Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Painefull Christmas

For the first time in several years the entire Family Painefull has converged upon the parental home for Christmas. That’s 5 couples, 7 children and me (failing to bring in fresh blood by either love or reproduction, I continue to let the team down).

The festive season is a time of year packed with traditions, and my family is no different. Some, such as dancing on tables, public waxing and streaking may have gone by the wayside, but new ones have sprung up in their place. With that in mind, before driving out to the Dor I put together a list of things that I predicted must occur for it to be a proper Painefull Christmas family gathering. I am happy to report I had 100% accuracy. The Family Painefull is made up of two different but equally important branches, the people who had a mattress to sleep on this Christmas and those that slept on the floor, these are their stories (*ding ding* [Law & Order noise]).

1. Whatever I am wearing will be wrong, but in the spirit of Christmas several people will try not to mention this fact until they can’t contain it anymore.Correct: It took Mrs Woog quite a while to ask me if I was wearing a pair of old school pants (I wasn’t).

2. The kids will receive 5 million gifts. Responses may vary from those who are teenagers and thus too cool, those who get excited every time someone hands them something to unwrap and those who aren’t interested in anything that isn’t covered in glitter. Correct: There were the usual double-ups (like the time Harry received 4 microscopes, this year’s microscope was the water pistol… and apparently water pistols now require batteries) and Jack looked ready to cry. Meanwhile the youngest nephew relished every gift as if it was his first.

3. There will be a remarkable amount of conversation about how everything would be better if the parentals owned a pool. There will then be a lot of conversation about whether we should turn the air conditioning on already. After it’s been turned on, someone will keep mysteriously turning it off. This person will be Father Painefull. The air conditioning will have little to no effect anyway because everyone else will leave all the doors open.Correct: The Australian summer made its first real cameo of the season. As a result a great deal of the afternoon was spent trialling different detergents on a slip-and-slide and the Brothers Grimm (aka the brothers-in-law) ‘testing’ the water pistols on everybody.

4. Elspeth will make delicious salads, I will wash up like a mo-fo (I’m a washing up specialist – it’s important to play to your strengths).Correct: While we joined Mother Painefull in the kitchen the rest of the family was busy with equally challenging tasks. Mrs Woog was responsible for ‘the look of the table’, the older kids were in charge of ‘child management’ and several people took turns making sure the couches didn’t get up and walk away.

5. Mother Painefull will put on the ULTIMATE feast – many species will be featured.Correct: Beef, pork, chicken, salmon and the Beloved Leg of Ham. The Vegetarian (aka Mrs Ryan, the only vegetarian to own a meat business) was also sorted, thanks to the 4 different types of salad.

6. The children will do a concert (as their parents did before them, for example the traditional sisterly rendition of Miss Otis Regrets followed by No More Tears/Enough Is Enough).Correct: There was a highly competitive dance-off between the nephews and niece. Highly. Competitive. I expect them to draw blood next year. Twas followed by trumpet and guitar solos.

7. Mrs Woog and Mrs Ryan will end the night by entering a smoking, drinking, dancing spiral that culminates with me crying from laughing too hard.Correct: Death Sticks + white wine = my 2 oldest siblings re-enacting their favoured seduction techniques (in such a way that probably should have ended in injury, but didn’t).

There were a couple of other features I failed to predict, but really should have. These included a therapy inducing task for one nephew who had to apply fake tan to his mother, the presence of an Ark full of pets, and the Brothers Grimm disappearing on an ‘errand’ and inexplicably take beer with them (returning 2 hours later).

As usual the operation was a big success. Seeing as this Christmas fad doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon, we’ve decided to do it all again in 364 days. By then we all swear someone will definitely have a pool.

Painefull Out

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is That What You Look Like?

Getting an ID photo taken was never meant to be thrilling, but remember when you were allowed to look decent? Even if you hadn’t bothered to brush your hair, apply any make-up or put on clothing that didn’t make your mother wince on sight (guilty as charged), you could cover all that with a winning smile and the demand to re-take the shot until you got one to your liking. Those were the days. Now the smile, like useable cutlery on airplanes and the reputation of every single code of football, is gone. All we’re left with is a glorified mug shot, like Nick Nolte on a good day.

My passport photo makes me look like a highly qualified, well sought-after drug courier. Aside from the fact that I hate humidity and direct sunlight, my passport is yet another reason I should never visit Bali – it’s like a first class ticket to their finest jail cell. I’ve made a study of how much longer customs officials in foreign countries take to look at my passport compared to friends, and the official stat is 240% longer. My head shot worries them that much.

With this track record in mind I went to renew my drivers’ license last week. Paperwork and money exchange done, I took my seat at the RTA photo booth (SIDE NOTE: I don’t believe in auras – ever since a psychic told me mine was black – but if I did I’d say the RTA office has a fairly ugly one. The building seethed with resentment and frustration as people waited their turn, clutching a ticket, a child and the remainder of their sanity). The woman instructed me to remove my glasses, scrape my fringe out of my eyes and remain expressionless.

When I hopped up and returned to her desk she seemed puzzled. She stared at her computer, then looked at me, then back to the computer. Finally she mumbled, mostly to herself, utterly mystified:

RTA WOMAN: Is that what you look like?

I replied with the hesitant, somewhat defensive ‘Yes’ that ended on a high note to allow for the possibility that it might not be.

RTA WOMAN: Let’s try again.

I obediently went through the photo taking again and returned to the woman. She seemed unsure and looked at me accusingly, as if I was somehow pulling a trick.

RTA WOMAN: Show me your face. Do your photo face.

I gave her me, expressionless and without glasses or Feature Fringe.

RTA WOMAN: Wow. That’s really what you look like.

To allow me to join in her wonder she pivoted her computer screen to give me a glimpse of what I look like (because, you know, how was I, the owner of the face, to truly know?). As I suspected, I looked like a dead-eyed drug runner. It’s what my face does when it relaxes. It’s why people often approach me and ask me what’s wrong and I have to reply “Nothing, it’s just my face”.

What a relief to know I’ve still got it.

Lucky I chose to renew my license for the longest possible period of time. I’ll have another 5 years to remind myself that that really is what I look like.

Painefull Out

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Painefull Buddhist

So Mother Painefull has declared herself a Buddhist. She does this roughly once a month whenever someone mentions killing bugs, or she needs to talk herself down from committing acts of violence against Z-grade idiots who get in her way. Or if she wants get a bible basher all riled up. Or if she needs an excuse to wear tie-dyed clothing. Or is looking for a natural segue into how she saw the Dalai Lama speak once.

Needless to say, after relaying my Life and Death struggle with the BIGGEST spider I have ever come across (he went by the name Nemesis), she was appalled that the battle ended fatally for the combatant that wasn’t her daughter. I tried to explain, it was a Death Match. Obviously.

But mum pulled her classic “I’m a Buddhist” card and got stuck in about living creatures etc. Nothing seemed to make up for the death of Nemesis (Death. Match.).

Instead I was forced to comfort Mother Painefull with the confirmation that I did indeed give Nemesis a proper burial (Pagan rites) in a shoe box.

The problem is… I lied to Mother Painefull, Nemesis did not receive a 21 gun salute and his final resting place was not quite as glamorous as I implied.

And now I’m positively racked with guilt, not so much for the lie, but for the demise of the GIANT spider. It seems when it comes to a Death Match there really is no such thing as winning.

Thanks for nothing Buddha.

