They shoot frigid women you know Lou.

As a little girl I always wanted to be a collector. I imagined growing old surrounded by collections that would reflect the adventures and perhaps even sometimes misadventures (that’s when I’d giggle to myself as my grandchildren sat at my feet looking up in awe and confusion at my self-deprecating, yet humble eccentricity), of my life.

The problem was I grew bored with collecting and it took a long to time to realise I could appreciate a good collection but lacked the talent for creating and maintaining my own, well that, and I had convinced myself that if I put all my self worth into a collection I would be dead, the result of a self-inflicted gun shot wound by age 12.

My best friend (from 1985 – 1992) had quite the outstanding My Little Pony Collection, and I was not only jealous of it, but also obsessed by it. I had the perfect arrangement – I could come and visit, take them off their shelf, shower them with praise, take them for a walk outside, whisper in their little plastic ears that I’d always be there for them, and then when it was time to leave, put them back on their shelf and give them a vague commitment of a time in the future when I might be able to see them again – things were really hectic at work right now.

I was only ever allowed to play with the ponies on the last two shelves, not the prettiest ponies. But because of that the uglier ponies on the ground floor only tried harder to please me. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that on occasion I often wondered what life would be like with a top shelf pony, and sure sometimes when I’ve found myself making out with the unattractive best friend of the hot guy, I imagined said hot guy was like a top shelf pony, looking at me out of one eye, wondering what it might be like to slum it…even if just for a moment.

Of course it would be years later that I would realise that my friend’s pony collection was the closest thing she had to control in her life – a life riddled with eating disorders, a father/daughter complex and an overall sense of inadequacy, but I was never one for context.

My brother was also an avid collector; of chocolate Easter eggs. For him it was less about the beauty of his collection and more about spiting those closest to him. He would wait and watch as my sister and I devoured our eggs in the allocated time slot of Easter and then he would line his up just outside his bedroom and just leave them, for months until they started to rot. Then just as the mould would set in he’d offer them as gifts to me and my sister – it was amazing how a damp flannel and a butter knife could restore those eggs to almost brand new.

But myself, no I never could collect anything other then a festering resentment towards my mother for never letting me watch the final episode of the Wonder Years and then forcing my hand, leading to me a fake a sicky, being sent to my neighbours to recuperate, only to tell her I left my homework at home, go home and pull the secret video recorder I hid under the couch and eject the Wonders Year tape, take it back to the neighbours and watch it while she went to her daily yoga class. However time heals all wounds, and much like all my other collections before the one of resentment, this one fell by the wayside.

It wasn’t until the other day, drinking with a friend and lamenting my lack of enthusiasm for a collective of things that I was faced with the realisation that I might have always been a collector, a sub conscious collector…

‘Lou you’re what we call in the collector’s trade – a passive collector’ she qualified as she finished her latest coke and Bacardi.

‘I’m not passive aggressive.’

‘I didn’t say you were passive aggressive.’

‘But you implied it, there was the tone of implication there.’
‘Get your hand off it Lou.’

She was right; I wasn’t going to win this argument, so I took my hand off it.

‘You’ she retorted, pulling her skirt down over her undies and grabbing another drink… ‘You my friend, are a man friend collector.’

‘That’s the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard, lots of women have male friends.’

‘Yeah, you’re right, but I challenge any of them to be as discerning a collector as you Lou.’

‘You sound like you’re challenging me to a duel’ I rebuked as a scraped the last bit of hummus off the lid – only half a Weight Watchers point, I was going to enjoy this.

‘Did I mention pistols at half moon?’

‘I think its pistols at half noon’ – I corrected her.

‘You’re the only person I’ve ever known to call it quits on a friendship because it was getting too intense – most people do that with relationships, romantic relationships, you do that with guys you’re friends with.’

‘Hey, we both wanted different things. It was a mutual decision.’

‘Yeah whatever Lou.’

‘I don’t care what you say, I don’t collect them – I just have a handful of close guy friends and it works for me.’

‘But they’re pretty collectable, because well most have a rather distinguishing feature.’

‘Don’t be gross.’ – one more hummus coated cracker wouldn’t kill me, only an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill.

‘Let’s see shall we’ she began to list them off on her fingers ‘they’ve pretty much all at one stage been involved with a friend of yours…’

‘Complete coincidence…’ I mumbled.

