Adventures with plastic babies and other things I’m not allowed to play with

Dragging a discarded bassinet through the streets of Brunswick I couldn’t help but marvel at the wonder that is ‘hard rubbish day’ as I yelled out at no one in particular ‘has anyone seen my baby? I told her to hold on…damn babies.’

My housemate said nothing as I dragged my latest find into our house.

After a moment the tension got too much.

‘Do you really think we need more bassinets in the house, you know given you don’t have an actual baby?’

‘You say that like I’ve got a hidden stash of bassinets hidden under my bed, like some sort of crazy baby lady.’

We both said nothing.

‘So where did you get it?’

‘Just found it on the side of the road, can you believe someone actually wanted to throw this out?’

‘Yes I can’ my flatmate remarked, gesturing at the bassinet handle that had broken off in my hand.

‘You haven’t been walking around pretending there’s a baby in there have you?’

I said nothing but knew my silent stance would betray me.

‘Again Lou? Really?’

‘Well look don’t panic I bought something from an actual shop as well.’

I stepped aside to reveal a large portrait of the Swiss Alps.

‘Oh good god.’ My housemate mumbled.

‘It’s even mounted on chip board so we can stick pins in it.’

‘Why would we stick pins in it?’

‘Cause on occasion everyone gets an urge to stick a pin in something, it’s just human nature.’

He glared at me and for a moment I couldn’t help but feel like a pin cushion…

‘It’ll be great, every time someone walks down the corridor they’ll be reminded of the Alps and it was only $6 at Savers.’

‘That’s where you bought it? Savers?’

‘Yeah, you’d have to pay like at least $30 bucks for a Swiss Alps pin board anywhere else. I’m not a fool, especially when it comes to art.’

Later that afternoon as I sat in  my lounge room looking at my latest find I found myself making a list of the things I could do with my aforementioned bassinet:

  1. Do something with it involving cheese. Thinking some sort of fondue party…
  2. Buy small plastic babies, fill bassinet with small plastic babies and then leave on porch. Maybe scatter some other plastic babies around it for effect with a trail of plastic babies leading out onto the street. Watch from my office to see if anyone really cares about abandoned little plastic babies.
  3. Have a baby and then make the bassinet not only a great find but also functional.
  4. Make into a herb garden and then write about it in Frankie…that is if they ever return my phone calls…(Reminder to self – CALL FRANKIE)
  5. Attach some invisible string to it and then when my housemate is working with his door open drag past in manner of haunted bassinet, whispering something like ‘I’m the ghost of the baby you never knew you might have had.’
  6. Don’t do anything with bassinet. Just leave the bassinet alone or better yet, throw it out. STUPID IDEA.

 As night came around I informed my housemate that I would be turning my bassinet into a herb garden, after all I’m adult. He seemed satisfied with the idea. I then wished him a good evening and set about trying to find where I’d misplaced my invisible string.

I prefer to handle my own dishes

I’m never good at buying Christmas presents. I always seem to get outdone. Like the year I got my friend a double pass to the movies and then his girlfriend rail roaded me by giving him a baby. It’s not that a Hoyts cinema pass can’t compete with a new born child; it was just the way she did it, all legs akimbo screaming his name. I went for a more a dignified approach having placed his tickets in a carefully chosen Wrongside card which featured the adventures of a dog trying to teach his owner how to roller skate. Classic Sanz. I remember months later he rang me up to say thank you for the present, what given all the chaos of now having a kid he’d plumb forgotten his vouchers until he recovered them while tidying up the coffee table one afternoon.

‘They’ve probably expired.’ I told him ‘or been cancelled by someone who rang the cinema to see if anyone had bothered using them.’

‘I guess it’s the thought that counts. Thanks all the same.’

‘Well we can’t all just show up umbilical cord at the ready, some of us like to put more thought into our presents.’

Last Christmas was no different. Whereas my brother got my parents the gift of him getting engaged, I presented my parents with the gift of a nail file, Michael Chugg’s autobiography, oh and news that my ex-boyfriend was moving into my house after a 5 year estrangement.

In my defence my ex was sleeping in another room, on the ground, but as friends were all too quick to point out ‘how does that differ from last time Lou?’…well played ‘friends’.