Painefull Out

P.S. Dear Nemesis, missing you already. So sorry about the hiking boot incident.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Painefull vs The Animal Kingdom

If it’s true that animals sense evil, then perhaps I should be more concerned about their aversion to me. It might help explain why a giant, hand-sized spider chased me up the stairs the other night.

I’m the kind of person who always imagines extreme scenarios and then comes up with legitimate plans on how to deal with them (I have already alerted Isla that her home will become my safe house in the event of a zombie apocalypse, and I keep a hammer in my car in case I accidentally drive off a bridge into a body of water one day… so, you know, just the essential, realistic stuff), but I can honestly say being chased by a spider never occurred to me as something worth preparing for.

I was wandering through the house, minding my own business when, standing at the top of the staircase, I spotted the BIGGEST* spider I have ever seen (in real life) waiting for me at the bottom. I’ve seen Arachnophobia**, I knew how this story could go. I armed myself with bug spray and prepared to scare the beast away enough that I would have time to find something, ANYTHING big enough to finish it off.

My personal Charge of the Light Brigade was even less successful – the spider (let’s call him Nemesis) literally starting running up the stairs after me, sending me back up shrieking in retreat. The neighbours mustn’t have been in because otherwise my volume and sheer terror would have convinced them I was undergoing a home invasion and the cops might have been called (SIDE NOTE: I probably would have handled a home invasion slightly better – I have a plan in place for that).

I threw several books at the thing, but I swear to god they simply bounced off Nemesis, who continued towards me. He was the spider version of Terminator. When I went to reload with more weapons and came back… he had disappeared. You know that moment when you’re swimming at the beach and something brushes against your leg, and suddenly you’re turning about manically, desperately looking for a potential shark? That was me, frantically searching for Nemesis.

While my back had turned he had secretly scaled the banister beside where I was standing. Only the belated discovery of a pair of hiking boots saved me from certain doom. I used my Horror Movie 101 knowledge and really made sure he was dead.

Sitting there in a heap beside the fallen Nemesis, I was clammy-handed and couldn’t shake the feeling I had just cheated death. Then a terrifying thought came – what if Nemesis had children?

They wouldn’t be the first species to take a disliking to me, and I suspect they won’t be the last.

Painefull Out

* = this spider was so big that if I had let it bite me there was actually a chance I'd gain some sort of super powers... so potentially a bit of a missed opportunity.

** = actually I haven’t really seen Arachnophobia, I watched the first 10 minutes, freaked out and hastily exited the boarding school common room claiming I had homework to do.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What’s In A Number?

When re-telling the events of an evening, without fail there’s always one specific, stand-out headline moment. It’s the plot twist that makes sure who ever is listening is paying attention, from ‘then we went back to their hotel… and literally helped them iron their shirts’ to ‘and that’s when it became apparent we were in a bikie bar’, whether it’s ‘a top hat is akin to a man with a baby’, or ‘he emerged from the fray, took one look at us and said “you’re next”, so we ran’.

So it’s a testament to my shocking run with romance that the headline moment from a recent raucous Saturday evening* that most of my friends seem to have taken away is ‘and then I got a guy’s phone number’. I want to be outraged that this shocked people… but truly, it was such a foreign happening it took me a while to recall it occurred at all.

He was lounging in nothing but a towel. I was wearing a top hat (it’s a wardrobe staple), a large novelty bow tie and brandishing a giant candy cane cane. Having lost my conversation cue cards a few beverages earlier, I wasn’t exactly in sparkling form.

Sample dialogue:

Painefull: So what do you do?
Towel Man: I’m a doctor.
Painefull: (EXPLETIVE) off!

There were 3 very good reasons I wasn’t going be calling that number.

1. I had no idea what his name was.

2. I couldn’t be sure through the alcohol haze what he actually looked like.

3. Even if he was attractive, I know I wasn’t, given my rapid decline as the party progressed.

As an unashamed spinster-in-waiting the above 3 points are both infallible and insurmountable to me. Add to this the fact that I pretty much forced my phone into the man’s hands and slurred that he should type his number in – is it really getting someone’s number if it borders on assault? As an extra special bonus reason, I would have given someone in my state the wrong digits, so why wouldn’t he?

Case closed.

Fi, Sammy and my new housemate Layla disagree. Apparently I’m meant to make that awkward, vanity-killing, mortification producing call. Isla, who currently has excess time on her hands, took it a step further. She Miss Marple-d her way through Facebook and has actually emerged with a possible candidate for the mystery Towel Man (largely because, “I just want to see what you’re last name would be if you married him”). Isla’s sustained arguments knew no bounds.

Isla: Please call him, please! He could be my husband, did you think of that?

These pleas were thankfully easy to resist. I’m sorry phantom Towel Man, it’s just not mean to be. In fact if either of us were actually capable of recognizing each other on the street I’d eat my top hat.

Painefull Out

* = An evening in which people were thrown into a pool, I injured myself while dancing with a giant cane and one poor cab driver wishes to forget entirely.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

‘Goodbye’ Seems To Be An Equally Challenging Word

I’ve always struggled with saying ‘goodbye’. I pretend to be blasé about farewelling people, but I find something about it particularly confronting.

It’s been that way forever. When I was young I had an elaborate, superstition fuelled system of dealing with it – whenever I went to bed, after all the ‘goodnights’ the last thing my parents and I were each allowed to say was ‘see you in the morning’. I was very insistent on this, terrified in fact that if someone didn’t say it there was the clear and present danger that we may not see each other again. I’d get very upset when Mother and Father Painefull refused to play along. After a while Mum used to rebut my demands:

Young Painefull: You have to say ‘see you in the morning’.
Mother Painefull: But what if I don’t see you in the morning.
Young Painefull: I’ll see you in the morning mum.
Mother Painefull: Maybe you will.
Young Painefull: Muuuuuuum!
Mother Painefull: Well you might not. I might not see you. I might die in my sleep.

It was a chilling, but retrospectively hilarious response, probably intended to knock some of the OCD tendencies out of a fixation-prone 9 year old. As Mother Painefull now knows definitively, you can take the girl out of the paranoia, but you can’t take the paranoia out of the girl.

Since then I’ve attempted to become a grown up/manage my various goodbye-based tics so they are invisible to the naked eye. In fact it’d been years since anyone noticed how unconsciously systematic I’ve become with farewells when, several weeks ago, my colleague LJ pointed out that I always exited the office in exactly the same way. I start and finish work earlier than most of the others, and it’s become apparent that as I walk out I hit some invisible line in the ground at which I pivot and back away, so I still face everyone I’m leaving behind. As I do this I also apparently deliver a stream of last minute thoughts of the day, as if parting has turned me into some philosopher of the non sequitur. Having had this habit pointed out to me I am, of course, trying to breaking it. It’s proving a difficult nut (much like myself) to crack.

Since then I’ve started to re-notice how much time I spend lingering in doorways great and small as I attempt to walk out of them, and how shamefully difficult I make it for people to sign off on the phone. Whenever I sign off after an epic email exchange with Livinia (who currently resides with her Lover in Germany) it’s with the one word subject line ‘Goodnight!’… and then I’m ashamed to say I sit patiently for 5 minutes by my antique laptop to make sure she replies with her own variation on the term (usually with some showy German language touch) before switching off and actually heading to bed.

Clearly I still have issues with Goodbye.

My workplace went on hiatus yesterday. It’s strange to think I won’t be back in the office with those people for 5 weeks, stranger still to realise I’ll never see some of those people in that office again. I feel the old twinges again, the returned realization that things rarely make sense, are hardly ever entirely fair, and are almost completely out of my control (mixed in with a weird hint of survivor’s guilt).