‘Lou just deal with it – you collect safe men.’

‘You’ve got me. That is what I asked for when I ordered them online – I quite clearly picked the do not rape and pillage option, but funnily enough did not pick gift wrapping as an extra.’ I laughed, she did not – we were having an argument.

My friend stood up and stumbled to my fridge – how heart broken she would be, I only had Pepsi Max left – score 1 Lou!

‘The thing is most of us, at our age when we meet guys we at least have a drink with them. You, you get crafted friendship bracelets and clean each others shoes…’

‘We do not clean each other shoes.’

‘My point is Lou, you know what it makes you look like, and you know what people think?’

‘I don’t care what people think, it’s no ones business, two people can just be friends – look at Spaced.’

‘…it makes you look frigid Lou, people think you’re frigid and don’t ever reference an outstanding BBC comedy to your life again – I won’t stand for it, none of us will.’

‘No one thinks I’m frigid.’

‘Some of us are concerned that you’ve lost the ability to put out.’

‘I don’t think it’s something you can lose.’

‘As your friends we beg to differ…I mean when was the last time someone even managed to slip a – ‘

‘Enough, christ if you must know I met a guy on the weekend, and before you ask, he has not been involved in any of my friends and I don’t particularly like him as a person and we all know what that means – can anyone say potential boyfriend?’

Taking the last Pepsi Max out the fridge, she made herself comfortable on the recliner.

‘He sounds like a catch.’

‘He’s definitely not a safe man.’

‘Well I wish you all the best, no really, I wish you all the best, so when’s the date?’

‘What date?’

‘The date you have with a guy you’re not friends with.’

‘I hate when you get all specific’ – I really wanted a Malteser.

‘I hardly think asking about a date is being specific.’

‘I wish you would hardly think more often!’ BAM – score 2 Lou.

‘You’re not going to sleep with him are you. You might elude to it but you’re not are you?’

‘That is none of your business.’

‘And how did you meet him?’

‘We met through a friend.’

‘Oh yeah, what friend?’

‘That’s not important.’

‘Humour me, unlike you Lou I crave context.’

‘Um…well he knows Ben.’

‘Like Ben, you’re ex boyfriend Ben?’

‘So?’

‘Nothing – just let me get this straight – you met a guy who is friends with your ex-boyfriend and you’re trying to convince me that you’d date him?’

‘I don’t need to convince you.’

‘I’m afraid you do Lou, cause from where I sit all I’m hearing is that you’ve made another man friend, a safe friend and you can sit there and act all innocent because even if you wanted something to happen you’re blocked by the mate code of never ever hooking up with your mates ex-girl.’

‘Gee, I never thought about it like that.’

‘Bullshit Lou, you played me and everyone around you from the start.’

My shame hit me hard. She had caught me out.

‘Why Lou, why’d you do it this time?’

I took a moment – maybe she’d understand, maybe this time it would be different.

‘He was just so shiny and I only needed one more to complete the set.’

She finished her Pepsi and then stood to leave.

‘It’s like I said – frigid Lou.’

Happy Festive Shananigans

A BRIEF MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR…

Ok, so we all know sometimes I can’t spell, my grammar can be questionable and let’s just say that not all my stories have inspired hope in humanity – but f#@k, for the most part they’ve been mildly amusing and you seem to have enjoyed them and for that I just wanted to say thanks.

We’ve had a long year, one of ups and downs, hits and misses and sure things might’ve run more smoothly for all of us if I’d put out more consistently, but that’s what New Years resolutions are for. (NOTE TO SELF: just say yes, it can’t always end badly and that’s what antibiotics are for- they want you to catch stuff and use them, it’s the only way they can end up curing everything…)

Some highlights have included:

The time I got arrested on public transport for not showing a girl how to put on eye liner http://lousanz.com/?p=4

oh, and it makes me laugh now…but the time I found a lump under my arm http://lousanz.com/?p=72

One of the many times I got turned down by a boy…lol
http://lousanz.com/?p=84

and then lets not forget when I turned down the opportunity to shag a 17 year old http://lousanz.com/?p=88

And Thom Yorke still isn’t talking to me – bastard!
http://lousanz.com/?p=96

Oh, it’s been good times, good times and life can only get more traumatic and hillarious as time moves forward and I age, older than I am now.

So thank you for being such avid readers – it’s so lovely to know that people still like a story.

Thanks to all those that have provided feed back – big shout outs to Jackson, Josh, Ewan, Em, Anna and many, many more.

Happy New Year.

FROM THE AUTHOR
http://lousanz.com

Christmas does Lou, literally.

I’m not sure when exactly Christmas got banned in my house. There was an awkward stage where we pretended it didn’t really exist between 1993-95 following an incident involving my father dressed as Magnum PI dressed as Santa after he was discovered under the Christmas tree in nothing but his underpants, my mother and a simple keyboard dedication that he was serenading her with on my new Yamaha keyboard. It returned for a short while until 1997, when my mother upon getting yet another frying pan banned Christmas until her family learnt not to buy ‘crap’ presents, and with that in mind, now looking back that perhaps the moment the festive season ended in the Sanz house.

Personally I agreed with mum. Our family ritual of Kris Kringle had been less than spectacular and had been growing worse by the year. It started off with potential; an indiscriminate statue I used to hold open my door from my brother, but it was downhill from there –the next year I got that extra bag of crisps you get when you buy a chocolate bar and a soft drink at the petrol station and the year after that I got a film poster with the ‘Now Showing’ sticker still attached and the blue tack still firmly in place on the back (just to clarify, my brother had recently taken a job at a local picture theatre).

As far as I was concerned Christmas was what other people did, much like home buying, private health insurance and coffee grinders. Well that was until I moved to London.

I lived with a gay man, who didn’t go in much for Christmas, because according to governing legislation at the time the cultural ideals behind Christmas didn’t really go into him and anyway, Ibiza wasn’t nearly as packed at this time of year, and a Jew. A Jew who was surprisingly more into Christmas than any Christian I’d ever met, but his logic was reasoned enough – given he didn’t believe in Christmas it was easier for him to enjoy because it didn’t have to mean anything.

I’d agreed to bunk down for Christmas at an Australian friend of mine’s orphan’s lunch. She’d gone as far as to extend the invitation to my Jew flatmate, who was on the verge anyway of becoming my long-term on and off again better half (I use that term liberally, but hey it’s Christmas) and even with my Grinch like ways I was kind of excited about spending a white Christmas around people I actually liked, free of movie posters and crap statues – I could hold my own doors open thank you very much…and then of course everything pretty much went tits up.

Four days before Christmas, my friend rang, she was pregnant and feeling rotten and there was ‘no f&*king way’ she was going to cook a full Christmas lunch for people quite capable of cooking themselves – and then she apologised, blamed hormones and hung up.

‘Merry Christmas to you to’ I mumbled into the dead phone as my flatmate came around the corner.

‘What’s up?’ He was so good at acting concerned; I knew now why I thought I might kinda like him.

‘Di’s cancelled Christmas.’

‘Oh…can she do that?’

‘Apparently so.’

‘But I didn’t see anything on the news about it.’

‘I was exaggerating.’

‘You’re a bit prone to that isn’t you Lou?’

I practised ignoring him and if I do say so myself I was getting very good at it.

Anyway, maybe I can just cook something here and we can grab some videos and just hang out together….’

‘Sure, sounds great.’ He agreed, as he grabbed his coat, going off to see her.

And with that he left the flat. I was totally ok with him still being good friends with his ex-girlfriend and if anything it was reassuring, I mean we’d probably end up being exes one day and if we still hung out and stuff that would be totally fine to and nothing at all to be concerned about (hindsight has been something fundamentally lacking in any decision making about my life from such an early point I never thought to consult it in moments such as this one).

So off he went and as if almost on cue the house phone rang. It was my friend Lisa. She wanted to say good bye before her and a bunch of my friends headed off to the country for the holiday.

‘It’s such a shame you can’t come Lou’

‘…well my Aussie Christmas just cancelled…’

‘Oh.’

‘Yep’.

‘Oh Lou, I’d ask you to come with us, but only if we’d known sooner, like when we asked you, cause there’s no room in the car and cottage, well we don’t have a floorboard to spare…but if you’d told us earlier…’ her guilt trailed off….

‘I’m ok really, Nathan and I are going to cook a turkey or something to that affect and just hang out.’

