Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Desperately Seeking Speed Dating (with a Jam Motif)

Ages and ages ago, on the Life Itself Board, the lovely Mr Bestworst wanted me to write about, ahem, "speed dating with a jam motif" - righto, let's see what we got...

Desperately Seeking Speed Dating (with a Jam Motif)

As I detailed before, I’m not the world’s best dater. I’ve only once got on the right side of the great “benny/sultry” divide, and that resulted in marriage and children, so I guess I only needed to get it right once. My first kiss (by kiss, I mean pash of course, not catch and kiss) was when I was 14, with a boy called Cameron, who was a sensational committed kisser. Like most Australians, this happened when I was on a fort in the middle of a park, and the mood was ruined by a 7 year old on a pink bike who said “ooooh, lovers” in that classic kid way. Still fair play to Cameron who kept going through the potential embarrassment and kissed with great authority right until the end.

Feeling quite womanly after being pashed (even though Cameron and I were never truly meant to be together, as I liked Girlfriend and he liked Nirvana) I felt the need to try and set my other friends up with boyfriends. This was my gift back to the community that I was part of, and I got quite scientific about it. This was, keep in mind ,1992, long before anyone had coined the phrase “speed dating”, that most difficult of social situations where you get 15 minutes with each person in the room before someone blows a whistle and you move on. My friend Jacx went to a speed dating evening once and the person she liked the best was the one she had the best argument with. I offered her five dollars for each time she could get the conversation onto aardvarks, and she pocketed a good thirty bucks. However, I digress.

I’ve said before I had a clearly defined role at my school, to be a bridge between the social classes, and it was in that role that I noticed that Katrina, the girl that sat behind me, a definite A class girl who hung around at the bitchy table, had the hots for cute but dumb social grade C boy Benjamin, who liked throwing Push Pops at kids, and who had interesting theories on the influence of interstate teams in the Australian Rules Football league. It was clear to me that they were meant to be together, and could possibly, one day, if things went well, pash on the top of the fort in the same way that Cameron and I did. Luckily, I had the perfect solution, the fortune telling game.

In Grade 8, nothing swept through our school like the fortune telling game. Not even the brief 80s Adidas tracksuit revival caught on like the fortune telling game. It involved 6 categories, including 6 people you knew (3 good, 3 bad) and numbers. Through a secret code (that I won’t divulge here) an item in each category was crossed off until, say, one person was left on your “boys” list and that was who you would marry, the numbers column was how many kids you would have etc. It got to the point you couldn’t move for hearing someone yelling “I’m not marrying HIM!” as if your fate was set in stone. I can’t remember who was the first person to engage us with this game, but they should have patented it, as 5 or 6 people began to claim it as their invention. I did realise that the more we played this game, the more likely it was we could find an easy way to ensure that Katrina and Benjamin could be together, without either of them losing their social standings.

“Benjamin did that game today,” I said one day in Science, quite idly.

“Really?” said Katrina, fiddling idly with a bunsen burner.

“Yeah, he’s going to marry YOU apparently,” I said, fixing a pair of Biggles-esque safety goggles to my head.

She smiled, then nearly set herself on fire leaning to close to the bunsen burner. I took the opportunity to sidle up to Benjamin, who in my mind had a pencil up his nose, but that was probably Mark Leaman, our school benny.

“Katrina did that test you know,” I said, for the boys called it “the test” and the girls called it “the game”, as we began to grow apart, and our differences became more pronounced.

“Sweet” he said. “Who’d she marry?”

“You!” I said, poking him in the chest.

I walked back to Katrina, and nodded. I paused crucially, and then kept the repartee going.

“Benjamin got Nirvana as his favourite band” I said, squeezing an eye dropper full of some green thing into a vat of blue things (science was not my thing).

“NO WAY” she said, betraying her A grade status with a flash of over excitement.

As you can imagine, and I won’t keep going, I did this for the best part of an hour, until both parties were convinced that they were soulmates and would live forever. It was speed dating with someone in the middle, with lies and spin and a little bit of ego stroking in between. I don’t know why I was so worried, but I really felt it my duty to set these two up. And I had things going totally my way, until the very last minute of Science class, when Amber Bennett stuck her big mitts into the situation.

“I hear you like BEN” said Amber, rolling her eyes.

“What would you know idiot? I hear there’s a chocolate frog in the bin for you to eat” I said (the full story of Amber Bennett’s social decline should really be told one day).

“BEN likes JAM SANDWICHES and he eats them like a pig!” I rolled my eyes in horror, for I had forgotten all about his poor personal eating habits, not just with Jam sandwiches, but milkshakes, pies and chips. Jam sandwiches were the worst though, as he’d wolf them down hungrily, and have big sticky jam marks all over his face, sometimes for the whole day. There was no way, NO way, an A grade super bitch was going to go out with someone with those eating habits. I sighed, and went back to mixing my toxins, when Katrina put her hands on her hips and looked Amber right in the eye.

“I LIKE JAM SANDWICHES” she said, fiercely. “It said so on THE GAME!”

I made a little “shoo” motion with my fingers in the direction of Amber, and she toddled off crestfallen. I smiled my happiest smile, and sure enough, within an hour, the school had a new super couple, brought together by the surreal combination of jam sandwiches, an imported game, my supreme and speedy matchmaking skills, and mutual “cor, I wouldn’t mind snogging that” flying out of whack hormones. It was a combination that no one, certainly not Amber Bennett, could stop. It had taken on a life of it’s own, and it was a rolling boulder no one could get out of the way of. It was, quite simply, meant to be.

Of course, 1 year later, Katrina got pregnant to Ben, but that, as they say in the classics, was not something I was claiming credit for. I’m all about the innocent…

Desperately Seeking Hats

My lovely online friend Edward O mentioned a long time ago he wanted a story on hats. Well, better late than never says I. So here it is, as a thankyou for all the lovely free songs!