Of course television is one of the cruelest mediums when it comes to sending people packing. It’s also the industry where you will always run back in to the people you know somewhere around the bend.

So, until then, au revoir, aufidersen, adios, sayonara, goodbye.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dawson’s Creek Revisited

Teen-dom is a well trodden path of bad fashion, hormone driven miss-judgments and awkward hair. It’s been that way for eons – these are the kind of mistakes that people have never stopped making. The Roman empire is about what happens when you wear togas (you look stupid), Romeo & Juliet is a giant warning on what occurs if you ignore your parents (Cliffs Note: you die), and the 80’s suggests what to expect when you insist on a perm (people pretend you didn’t happen at all).

My ill-communicated point is there are some universal experiences and lessons we all take away from the haze of miss-spent youth. There’s also one universal teacher each of us fell back on at one point or another. Television. And to each generation a program is born that comes to define what we expect from our school days.

For my older sisters it was 90210. To those that came after me it was The O.C. Currently I believe the young things are all about that Girl… who Gossips…

For me it was that bastion of ridiculous self-awareness and over-sized sweaters, Dawson’s Creek.

I’m not ashamed to say that show gave me almost all of my unrealistic expectations of teenage life – I assumed men would duel for my affection, I suspected (and my mother hoped) my tomboy ways were just a disguise for my ‘hidden beauty’, and could only dream that at 16 I to could suffer from an existential crisis. Of course, like all good teen soaps, its incestuous plot lines and the fact that they all had to leave school eventually, meant the show pretty much became a shadow of it’s former self before bowing out in a blaze of flash-forwarding glory.

But we few, we lucky few, we band of easily moved girls, still swoon at the concept of Dawson, Joey, Pacey and the gang.

A week ago, in a fit of nostalgia, I dove back in to the Creek. In one scene (season 4) 17 year old Dawson (with the 5 o’clock shadow of a man in his late 20’s) talks to his seasonal love interest, Pacey’s sister (this was when they started inventing new, thus far unseen relatives for the characters to expand the plotlines) and says:

At the risk of sounding trite, it’s good to see you.

I paused then and there and tried to figure out if I’d EVER used the word ‘trite’ in a conversation before. I had not. This came after Pacey, supposedly the dullest crayon in the casting box, delivered this piece of dialogue:

Just what would we be missing from the land of poorly scripted melodramas, huh? Recycled plot lines, tiresome self-realizations. You throw in the occasional downward spiral of a dear friend, and maybe a baby here and a death there and all you've really got is a recipe for some soul sucking, mind numbing ennui, and I for one could skip it.

Hilarious post-modern wink to the audience aside, I can honestly say I would actively avoid verbalizing the word ‘ennui’ simply out of fear I would miss-use it.

But aside from vocabulary intimidation, the belated realization that James Van Der Beek has a generously sized forehead, and the retrospective knowledge that Katie Holmes was cruising for a career highlight via marriage, I found myself sucked right back in to all things Dawsonian – it was like I never left.

I thought I should hide the dvd rental case from visitors, but upon seeing it all Sammy had to say was “You don’t need to rent it. I have the box set at home, just let me know what you need.”

It’s good to know I’m not the only one that just can’t seem to fully quit that show. How could you ever hate a program that allows a character in the 1st season finale to say:

Cliffhanger? Come on, Dawson. You of all people should know that a cliffhanger is merely a manipulative TV standard designed to improve ratings.

It can’t be denied, there is still wisdom to be found in such a show.

Painefull Out

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Splitting the Jean

I, like all people, have particular talents. I’m skilled in the art of putting things off, I’ve become a black belt at sleeping in, and consider the craft of stomaching the same pasta dish for 4 days straight well mastered. And now I can add a new and very particular ability to my beige resume of defects, it’s one I’ve had all along and have only just recognized.

I will rip a hole in my pants at the single, most inopportune time available.

These are not stylish, mid-90’s ‘fashionable’ rips, and I swear, I can and will do it anywhere. To take you through some of my greatest hits:

School Camp 1997
I was the girl who, perhaps through becoming a touch over-committed to a game of handball, tore my shorts asunder mid-match before the eyes of numerous peers. Joyous occasion – it’s a moment every 12 year old craves.

London Train 2007
Having set out for the day to explore the city via an initial lengthy train trip I finally managed to snag a seat in the packed public transport… which it turns out was unfortunate. Who can create a seam line perforation along the length of the inner thigh of a pair of jeans? I can.

2011 alone has been a banner year...

Walking to Class
Nothing makes you concentrate harder on how you’re seated in class quite like tearing your jeans while attacking a staircase on your way to the tutorial room.

At Work
Just a few weeks ago, a mere hour and a half into my working day, I was rushing about the office and upon returning to my chair the sound of denim ripping (definitely louder than the sound of one hand clapping) filled the air. I can tell you with authority, it is a challenge to figure out how much of you is now visible through the new vent in your pants while remaining seated at a desk.

For the Sake of Unplanned Illustration
While then telling this tale to a pair of disbelieving friends, I then hopped into a car with them and promptly tore the shorts I was wearing.

I’m like the black widow of garments. If I was a male stripper ripping my pants off would be considered something of a selling point. As it is I guess I’ll have to settle with doing my bit for the denim economy.

Painefull Out

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Things A Cabbie Can Tell Just By Looking At You

The other day I discovered that holy grail of transportation, that unicorn of the taxi world, that fictional character I had only previously heard of until now – a truly, utterly honest cabbie. This isn’t to say I have never ridden with one before, this is simply the first time I realized my good fortune. Perhaps my being sober had something to do with it.

Fortunately he looked nothing like this...

I was exiting a fast food joint on Oxford Street, having procured myself a cheese burger for the road, when I hailed that fateful vehicle. What followed was not the usual awkward exchange with a random, over-charging stranger.

I smugly asked (smug, as if I myself were immune to alcohol) whether he had to deal with many drunks over the weekend. Ultimate Cabbie replied stoically that it’s always a mixed bag. Then, as if sensing how boring his own answer was, UC launched into a crash course in how a taxi driver assesses potential fares.

Sure it featured some serious racial profiling (which I in no way endorse), but it was fascinating to hear how they choose who to pick up.

Using what I learnt from UC, I have put together some handy hints for hopeful passengers…

A Guide To Catching A Cab In Sydney:

1. The easiest way to get a cab is to be an Asian woman.
UC Assessment: They are the passenger of choice because they are polite, don’t cause trouble and pay without argument.

2. The only way being an Asian woman can backfire is if you are sitting down.
UC Assessment: Asian women can’t hold their drink like other people, so if they’re sitting down I just avoid them.

3. If you are an American or Indian passenger, be prepared for an absurd level of honesty.
UC Assessment: They both look for a reason to cry ‘bullshit’.

4. You know how taxi drivers will often pull up a couple of metres from you, forcing you to walk to it? Walk the line, they are watching.
UC Rule: This way I watch a potential fare approach. If a girl staggers or trips over, I just drive off, she’s not worth the $50 you’ll get to charge when she throws up in the car.

5. If you’re French, don’t stand on the side of the road eating a baguette, wearing a beret and conducting a mime performance.
UC Assessment: French people are rude, I just avoid them at all costs.

6. If you’re Irish… look cheerful.
UC Assessment: You can never be sure whether they’re going to start a fight, or invite you in for a drink.

