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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’ve dated a Trans Person. A lot of us have.

‘….our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.’

I’m not Trans. I can’t speak to that experience. So I won’t. What I will speak with is the experience of someone who was once in a relationship with a Trans Man. Some people know about this, some people don’t. I always felt uncomfortable talking about my experience, thinking that in doing so I was revealing something that wasn’t mine to do, so much so that when I did a show about this particular relationship back in 2009 I didn’t mention it. I was really into prop comedy at the time anyway. I argued it wasn’t important to the story. I argued with my director, my script editor. I told them it wasn’t my story to tell. And you know what? In all honestly I didn’t want to distract from the show.  I didn’t want the audience to spend any of their time trying to figure ‘it’ out.  Trying to figure out what that made me? Oh and the much more common concern – watching the audience try to figure out how we did ‘it’.

Does that sound crude?  Abso-fucking-lutely it does. And sadly it was a question I got asked all too often.

No one ever thought they were being offensive or intrusive when they asked how we had sex and my grimaced smile didn’t really send home the message that it wasn’t an appropriate question to ask – the sort that revealed more about the ignorance of the asker then the answerer. I thought by not answering their questions  that that would say, albeit silently, that their questions were inappropriate. Like when they asked ‘have they had the surgery?’ or when they said ‘it’s amazing, they pass so well. You’d think they were a real man’ or my favourite ‘I could always tell.’  I’d tell them finally to shut up, that it was their ignorance and lack of education talking, but I was loathed to discuss it further as I still believed that just because I’d dated a Trans Man, that didn’t give me the right to discuss it.

But now that I’m older and as an LGBTQI ally and advocate I believe it is visibility and experience that is our strongest assets in this community. Putting aside the Bruce Jenner media spectacle we’ve seen in recent weeks, sharing our experiences, even if they are fleeting is important. It doesn’t mean you’re telling someone else’s story, it means your telling only part of your story. So yes, I dated a Trans Man.

As friends, we were great. As lovers, we were fun, tempestuous, fiery, belligerent and miserable – the perfect 20something relationship.  During my time with him, aside from the constant teary eyed break-ups and passionate reunions I never really thought about what being with him made me. People who knew us just thought it was great we’d gotten together, finally. Only when I started telling some close family and friends that didn’t know about him I was asked ‘are you gay?’ I would always answer ‘No, I date a man because I’m straight’ but I knew what they meant. They needed to make sense of it, as open minded as they were. If I was gay it would make sense. It would explain all the Indigo Girls albums and my fondness for the film ‘But I’m a Cheerleader.’ What didn’t make sense was that for all intents and purposes I was in a straight relationship and my boyfriend could be an asshole just like everyone else’s. On the odd occasion his transition  would come up during our time together he used it to try and empathise with me, like when I was complaining of period pains and he tried to empathise and I threw his trainers out the window…

I won’t write about his journey in this post. I still believe that’s his to tell. What I will say is he was an activist and friend to many in the trans community and it was hard not to be in awe of what he had overcome to be the person he really was. And whilst my relationship with him didn’t make me gay, it did make me more aware, more liberal and more importantly, did in some way contribute to the person I am today. But that’s what all relationships should do. The good, the bad – they teach us something about ourselves.

After we broke up and I started dating again, I would sometimes disclose details of my past relationship with him and be met with a mix of curiosity and utter transphobia –  ‘oh so now you’re with a real man’. This comment uttered by more than one but less than a few. Those relationships would last the length of a short breath.

I saw this short documentary once, where a Trans Warrior went around asking people on the street questions about what it meant to be a man. Questions like ‘If you were in a car crash and you lost your cock would that make you less of a man?’ In all of these ‘if you lost your cock’ questions the answer was always the same ‘having a penis didn’t make you a man’.  The interviewers intention was clear – our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.

I realised while reading some of the reporting surrounded Bruce Jenner’s recent admission as well as  watching TV shows like Orange is New Black and Transparent –   that while it is important we continue to see trans visibility increase in our society, that it is also important that those of us who have been in relationships with Trans People not fall silent on it. By letting people know that being a relationship with a Trans Person was part of your story it can help lessen the stigma and at times offensive curiosity surrounding the community. It can show young people struggling with transition that they will love, live and have tempestuous and at time shitty relationships just like the rest of us. It might just show them that it does get better. It sure showed me that.

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I’d F**k A Funny Woman Any Day.

I find women funnier. I just do. There, it’s said. It’s out there. For years I’ve taken a diplomatic stance – funny is funny no matter what the gender, no matter who is telling the joke, but who was I kidding, give me an Amy over an Arj any day. Now by no means is that meant to be taken as a disparaging comment on the Arj’s of the world, it’s just that my pen is inked from a different well, um, a well of ladies.

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I was born this way. From the moment I came into the world, as my mother looked at my tanned skin and joked between puffs ‘oh look, she’s nicotine stained’…it was inevitable.

About a week ago some guy called Wippa from a radio show mentioned that funny women don’t get the guys. Mama Mia writer Lucy Gransbury posted a great response to his assertions – ‘Eat a bag of dicks’. A more articulate response to the ‘funny women shut up if you want to get laid debate’ I’m yet to see. My fiancé, a man no less, decided he too would post a response. Less barbed he conceded that funny was sexy no matter what gender but I begged to differ, and I did. Under his post, I wrote ‘I find women funnier.’ It was out.

As much as I’m a fan of David Sedaris, it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who I stalk with unwavering commitment. Her Instagram account is ‘what Instagram was made for’ a friend recently declared. Her recent turn in Broadcity, something to behold ‘where isn’t a toilet?!’

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Judith Lucy and Jane Kenndey were the reasons I fought to stay up well past my bedtime to watch The Lateshow, it had little to do with Mick or Santo. Then of course there was Lynda Gibson in Let the Blood Run Free, Madge in Big Girls Blouse, Smack the Pony, Lucille Ball, The Golden Girls, Mona from Who’s The Boss, Ruth Cracknell, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Shelley Long in anything. Oh and then there was Girls on Top that introduced me to Tracey Ullman, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. And Julia Davis pretty much revolutionised my viewing experience with Nighty Night, um and Jo Brand, Ab Fabs Patsy, Tamsin Greig, Janeane Garofalo, Olivia Colman and Parker Posey, and that my friends is only a list encompassing my formative years to say about the time I started working in comedy in the early 2000s.

Now sadly it was only when I started working in the industry did I learn, or sorry, I was told that women weren’t funny from some punters, some promoters and the odd comedian thus negating my entire back catalogue of inspiration, well they would have if I’d actually given a shit and for a moment believed them. I guess it doesn’t help that near every year some journo with space to burn poses the question ‘Are women funny?’ it’s about as relevant and interesting a question as that from my Year 12 debating final ‘Should you be permitted to choose whatever clothes you want to wear outside of school?’

Sure I have friends who are professionally funny and successful because they’re funny, but it’s also my lady friends from other walks of life that crack me up just as much, if not more. I think it’s the reason I think I’m drawn to them in the first place, that and their hair. It’s what I value most in a friendship, a good laugh and good hair. My mum is one of the funniest women I know, now whether or not it’s intentional we’ll probably never be certain, but on more than one occasion she’s made me pee my pants and this is well after the potty training years. My friend Clem never fails to make me laugh-cry in my face and then there’s Hattie. I see her maybe every 5 years or so, but I’m still left smiling for years after our catch ups because of  her tales of exotic world travel engrossing me while her cigarette animatedly dances around the table as she weaves her squeal inducing stories. Actually if I’ve invited you around for dinner and plied you with booze and you’ve got a vagina it’s probably because you’ve made my tummy hurt with laughter at some stage….feel used? Good.

I’m sure if you know me you’ve probably always suspected that I’m funny girl inclined, there’s been rumours floating around for years and I just felt it was time to set things straight, on my own terms. I plan to raise my children as lovers of funny women and you know what, I don’t think they’ll be alone, especially if the recent spate of fan obsessing ver the Amy’s, Mindy’s, Tina’s and Ilana’s is anything to go by and they’ll be in the best of like-minded sexy funny company, I’m sure.

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Teaching Your Lover to Drive by Lou Sanz

 

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Over the last few months I’ve been teaching my boyfriend to drive. Life got in his way and he never got around to getting it. I’ve learnt to accept this excuse as an ingrained narrative of how his life has played out thus far. Relationships I’ve learnt, for the most part are a lot about letting things slide. I’m good like that.

The first thing you’ll realise when teaching a lover as opposed to a child to drive is that deep down you still have a need for them to not leave you and to like you, really like you. You also have to make sure their self-esteem is propped up at all times, regardless of your own personal safety and reassure them that everyone nearly runs over a pedestrian from to time.

Also as you’re not a parent to your lover, well hopefully you’re not, you can’t say the following:

‘Sharpen up’

‘You nearly killed someone’

‘You nearly killed that whole school bus’

‘Stop being an idiot’

‘What do you mean you don’t know how to reverse park/ do a 3 point term/ merge…’

‘Get out of my car’

‘Fine! Walk home!’

‘You wanna drive an automatic? And I guess you wanna get your legs waxed after we finish?’

‘This car is worth more than it was to raise you, remember that.’

‘Stop!’

‘For the love of god stop!!!!’

‘Shit we’re going to die’

‘Merge…merge, merge, merge, MERGE!!!!’

‘Have you put your seat bell on?’

‘Hand brake! Hand brake!’

‘Do that again and you’re grounded!’

‘There’s still so much I want to do with my life!’

When you’re teaching a lover to drive it’s all about wanting to say those things and finding other ways to say it.

‘Hey babe, maybe the cars not turning on because you haven’t put the key in the ignition? Must have been a really tough day at work. Here, let me turn the car on for you. Love you.’

‘Hey babe, I know technically you’re in the right and that pedestrian shouldn’t have j-walked but remember regardless that you’re in a car and as such you have to be the more responsible one. Yes, they were definitely in the wrong. Yes,  I reckon they got quite the fright. Yes, you were right and they were wrong. Love you.’

‘Hey babe due to a traffic incident happening right now we’re about 10 seconds away from impending death if you don’t stop right this minute…or whatever makes you comfortable. Love you.’

‘Hey babe there’s a park…there’s one there and there and there and there…that’s ok, we’ll find another…there’s one…and there’s one and another one, and another one…nup you’re right, let’s circle the block and see if we have any luck next time.’

‘You look very handsome today, have you done something with your hair? No? Oh you’re sitting in the drivers seat, that’s what it is. Makes you look all sexy and full of authority. Wanna drop me at work? Sure you’ll have to leave the car there and catch a tram home but I’ve got a real hankering to be your passenger, sexy driving man.’

‘No babe,  I only grab the door like that when we get really close to trucks going 110 on the Hume Hwy because I’m working through my own stuff right now. Love you.’

‘Indicators are cars ways of expressing their feelings and intentions to each other and sometimes even when they don’t feel like talking to each other, they have to.’

‘Hey babe,  you’ve got to understand that sometimes when I tell you do something, it’s not as your girlfriend beating her man down, but as a woman who has over 16 years of driving experience and a responsibility to other people on the roads telling you not to do something. Love you.’

Teaching your partner to drive can either cement your relationship or tear it apart limb by limb, leaving a rotting carcass by the road side with nothing but a smear of blood; your only reminder that once you deeply cared for each other.

At the time of writing this blog we’re still together.

 

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Being fat in the ’90s.

1476484_10151783278006039_1435343232_nI was fat.

See this photo.

In this photo what you see here is me, sitting, being fat.

I was probably being funny too, cause that’s what fat girls do best, funny.

You can’t see it, but I reckon everyone in the room was laughing at something I’d just said.

Somebody probably peed his or her pants.

So back to the photo and me being fat in it.

I know I was fat because at the time this was taken I was constantly being picked on for my weight whether it be by ‘friends’ in the playground, or ‘friends’ of my parents commenting on my ‘full figure’ or my grandmother who would purposely buy my clothes too small for me and than make me wear them in front of her. Boys called me names.

One of my more humiliating moments I recall was when my grandmother returned from Spain with a bra for me. It was a 12AA. I was a 10DD. It didn’t fit. In my head now I know it didn’t fit because I wasn’t a boy, but at the time with very little around me to compare my figure to, I assumed that it didn’t fit because I was fat. And my grandmother didn’t correct me. My mother, I think burnt the bra. It didn’t matter how much my mother told me that I was OK how I was, I didn’t hear her. She was also wise enough to let me know there was nothing wrong with being fat either, lots of people were but that didn’t matter, all I heard was fat and now at 34 years old, I still hear it and the worst part is I view it as negative. When it comes to fat shaming myself, I’m my own worse bully. When this photo was taken I was 156cm tall. For those that know me, I had a very minor growth spurt after that (a whole 4 centimetres…small victories). And I was roughly a size 4-6 if not smaller. I weighed about 40 kilos.

It did not help that I didn’t look like all the other girls at my school. They were all so tall, like beanpoles, like all the girls in Australian magazines and soap operas. Thin, blonde, worthy. I had a tiny waist, boobs coming in and hips. Some adults often described me as ‘womanly’ or ‘sexy.’ I was 13.

And so it began. The great disconnect with my appearance. It’s been over 20 years since that photo was taken and I still struggle to see what everyone else sees. I hide behind mainly baggy clothes; I’ve been on a diet since I can remember. I get sick to my stomach if I break 1200 calories in a day. I exercise constantly. I honestly think that when I look in the mirror, that if I could just lose a bit more weight I’d be able to wear clothes that draped. I’m an idiot. I’ve got curves like a Kardashian minus the personal tailor. There will be no draping in my lifetime unless I make friends with flesh-eating bacteria…but hey you can only cross your fingers for so long…

The narrative of my chubbiness has informed so much of my creative work that I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was imperative to my identity. I write from the perspective of the outsider looking in, the best friend character, the strong personality driven girl, the underdog, the alien. I’ve done pretty well out of it, whether it’s the truth or not. Here’s the thing, it shouldn’t matter whether I’m chubby. I might not be. I might be. I really have no gauge anymore. I know I can wear children’s pyjamas but I’m not sure that means anything.

The thing is when I saw that photo the other night I got upset. I wanted to go back and tell my 13 year-old self to not listen to all the fat shaming and than maybe the next 20 years would be different. Social engagements would not be so crippling at times, I wouldn’t always think somewhere in the back of my head that my relationships didn’t work out because of my appearance, I would write populist chick-lit fiction that opened with lines like ‘the clacking of $700 heels only served to heighten her enviable calf muscles and say to the world that she was ready for anything’ as opposed to ‘she masturbated quietly to a poster of Zach Efron as her boyfriend sat in the study on the phone to his new girlfriend.’ But telling my 13 year old self that if anything I was actually almost underweight at the time that photo was taken wouldn’t have been enough, after all it wasn’t myself that thought I was fat, it was everyone else saying it, making excuses for saying it and shaming me into thinking it was the truth, a truth I’ve lived by ever since. It takes up a lot of my time thinking I should like myself better, sorry correction – it wastes a lot of time. My time. No one else’s, mine. I’ve decided next year I’m going to have a body shaming detox and take up sword fighting or podcasting, I don’t know, I could do anything. All I know is, it’s got to be more productive than what I’ve been doing.

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Matt Day Homewrecker aka Australia’s very own Angelina Jolie

Last night I was woken by an anxious friend calling me from overseas concerned that her boyfriend was on the verge of cheating on her.

‘It’s horrible, like I know he’s not right now cause he’s making me a smoothie but when he asked if I wanted avocado I just thought of my god that’s her vagina and him making me the smoothie well that’s just him metaphorically f**king her.’

‘With the avocado?’

‘No, she is the avocado. Don’t you see?’

‘He’s not going to cheat on you with an avocado, there’s not enough room’ I mumbled as I rolled onto my side and was greeted with my flashing clock and the reminder it was 3am – clearly finest advice given hour.

‘It’s my own fault you know, I hired her for this campaign and she’s his ‘free walk around the park.’ Oh my god, I’m Jennifer Aniston. I can literally feel the pity of others dripping off me.’

‘Not that this is important, but you do know it’s free to walk around a park?’

‘Not in LA Lou.’

‘Since when?’

‘9/11 Lou.’

My pillow fell on my face but to my shock and horror I was still able to breathe…f**k I can’t even muffle myself properly at this hour…

‘So what she’s his ‘if I could cheat on you it would be with her’?! Everyone knows they’re just the thing of fiction, something couples do to add meaning to a relationship.’

‘You so know this is how it started with Brad and Angelina.’

‘You don’t know that.’

‘Him and Jen were just kicking back at their house in Malibu and Jen’s all like she’d so go Captain Picard – ‘

‘-Captain Picard, from Star Trek?’

‘- yes Lou, he’s very commanding and anyway I thought you liked bald?’

‘I’ve done bald, but it never set a precedent.’

‘That’s a shame; I think you and the Captain would work well together.’

‘He’s not real’

‘Those things from your past you’ve called relationships aren’t what we’d call real either but let’s not split hairs, I was talking about Jen and Brad.’

‘Yes, back to those close friends of ours.’

‘Don’t get sarky.’

‘I’m tired.’

‘And so am I Lou, from this constant fight to keep my man.’

My pillow smelled nice, I could feel my oxygen levels running low…

‘Fine, continue.’

‘Well they were just hanging and she’s like her night on the town would be Captain Picard and Brad laughs and knocks back some carb-free popcorn and Jen tickles him until he admits he’d so go Lara Croft from Tomb Raider and then they both laugh cause they know they’ll never cheat on each other cause their cheats are fictional characters and then Jen’s like ‘hey Brad, we just got this script, it’s called Mr & Mrs Smith I’m thinking of producing it post Friends and then BOOM he’s suddenly adopting Asians.’

I hung up, still alive.

Now a few years back when I was living in London I’d had this same conversation with my then boyfriend who at every turn made it very clear he was never out to impress me.

‘Any page 3 girl’ he said. ‘You know just for something different.’

‘Different how?’ I asked

‘You know naked with boobs.’

‘Oh as opposed to myself?’

‘Well I can see you naked any time I want so it doesn’t count.’

‘I can guarantee you from this point on you will not be able to see me naked anytime you want.’

‘You going all frigid or something?’

‘Yes, that’s it. I’m going all frigid or something.’

The conversation had been prompted when my ‘night off’ guy had moved into the same street as us, Matt Day, previously of A Country Practice…ok, so it had been a long time between long term relationships and I hadn’t gotten around to updating my list. It happens to the best of us.

‘You have to change your guy’ my boyfriend stated.

‘Why?’

‘Cause he now lives next door.’

‘And?’

‘You’re more inclined to have sex with him if the he’s next door. It’s a presented opportunity now.’

‘I don’t want to have sex with him.’

‘It doesn’t matter if you do or you don’t.’

‘I think you’ll find it does both legally and human rights wise’

He closed his copy of the Mirror, Sandra from Cheshire’s breasts saw the light of day no more…

‘No. You see if we’re together forever then he’s your only way out, whereas I get page 3 ladies and Julie Sawahla but only from her Press Gang days, you’ve should’ve given yourself more options.’

‘So you’re saying I either sleep with Matt Day, cause that’s bound to happen at some point when he walks past our flat with his baby and wife, or never sleep with anyone but you ever again?’

‘Yes. It’s really a concept that doesn’t involve that much thought Lou.’

‘There’s a lot things in this room at the moment that don’t require much thought…’

We’re not together anymore. 15 years on (yes, it was that long ago I made him my ‘get out of jail free card’) and Matt Day is still a hottie, but as my relationship ended and I matured with age I was very aware of the severe limitations I’d placed on myself with only one option, now I have more, starting with Ron Weasley and ending with Shaun Micallef (yeah, I just haven’t made my career more awkward). That is why there is now a chair on my front porch, just in case they move in down the street.

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A girls guide to having an origami (well a rough estimate)

For years my relationship with my self-esteem has been fraught with friction, none of it helped by my self-esteems amazing ability to fuck off when I quite obviously need it the most.  Such famous incidences include:

1.    The time that in the middle of sex a guy told me he fancied someone else and without the guidance of ‘self-esteem’ I thought what the hell ‘let’s finish what we started, I mean he had to like me to get this far.’

2.    The time I set my boyfriend up with my friend because she was blonde because as he told me ‘come on Lou, you know this isn’t going to work out, like I don’t even like you much, well not as much as I like your friend – come on help a fella out.’ And with my self-esteem nowhere in sight I did.

3.    The time I closed my eyes and let an old boyfriend of mine pretend I was a man, my self-esteem more then likely watched from a gallery seat.

4.    The time I got back together with an ex based on this conversation ‘so I was in San Fran trying to tap… well, let’s just call them someone, and… let’s just say their tits weren’t real and then I thought ‘you know what… Lou’s tits are real’ and so then I thought about it some more and thought ‘yeah, I quite like Lou’s tits’, so deep down in my subconscious that meant that some part of me was attracted to you, and is probably still attracted to you – so what do you say we give it another shot? – and I did.

Now I’m not sure what when my self-esteem decided to leave me, but if I had to guestimate I’d say it was around the time I needed to get my first bra. I was about 14 and after my mothers comments of ‘I can see your crumpets’ and ‘someone’s been invited to party at bolder mountain!’ I agreed to go and get fitted for a bra. As my mum grabbed the car keys and rounded up my father and younger brother for another Sanz family adventure I excused myself to the bathroom only to discover that to coincide with ‘Lou gets her first bra’ I also had been visited for the first time by ‘Aunt Flo’.

Now. I’m not sure how most of you purchase your feminine hygiene products, but on that day my mother decided we should stop into ‘Campbell’s Cash’n’Carry’ to stock up; but she didn’t come in with me, couldn’t find a car park – no she sent my dad and I in together and just before we stepped inside the building she wound the window down and shouted ‘get super  – I’ve run out of mattress protectors.’

The department store wasn’t much better, as mum had ordered my brother to walk behind me on ‘spot patrol’. A lovely woman named Irene approached us to help out – I think she saw the large jumper tied around my waste as a sign that perhaps this was the first time out of the house without my polio support unit. She offered my mother one of those bras that does up at the front – my mother was not impressed ‘gotta make the boys or girls work for their crumpet – hey Lou? Hey? Hi five!’ I watched in horror as my mother and Irene shared skin.

Finally I convinced my mum that the dignity of a changing room was much needed, especially after that cute Xavier boy walked past me as my mother fitted a bra on the outside of my Sportsgirl t-shirt and just as he was in ear shot spoke the irretrievable words ‘and smells like someone’s going need deodorant too – this is a big day for you Lou – if you’re lucky it’ll be boys next.’ Following that remark I knew I was going to be lucky to be fingered by a cousin in later years.

Now it’s rather hard to hang yourself in a department store change room, but fuck I gave it a right go and if you look at the little stool they give you to rest your clothes on as your jumping off point then you’re well on your way to success, that is until your little brother crawls under the door but only enough to see you putting a bra around your neck and screams out ‘mum, dad! Lou’s doing that thing that Michael Hutchinson did to have an origami!’.

Suddenly the door burst open, my father hurtling towards me before I could jump off the stool and my mother sternly standing in front me taking the scene in – me in my undies and a bra around my neck, my brother still lying on the floor and all she could think to do was offer up more advice ‘now is not the time to start a life of self pleasure Lou – first things first let’s get you some supportive underwear and then what you do behind the privacy of closed doors is up to you.’ She then turned to my brother ‘now who wants milkshakes?’ and then to my father ‘I think your daughter might like your opinion on the whole front or back clasp debate Michael.’

I didn’t think it could get much worse but as the years went on my self-esteem became more of absence in my life rather than an active participant – such as last Friday night when I ended up at Billboard nightclub.

I could end this story on that above line alone but then I wouldn’t get to the bit where inside the nightclub and with my friend telling me I looked like a mother searching for her wayward daughter and almost being overwhelmed by the amount of pussy that one can glance based entirely on the knowledge that Friday nights at Billboard appear to be underwear free nights, I had a man approach me – ‘a man of the one eyebrow, I sweat a lot and probably chaff variety’- and what happened next was entirely my self-esteems fault – rather than think I was too good for him, what went through my mind was this ‘that guy looked around this nightclub spotted me and thought I can tap that – oh my god he thought I was achievable; I have become achievable for men who fit the profile of a sex offender – fuck me, does this mean I’ve finally decided on a type?

My friends laughed at me, pointing out that maybe tonight I could find if sex-offenders spooned after that act and so I escaped off into the bathroom hoping to just take a moment to find my confidence in the bottom of my handbag when I walked in on two girls helping each other adjust their g-strings and in the middle of a conversation entitled ‘if you don’t get Brazilian waxes you shouldn’t be allowed to have sex.’

It was then I realised I couldn’t hate my self-esteem – because unlike those two girls in that bathroom that night, well at least I knew what self-esteem was (well that’s what I told myself as I removed the toilet paper from the bottom of my shoe that both girls were kind enough to point out – they could probably tell I was one of those girls now banned from sex according to their new rules) – Score one for Lou! Hi-five….anyone?…anyone?…anyone at all….

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You’re a bad girl Lou, bad girl…now pick up your shoe and go!

Exiting the David Jones food court use to be one of my greatest thrills (understand, I spend most of my day typing words into an inanimate object that fails to engage me in any sort of conversation and no, it’s a not a boy – BAM!) and it was upon making this exit that I ran into a guy called Gareth (yep, let’s call him that cause it’s his real name :))

He was a guy I’d met through friends about 18 months back when I relocated to Melbourne. We got on, he was cute, had brown hair and made me laugh and so we agreed to go and have a drink together. Nothing too formal, just a casual get to know you better inner city drink.

 

But as luck would have it I needed to fly to Sydney that weekend, so we rescheduled – he then had a sudden deadline, we rescheduled. He rang me for that drink; I was going to London for a week but would call when I got back. I did, but he was relocating to New York indefinitely. It was just one of those things…and yet, now here he was standing before me in his cords and tussled hair, maybe it was fate, him catching me just as I was in the middle of gorging on DJ’s fresh baked cookies.

 

‘Hello’ I smiled as we enviably crossed paths.

‘Oh hi’ he smiled back.

‘You’re back!’ I proclaimed.

‘I’m back’ he too proclaimed!

‘Wow’ I surmised.

‘You look great’ he observed.

‘So do you’ I offered back.

‘What have you been up to?’ he enquired.

‘Oh you know the usual…deadlines and stuff.’ I surrended.

‘Yep, don’t I know it’ he casually laughed back.

‘Yeah’ I nodded.

 

And then silence befell us both.

 

‘So maybe we should catch up for that drink?’ I coyishly asked.

 

Pause.

 

‘I don’t think so.’ He said.

 

(Note to self: this is why you don’t ask people out Lou, you see what happens! Sure, you might be a sure thing Lou, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is – BAD GIRL! BAD GIRL!)

 

‘Oh ok then…’ the words stumbled out of my mouth, as some random biscuit crumbs escaped down my cleavage; a once sexy calling card now functioning as a tragic catchment area.

 

As I started to schlep away my shoe decided to fall off (don’t look back Lou, keep walking, you don’t need that shoe, you’re a one shoe kinda gal, just keep walking…you’re almost out of site…) and then came a tap on my shoulder.

 

It was Gareth – I means how many times did I have to run into that guy today!!!!!!!!!

 

‘You? What do you want?’

‘I wanted to ask you a question?’ he asserted.

‘Yeah, sure whatever…’ I mumbled back.

‘Why would you want to have a drink with a guy that obviously can’t stand the site of?’

‘What?’

‘Well you kept cancelling, and I’m not great with hints but I get there…eventually.’

‘So did you! You cancelled all the time!’

‘I had things come up – you told me you understood Lou.’

‘I had things come up too.’

‘Writing a blog is not a ‘thing’.

‘Yeah, well writing for the…. what it is you wrote for?’

‘The New Yorker Louise.’

‘Yeah, well writing for the New Yorker is not a thing either.’

‘I’ll think you find it is Lou’

“I know you are, but what am I?’

‘What?’

‘Nothing – Belle Jour made money from her blog.’

‘The prostitute?’

‘Yeah, but she was high end.’

‘You’re not high end are you Lou, you have stumpy legs.’

‘Don’t you think I know that!’?

 

I turned to walk away…’Hey not so fast lady, you didn’t answer my question.’

‘I liked you – I wanted that drink and now I’m back in Melbourne, I can’t say much more than that.’ I spat out, now wishing I’d picked up my other shoe.

‘And you’re committed to Melbourne now?’

‘Yes’ I replied

 

Now as soon as I said that word I should’ve frozen time, stepped out and gone and got a tattoo in my forehead that read: ‘everything I say from this point in will sound desperate.’

 

‘I was only asking you out for a drink’ – translated as ‘I’d drink petrol to be with you.’

‘So, are you seeing anyone right now?’ – translated as  ‘I’m fertile, there’s an alley round back, lets go make babies – HI FIVE!’

‘I’m staying with my parents’ – translated as ‘It’s a been a while….’

 

So you can imagine it came as quite a shock to young Gareth after he leaned in and whispered in my ear ‘Ok, I’ll give you another chance’  -that my response might be ‘thanks, but no thanks.’

 

‘I knew it!’ he exclaimed! ‘You never liked me and you know how I know? You never even tried to track me down on Facebook!’

‘What? – I didn’t even know your surname!’

‘LIAR!’

‘What is your trauma?’

‘Oh I know all about you Ms Sanz – your comedy, your lesbian group for comics, you’re little blog…and yet you know nothing about me.’

‘Oh believe me Gareth I’m learning a lot right now.’

‘I kept waiting for your friendship request, but nothing…day after day, month after month…’

‘You’re kidding me…you could’ve requested me you know, Facebook is a two way street.’

‘You’d like that wouldn’t you Lou, some guy crawling to you. Back to you.’

‘Back to me? We were never together.’

‘Well that’s news to me Lou.’

 

(Note to self: buy that house in the country and begin a life of solitude, buy a pug, call him Ned – he will be the only companion you never need.)

 

‘Listen Gareth I was only suggesting we have a drink to be polite, I’m actually seeing someone right now…sure it’s new and every – ‘

‘LIAR!!!! LOU! LIAR!’

 

‘Ok, I’m going to go…’

 

‘What you fail to realise Lou is I read your blogs, your little stories. I know the truth.’

 

I walked away, his voice fading into the distance…so you read my blogs to you Gareth? Well I hoped you enjoyed this one!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apparently I’m not a primary colour kinda girl…

 

Not to long ago I went on a date with someone. Things looked promising that is until he asked me what my favourite colour was; when I responded ‘red’ rather then smile with the knowing that comes with sitting opposite me complete with red lipstick and nails, he merely got out a notepad and pen and said ‘you’ll have to pick another one, that’s already taken’.

 

‘Already taken?’ I asked quizzically ‘ are we playing a game?’

‘No, it’s just I like to colour code everyone in my life and red just happens to be taken’ He waited, pen poised for my next suggestion.

‘Ok, well I’ve always quite liked green’ and in an awkward attempt to flirt, as I leaned across the table and traced my red nails over his hand ‘I especially like green on dark haired boys.’

Pulling his hand away to flick through his notepad he let out a gentle sigh ‘nup, sorry – gone’.

I slumped back into my seat and closed my legs. ‘Ok fine, why don’t you tell me what’s available and I’ll be that’.

As he took the last piece of bread in the basket, he chewed silently for a moment and then with his mouth still full remarked ‘well, there’s lilac or mahogany brown’.

Now, I don’t know about any other ladies out there but the idea of being assigned a colour usually relegated to the 1990’s or a Harvey Norman catalogue wasn’t really what I had in mind, surely I was good enough to claim a primary colour? I mean we were on a date, he could’ve just lied, but as was the case with most men I’d been meeting of late, this one had a flare for the truth.

‘I don’t want to be a catalogue colour’ I mumbled, tearing at my drink coaster.

‘I don’t really think you’re in a position to choose Lou – I mean did you honestly think you’d risen to the ranks of being allocated a primary colour?’

I said nothing, as my eyes scoured the restaurant for a bar tender.

He smiled to himself as he shut his notepad ‘oh, you did – you thought you were better then mahogany brown – oh how cute. That’s why I like you Lou you always dream big but end up getting woken right before the end.’

I contemplated emptying the ash tray of beer liquid that had somehow found a home there when he placed his hand over mine.

‘If it makes you feel any better, most of the woman I date get  a little upset about the colour code thing.’

‘Most of the woman?’

Like an impending sex offender he grabbed my hand harder and looked into my eyes.

‘That’s kinda what got this whole colour coded thing started’.

I pulled away and began fingering my pasta.

‘So this whole colour coding thing is a new thing?’

‘Yep, it’s the only way I know to tell all you girls apart’.

Ok – so it’s now at this point that most people ask ‘where the fuck do you meet these guys Lou?’ And it is at this point in my life that I say ‘I choose not to answer that, just leave me alone – life is a journey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

‘Tell us apart!?!’ I yelled – the whole restaurant turned.

‘Hey, lower your voice Lou’

‘Sorry’…I mumbled…

‘That’s ok, apology accepted’ He looked around the restaurant, most people had returned to their meals.

‘Tell us apart?’ I whispered harshly ‘have you ever thought of just looking at our faces, it’s generally how people tell people apart.’

‘Conventionally yes, but when you’re seeing more then one girl at once it can get confusing’

‘you’re seeing someone else?’

‘I’m a player Lou, you know that.’

‘No I didn’t – you failed to mention it between the whole – I’ve never met anyone like you bullshit you were peddling’

‘Ok Lou, now you’re just being petulant’

I drained the last of my wine.

‘So, who is she? This ‘other’ girl?’

‘It wouldn’t be ethical of me to name names’

‘This isn’t a war crimes tribunal’ I spat out.

‘Fine, but if I tell you we’re splitting cheesecake for desert – deal?’

I pondered it a moment – the cheese cake did look good….very good….

‘Deal.’

‘The other girl is the colour red’

I was quiet for a moment. The funny thing is I would of been fine had she been beige or bisque – but red – my colour!

‘That’s funny’ I said ‘Cause you’re about to see red’

And with that I poked him in the eye with my desert fork. No cheesecake for me.

 

 

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Friends you never wanted to have – example 1

The smell of freshly urinated grass first thing in the morning can’t truly be described by anyone that hasn’t awoken on a bit of lawn, skirt riding up around their waist and the promise that this might be their last day on earth, but believe me I did not set out to finish up this way…

My friend Steve and I weren’t spending enough time together. He was insistent we meet up on the weekend and have a good chin wag, it was comments like that that had led me to push away from Steve, but like a cat trying to get a dead bird out of skirting boards he kept coming back. In hindsight I should never have encouraged my best friend Frannie to sleep with him, but he told me he was dying and I thought I’d do the guy a favour and so I introduced him to Frannie who after a recent pap smear scare was looking to rejoin the human race.

He wasn’t dying, not that he was lying. He’d stepped on a rusty nail earlier that day and had been lakse getting a tetnus injection and had been feeling a bit off all day. Frannie  had her suspicions ‘he didn’t shag like a dying man – he was more like the warm up guy on Wheel of Fortune; he worked on the theory I’d probably seen the show often enough to work it all out myself and he just occasionally yelled out encouraging vowel sounds’.

Frannie’s lack of interest in pursuing anything with Steve led her to give him my number and it turned out that when he wasn’t crying he was kinda alright to hang out with and when I say hang out with I mean a phone call once a year around Christmas generally when I’m about to go into a tunnel and my phone just drops out. So for whatever reason now he wanted a face to face. I agreed to meet him for dinner, drinks and food in a controlled environment with little chance of him bursting into tears or bringing his mother along.

‘I’m not eating chicken anymore’ He told me as the waiter took our order for two medium rare steaks. ‘Nothing off a carcass, it’s just so cruel.’

‘Not to burst your bubble Steve but steak much like the one you just ordered comes off a carcass’.

‘Common misconception Lou, it comes from the rump’

‘Which is part of the skeletal system, the carcass of the animal’

‘Granted its supported by the carcass, but it’s not entirely reliant on it, the rump doesn’t need the carcus to survive’

‘I think you’re thinking of squid’

‘And you Lou are refusing to think full stop’.

The problem was had Steve been an ex of mine, or an off cut of a night of pity then I’d have no trouble treating him with the contempt he deserved, but this was complicated. It was like meeting up with a friends ex-husband to distract him from the restraining order that had been served on him early that week with lots of ‘she told you she needed her space, this isn’t so much about you as it is her new husband that really thinks you can’t let go’ or my personal favourite ‘if you hadn’t slept with her mum there’s a good chance it would never have gotten to this’.

Our food arrived, my second bottle of wine decanted, his mineral water poured and we settled into round two for the night.

‘Why did you and I never hook up Lou. I see a lot of potential in you Lou.’

‘I was gay when I met you’

‘Guess it was just bad timing’

‘Yep’

‘You still gay?’

‘No, just turns out it was something I ate that night’

‘Funny you say that. I’ve met someone’

I nearly fell off my chair.

‘Do they know you’ve met them?’

‘Yes, she’d been on at me for ages to go out with her, it was pretty pathetic but what is it they say ‘give a girl a bone?’

‘You said that to her?’

‘No, I did that to her – gave her a bone…get it?’

I gulped at an empty glass, another drink was in order. I was breaking my latest rule – no drinking around others.

‘But then she got all weird’

‘She’d probably sobered up’

‘No, she doesn’t drink. It’s really very refreshing, you should try it sometime Lou’

‘There are lots of things I should do, but generally I do what I shouldn’t – point and case sitting here with you right now.’

‘Ouch – you’re just drunk’

‘Yes and I’m going to get going in a minute before my brain truly starts to grasp some of the things you’ve said tonight’

‘You’re just like my new girlfriend’

‘No I’m not, for starters I’m not a minor’

‘She’s 40 actually – older then me and you. A proper woman. She’s certified’.

‘They don’t hand out certificates’

‘They should and warning signs, I mean she got upset because I wouldn’t got down on her’.

My steak revisited my throat but I pushed it back down.

‘It’s just not natural Lou, like if I was gay fine, it’s part of the job description but I’m a guy, I mean help me out here Lou’

I slowly picked up my purse.

‘I don’t think we can be friends anymore Steve.’

‘Oh don’t tell me you like that stuff Lou…christ not you too..I’m starting to think it’s all women’.

‘Someone will stab you one day Steve, I’m just giving you a heads up on that’

‘Fine be that way, but I reckon you won’t find one guy who’s ok with doing that to a girl, well maybe a queer’

‘Frannie has chronic herpes Steve – enjoy’

And with that I left, and what I’d failed to realise was quite how drunk I was and at some point I passed out on what I believe was my way home…

….so waking up it took a few moments for my body to figure out where it had landed, where my brain in all it’s learned knowledge had decided I’d best be suited to bring in the new day. That place was my parents front lawn, complete with my father weeding in one corner and much to be horror, my mother languishing on a desk chair and prodding me a stick and yelling at her dog ‘Henry get away from your sister, put your leg down, down…oh honestly I’ve never seen Henry pee on someone so much – he must think you’re his girflfriend’



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