘I wasn’t detained – I was flagged, and anyway it was a mistake – it was to do with some fraud charges I was supposedly facing – but it’s cool, the embassy got involved and the safe house they put me in was cool.’

‘Madam would you like a legal representative present?’

‘No – I just need to get on this flight’.

‘And why this flight in particular?’

‘I bought a non-refundable ticket’

‘So you’re not coming back’

‘I think you’ve got it confused with a one-way ticket’

‘Don’t play smart’

‘I was just trying to help – and anyway my buzz is about to wear off so I need to hop on that plane’.

‘Do you really think you’re fit to fly?’

‘I’m fine – maybe it’s your captain you should be concerned about…’

‘Captain Stokes is a fine captain.’

‘I’m sure he is…. but tell me, has he told you about this wife?’

‘We didn’t know he was married’

‘He’s going through a bitter custody battle right now…won’t even be able to make it home for Christmas’.

‘We didn’t even know he had a kid’

‘You weren’t to know, how could you? It’s the kinda thing a man keeps bottled up. He’s just trying to save face. Imagine the unrelenting isolation he’s going through right now, coming to terms with the fact no one loves him, needs him or adores him anymore.’

‘His passengers need him’.

‘Do they? Or will we be mid air when it hits him that he never wants anyone to have to feel the pain he is feeling and so in one final act of trying to save humanity from itself he plunges one of your planes into the ground.’

Subsequently my flight to Edinburgh was detained as they led a confused Captain Stokes off the plane – in shackles for this own safety – I hated being right some of the time (even if now was not one of those times).

I hoped for his sake he was married with a young daughter that might love him again in time for Christmas.

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Can’t shag someone without them noticing…

The last time I fell in lust with someone was entirely inappropriate. He was my flatmate, his name was Nathan and to make matters even more embarrassing he was changing a light bulb at the time. Ok, so maybe this moment had been entirely inevitable upon looking back; we were both enthusiastic members of the ‘We love cheese’ club, making fun of people who wore white denim and we lived together, it was cold, the boiler was constantly breaking and maybe if I’m honest neither of us had been able to sustain a functioning relationship since meeting one another. Looking back some substantial ground work had been laid, but that’s only if I’m being honest with myself and I’m a big fan of denial so lets move on.

We’d just bought a new lampshade (and before you ask, this one was only a little bit gay) and the light bulb broke. No rhyme or explanation, but it was definitely broken and so as Nath reached up, supporting himself on our obnoxious glass coffee table (long story), his t-shirt rode up exposing a hint flat snail trail (this was not a proud moment) and suddenly I knew I had a problem and there was only one solution – now, I’m the first to admit that the better idea would’ve been to have moved out thus saving our beautiful platonic existence but at the time I only ever saw one option, one solution to my problem – there were an awful lot of things in our flat suddenly breaking and falling apart and so my solution was to encourage Nathan to become my local handyman. My theory was that maybe if I over indulged in flat maintenance, then just like chocolate it would lose it’s charm and thus everything would return to normal.

When the front door fell off I blamed ‘the junkies’, when the phone jack was ripped from the wall, I blamed ‘the gay’ – our flatmate David, when the sink collapsed into itself it was ‘global warming’, and there I was every time with a step ladder within arms reach and advice on how best to fix the problem. To say this was a bonding experience would be to lie. We constantly fought as a result of his inadequate handy man ways (I never said he was any good, he came from the school of thought that a well placed staple could solve any problem). There was no way I was going to play the little woman and so instead of reaffirming his masculinity with ‘oh my, you’re so amazing Nathan, the way you unstuck the window in the kitchen, you’re such a strong man’, it was more like ‘oh look at you oil a creaky hinge, oh you must think you’re king shit and I’m such a helpless lady because I know nothing about cupboard lubrication, well sod you!’ – by my own admission I went a little overboard, but I didn’t want him thinking for a moment I was enjoying this or liked him – I’d lose all my power.

As you might imagine our constant bickering made life a little uncomfortable for our other flatmate David, not to mention that it appeared that his whole flat was collapsing around him with little explanation, and so it happened over one to many bottles of Sav Blanc one night, amidst the plaster boards and tools scattered in our lounge room that I confessed my guilty little secret to him, and that if I couldn’t get control of this overwhelming urge to jump my flatmate we’d more then likely be looking at a minor flood taking over our flat. The seriousness of the situation could no longer be ignored and so David agreed to help, all I had to do was leave everything to him.

The next day in the midst of Nathan and I sitting on opposite side of the living room, trying to act that was the normal way to have a conversation, David popped his head in and commented that something in the bathroom needed to be repaired. He winked at me as both Nathan and myself bolted the bathroom. The bathroom was a wreck. The shower curtain was ripped and on the floor, the shower rail had been pulled from the door. I turned to David and seeing the look on his face I knew I’d been set up. ‘I was having sex with Troy this morning and let’s say we really need more grip on that shower rail. When you two finally admit you want to f*(k each others brains out you’ll be singing my praises for pointing this out’ and with that he left. ‘Gee, this is uncomfortable’ remarked Nathan as he reached down and picked up his torn Arsenal towel ‘do you think I can ask him to get me a new one?’. ‘Oh shut up!’ I yelled as I ran out of the bathroom, grabbed the last packet of chocolate biscuits and took to my bedroom. I would not leave my room for 4 days.

There was now no other option; I had to move out. I know it seemed to some like I was avoiding the issue, but now having resorted to using wet wipes to clean myself I didn’t really see any other way out. By day four Nathan came knocking at my door. He suggested we should talk, but I knew that when he said ‘talk’ he really meant he wanted to present me with a series of lectures on the objectification of men and why that can destroy perfectly healthy platonic relationships. I left my room, shirking to the lounge room, defeated. Christ he’d even made me dinner – I didn’t need his sympathy, how dare he condescend me as he ran his hand down my back, underneath my jumper – what was he doing now? Checking for lumps? The humiliation was crippling, why wouldn’t he just come out with it – ‘hey Lou, I just think of you as a mate’…if he’d just stop running his hand up my tracksuited thigh, but then something felt wrong, really wrong – I just couldn’t do this. I stopped. I stood up and made my way over to the book cabinet, took a deep breath and then smashed it into the coffee table. Now I was ready. Awesome.

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