7. If you think you’re going to throw up do it while crossing a bridge – you’re less likely to get kicked out while you’re doing it.
UC Assessment: It’s not worth the headline ‘Cabbie Allows Girl To Get Hit By Car To Avoid Vomit In Vehicle’

8. If you’ve just watched a game of football, it would be better if it was Rugby League, Not Rugby Union
UC Assessment: League fans might seem a little rougher around the edges, but union fans are more likely to be snotty, self-aggrandizing North Shore brats.

Painefull Out

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mother Painefull’s… Things That Will Make You Feel Better

Visiting the Parentals Painefull at the Dsor* is always a fairly glorious event. It usually involves an epic sleep in, it always entails copious amounts of delicious food and it gives me permission to drink sherry (a beverage I cannot find excuse for under any other circumstances, despite its surprising delights). Molly and Milly (known to my dad as Old Dog and New Dog) stand guard, the open fireplace crackles with warmth during the winter, and every day my parents (who are incapable of simply doing nothing, a feature I failed to inherit) will invariably get bored and do something I’ve been putting off.

Another inevitable feature is the shared wisdom Mother and Father Painefull endeavor to impart. With dad it’s usually a series of concerns about paperwork, timeliness and adult responsibilities. His current cause célèbre is personal insurance. With mum there are several categories. One which never fails to amuse me are the suggestions she offers, which are always given with the reassurance that they will make me feel better.

This afternoon featured another fantastic entry into the canon, so it seems as good a time as any to share. I can only hope these words will help others. And so I give you a sampling of…

Mother Painefull’s… Things That Will Make You Feel Better**

Kicking off with today’s entry…

Next time you’re at the service station spend $2 and vacuum your car – it’ll make you feel better.

Next time you visit why don’t I make you an appointment for a manicure? It will make you feel better.

Go for a run – you’ll feel better.

Put on some mascara, it will make you feel so much better.

Make a fantastic salad, you will feel so much better.

You look tired. You don’t visit enough. If you visited more often… you might feel better.

Painefull Out

* - The ‘s’ is silent

** - Not to be mistaken with other sub-categories such as Things That Will Make Me Happy, Things Men Find Attractive, Meals That Will Fill You Up For The Day and Reasons That I Should Live With You In My Old Age.

Monday, September 19, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance… How Unfortunate

Dream sequences and big nights out have a lot in common – they both tend to end with your very own version of Dorothy’s return to the real world at the end of The Wizard of Oz. Instead of the classic…

“And you – and you – and you – and you were there…”

You find yourself saying something along the lines of…

“And everyone from work… and a trans-gendered puppet… and the cast of Happy Days were there… and then we all ate lasagna.”

So when I uttered this sentence to Fi on the phone the other day…

“And the bride and groom… and a whole heap of people I used to work with… and Guy Sebastian* was there… and then I got in a dance off… twice.”

You might be excused for thinking I was describing a vivid unconscious imagining rather than my Saturday night.

It was superb weather for a fairytale wedding overlooking Sydney Harbour. The bride was stunning (the bride is stunning as a rule, the type of woman who probably serenades birds as they help her dress in the morning), the groom was dashing, the gathered friends and family were aglow with the goodwill generated by coming together for a truly special event.

I wore a borrowed dress, borrowed accessories and my very own, extra special Heels-That-Make-Me-Want-To-Cry-Or-Alternatively-Chop-Off-My-Own-Feet. The shoes came off the minute the ceremony ended and I had my first glass of champagne in hand – I liked to think I was rocking a bit of a bare-foot hippy look, when in actual fact I was probably giving off more of a hillbilly-lush vibe.

The evening was going absolutely swell, I had just lost a fictional sheep station as part of a rather elaborate bet, and had managed to scrawl out an appallingly nonsensical series of messages in the guest book (I think I referred to myself as “the Judy Greer to the bride’s Anne Hathaway”, which is both obscure and misleading because I can’t guarantee Judy Greer is actually a widely understood reference, and I’m fairly sure those 2 women haven’t actually ever shared a substantial amount of screen time) using the kind of horrid handwriting that would usually be attributed to a 14 year old boy (sadly that’s not drunk handwriting, that’s just what it looks like whenever I put pen to paper).

Then the alcohol in my body flicked that most tiresome of switches in me – the one that leaves me convinced I’m a fabulous dancer. I hate that switch, it is an old, time-worn, mortifying, inhibition-free version of myself that is certain people can’t help but be impressed by my amazing moves.

Before you know it I’m in a retro dance off with some random guy I had never met, and failed to speak to before or after. People backed away. I wish I had backed away. But no, there I was throwing out some robot, some running man, some shopping cart, a little decorate the tree, a hint of drive the car followed by the necessary sequel, reverse the car… it was like one of those conversations where someone grabs a joke and runs with it far beyond its used by date.

It would have been fine, a weird blip, if it only happened the once. The 2nd dance off had a format change that saw me going move-for-move in the middle of the dance floor with a friend. I maintain it was her idea.

The evening was rounded out with the bouquet toss. After the first throw saw it land on the ground, I (hater of bouquet tosses) stepped in a little closer (as I thought everyone would do) with joke serious face on for the next throw. Turns out no, no one else stepped in closer, thus it appeared I was some desperate, superstitious spinster out to snag those flowers whether it was the last thing I did. Suddenly I was Desperate Deidre, Crazed Candice, Man-Hunt Mandy. Appalling. How do you then make clear to a group of relative strangers and drunken friends that you were joking? You can’t – it’s too late.

Dancing and drinking continued – laughter and merriment galore. It was, on the whole, a perfect evening for a rather perfect couple (off-putting, I know).

As I took myself off to bed that night (after briefly and inexplicably trying to boil an egg) I could not help but be grateful to have been invited to such a important, intimate event. Then I tripped over the Evil Heels of Doom, slammed head-first on the floor, and suddenly I was pondering how I managed to store so much crap under my bed. But the wedding glow of seeing a happy friend still lingered - it warmed my cold, cold heart as I drifted off to sleep.

Painefull Out

* = Guy Sebastian, the proof that talent shows find actual talent, the single most delightful male singer Australia has produced in quite some time, and a freshly re-acquired crush.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Domestic Vuvuzelas

For a while now I’ve been waking up before my alarm. I don’t need to tell you how spectacularly awful this is – everyone is familiar with the overwhelming anger one feels upon discovering there’s still 10 good minutes in which you could have enjoyed being unconscious. Instead you get to spend those 10 minutes with your eyes clenched shut, willing yourself to get your money’s worth of bed time (or trying to return to the absurd, but erotic dream you’d been enjoying), and then just as slumber decides to take hold you’re ripped back into reality by your alarm.

My first alarm (there are 2) goes off at 4:30am, so needless to say I found it incomprehensible that my body would actually choose to be awake any earlier than that.

After a while I realized it was an odd sound that occurred each morning at precisely 4:20am that was spring-boarding me into yet another new day. The noise was so very foreign that I couldn’t actually peg it. Was it a bird? Was it a plane? Was it that woman next door having particularly loud sex again?

This probably would have remained one of life’s less important mysteries, except that I ended up waking up even earlier the other day and hearing something much more recognizable, and annoying. The honking sound of a pre-dawn bird delighting in the silence of the wee hours by filling said silence. Then I heard what has been waking me up every morning for the last month, and I knew.

It was a Vuvuzela.

To the fortunate who are unfamiliar with the instrument, it sounds like a million monotone matronly women yelling at you to stop running, filtered through a fog horn, and it looks like this.