Desperately Seeking Hats

My friend Tina T is something of a hat guru, having appeared in the opening credits of her finest TV role modelling a hat with a Co-star, but hats never really played a big part in my life, beanies yes, leading to an amusing Natalie Imbruglia anecdote, but I just don’t look good in a hat. It’s a bad thing for someone so in the sun as me, but I just really hate them. I got off lightly compared to my cousin Travis, who had thick horn rimmed glasses, and as such was nicknamed “Jonathan King” in less difficult times for the one time pop svengali, but it has left a scar on him so deep he can never truly wear a baseball cap.

My surfing teacher was an old hippy called Joe, who used to sit me down and spin me the most outrageous tales of how he had taught Dennis Hopper how to surf off the breaks in Malibu, but Dennis and he fell out one day over the best flavoured milk in the land. He was clearly lying, you could tell, by the fact that he clearly was making details up as he went. That was fine though, because as he got to the climax of the story, he would start jumping up and down from one foot to the other, and snarl and start doing voices, and it was very funny. Then, we’d sit and learn a little bit more about surfing, and he was proud of my progress, informing my mother about every detail, while she chewed idly on an Eskimo Pie and shivered in the cold before we all packed into the Torana for the drive home.

Surfing is a big part of my life, and my Mum was keen to fund my progress through the learning progress, but she would do so sometimes by buying the most ridiculous surf knock offs known to mankind from the local op shop. An op shop, for those who don’t know, is one of those second hand stores people go into from time to time to buy humorous items for retro nights, and it’s full of junk. My Mum, again with her hippy ethics, used to go in and buy me horrendous things like lime wetsuits, or big board shorts once worn by Big Bertha of Ballarat, that were 13 sizes too big. I would thank her for her trouble, then fold them into the back of the drawer, until she had a clean out, and gave them to my cousin James, for whom the cycle would start again. Once, she bought me a black tracksuit with a green stripe that joined up from top to pants. Suffice to say it was very neatly folded away.

One day, I was mulling over the two star review the new Collette album had received, when my Mum came bounding in from the op shop. She was chewing idly, and threw her bag on the couch. I looked up casually in time to see my beloved Mother sitting in a top hat, a black top hat with orange trim, and a big pink ribbon tied around it. It didn’t go well with her late 80s sparkly top and spangle pants, but she was smiling so serenely, I figured she perhaps didn’t realise she had it on. She picked up a copy of the Woman’s Weekly, and flicked through it, while I sat transfixed.

“Y, can you get your dear old Mum a Tim Tam?” she said, pondering the latest Charles and Di story. I thought I might have been hallucinating, through eating too much Milo out of a tin. She had a lovely turn of phrase my Mum, often saying “why keep a dog and bark yourself?” whenever I complained about fetching something for her. She serenely smiled as she munched thoughtfully on her chocolate biscuit treat. Joe, meanwhile, had entered the room, sat down on a beanbag, and turned on Countdown revolution, barely glancing in my mother’s direction. I began to ponder my options, switching between wondering why my Mother had decided to embrace the world of top hat magic, and my ongoing concern at anti Collette sentiment. In the end, I had to, as they would say, “go there”.

“Where’s the rabbit hiding?” I said, in my best stroppy voice.

“What rabbit?” said my Mum, taking a giant bite and devouring the Tim Tam in one.

“The rabbit inside your TOP HAT!” I said, tilting my head to the side and pouting.

“Top hat? I’m not wearing a top hat dear,” said Mum, throwing her magazine down and looking at me strangely. “Are you sure you are feeling OK Y?”

“Joe, what’s going on?” I said, for if someone could set my mother straight, it would be salt of the earth, honest as the day is long Joe.

“She’s not wearing a top hat” he said, transfixed as he flipped over to Home and Away, to see what Bobby was up to.

I got up, lifted the top hat from my Mums head, and held it in front of her.

“THIS TOP HAT!” I said, moving it back and forth in front of her eyeline.

“You’ve lost me, have you got a fever?” said my Mum, idly. “Maybe we shouldn’t go surf…hey, Frank, you bastard!” said Joe, suddenly going through his angry gears.

I put the top hat on my head and then took it off. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!” I screamed, with as much self-righteousness as I could muster. “It’s like when your cousin turned off the imaginary TV Y, there’s nothing there, don’t get so stroppy!” said Mum. And she smiled her best sweet motherly smile of pity, before suddenly cracking up laughing.

“Ha…got you worried!” she said. Joe turned around smiling, and then he too went into hysterics. “Made you think your old Mum had gone mad didn’t we?” he said, and there they were, frozen together in time, sharing an old persons sense of humour that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t understand. I stood, shaking my head, and then I realised that there was no way out. They were milking a moment for all it was worth, something really awful, a terrible, unfunny joke to be honest, but something they had worked on together, and something about the hope in their eyes, it really got to me. I couldn’t bring myself to strop off, berate them for their stupidity. I copped it on the chin.

“Yeah,” I said, mustering a weak fake laugh, “alright, you got me” I said, rolling my eyes in a “what am I like” kind of fashion, before sitting down and going back to my magazine.

Sometimes, it’s OK to give people their moment. For the next few years, my Mother would regale people at Christmas parties with her hilarious joke, and they would smile and laugh, or they would roll their eyes and shake their head, but it was worth the suffering and the mild mockery, because it’s OK to be the butt of a joke sometimes, no matter who awful it is, if it’s done without malice or cruelty. My Mum was and is incapable of either, and I love her, for all her stupid jokes and dumb ideas. It made her happy, and everyone is entitled to feel happy sometimes, especially if you let them think they are hilarious.

I still hate hats though. And always will. This is for you Travis.