Friday, June 25, 2010

Rise Of The Ranga

It was all very sudden. He was tearful, the coverage was wall-to-wall, twitter was afire and, most importantly, her hair looked fabulous.

According to everyone with a microphone, today was one of the most historical and mesmerizing days Australian politics has ever seen. That doesn’t mean everyone was interested though. Our sitting Prime Minister may have gotten paranoid, accidentally kick-started a coup, been confronted by his deputy, called a party room ballot, decided not to contest that ballot, cried live on every available television channel, then our first female PM was sworn in by our first female Governor General… all in less than 24 hours… but in some places that’s just not exciting enough.

I walked into the beauty salon for a hair appointment and was greeted by the 10 year old at reception I occasionally humour by allowing near my brows (when I can't find anyone who's up for a game of Russian Roulette).

Me: Can you believe we have a new Prime Minister this afternoon.

10 year old: Is that what people were talking about on Facebook? I thought I missed something.

I then sat down in front of my magnificent hairdresser (that rare kind that actually wants you to look better when you walk out than when you walked in). She’s a charming lady, but I always get nervous and begin feverishly reaching for conversation starters as she whirs around me with scissors. Luckily I had a fresh and topical one to kick us of.

Me: So, if you could do anything you wanted, if it was completely up to you, what would you do with Julia Gillard’s hair?

Hairdresser: Who?

Pause as I wait for an ironic laugh. None arrives.

Me: Our new Prime Minister.

Hairdresser: Oh… is that her name? I really don’t pay attention to those kind of things.

And why would you? It was kind of inevitable in the end anyway. I suspect there’s actually a secret society more powerful than the Freemasons, the Illuminati and the Skull and Bones society put together. They are The Rangas.

It’s hard to deny their power when you think about it – history is littered with a veritable who’s who of Ranga members. Van Gogh, Elizabeth I, Oliver Cromwell, Richard Lionheart, Molly Ringwald, Churchill, Thomas Jefferson… the list is endless. The Spice Girls didn’t have a Blonde Spice, they didn’t bother with a Brunette Spice, but you can bet your arse they had a Ginger Spice – why do you think they went on to global domination? Sure they’ve got their misfits, their Duchess Fergies, their L. Ron Hubbards, but Dan Brown wouldn’t dream of touching them for fear of retaliation.

I know some people are horrified by Prime Minister Gillard’s accent – I must admit every time I hear her dulcet tones it still inexplicably surprises me – but in the end it’s kind of reassuring. She sounds more honest, if she were a phony she’d have hit elocution lessons hard 2 years ago. In case she ever tries to play it down, fate gave her a deputy called “Waaaayne”.


Painefull Out

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Bra For All Seasons

I’ve had to do some stupid things in the name of work before. I’ve had to do some fairly appalling things in the name of work as well. From dealing with an adult in a nappy at the Royal Easter Show, to calling a woman at 3am an hour after the body of her daughter was found. From contacting 1,345 people to beg them to sign a piece of paper saying they would pay a giant corporation more quickly, to dressing up in a chicken suit. I once rang a dozen hospitals in Nashville, telling each receptionist I wanted to send flowers to Nicole Kidman’s newborn baby if they could just confirm the actress had given birth in the facility.

Then there's the plain embarrassing things, like just the other day when I was asked to go out and purchase some bras marketed at tweens. There is something so gobsmackingly inappropriate about these tiny garments (also called ‘bralettes’, which might give their flat-chested owners ‘tweenage’) and it was a slight challenge to have to continuously ask the shop people for assistance in tracking them down.

My first attempt went like this:

“I am looking for… and you are going to judge me for this… and there’s no easy way to ask… but I am looking for… I’m just going to say it… for bras for 8 year olds. Not for me – obviously. Visibly.”

Polite nod. The ‘visibly’ gag might have been too much, I certainly didn’t mean to direct the shop assistant to gauge my breast size.

“They’re for my boss.”

Awkward pause.

“He’s not a tween girl either. Obviously.”

Shop assistant leads me to the correct section of the store.

“And though he is a he, you should in no way interpret this as something that might be misconstrued as…”

The shop assistant has beat such a rapid retreat I am now talking to myself, which is quite fortunate as I wasn’t too sure how I was going to finish that sentence.

As I cruised the shopping centre, my attempts didn’t improve, though my collection of creepy, tiny bras did. It was foolish to use this collection in an attempt to illustrate what I was after in one store – it prompted one confused woman to state “Well you’ve got some, but you want more. Are you making a quilt?” I don’t know if she was being serious. When I automatically said “Yes”, I think she was a little unclear on whether I was being serious.

After this torturous odyssey, I came away with one question. It wasn’t ‘Why are companies making such creepy, tiny garments?’ – if it can be sold it will be made after all. My query was ‘Why would little girls want to rush the onset of bra use, when bras are eventually going to haunt them for the rest of their lives?’ It’s like wanting to own a car – grand thought, all that freedom, but you are going to be paying for petrol until the world runs out of it.

I know bra burnings are a little old-fashioned, but for bralettes I’d make an exception.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The World Cup Con

I don’t think the World Cup really is a tournament, I suspect it’s just a really grand national delusion. Somehow, every 4 years, Australians find themselves utterly convinced that they love Soccer. And then, with little to no evidence to point to, they find themselves believing that Australia is an incredibly skilled Soccer nation.

Let’s weigh the facts:

- Even though we pretend we’ve stopped calling it Soccer and started calling it Football… our national team is called the Socceroos

- Even though we all know the names of our nation’s star players… it’s largely for their modeling work in advertising campaigns

- Most of us have never seen those players play… because they all play professionally in countries that care about the sport with a bit more regularity

Australia is the petulant, hot and cold lover that soccer plays a booty call on every 4 years. We are the cousin football runs into at big family occasions – we don’t know much about each other, it’s a bit awkward, and we may have shared one drunken, ill-conceived pash. Australia is to soccer, what the pair of work pants I wore last Friday is to me – every few years I wonder why I don’t wear them anymore, and one wedgie filled day at the office is enough of a reminder.

If we really cared about soccer we’d know and care whether its WAGS had tried their hand at a pop career, glamour modeling or porn. If the sport was that dominant it would have poached a few randomly selected NRL players by now. If it was such a big deal Down Under the controversy addled, former goalkeeper Mark Bosnich would be hosting his own sketch show.

And so we come back to the Grand World Cup Delusion, the sucker punch of global unity, flavoured with a splash of sporting glory and garnished with the truth of our own abject inability. The World Cup is the mirage a sport-obsessed nation can’t deny. Like our conveniently timed interest in sailing and judo (every time it garners us a gold medal/trophy) the World Cup offers a hint of elusive victory… and in the end Australians, above all things, really like winning.*

Painefull Out

* = Of course, if it was just about winning we would have given the Matildas, the only Aussie soccer team to have scored a trophy, a much bigger homecoming (their ticker-tape parade must be in the mail).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Unemployment: The Farewell Tour

Sure finding a job is a challenge, picking the right interview outfit is a chore and selecting your referees is as tense as entrusting a phone-a-friend lifeline to your ingenious narcoleptic, perpetually drunk uncle who thinks mobile phones are a fad. But no one ever warns you about the pure trauma of having to actually attend the workplace on a daily basis.

No more sleep-ins, no more late brunches, no more “I’m free all day” boozy lunches. Farewell matinee movie marathons, goodbye “I’ve got some spare time, I think I’ll get fit”. Adieu revisiting old faithful television shows a season at a time, sayonara peer pressuring other people into chucking sickies so they can keep me company.

And casually reading the newspaper cover to cover – I’ll miss you most of all.

I gave it one good final whirl these past few days. I slept in till 11am each day, toured my favourite take-out haunts, watched the highlights of season 6 of Gilmore Girls and gadded about in ugg boots and jeans (wait, maybe I’ll miss my jeans most of all). I gave the petulant teen who lives in my building one final smug ‘yes, I really might have a sugar-daddy’ glance as he got home at 3pm last Friday. I received one last quizzical sneer as I checked the mail and waved to the construction workers across the road while sporting flirty bed hair and bright red pajamas (no, actually, I’ll miss using pajamas as leisure suit day-wear most of all).

I know work is coming, because it’s already invaded my dreams. I have woken up the last three mornings certain I had missed a deadline or already been fired. It’s like changing schools – new faces, new systems, new desks. I’ll have to do up a cheat sheet name chart and pretend to be coolly uninterested, yet pithy and casual, all the while a contributing team player who is taking any available bull by it’s horns. Dear god, the whole thing sounds so exhausting I need a nap already. Work does allow naps right?

But first I have to deal with that shadowy figure in my life – my alarm. We’ve been growing increasingly estranged over the past 5 months, and recently I’ve been screening its calls altogether. I know, it needs me, I need it, but is such avid co-dependency really that healthy in this day and age? I better set two, just in case.