The world knows them as the scourge of World Cup football events, and I know them as perfectly weighted alternatives to baseball bats, especially when you’re a 7 year old entertaining yourself by smashing the crap out of Moreton Bay seed pods.

Apparently they are now also the go to for scaring away birds, greeting the new day and waking up neighbours.

Discovering that the Vuvuzela is now a domestic tool wasn’t even the weirdest thing that happened that morning, pre-dawn. That honour goes to the nudie fruit drink which exploded on me as I inhaled breakfast in the kitchen. I know these beverages are famed for getting violent when they go off, but my calm was severely harmed when this one went kamikaze and forced me to change clothes before work.

The reason I have a highly repetitive morning, pre-work ritual is so I can do it while still half asleep. The paranoid part of me (and a large part of me is routinely paranoid) is starting to suspect that vuvuzelas and exploding drinks are conspiring against me.

Painefull Out

Sunday, August 7, 2011

May The Fan Be With You

I kind of admire the Über Fan. It must be hard, not to mention exhausting, to live with that much conviction. Like working on breakfast television, or being a vegan, or believing in god… the pure emotional drain of being so freaking sincere about one thing all the time must take its toll (especially if it involves not eating steak).

I like Coldplay, for brief periods of time. I enjoy tuna mornay, but life experience has taught me that it doesn’t taste nearly as good on the fourth day. I’m partial to Russell Crowe, as long as he’s being someone else.

But Über Fans… they don’t qualify their love. Their love is pure, eternal, slightly unnerving.

Imagine being so committed to a pop star you have a calendar of him at your work station. Now imagine that pop star is Darren Hayes… and it is 10 years since Savage Garden* broke up. I don’t want to call my colleague Helena ‘Darren’s Number 1 Fan’, but she must come fairly close. She once considered putting a sticker of Darren’s web site on the back of her car, to try and push more people to check it out. When his latest single was officially released she got up at midnight to listen to it, and spent the day touring the office so everyone could sample it from her ipod. She once referred to Darren has her ‘Horcrux’… which, for the non-Harry Potter fans in the room, means he contains a part of her soul, so if he dies a part of her dies. Helena then admitted that she occasionally switches on the news and thinks to herself, ‘God I hope Darren hasn’t died’.

She knows, as a woman, she’s not Darren’s type. That’s not the point. Somehow, at some formative point in her life, Darren took some chaste part of her heart, and her dedication hasn’t faltered since.

LJ: (after one solid Helena monologue about her Darren Dedication) You aren't fickle in your love are you.

Painefull: You certainly don't blow with the winds of fate.

H: No. (triumphant, she continues) I don't blow... (head tilt) well...

Usually you’d call something like this a phase. Like when Livinia wrote fan fiction about Hanson**, or when Peta and Calliope tried online dating, or when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods tried monogamy. But it’s been well past a decade now, and Helena’s love goes on like a power ballad over a sinking ship. There’s no stopping it.

Yes, I kind of do admire the Über Fan. They put the ‘madly’ in ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’. And I suppose someone’s got to balance out the painful amount of cynicism people like me bring into the world.

Painefull Out

* = Savage Garden, the 90’s go-to Aussie band for songs that were catchy initially, but more annoying each time you heard them (as opposed to the name of The Be Sharps, which needed to be witty initially, but less funny each time you heard it).

** = Hanson, the trio of brothers responsible for 'MMMBop'. Go on, hum it. See if someone nearby hits you.

*** = This one goes out to Helena...

Caption: Oh there she is, so it's true, she did buy 5 tickets to my Sydney concert.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Education… again

When it comes to the first day of school I always had a problem – I really don’t make good first impressions. At about the fourth go on the impression front people start to take pity on me. Does anybody actually enjoy the first day of anything? Do they relish befriending strangers, making constant small talk and being hit with a barrage of administrative information that won’t make sense for another month?

I have returned to the education pool a good 6 years after graduating from university.

Of course I don’t just give bad first impressions, I also take them in. Orientation Day involved that usual series of two minute judgment calls on whether you can only hope and pray people aren't doing your course. There were chatty people, quiet people, and several bolshie, middle-aged, loud scarf wearing women. There’s the guy using a walking stick/cane which you like to imagine is due to a sporting injury, but in all probability is a prop (Fi informs me canes are quite the men’s Autumnal accessory). Of course, the first person to dodge is the young man who turned out to be a horrendous silence filler via that detestable habit of echoing the last bit of the last premise to be raised before the silence.

Example: a conversation about high school, amongst 4 people who haven't been to high school in a while, runs out of puff. A brief pause followed by Silence Filler slowly uttering "Yeah... high school hey... high school... aaaah high school".

That’s not a contribution Silence Filler, it’s just repetition of the same phrase.

Then there’s all those etiquette issues I’ve completely forgotten about. Putting your hand up before talking, arriving anywhere on time, having to bluff your way through an answer when asked a question about something you were meant to have read but haven’t. And you have to remember to not roll your eyes when people gush about their plans for world domination and the earth-shattering moment when they knew they had found their calling.

It’s my fault I’m so cynical. Earnest people are just so… earnest. It’s like Captain America is going to writing school and the sheer scale of his sincerity is boggling.

Anyway, I’m back in the world of hitting the homework, rocking the readings, and mentally high-fiving my former 16 year old self whenever there’s a class spent doing nothing but watching a movie. No one ever said learning was easy.

Painefull Out

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Farewell Friday Flirtation

Everyone needs a person in their life who is there simply for the purpose of flirtation. I am not positing a theory, this is just a fact. It’s an outlet, a way to stay in practice, and a serving of assurance that, despite the occasional paranoid thought, you don’t actually repel all people with your presence.

Mine was a Friday Flirtation.

He works in a local, independent book store. As someone who has long held the misled belief they should be working in a book store*, I find this rather appealing. It was my way of celebrating the end of a working week – walk in, peruse weekend reading options, flirt with attractive book guy, occasionally buy something.

All chatter was meaningless, all attention fleeting. And then I ruined it.

My taste in reading has always been eclectic. I tend to have several books going at once so there’s always something to suit my mood. I liked Grisham, and then it got repetitive. Same goes for Ludlum, Forsyth and Evanovich. I always find sticking with an author for too long will eventually lead to disappointment, so these days I tend to go for the book itself, rather than who writes it. This does nothing to explain my recent purchase.

The other week, on a bizarre whim, I bought a novel entitled Robopocalypse.

The title was so stupid, I had to buy it. When my Friday Flirtation raised an eyebrow at my choice as I paid, I was probably just as appalled as he was (which is why I forgot to use my failsafe excuse for all embarrassing purchases** – “I hope my little brother likes it!”). I shook all this off by the time I was out the door, assuming he barely noticed I had just chosen a book specifically marketed at male teenage, Dungeons & Dragons fans with posters of Gollum on their walls.

But he did notice. And he’s brought it up in the 2 Fridays following. It’s really hard to flirt when someone begins a conversation with “How’s Robopocalypse going?”. I think that very phrase might have actually rendered me gender-less. How can you hear that sentence and even remotely consider yourself a sexual being for at least 3 hours after the fact? I am allegedly a grown woman. I wanted to back away from me at that point.

So farewell Friday Flirtation. I may visit your store again, but the bloom is definitely off the book. I will remember our witty banter with fondness, especially the exchanges involving word play and references to books I haven’t read, but managed to convincingly imply I had.

I may never need to see him again anyway. The more of Robopocalpyse I read, the more certain I am that all technology will soon bring on our doom (yes, I just said that on a blog, I get the irony, I'm ignoring it).