So whereas my brother was looking to the future, I’d pretty much stumbled across an old garbage bag of clothes destined for St Vinnie’s, opened it up and gone ‘oh there’s that dress I really like, why don’t I wear it anymore? I should so wear it more; like all the time…oh that’s why I don’t wear it …it has an elasticised waist, but hang on I’ve lost weight so it’ll probably look great…no, it has an elasticised waist, why on earth did I just not burn this dress! Why am I giving it to someone else? No one looks good in an elasticised waist, even the poor! Oh for the love of god, why did I even buy it?…is my life just a landscape of regret littered with mistakes?’

We got on fine. For the most part until he started washing my dishes.

‘Really there’s no need to do the dishes.’

‘But I should, I’m a guest.’

‘I’d really rather you didn’t.’

‘They’re just dishes.’

‘No they’re not just dishes.’

‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

‘It’s too much like a relationship if I let you wash my dishes.’

‘Is this about the fact I don’t wash your dishes anymore?’

‘I’m just saying I’ve gone 5 years without you washing my dishes and I really don’t think it’s a good idea if you start washing them now.’

‘We’re not talking about dishes now are we…?’

He moved out a week later.

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.

Sexy adventures with Cankle Lady

Coming home from a gig on Saturday night realising that if I managed to make it home by 9pm The Bill would be in full throttle and even with my comprehensive knowledge of back-story I’d struggle to keep up, I stood waiting for the illustrious No 19 tram. Not to worry, I wasn’t alone. I had the luck of keeping company with a couple of teenagers/burgeoning football team and when I say a couple I mean not enough to terrify me into a gang bang, but enough to have quite clearly justified their purchase of two slabs of Jim Bean & Coke.

Not that I’m a snob in the traditional sense, but yes I will admit, a couple of slabs of some sort of pale ale and these young men would have easily transformed in my eyes from just sex offenders to alleged sex offenders.

One of them spat in front of me or threw up (I’m finding it harder and harder to tell these days) before asking me how my night was, well that’s what I thought ‘…avin a good night…cat…apper…penis’ meant.

Having promised myself not to get herpes in this lifetime I stepped back from him and then watched as he tried to chase a car packed with ‘the ladies’ down Sydney Rd egged on by his friends in a way a dog might chase a car, a dog whose parents paid for it’s private school education.

I noticed a girl in the mix drinking a Red Bull with her hair pulled back into a sensible ponytail. She watched the idiots around her and for a moment I was reminded of a young me. One of the boys kept pulling her hooded sweat, trying to drag her over to him like a caveman but to her credit she spurned his advances as he tried to whisper something in her ear. She pushed him away.

‘No Tony, I’m not giving you a hand job.’

You go sister I thought as I smiled to myself.

‘Last time my hand cramped and I couldn’t text for like hours and you didn’t even cum, f**k that.’

How I yearned for those curious fumbling years…

Finally the tram arrived and we all climbed on board, the teenagers by now figuring that if they sat at the back of the tram they’d come across less like drunk dickheads and more like hip urban commuters. I moved to the front as I heard a conversation about ‘how to spot a tardo’ fade into the distance.

Deciding to stand for the next few stops, I noticed an older woman staring at me and found myself wondering for a brief moment if the No 19 was the tram of choice for lesbians to cruising away their Saturday night. I didn’t have to wait long for my answer as the woman came over to me.

‘You remind me a lot of myself when I was your age.’

Now I don’t know about you but I’ve never been into the idea of hooking up with people that look me, admitting though that I was yet to come across 5’3 curvy Latino type gentlemen who couldn’t grow a decent moustache, but hey, the night was young.

‘Um, thanks’ I replied to her, not that it was a compliment she’d paid me as I looked down at her cankles.

‘Back when I was your age I tried to kill myself, didn’t manage it mind you. Just ended up alone.’

My eyes drew away from her cankles and elasticised Susanne Gray pants and I suddenly realised how sad a complete stranger could make me feel.

I didn’t know what to say and my overwhelming curiosity to ask why she hadn’t kept trying was threatening to leap out of my mouth at any moment.

‘Um…I’m sure someone loves you.’ I offered.

‘Does someone love you?’ she asked.

Ouch.

‘My parents I think.’

‘Doesn’t count.’

‘Some of my friends?’

‘Doesn’t count.’

‘What, you mean like a boyfriend or something?’

‘I knew the touch of a man once, his name was Tom. Full of cock and confidence Tom was.’

‘What happened to Tom, did he die in the war or something?’

‘The war? I’m only 37, he was only 17.It was the love that dare not speak its name. Don’t be stupid. Died in the war. No, he just changed schools. It wasn’t meant to be.’

‘That’s a shame.’ I muttered, looking at this woman, this broken woman. Why had she been so unlucky? Would I have the same fate given I once admitted to a crush on the red head from Harry Potter?

‘If you don’t mind my saying your fringe makes you looks like a guard at a women’s prison.’

Oh, this must be why no one loved her.

I pulled the cord announcing my impending stop.

‘Ok, well you have a good night then.’

‘You don’t work in a woman’s prison do you?’

‘No.’

‘Would you like to?’

‘No’

‘Ok, no harm in asking.’ And with that she started up towards the back of the tram looking to acquaint herself with some of Jim Bean fuelled football team.

As I hoped off the tram I heard her turn to the girl I’d seen earlier.

‘You remind me of myself when I was your age.’

‘I’m not licking you out or nuffin’ the girl spat back at her.

You go sister I couldn’t help but smile to myself.

I like my friends, conditionally.

I like my friends. I find it helps. However sometimes I get the distinct impression that if faced with a ravenous mega crocodile in a swamp they would throw a bucket of fish guts over me and then run for the hills watching from afar as I get torn limb from limb, stopping only to remark to each other ‘poor Lou, she’s just always in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

This thought came about after a good friend of the ‘I just met him at the gym and he was the one and now we’ve bought a split level apartment together in Woollahra and I thought I knew what happiness was but I didn’t, I was a fool on a teenagers errand because now that I’ve met the blood (his name is Ian*) that pumped through my heart, well Lou I wondered how I ever managed without it before’ variety sent me an email admonishing me for not even owning a toaster oven and highly recommending I go on a blind date with one of Ian’s friends.

A new toaster oven I could use, but a blind date, chances of that making me an evenly toasted piece of heaven smothered with Nutalex was highly unlikely and that level of certainty comes with age children, age.

I emailed her back, politely declining, telling her I’d recently bought the box set of Pugwall and I owed it to him to watch it in full over the next say month or 36 years, so she rang me.

‘Pugwall isn’t available in box set yet. I Googled it. You’re lying.’

‘It should be.’

‘This is neither the time nor the place to go into that Lou.’

‘I finished Press Gang last week.’

‘I don’t care.’

‘You wouldn’t.’

Silence.

‘He’s a very nice man Lou.’

‘I’m sure his mum finds him real nice.’

‘Really Lou? A mum joke?’

‘Technically it wasn’t really a mum joke, but granted there was an inference so I’ll give you that.’

She ignored me and to be fair I understood why.

‘Ok, so he’s nice.’

‘Yes nice and has a job. He’s not leaving someone, dating anyone else, not moving overseas, doesn’t have a harem I know of and he doesn’t dress as a clown.’

‘I’ve never dated a clown.’

‘Clowns, performers, street folk, it’s all the same from where I sit with all my financial security looking down on you.’

‘Look, I’m just really not into the idea of it at all.’

‘Just think of it like going to a Farmer’s Market and you’re the cow that needs to be milked.’

‘That analogy managed to offend me on so many levels.’

‘Good’

‘And look I’m going away in a week so now really isn’t a good time to start anything.’

‘You’re going to Sydney for a weekend.’

‘Exactly’

‘And his recent STD check came back clear and don’t panic I showed him a copy of yours.’

‘God, I should never have given you a copy.’

‘Consider it a reference check.’

‘Fine, I’ll meet him.’

Within 15 minutes of hanging up I’d received an email from him, informing me he liked going to the gym, the movies and he’d Googled me, thus the absence of questions directly relating to myself I imagined. I’m not a mad fan of Googling people. I have a weird thing about getting to know them on my own terms, not have information thrust upon me, but this doesn’t always halt the expectation from others that you’ve Googled them. Whilst dating someone it came to my attention I’d missed his birthday – oh stop throwing stones – I’d asked him on numerous occasions when it was and he wouldn’t tell me. None of this was helped when at dinner one night I asked how his week had been and he pointed out I’d missed his birthday, something that if I’d ever checked his Wikipedia entry I would’ve known…

I wrote back to email guy and said next Wednesday would be good for a coffee. He tried to up the anti to dinner but I know what I’m like after a meal and a glass/bottle of wine so I told him coffee was preferable. He wrote back saying fingers crossed they might serve nuts there. I wrote back saying that if was prone to such overwhelming bursts of hunger perhaps it best he ‘eat’ before we met up.