Painefull Out

Sam Stosur – Runner Up… & that ain’t bad

I must admit to telling my nephews and niece at every opportunity that winning is the most important thing. It’s a fact of life, and it’s vital that someone drills it into them. They are kids of the generation that receive a trophy for walking through the doorway and a standing ovation for staying awake in class. They don’t even have school vice captains anymore – it’s felt that being a deputy is too belittling, so they just have 2 sets of captains.

If everyone gets an award for the Darwinian triumph of existing then why bother? Surely this is a great big signal that we can all go ahead and rest on our laurels. Strive no more for greatness, mediocrity is the new black.

But sometimes winning isn’t everything, sometimes working your arse off for years while no one pays attention and almost winning is just as impressive. I’m not saying Sam Stosur (French Open runner up 2010) will never win, but she deserves credit for coming so close this time around. If Alicia Molik had been beaten in the semi finals it would have been front page news, if Lleyton Hewitt had even made it to the quarter finals we would have seen TV promos for the match-up 24/7.

I haven’t seen the media jump on a tennis bandwagon so late in a tournament since everyone decided it was okay to like Jelena Dokic again (for the third time).

So congratulations Sam, because runner up ain’t bad. It worked out really well for Al Gore (though less well for his marriage), Anthony Callea got a career out of it, and Jennifer Hudson eventually scored an Oscar. The second Terminator movie ended up being better than the original, and losing out on first place in the final cheer-off in Bring It On probably made the Rancho Carne Toros better people in the end. I’m even advised (by Wikipedia) that the 2nd coming of Jesus will be a bigger deal than the first.

The most important thing isn’t always winning, it’s trying your absolute heart out to be the best and, for future reference Sam, not choking under pressure.

Painefull Out

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dear Fellow Drivers

In these days of epic weather, freak twisters, flash flooding, and soothing sideways rain I have one message for the residents of Sydney hitting our roads. It’s called ‘indicating’, how about we try and use it people?

Now I am the last one in a position to get narky about the driving of others, I’m no saint as my car can attest. The craft of vehicular maintenance is as lost to me as Megan Fox is to the Transformers franchise – which is to say, I rejected it because it seemed overrated. Every time I manage to scrape, puncture, scratch or dent a part of the Red Wagon I shake it off because the engine still runs. I have spent more money on the crisp, white Subaru of the woman I reversed into at full speed in a parking lot than on my own crumpled heap (largely because she ran the dining hall at the university I attended, and I’ve always had a strange affinity with eating).

But I do know the basics, otherwise I wouldn’t have a license (a fact that continues to baffle several of my family members). My education in all things motoring came via 3 people. My father was first off the rank when he took me to a vacant field, opened the bonnet of the car and talked me through how the whole thing worked. He also informed me I would only learn on a manual in case I found myself “trapped in the Sahara one day with a tribe bearing down on me, and nothing but a ute for my escape”. My mother also gave it an ill-fated crack. After spending half an hour laughing hysterically as I stalled my way down a 2km road and 30 seconds screaming as I took a sharp corner turn at 80km/hr and span us about with the smell of burning rubber she suspended her involvement from the case.

Then came my professional driving instructor – let’s call him Yoda. Yoda’s first rule was always, under every circumstance, now matter what indicate. He reasoned that if I was going to do something stupid behind the wheel, the least I could do was give my fellow road warriors the forewarning not to go near me for their own safety.

It’s simple really. I may have once tried to bend Big Red around a concrete poll in an abortive parking attempt, I may have lost traction at 70km/hr on a dirt logging trail and ended up facing the direction I had been coming from, and there’s the distinct chance I once accidentally snapped the handle off the driver’s door of my car as I checked it was locked, sending me tumbling backwards into the street… but I have never caused an accident with a fellow driver.

Say it with me gang, Indicate. Not many of you were doing it today, there are several of you out there who never do it. If you promise to try it out for kicks, then I promise to keep doing it, meaning you’ll be safe from me for a little while longer.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things My Mother Told Me...

that turned out to be true:

- "You can’t embarrass me. I can embarrass you without even trying, but you can’t embarrass me."

- "You should have studied law."

- "If you keep going this way you're going to run out of eyebrows to work with. I fear for their safety."

- "I don’t want you to be friends with that person, I think she’s mentally unstable."

- "Share with people, then they’ll be forced to share back. Next time you have a choclate egg, share it with me."

- "That shirt is to big for you - people are going to mistake you for a boy and I'm not going to correct them."

- "So what if she's going on a date with the boy you like? Next time she tells you something like that, laugh and walk away - it'll make you seem mysterious."

- "Why are you so eager to shave your legs? You're going to spend the rest of your life doing it."

- "Your father gave you this obsessive behaviour, I just gave you bad knees and big breasts. Also, eventually, dementia."

Painefull Out