Painefull Out

* = my desire to work in a book store is derived from the fact that it looks pleasantly mindless, you get to talk about books all day and, as fiction and film has taught me, all book stores are peopled with quirky eccentrics and owned by affectionate incompetents who will come together to provide support and life lessons at the most opportune moments.

** = I can only hope everyone else suffers similar internal terror at being judged over a purchase by shop workers who, if I was really being honest with myself, don’t give a shit about what I buy. Like when I bought a guy’s t-shirt in a clothes store because it looked comfortable and loudly declared to no on in particular “I sure hope my brother-in-law likes this t-shirt!”, or the fact that I still (absurdly) avoid all eye contact when at the check-out with sanitary products, like it’s a friend I’m mortified to admit I came to a party with.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Drunk Dialing Sisters of Bundaberg

There’s something almost old-fashioned about Drunk Dialing someone. I imagine there are actually 18 year olds who have never even done it – they probably Drunk Tweet. Actually, given some of the crap that pops up on Twitter, I wouldn’t be surprised if a large percentage of its users are tweeting under the influence. But drunk dialing, remember when that used to be the way to embarrass yourself?

Of course, like so many other self-inflicted forms of harm, there’s an App for that now. If you know you intend to have a big night, you use this App to remove certain contacts from you phone book for 24 hours. The numbers of people you secretly love, or people you know secrets about, or people who really need to hear just what you think of them.

But even an App can’t fight nature, and/or a determined drunk. I once heard a friend who used this App whilst inebriated was so eager to call an old flame that she simply pulled out ancient phone bills and starting trying numbers till she found the right one.

It’s a dangerous business. Only recently some colleagues drunk-dialed every senior member of our workplace and left singing phone messages. Why did they sing Happy Birthday to our boss? Who needed to hear We Wish You A Merry Christmas? And perhaps most bizarrely, how on earth did the soundtrack of Grease come into the picture?

I have a fail-safe habit I have formed to combat all drunk dialing tendencies. I think of the one person that can’t dis-own me, judge me or hold against me anything I say at some strange hour of the night. I imagine the one person who is almost guaranteed to have a phone nearby, won’t promptly call the cops on me and cannot fire me. Then I ring Mother Painefull.

Mother Painefull is always relatively good-humoured about these calls. Probably because she’s just relieved it’s a sign I’m being social at all. It’s quite possible a part of her thinks (through the haze of the sleep I have just woken her from) ‘well it’s good to know she gets out, for a period of time I suspected I had bred a hermit’.

But Mother Painefull, mythical powers of prediction, stunning accuracy in spotting future frenemies at 20 paces and unfortunate habit of buying me clothes I will never wear aside, is also merely human. Which, I imagine, is why Mother Painefull returned the drunk dialing favour just the other day. From Bundaberg. With her 3 sisters.

The drunk dialing sisters of Bundaberg.

They each took a turn to declare to me they were the only sober one in the room, then offer a random observation of what was going on.

Mother Painefull: Painefull, I haven’t had much to drink. Aunty F has her legs in the air.

Aunty F: Painefull, don’t listen to your mother. She’s had much more than I have. Now someone’s taking their clothes off.

Aunty J: Painefull, I think I must be the only sober one here (laughs hysterically). We’ve finished 2 bottles of Cointreau.

Aunty P: Painefull, I am the only responsible one here (giggles). I think we need another drink.

As the phone got passed around from mother-to-aunt-to-aunt-to-aunt-to-mother-back-to-aunt a part of me was relieved to discover even the older generation are keeping the drunk dialing skill alive.

Also, apparently it’s genetic.

Painefull Out

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You Need A Headbutt… (and other classic colleague comments)

Sometimes I bring out the patience in workmates. Most of the time I bring out the honest. Below are the Top 3 statements directed at me by colleagues from the past month.

Coming in at # 3…

“Did you brush your hair today?”

Judges say: Constructive, thought-provoking, an entirely valid question.

As Helena stood beside me during a rare lull on an early shift she couldn’t help but put forth a query which probably plagues a lot of people. This narrowly beats out the moment my boss pointed out that a recent visit to the hairdresser had left the back of my head looking much better than the front. The answer to Helena’s question was a resounding no.

Rocking out at # 2…

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but without glasses on you look 10% better.”

Judges say: A well-worn set up, with a delightfully back-handed conclusion.

I had to point out that I wear glasses all the time, thus Fanny was actually saying I spend most of my life looking 10% less attractive. LJ attempted to save the day with a slight correction: I’d say more like 8% better… maybe somewhere between 8 and 10% better. I love that there are statistics involved in this - it makes it all seem so much more scientific. Thank god you can measure the important stuff.

Storming home in the #1 spot…

“You need a headbutt.”

Judges say: Snappy, elegant, and frankly, probably deserved.

I totally deserved this. This is the reply you get when you constantly, and incorrectly, call someone a Vegan for 2 months, when in fact they are a Vegetarian. The lack of meat, when combined with the mitigating factor of working with a complete smart arse such as myself, can lead to violent thoughts. Dear Vegan, I know it’s not funny. Feel free to headbutt me at will.

Painefull Out

Sunday, June 5, 2011

An Interlude With Smug Face

If I have one piece of advice for anyone in Sydney, don’t visit The Orient. It’s a delightful establishment on the Rocks, a tourist trap if ever there was one. But if you are sipping your first drink in the vicinity of security there is a grave danger that you are a threat to those around you.

To quote security from this evening:

SECURITY: Please put down your drink, I think it’s time you leave.

ME: What?

SECURITY: Don’t make me get physical.

I chose not to make him get physical. Instead I was marched out of the pub by FOUR security guards, while being photographed by Jim (my paparazzi of choice).

I requested an exact explanation of the cause of my expulsion, and the bouncer, high on the career path that was his life, replied he would explain all at the exit. Instead, he smugly directed me to a forlorn looking policeman once we reached the perimeter of the establishment. Thank you Smug Face. Your smugness is duly noted. I hope life offers you all the satisfaction that being a bouncer can offer. Revel in it.

This continues my grand history of being expelled from bars while relatively sober. It is something I have long associated with my apparent Drunk Look, but when it come to The Orient, it seems to have more to do with the bizarre whim of the people they label ‘security’. Now, I know when I have had too much to drink (often it results in me telling ageing professionals that “I prefer to bump” at family events), but this was not one of those occasions (as evidenced by the fact that I have come directly home, and written this straight away while my fury is fresh).

I usually try to sympathize with the plight of the security guard, they are the lone beacon of light in the monstrous hell that is the alcoholic haze. That’s a tough beat against a rising tide in Sydney, where the battle against self-assured, under-aged inebriates is a daily grind. But occasionally (and in the case of The Orient, often) they get waylaid/drunk/inebriated on their own sense of power. On this Saturday night I experienced one such encounter, and it led to an early exit by me and my two loyal housemates.

Usually I chuckle this off ruefully, as yet another example of the physical manifestation of my constant state of sarcasm. Bouncers are naturally offended by the sarcasm I exude as a natural feature. But this time I was particularly sober, and this time my opportunity to spend time with a friend who is only briefly in the country was cut short.

Dear Orient: So long, and thanks for all the fish. Also… go fuck yourself.

Painefull Out

Sunday, May 29, 2011

React first, story later

What a relief it is to wake up this morning to Sunday papers telling us all how outraged we are. I don’t know about you, but whenever I worry that I’m incapable of developing my own informed opinion, I breathe a sigh of relief that some media organisations are superbly happy to do it for me. It’s always so much easier when someone tells you how to react to a story, and then tells you the story. It’s like someone telling you something’s funny, before the telling of the funny thing, or providing large handwritten cue cards inscribed with the instruction ‘LAUGH’.