‘Nice to see you’re shaking things up Lou, I mean you and Nathan hanging out and doing nothing together is just so…what’s that word I’m looking for……come on Lou, you’re good with words, help me out.’

‘Predictable?’

‘No.’

‘Sad, tragic…come on Lisa, I’m giving you gold here.’

‘It’s just so retired.’

‘You make it sound like an afternoon of canasta and self-defecation for two.’

‘I’m sorry Lou, it sounds charming and remember darl if I could be bothered agreeing to take both cars to the country like Marcus wants than we’d be more than happy to have you tag along.’

‘What-?’

‘– anyway, must go Lou, drinking and merriment to be had you understand.’

She hung up, leaving me perplexed as to why she even bothered to call. She was so not getting an eCard this Christmas, maybe a text, but she’d be out of range so what was the point? And I really couldn’t afford to just be throwing money around.

It was decided then, no text either. Lisa would have to resign herself to having me ask her how her holiday was, as opposed to me wishing her a happy one.

I had plans anyway, I needed to decide if I was going to cook chicken or turkey, or could I possible pull off a multi-bird lunch? But of course the first thing to do was to get a tree, and living on Columbia Rd, the home of the flower markets I was going to get the best tree ever.

…of course, I’d left it rather late and so instead of a towering green Christmassy foliage decorating my living room, I was sold a stick in a pot, that looked like it might be related to Christmas in the way that Anthony LaPaglia’s younger brother kinda looks like him, but isn’t really him. I tried not to cry, I could make it look pretty, nothing some tinsel and self denial couldn’t fix.

I was just about finished with the decorations when Nathan came home. He took one look at our Christmas tree and commented that maybe I should throw last nights left-over’s out as opposed to decorating them – I told him it was our brand new Christmas tree. He told me my tree was why Jews didn’t celebrate Christmas.

‘I’m trying to make Christmas special.’

‘You know what happens when you try Lou.’

‘I succeed in bringing the spirit of Christmas right to your doorstep?’

‘Now you know that’s not true LouLou.’

He took his scarf off and plonked on the couch. The uncomfortable couch – why was he punishing himself….

‘Lou…I don’t think I’m going to be here for Christmas.’

‘What? I’m cooking, I even got a retarded stick in a pot that God knows I’m trying to convince myself is a Christmas tree – look I even stuck up stockings!’

I pointed at two odd little socketts I’d sticky taped to the mantle, and as if on cue one fell to the ground – mine.

‘Yeah, it’s just that Carrie, well she’s had a bad year and she wants me to come with her and her family to the country and I’m her friend…’

‘…you’re her ex boyfriend…’

‘Yes, and with that comes certain obligations…’

I looked at my little sockett; thought of my multi bird feast I’d just ordered online at Tesco’s and did the only thing left that I could.

‘You’re right, you should go, and I’ll be fine here alone on my own.’

‘Really?’

He jumped on to the comfortable couch, self imposed punishment over.

‘You’re tops Lou, I thought you’d say that, you’re much better at being alone then anyone I know, you can do some of your writing stuff.’

He flicked over the channel to watch some carollers singing with Mariah Carey.

‘Yep, I’m great at the alone…and writing stuff…’

I glared at the telly, trying not to cry. Shut the cock up Mariah, bullshit you don’t ask a lot for Christmas, stop with your lies and just leave me alone.

Christmas day arrived; I woke up, decided not to wash, scratched myself and looked out the window. London town was completely empty, not a soul in site, except for the occasional mini cab driver and prostitute who’s kids were with dad on his dad day.

My phone rang, it was Nathan. He was feeling bad, and had decided to return on Boxing Day, I pointed out no trains were running that day, he fell silent before adding ‘it’s the thought that counts’…or the lack of thought in your case I joked to myself, glad I could still make funnies on a day I wasn’t entirely sure I’d make it to the end of.

There was nothing on the tellie except for floats, God and good will to all. I decided 9am was not too early to start the celebrations and so I opened a bottle of champagne, sat under my stick in a pot and opened my Christmas presents. Mum had sent me a card saying my present was her renewing my car insurance so my sister could drive around, or as she phrased it ‘your dad and I thought peace of mind was what you needed this Christmas.’ My brother had sent nothing, and Nathan had left me a plastic tomato to put ketchup in – that was it! Christmas was officially over!

I packed up my stick and pot, ripped the socketts from the wall, washed myself with a flannel and decided to go for a walk.

The air was cold and brittle as I looked up and down the length of my street. I was excited, this was liberating. I wasn’t going to be sucked into feeling sorry for myself. Nothing was going to make me feel any worse, not my sister driving my car, not Nathan maybe or maybe not fingering his ex girlfriend by a warm lit fire, not this strange man looking at from across the street…the empty street…the completely empty street.

Great, I was going to be offended sexually and it was going to all be my fault because I was so unloved I was spending Christmas on my own that the attentions of a would be rapist was my Christmas present to myself (Note to self: stop spoiling yourself so much Lou, it’s just got to stop.)

He wandered over as I searched for my flat key – I just had it, where the hell was it?

‘Hi’ he spoke in a clipped English accent.

I didn’t reply.

‘You don’t speak English?’

He was the politest potential sex offender ever, but hey it was Christmas.

‘..Um I’m just trying to find my key.’

‘We could go to my car if you like; I mean if that would be more efficient?’

Oh, I smiled to myself…he wasn’t a sex offender, he was just a regular old punter looking for sex on Christmas day…his family probably waiting for him to return from the Indian off-licence with much needed Worcestershire sauce that he was sent out for – and him thinking while he was out he could get his end in, after all as I kept reminding myself, it was Christmas.

‘I’m not a prostitute.’

‘Oh, it’s just you were on your on your own.’

‘And so you assumed I was soliciting?’

‘When you say it like that it sounds dirty.’

‘Don’t you have a family to be with?’

‘I could say the same of you.’

And so there I was locked in a stale mate with a man looking to pay for sex on Christmas day and me, an Australian expat standing alone in the middle of London trying to convince herself she didn’t care.

‘Listen, maybe we can grab a drink’ I remarked – after all aren’t all men who are looking to pay for sex really just wanting companionship?

‘As lovely an offer as it is, I’m really just looking for a decent hand job before the in laws come over.’

‘Fair enough.’

He looked down at his shoes, as he fumbled with his car keys.

‘I better be off than, might try round the corner.’

He started off down the street and then suddenly turned around.

‘Merry Christmas strange Australian girl.’

‘Merry Christmas to you to’ I shouted back and then smiled to myself – I still had that Christmas spirit and at the end of the day that was the most important thing.

Dear Public Transport Department

Dear Public Transport System: While it may have startled some people lately the idea of a man going around on your trams with a camera in his worn out Dunlops, a bum bag and a perverts dream, it barely raised one of my newly shaped eyebrows – you see I catch your trams, buses and trains and not a day goes by where I’m not propositioned, gyrated against, spat on, smothered, kicked, sneered at, pushed at, leered at, had God introduced to me, gotten a stain on my favourite dress, something smeared on my good shoes and beeen photographed without my permission (and I’m not talking a nice tourist shot of an ethnic girl on a busy metropolitan tram – ah la Mary Tyler Moore style). Your trams particulary upset me, but I guess it’s not your fault. I mean it’s not your responsibility to help me when a strange little woman assaults me because I don’t know if the No 96 stops at Elizabeth St, but all I’m saying is maybe I’d still be able to see out of my left eye if your driver had responded to her countless queries when the tram was in a stationary manner, and when I say respond I mean not pretend he couldn’t hear all 5 people tapping at his door to enquire as to why he’d failured to stop at the last 3 stops even though they’d all pushed the button, but like I said I guess maybe I’m laying blame far too easily on your organisation, I mean it’s my fault I felt the compulsion on a 36 degree day take public transport (your tram looked so bright and inviting) and you should bare no responsibility for the 13 year old boy trying desperately to rub himself against his girlfriend right opposite me on one of the hottest days of the year – a day when he was quite dearly in need of lubrication, and when I say lubrication I mean a nice cold drink – like the one your driver was drinking while he watching my 13 year old attempted porn show through his monitor in his sound proof room. No, no…I should not be so harsh, afterall you did catch the shoe camera bandit, and I’m sure much like you are, that public transport is safe once again and no copycats shall prevail- God know I expect nothing less. Kind Regards, Louise Woodruff Sanz