The Wednesday arrived and out of the blue so did my parents, fresh from an 8 week jaunt around the Mediterranean. I’d have to reschedule. I sent him a quick text explaining the unexpected events that had led to our coffee cancellation, heck I even through in some wit without trying to sound flippant. All in all it was the perfect text message, however my intended audience didn’t agree.

My phone beeped. He’d replied:

‘Hi, look I’m worried if you can’t make time for us now then what hope do we have for a future. Think about it.’

I couldn’t help but think he had a great sense of humour, so I checked.

‘Are you serious?’ I wrote back.

‘Yes. I need to know now you’re just not going to flake out on me. I really wanted to meet you but I’m started to think you don’t want the same things I want for us.’

Ok, let’s just drown the puppy in the hessian sack now. I looked around to make sure I wasn’t jilting someone at the alter and had some how become so torn from  my  own reality I hadn’t even noticed, but no, my tracksuit was still firmly on and my kitchen looked nothing like a cathedral, but the floor did need to be mopped.

I deleted his number from my phone and got out the bucket.

My phone rang, it was my friend.

‘It took a lot of leg pulling to get that guy to even agree to meet you, especially after he read your blog.’

‘And hello to you too.’

‘Don’t Lou.’

‘Sorry’ I put the bucket down.

‘He rang to say you’ve stopped responding to his messages.’

‘Yes, about 3 minutes ago I stopped responding to his messages.’

‘Is this what happens Lou? Is that why your relationships end up in the toilet faster then a uni girl’s hair extension after a smoko?’

‘For Christ’s sake, he acted like we’d agree to start working things out after having gone through a legal separation.’

‘You’d be so lucky’ my friend scoffed.

‘He’s not right in the head.’

‘A predisposition to schizophrenia is a non-issue Lou.’

‘Oh my god is it so hard to believe that I have little to no interest in getting married or moving in with someone? If and when you see me advertised on Craig’s list then maybe I’ll re-evaluate, but right now I’m fine with Pugwall and men that might not return my calls.’

She said nothing as I imagined her muting the Lifestyle Channel before coming back to me.

‘Ok, fine. I’ll just tell him you’re taking time to figure yourself out.’

‘No, just tell him his messages were inappropriate and scary and at the end of the day I prefer the company of clowns.’

‘I knew it.’

‘Yes, you know me better than I know myself.’

We hung up and I picked up the mop just as my phone beeped. It was from email guy.

Hey, look you take all the time you need to figure yourself out. I’ll still be here. My sister thought she was gay once too, just turned out she couldn’t eat wheat. Take care.’

And so as I deleted his message and blocked his email address whilst buttering my toast I couldn’t help but think maybe he’d end up being the one that got away and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

A minor faux pas

Standing on my train station platform I thought about my new financial year resolution; to move away from meeting men at arts industry based events such as music festivals/ library borrowing queues / openings/ other festivals/ readings and the video store. So far it was going well; I hadn’t left my house in over a month. Eventually however, after advice on airing out my bedroom I found myself on a train station platform with a good looking young man standing next to me. Sure it was a crowded platform and one could argue there were really no other options as to where he might stand but in my mind what was important was that I thought I still had ‘it’ and I could meet people outside my ‘circle.’

He looked harmless enough, black wool jumper and jeans, not so tight as to cut off his family legacy and black worn brogues. All he was missing was a petite red-haired girlfriend with a blunt fringe, a smock with the Saver’s tag still on it, a pamphlet on alternative birth control methods and a Banksy tattoo and he would’ve looked like the guy who had everything, but all he had was a clip board and nothing else.

‘It’s very cold isn’t it?’ I turned around to see clipboard guy speaking directly to me.

‘Yes’ I replied as I hugged my large oversized duffle coat around me, a coat that could’ve past for a doona cover and of late given Melbourne’s freezing temperatures had been alternating as one. I’d had to start using the coat when I realised I’d started to develop an unnatural attachment to my hot bottle and the fact it had the ability to contour to my body shape. I only wanted one thing to do that and preferably I didn’t want it made from rubber and smelling like my grandmother.

‘Guess that’s winter for you’ he continued, allowing our natural chemistry to flow.

‘Well yeah, June is a winter month.’

‘So are August and July but not always in that order’ he pointed out to me.

‘Yeah.’

He fiddled with his clipboard.

‘Mind if I ask you some questions?’

‘No, not at all’ I responded as my ovaries began to move of their own accord – they were still there, good.

‘I noticed when you arrived at this station that you failed to validate your ticket.’

Ok, so this one wasn’t like other men I’d known, this one was a conversationalist. Tick.

‘Um, I bought a ticket.’ (I chose not to add the phrase ‘at least’)

‘Yes, I saw that but like I said I failed to see you validate your card. Is there a reason you didn’t manage to do that?’

‘I guess I just forgot.’

‘That’s why we have memory madam, it stops us from forgetting.’

‘What, you’re not making any sense’

‘But some of us don’t like memories. I don’t like all of my memories and that’s why I don’t like dogs and biscuits.’

Suddenly I felt a craving to check my inbox for any invites to something in Fed Square or at Meat Market I had forgotten to RSVP to, I mean who had financial year resolutions anyway?. .idiots did Lou, idiots…

‘Um, it’s not really any of your business why I didn’t validate my card.’

‘Today I’m making it my business’ and with that he opened up his clipboard and I couldn’t help but think this was the reason I’d never really gotten into role play.

‘Ok, fine you want to know why I don’t validate, well let’s start with the train before this one was cancelled and this train the one due to arrive is now 16 minutes late. It’s like being in a relationship with someone who ignores you at parties and then you brush it off cause you are after all barely 5’3 and he would have to look down to even notice you were there and that’s a big ask sometimes, well it’s the same as validating a ticket for a train that is running late all the time, never smiles when they see you and then surprises you by terminating early even though you already booked that holiday to Vietnam and you told him at the time that the tickets were non-refundable – if my own existence can barely be validated then I’ll be damned if I’m going to validate a ticket!’.

Clipboard guy stared at me for a moment.

‘Are you really only 5’3?’

‘I’m wearing heels today.’

‘Oh that explains it.’

He didn’t say anything for a moment.

‘I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to upset you.’

‘You didn’t upset me, I’m ok, just fine me and let’s be done with this.’

‘What makes you think I’m a transit officer?’

‘You’ve got a clipboard.’

‘Lot’s of guys carry clipboards and it doesn’t mean we work in the transit industry. I don’t even own a car, but I bet you couldn’t tell what with your eyes being so jaded by prejudice.’

‘How does owning a car have anything to do with whether I validated my ticket?’

‘From where I stand it has everything to do with it.’

I looked up at the train timetable, delayed by another 7 minutes; God must’ve still been in the bathroom tending to himself.

‘Look, don’t worry I’m not a transit cop, I’m not going to fine you even though you are pretty fine, maybe we should have a coffee sometime. My mother says coffee is good for you.’

I realised at that point me developing an almost sexual relationship with my hot bottle wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing…

‘So if you’re not here to fine me what are you doing?’

‘It’s an assignment for school.’

‘School? Like postgraduate buiness school?’..even I noticed the desperate pleading in my voice.

‘No like high school. I’m doing an assignment on ethics and we were told to approach single parents and ask them a series of questions to see if their ethics had evolved after becoming parents let down by the world.’

‘You’re in high school?’

‘Yeah, Year 11.’

‘So you’re like 17 years old.’

’16 actually.’

‘Oh good, that makes what I was thinking 20 minutes ago even more illegal.’

The train finally pulled up.

‘I’m not a single mum just so you know’ I felt I needed to point that out to him.

‘Sorry, didn’t mean to offend, it was just the fact you were carrying a doona with you.’

‘It’s my coat.’

‘Looks like a doona.’

‘Yes, I know.’

‘I like older woman you know. I get on great with my mum and she says I’ve got very soft hands.’

‘Lucky lady.’

‘She doesn’t have to be the only lucky lady in my life.’

 And with that I boarded the train and maybe, just maybe I walked away from an opportunity missed.

Helen Mirren and Me

It’s a sad day financially and personally when you find yourself standing at the frozen food aisle at 9 o’clock on a Saturday night staring at the home brand frozen French fries, complaining into your mobile to a friend that you refuse to spend more than $3.68 on fries, but that said, a potato gem, well one can’t place a monetary value on genius.

I’ve started wearing tracksuits

Often when one thinks of romance we conjure up images of young, nubile (look, maybe that’s just me and my penchant for being able to bounce things off walls) creatures, fornicating on a deserted beach at sunset, declaring a love that need not speak its name, unapologetically crushing the pink tinged roses he’d bought her at the start of their date…

To be honest though, after years of getting sand in my crutch and never been given flowers, when I think of romance it’s slightly more evolved, having changed from whispers of sweet nothings to something more along the lines of that if I’ve been seeing a guy for a few months and I don’t receive a phone call from a friend telling me he’s been shagging someone else, well I burst into tears of happiness cause fuck me I’ve never felt so much joy.

However in recent weeks my idea of romance has evolved once again, it’s more platonic by nature (and no, I’m not mounting objects on the wall and running at them). Whether this has been a result of getting better bed sheets or recent illness’s ‘how many flu’s can you get?’ it’s growing where?’ and ‘you’re not pregnant like we first thought, it’s an infection’, I’ve found myself seduced by the romance of being a shut in.

It started simply enough. Friends asking me to go and have a good time with them, sure it seemed like a nice idea but that would involved getting dressed into what I call my ‘outside’ clothes and I’d only recently discovered the benefits of your ex leaving his crap at yours – large over sized hooded jumpers. I needed to devote as much time as I could to this new found discovery. Of course I wasn’t a complete social drop out; I’d always offer a solution to my friends:

‘Come around to mine and I’ll make us some dinner, we don’t need to go out to have a good time.’

‘Will you be wearing pants?’

‘Yes’

‘And what about that gingham smock thing?’

‘I’ll be wearing both; I’ve neither shaved my underarms or my legs.’

I did understand though why my friends started seeing other people when my dinner menu consisted of the one and only question ‘baked beans or spaghettio’s, and I don’t have any bread, we’ll just have to make do without bread right?’

My flat mates were as supportive as they could be with it all, but when one wandered in to see me reading my copy of Laura Bushes biography and fiddling with the oven whilst drinking my 10th cup of strong Yorkshire tea for the day and lamenting I couldn’t find my anti-anxiety medication anywhere useful and must’ve left it in the shower, well he had to intervene cause ‘Lou, you haven’t showered in days, lets stop making shit up ok?’

I was sure I wasn’t a complete lost cause; after all I had to leave the house to go to my local video store to continue my research on British police procedural dramas. What I was researching I didn’t know quite yet. It had taken me about 30 seconds to admit to myself I’d so go Vincent D’Onofrio from Law & Order Criminal Intent, but the lead guy from Midsummer Murders, well it had been over 6 years and I still wasn’t convinced, as such there was much work to be done.

The video store was easy enough; people go in there with top high ponytails and hooded jumpers all the time. I made my selection, including some DVD’s of a show I was to be in, but when I got to the counter and the clerk informed me I was one over my Weekly Special limit I chose to put that DVD back – really, I thought, I should buy it, you know support local industry the way it was supporting me – the clerk seemed happy with my selection including the one I chose to put back.

‘Good choice putting that one back. If you asked me we stopped making people laugh when the Crocodile Hunter died.’

Arriving home shortly after I logged onto the internet and joined an online DVD rental store.

It was pointed out though at some point, even though I was literally living in my own filth trying to work to deadline that I might need deodorant or a leg razor, you know for ‘special occasions.’

Trudging out in my smock and high tops I walked the 50 meters to my local shopping centre and found myself staring at the deodorant rack, armed with soy milk, veggie burgers, HP sauce and Oreos, debating whether a further spend of 38c was warranted given I wasn’t loyal to any sort of particular brand. To this day I don’t know the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant and I’m afraid I’m too old to ask.

Now I’m not casting judgment on anyone that picks up in the toiletries aisle at a supermarket, but I’m not a huge fun of scoring anywhere near where they sell lubricant and indigestion tablets, because it would be too much like looking into a future relationship mirror. So imagine my surprise if you will when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I spun around to see a man wearing elastic wasted trousers – enough said.

‘I know you from somewhere’ he so eloquently observed.

My vanity got the better of me, Christ I was in a smock and trainers.

‘No, I don’t think so.’

‘Yes, I saw you die at Vibe comedy one night. It was awful you were shit.’

‘Thanks.’
‘Me I like jokes that rhyme.’

‘We all have a type.’

‘That we do, that we do.’

‘So buying deodorant, you don’t smell that bad.’

‘I wear deodorant.’

‘Then why you buying more?’

‘It’s not like a never ending packet of Tim Tams.’

‘I don’t understand’.

…and it was at that point I realized he quite possibly wasn’t even 24, of course he wouldn’t get the reference.

‘Look, um, if you’re not doing anything would you like to come to Maccas with me? I have a voucher and a health care car, gets you a discount’

He then noticed my soy milk and before I could answer…

‘..hey sorry, just saw the soy milk, but that’s cool, we both like vag.’

I went home and joined Woolworths Home Delivery and safe in the knowledge I wasn’t leaving my house anytime soon, took off my pants.