For example, I wouldn’t have known that Cate Blanchett was the love child of some out-of-touch, Communist plot with a thirst for the destruction of every ordinary man, woman and child if the newspapers hadn’t informed me of that fact. If only they had provided Blanchett with a moustache to twirl as she graced the cover or, at the very least, devil horns… why be subtle, when you can be absurdly transparent in your agenda?

I love being told:

“The millionaire Hollywood actress has been accused of being out of touch by spruiking the benefits of the tax which she can afford to pay, unlike many hard-up Australians.”

I’m all for telling the news, but this gives us so much more.

You can imagine the debate about what to call her. When she wins an Oscar, we call her Our Cate. When she returns to take part in the local entertainment industry we call her Aussie Cate. But suddenly, a political stance has made her Hollywood’s Cate.

Then strike one up for alliteration, the headline informs us she’s Carbon Cate (Hanoi Jane eat your heart out).

Huzzah for airing people’s concerns, but this doesn’t seem to be about airing people’s accusations, so much as making the accusation in the first place. We have a cart, we have a horse, but which one shall we put first?

I’m probably being old-fashioned, thinking news should provide us with… news, which is to say information. I find conspiracy theorists icky (like an un-sexy version of vampires, they need more sunlight and less moldy, darkened corners to wallow in), but if I didn’t know any better I’d think we’ve stopped discussing carbon tax in the media and started waving pitchforks around. Was there a meeting in which we decided our audience was over the environmental fad, and the only way to deal with the topic was with smug snorts of derision?

Why have an informed debate when you can just gather round and tar and feather someone instead? It’s so much more entertaining.

I don’t know what to make of all this Carbon pricing business. It’s really hard to develop an informed opinion when everyone’s yelling so bloody loudly. News is no longer helping me make up my mind; it’s helping me realize we have a whole separate problem when it comes to the media.

I’m sick of this bunker mentality, this meaningless point scoring agenda. I’d love to have a conversation instead. But I suppose we’re past that now. Australia has become a hysteria spouting parody of itself.

Poor Cate, maybe she’s better off with Hollywood. At least until the media mob moves on to another punching bag.

Painefull Out

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nice Day For A White Wedding

It was actually a nice day for a white wedding. The weather in the Hunter Valley was superb as I barreled through Cessnock in Albus the albino Toyota. I was running, as I always do, rather late (on the scale of bizarrely close to on time, to missing the plane, I was somewhere in the middle). As this wasn’t an elaborate dream sequence, and therefore not my wedding, my tardiness wasn’t going to leave a groom weeping at an altar.

I may have been running late, but no one could fault my meticulous preparation. The day before I had bought the gift, purchased a new eyeliner, and then undergone one of the few experiences more painful than bra shopping – strapless bra shopping. Perhaps the ultimate Joke Garment, for the more ample woman I’m quite certain the strapless bra merely serves the purpose of providing discomfort and uncertainty in equal measure. It can’t possibly fit, and it’s fighting a losing battle with gravity without its most faithful companion in such battles – the strap. Perhaps foolishly, I opted not to visit The Bra Whisperer* for this purchase.

Then, the morning of someone else’s big day, I bit the bullet and confronted my legs with a razor. That was when I realized how easily Winter tricks you with its jeans and its flannel pyjamas. It’d been too long. The closest thing I can liken it to is shaving a bear. Shaving my legs was like shaving a bear.

I screeched into a parking space, ran into the accommodation I was sharing that night with three friends, and threw some make up at my face. Then I stole some food from a pregnant lady (the pregnant lady is a friend, if there’s any way that could possibly make that fact sound better).

Despite my speed, the four of us were still late for the ceremony. That would have been fine if it hadn't been the CREAKIEST CHURCH EVER, thus our attempt at a subtle, muted entry prompted the capacity crowd to turn and ponder us as we took our seats. We’d missed the walk down the aisle which, unlike the opening credits of a movie, is quite crucial if you want to get a good look at the Great Dress Reveal. Suddenly, with a tap on the shoulder, the couple’s rings were handed to us. They were being handed around the church during the ceremony so everyone had the chance to pray over them... except we missed the part where they explained that, so we just thought we were all being given a chance to admire the rings (and dutifully did so).

It wasn’t long into the vows when the Pregnant Friend I Stole Food Off began to tear up. This was remarkable when you consider she couldn’t actually see anything from where we were seated, and I was quietly narrating the events as they happened for her. I like to imagine it was because I gave such a beautiful, moving account, but let’s be honest hormones probably played a much bigger role.

One lovely, personal ceremony later, driven by the quirks of a priest who was part minister, part entertainer (he was a ministainer**), we were headed toward the reception. When a KFC establishment loomed in the approaching distance we did the respectful, classy thing – we opted for drive thru.

The rest of the evening was filled with those wedding staples. My shoes hurt me so much I wanted to chop off my feet. Wine was in abundance. Speeches got emotional. A bouquet was tossed and a garter was removed with teeth, and no one looked even remotely embarrassed by either exercise. Then, as the bride and groom cut the cake, there were actual, literal fireworks.

It should be noted the bride looked stunning and the groom looked besotted. All the things you really want to see at a wedding.

I even had a momentary lapse in which I found myself thinking marriage could be nice. That moment passed as quickly as it came.

I had more immediate tasks. Like driving back to Sydney for work at 7am the next day. My drooping eyelids forced me to stop at a petrol station halfway, park, recline my driver's seat and have a 20 minute nap. I awoke drooling to the perplexed look of some 10 year old peering through my car window at me. I may have actually muttered "Bugger off"***. Fortunately the window was closed.

Painefull Out

* = The Bra Whisperer – a mysterious woman in a certain shop who can glance at you once and then present you with the perfect bra.

** = An irrelevant and unfunny joke unless you have an abiding love of Joey in Friends.

*** = I may have muttered something worse. But I was half asleep, so who’s to say?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Calliope Seeks Date

There’s the tiny lies we tell ourselves – they’re acceptable and necessary (like “Of course money would make me a better person” and “I can totally imagine taking in foster children when I have my own family”). The small un-truths we tell friends and family are merely routine and expected (such as “You’re right mum, I’ll do that tomorrow, first thing” and “I had no idea this was a costume party, otherwise I definitely would have made the effort”). No one actually wants complete honesty, and if ever there was a time where the truth need not apply, it would be the time for dating.

Calliope, a gorgeous bi-racial butterfly, is looking to get back into the dating world, and so, being a modern woman, she’s taking the modern route. Hello online. Hello eHarmony.

This most ancient of sports has always been light on facts, and heavy on initial impressions. But technology has now given us new ways to mislead at first-profile site. And so, as Calliope opened up her page for Peta and I to view her potential love connections, we couldn’t help but point out an obvious flaw in her handiwork

PETA: But Cally… you’re not white.


P: You’ve said you are on your profile – you’ve selected white.

C: I didn’t really like any of the other options…

P: So when you actually meet them, are you just planning on telling them you have a really good tan?

C: Maybe they won’t notice.

P: Yes, yes they will.

ME: Hang on, won’t they notice when you put up a photo of yourself?

C: I don’t really want to put a photo of myself up. I don’t want guys to decide by what I look like.

ME: Didn’t the 3 of us just decide you should reject a guy because it looked like he was posing as David Caruso in CSI: Miami?

After some negotiation, and a brief flirtation with the idea of adding my albino visage to her profile, Cally opted to tick a more racially accurate box. But how honest must we be when it comes to online dating? If the answer is, only as honest as we would be in real life dating, then perhaps Cally is in the clear. As long as she never actually meets the people she’s dating. Unless it’s the Eastern European Horatio Caine who seemed all set to solve crime while crouching in an unknown garden somewhere – according to all available evidence he never removes his sunglasses, and thus might never notice Cally’s pigment deception.

Horatio has no hope though – Calliope has established as least one rule in her quest for love. CSI need not apply.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Top Hat Is Akin To A Man With A Baby

When next you see me, if ever you see me, don’t be alarmed if I’m wearing a top hat.

I managed to unwittingly double book myself last Saturday night, rsvp-ing in the affirmative to both a 30th and a Farewell. Not wanting to disappoint on either front (though, my lack of arrival anywhere could never truly be titled a ‘Disappointment’ of any variety) I decided to break my Cardinal Going Out Rule.

Painefull’s Cardinal Going Out Rule (CGOR) = Never, ever change venues. People will disperse, your feet will be sore, everyone will either sober up or get messy and you will develop an irrational hatred of whatever music is playing.

The second challenge of the evening, following from the breaking of the CGOR was that while the Farewell required me to come as myself, the 30th demanded that I go in costume… which now that I think about it, is probably in direct violation of my 2nd Cardinal Going Out Rule.

Painefull’s 2nd Cardinal Going Out Rule (CGOR2) = Never dress up in costume to attend something outside of your own home. This is either a rule you understand implicitly, or not. If not, you’re probably not averse to caroling or aggressive PDA either. I think that says a lot about you.

Of course I’ve broken this rule before, but much like setting off a fire alarm or running naked between a bathroom and a bedroom, it should only be done in cases of emergency or confidence bordering on smugness. When breaking this rule I tend to go for the minimalist option – less is less, but it’s also probably more comfortable. I once attended a house party with a Bond theme, and did what I could to blend in by writing the letter ‘M’ on a piece of paper and sticky-taping it to my jeans. I was shocked by how many people had to ask me who I was.

The theme for the 30th was Circus. Jim, who lives for a themed party and relishes an opportunity for a home-made costume, decided to be a Lion. He crafted himself a tail, a mane and some ears, and completed the look with elaborate face paint:

ME: (wandering past the bathroom, and forced to do a double take) What are you doing? Are you… shaving?

JIM: (appalled I have to ask, turns to reveal half his face covered in white paint) No. I’m putting down a base.

I love it when other people over-commit to a dress-up party – it allows me to stand near them while making almost no effort, all the while appearing to make great effort. I simply wore regular clothes and donned a black top hat. Suddenly, Jim’s a Lion and I’m a Ringmaster (“Wow Painefull, you look great, loving the team costuming!”… is how I envision the internal monologue of all who see me under such circumstances).

In all fairness to me, aside from the hat (which I have had resting on the back seat of my car for over a month, for a completely unrelated reason), dressing up as a ring master is kind of tricky. How do you ask friends if they have a whip you could borrow? And do you really want them to actually say ‘yes’?

So first up, the 30th. Lions and Tigers and Mimes, oh my.

Then on to catch up with the Farewell, which has moved on to a rather dodgy establishment (one where I once discovered that, despite any possible soberness, I do indeed own a drunk look). Jim and I assumed we wouldn’t get in. Mostly, we assumed Jim the Lion wouldn’t get in. But for some reason, the shock of his appearance seemed to stop the bouncers from objecting. Then came this exchange with the woman collecting the cover charge from us.

WOMAN: (to Jim) What are you meant to be?

JIM: I’m a lion.

WOMAN: Oh. (turns to me) Are you the wardrobe.

Pause as Jim and I look at the woman quizzically.

ME: Oh, you mean… from The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe? Well I suppose it was either that or the witch…

WOMAN: What?

ME: (offering my wrist) I’ll just… take a stamp thanks.

Once inside the establishment, and when not distracted by Fi almost having a rumble with an angry Cougar (while watched by a cowardly Lion), I discovered something odd was happening. Not one, not two, but many men proceeded to approach and engage me in conversation. Like a moth to a flame, they simply couldn’t help but ask about the top hat.

Fi and I were marveling at it. It was the only explanation for the sudden onslaught of male interest. And then, just like that, Fi had an epiphany.

A top hat on a woman is akin to a man with a baby.

As women find men holding babies both sensitive and masculine, men find women in top hats both bizarre but intriguing.

There was practically a line to talk to me. It’s like guys were dying to misunderstand my quips about pulling out rabbits. Who knows, I might have even picked up, had the dance floor not cleared and I suddenly decided to give a Broadway performance (I was in a top hat after all – you can’t just ignore an opportunity like that when you’re in a top hat).

So, given all the benefits, not to mention the show tune opportunities, don’t be surprised if I find a way to fold the top hat into my everyday wardrobe.

Painefull Out

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do They Do A Cake For That?

What do you say when you find out a colleague is slipping out of the office for an hour to sign her divorce papers? Is there an appropriate response – like “Bless you” to a sneeze, or “Did you really mean Tina Fey” to “I quite like Sarah Palin”?

Do they make a cake for that? If not, they should.

Then again, they should make a cake for a lot of things – it would save a hell of a lot of awkward. If you could say it with a cake, it’d be the perfect combination of acknowledgment, minus the uncomfortable silence that getting verbal risks. A silence is never uncomfortable if it’s filled with cake.

Other things that are better said without saying them, so they really should make a cake for:

I’m sorry I sent you that text that was about you

Commiserations on the break-up, but I never liked him

Here’s to deodorant!

Congratulations on your unplanned pregnancy, unless you’re exercising your right to choose, in which case… yay feminism!

Let’s agree to disagree

Please stop wearing Simpsons shirts, you’re a grown man

Stop asking me if I’m upset, it’s upsetting me

Yes, your father is my gynecologist, but we never need speak of it – let’s have some cake

I can already tell you for a fact that the best way to apologise to a boss after a relatively embarrassing blogging discovery is through cake (cookie cheesecake is the preferred method).

I’m sure there are thousands more moments they should do cakes for. Why say it with flowers when you can say it with cake? Why admit you were wrong when a cake can make the grudging admission for you? Cakes are for every occasion – I intend to remember this, always.

Painefull Out

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Scary Movie

I don’t watch scary movies. I can’t fathom why people enjoy being terrified. I fail to understand how something that makes you quake with fear can also be entertaining. What I do acknowledge is that every so often, somewhere in between the moments of terror a decent film with interesting characters can be found. That’s why I will occasionally partake in a DVD viewing of something that might be deemed frightening, with copious use of the fast forward button.

This is what I mean when I say I enjoy the Scream films for the dialogue.

I like to imagine that all of Sidney Prescott’s friends and family went to live on a farm together, and Wes Craven simply avoids writing farewell scenes. It easier to imagine thanks to the fact that I haven’t ever witnessed an entire death scene – how are we to know for sure that being gutted is necessarily fatal? Drew Barrymore probably shook off a few glancing stabs and skipped away to make Charlie’s Angels. It makes complete sense if you think about it.

My housemate Jim has spent the last 5 years trying to convince me to see a scary movie with him in the cinema. He’s under the impression that my excessive leaping, shrieking and hiding would be just as entertaining as any movie we might actually be viewing. Given that I once had to stop watching an episode of Dr Who because it was freaking me out, it’s fair to say he was right.

So, