Thursday, 7 August 2008

What do I Know? (1,580 Words)

This was a piece I did in Creative Non-Fiction class back in 2004. I'd already done a few elaborately-researched pieces on Islam and Autism, so I felt I could rock out lazy style. And it worked: inexplicably I got top marks. Woo... hm. Also, I submitted it in a sans serif font. GOD.

My voice has changed a lot in the past four years - here, I often found my younger self grating. I think I've become more self-depreciating, and just... better. 

Also, I never got the puppy.


‘You learn something new every day’ Usually a trite remark uttered by someone who’s sheepish about being in their mid twenties and not knowing where Cuba is. 

But is it true? I mean, how could your brain handle learning something completely new, every single day of your life? I wrote down everything I learned in a week, and found that it was. Go Team Brain! Here’s some of what each day taught me…


A Mother’s Love May Be Finite. 
My mother recently sold her shop, which was on a busy, inner-city road. I was renting the residency upstairs. The shop’s sale happened pretty quickly, so I proposed to my Mum that I move home for a month or two, so I could check out other share houses at my leisure, post-essay season. I haven’t lived with my parents for about two years, so I thought they’d snap up the offer. More time to dote on me, like in high school! Yeah, well. They said that if I move in with my suicidal, black-clad Greek grandmother, (in lieu of moving back home), they’d offer me my own private phone line. 

And a puppy. 

Despite that weird feeling in my stomach that harbingers a knowledge that my parents may not love me as much as I think they do, I’m not made of stone. I’m taking the fucking puppy. And I may even call him Gruselug, or ‘Groo’ for short. Puppy! They played me like a fiddle, my damn firstborn-hating parents did. But I’ll have my revenge. I will not be using my new phone line to call them. Ever. Hah! 

Never Get Into It With an Old, Greek Taxi Driver. 
I’m running late to a friend’s party and decide to take a taxi. The driver then proceeds to argue with me about my friend’s address, Vis, ‘It can’t be number 512 if we’re turning left, the numbers go the other way on that well-known street.’ I politely explain that my friend has lived in his house for three years. I have visited his house dozens of times. I have sent mail to his address. But no. You, Mister Taxi Driver, you know where my fucking friend lives, because you think the numbers go the other way. Even when we stopped, and I showed him the street number on my friend’s door, a stately gold 512, the taxi driver shook his head as if it were an elaborate scam. What the fuck? I get the last laugh though, since, you know, he drives taxis for a living.


Apparently, a Human Female’s Ovaries Are Quite Low (as in, below the bellybutton) and They’re, Like, the Size of Almonds. 
So… not roughly where the kidneys are, and not the size of 20-cent pieces. Don’t ask. Suffice to say, I’m an ignorant humanities student, and I’m never going to that gynaecologist again. 

Some People Really Hate the Word ‘Cunt’. 
Which, judgmental little cow that I am, really frustrates me. Because, like fuck means sex, and shit means excrement, cunt means vagina. It’s expletive slang for vagina. Yes? Yes. And what’s expletive slang for penis? Well, mostly ‘dick’, or ‘cock’. Now, the word ‘dick’ is used in playgrounds, in semi-polite conversation, even on TV. But use the female equivalent and it’s Holocaust: the Sequel. Whenever I say ‘Gretel Kileen’s a complete dick’, people laugh at how topical I’m being (well, except for Blair McDonough. He just dobs). But if I were to say, ‘Gretel Kileen’s a complete cunt’ I’d get, as always, one or two women getting all pernickety about ‘ooh, I don’t like that word’. I mean, Jesus. It’s infinitely better than ‘pussy’ and all the derogatory puns that implies. If everyone were to use the cunt-word as freely as the word ‘dick’, wouldn’t that be equality? And as for it being misogynist, oh, fuck off, you dick-wad cock-head. Do you get my point?


Suburbs – City – Suburbs = Not a smooth transition
I thought I was still a suburban girl at heart. I’ve lived in inner-city area share houses for two years, where a taxi fare from the city is still in single-figures. I’ve had over a dozen cool cafes in a 1-k radius, and three pubs but a 4-minute stumble away. But, whenever I heard Van Halen’s ‘Hot for Teacher’, I would always cough and discreetly turn up the stereo. Now, after moving back to the suburbs this week, I’ve realised it takes more than a guilty pleasure in 80s hair rock to be a suburban kid again. 

To my own dismay, I’ve unwittingly urbanised myself. I actually tut-tutted disdainfully when I saw that the Asian foods section of my new supermarket was, like, one metre long, as opposed to an entire aisle. I despaired when I found that there were no milkbars around that stocked the expensive-but-yummy gourmet fruit juices I’m addicted to. Well, at least moving to the suburbs means I get a puppy. Maybe even a Basenji; they’re small but used to hunt lions. And they don’t bark, they yodel: how cool is that? Plus, they have a wrinkly forehead like a vampire pup. Awwwww. 


Beware of Doting Grandmothers With Too Much Time on Their Hands

I do a load of washing, hang it up on the line and go to work. I come back from work, and what do I expect? That’s right, clean, dry laundry, patiently swaying backward and forward in the breeze, while an empty white laundry basket squats nearby, waiting to collect said washing to bring it inside, whereupon it shall be jammed unfolded into drawers. What do I find instead? My washing all folded and ironed. Aw, how nice of my grandmother, I think. Then I see the socks look funny. 

The socks have been ironed. 

So have my undies. 

And – I hold them up to the light - so have my bras.

Let me tell you, wearing an entire outfit of ironed freshness is… odd, to say the least. And now my bras all have a rather creative ‘conical’ shape to them; Madonna, eat your heart out. 

Next time, I’ll make laundry day my day off. 

The More Hassled You Appear, the Busier People Assume You Are. 
This is something I actually learnt awhile back, but it’s held me in good stead my entire working life. If you work in a busy office, and you wanna slack off a little, or you just want to walk around a bit, make sure you do the following: 
- Hold a piece of paper, and
- Look hassled. 
Seriously, it’s gold. If you’re just walking around smiling, well, you’re clearly slacking off. But, but, if you’re holding a piece of paper, walking up and down the aisles and office corridors with a big, put-upon scowl on your face, then you’re someone on a mission. NOTE: just use this trick sparingly, otherwise you’ll be known as That Surly Wanker in Finance. 


Basenji Bitches Only Breed in Winter

Like a dingo, they’re only in heat once a year, in May/June. It’s October now, so that means I’ll have to wait another seven months if I really want that Basenji pup. Arse. Perhaps I’ll look at getting a Tibetan Spaniel instead. They have kind, wise eyes. Plus, a fun, pretentious name. ‘Yes, well I ow-en a p-yoor bred Tibetan Spaniel.’ Oh, I can hear myself now. I’m such a wanker.  

Eating Meat-Based Meals Twice a Day, Every Day, Won’t Kill You
Or so says my grandmother. Although I think after two weeks of steak for lunch, rissoles for dinner, my digestive track might beg to differ. Mental note: avoid letting grandmother cook all my meals. And try to go veg at least thrice weekly. 


Tibetian Spaniels Are Only Available in, erm, Tibet.


Like ‘The Customer Is Always Right’, ‘The Rostering Guy Is Always Cool’
And unless you want to find yourself working the five pm to eleven pm shift on New Year’s Eve, or the eight am shift on Boxing day, you’ll respect that, and take him to the pub often. And, when in the workplace, you’ll always ask about how his Star Wars figurine collection is going. 


Most People Just Say ‘To Hell With It!’ and Get a Golden Retriever

And now I know why. 

Don’t Sneeze In a Car of Stoned Parents.
Otherwise the following little scene may happen to you:

Scene: Inside the family station wagon. 
Characters: Father (driving), Mother (front passenger), Lisa (rear passenger). Mother and Father are stoned. Lisa is sober. 
Lisa Sneezes. 
Mother and Father whirl around, staring at Lisa. Together, they say:
Mother and Father: (shocked) Are you alright?!
Lisa: yes… I just sneezed. What?
Mother: it wasn’t a regular sneeze!
Father: No… I thought you threw up or something!
Lisa: (mildly exasperated at parents who refuse to leave the 60s) No. It was just a regular sneeze. 
Father: Whoaa….
Mother: Are you sure you’re alright?
Lisa: yes, it was just a sneeze. I assure you I’m fine. 
Mother and Father giggle. 
Lisa: Um, stop the car. I’m right to walk from here, thanks. 

So the main thing I’ve learnt this week? Some people will never grow up. And sometimes, that’s a good thing. Unless you’re driving; then it can be a safety hazard. 

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Disclaimer: My Dad is a responsible man, and actually drives quite well when mildly stoned, as that’s how he spent the better part of two-and-a-half decades. Sigh.

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