Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Desperately Seeking Cheese

The first little improv post went well didn't it? Well my good friend Tina T has challenged me to write about...cheese? Well, I guess we can do that...can't we?

Desperately Seeking Cheese

Childhood is a time of illicit thrills and simple pleasures. When you think about it, you spend your whole life being denied things when you are a child. Ice cream, fizzy drinks, chocolate, toys...candy is your obsession. The last thing you need or want is something "healthy" or "nutritious", no matter how cool you think your mum is. In Australia, cheese is just that thing in the sandwiches you have to either eat really quickly or throw away before you get to eat the delicious fun sized chocolate your mum has put in your lunch box.

I'm a vegetarian now, so I eat a lot of cheese, but back then, cheese was the enemy. So it wasn't a good idea to send "Mr Cheese" to our school. We had, like most schools in Australia, a dental van, a mobile dentist who drove around and came to schools to check the kids teeth out. This lead to two interesting points - firstly, my best friend Claire to this day claims the female dentist hated her, and would stamp her hand really hard when it came time to get the turtle stamp of approval (for being a good girl) and secondly, our dentist was obsessed with healthy diet. Obsessed to the point that kids eating candy would get a firm playground rebuke. These days, given the amount of boom-bah-latahs in our playground, she was probably quite right to be worried, but back then, she was just a boring benny speaking Flemish. Candy was wrong? What? So clearly, needing to work on her sales pitch, she invented Mr Cheese. And so, one day, he was there - suddenly into our lives.

Mr Cheese was an odd character. He was a man in a yellow suit and yellow top hat, who smiled a lot. He was the representative of the healthy food industry, sent to us from above, to sing, to dance, and teach us about the joys of vegetables. He looked like one of Australia's premier theatre restaurant performers, with a slightly sad smile through the clowning, but the dentist was impressed, using the "Point and Shout" technique favoured by kids acts ever since. "LOOK KIDS!" she said, pointing and shouting, "IT'S MIS-TAAHHH CHEEEESEEEE!" And lo, before a bunch of bored 8 year old kids, Mister Cheese appeared.

Mr Cheese was crossing the great 8 year old divide. He was on our turf. He was a childrens character with a message. I'd swear it was just our groundsman, dull Dave, but that might be my mind playing tricks on me. He stood at one end of the playground, we at the other. Time stood still. Tumbleweed blew across the ashpalt. He slowly and deliberately went up to a kid in our class called Bronwyn, and with all the professionalism he could muster, said to Brownyn "Do you like CHEEESEEE?". Everyone stopped. It would be up to Bronwyn, and Bronwyn alone how this would play out. If Bronwyn, a girl we'd mocked the previous year because she did a cartwheel and we saw her underpants, cracked, and said yes, she wanted to hear all about cheese, we'd all be here for 1/2 an hour, be force fed cheese until we turned yellow, we'd never see a Milky Way again...she had every reason to betray us, to bask in our suffering...the dentist and teachers eyed her coolly, we folded our arms, yearning for her to stay in our posse, in our gang. She slowly, and deliberately, spoke...


Mr Cheese had no hope after that. He was finished. Even our school bennys knew what to do. Whatever he did was dead. He even swung on the monkey bars, but he got nothing. Only the dentist applauded at the end. No one ever mentioned Bronwyn's underpants again. She was a school hero for the rest of her days.

For Bronwyn was lying. She loved cheese. She had a cheese sandwich every day for the rest of the time I knew her, but in my mind, she was the noble heroine of the only morality play children ever involve themselves in - fun vs boring.

And that, to me, is why I always remember cheese as a metaphor for life...


Blogger Fop said...


You are quite brilliant! I am LOVING your solo project. (Just don't let it get in the way of the group.)

Will xx

5:24 PM  
Blogger sjusju said...

very nice!

can i suggest "office furniture" as a future topic?

go on, please.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Hahaha! Thoroughly brilliant!

7:30 PM  
Blogger Alyson with a Y said...

Awww thanks guys! I'm doing my best with the place!

Thankyou too Foppy for our very first ever plug! Bless!

Don't worry though - the four are still together!

And sjusju - office furniture is a big challenge! I've got ice cream and "smile" to do first, but I'll do my best!

10:40 PM  
Blogger sjusju said...

yes, it does take a lot to motivate yourself when surrounded by office furniture. *i* should know. i'm quite amazed at your "story-on-demand" work ethic - good stuff!

8:40 PM  

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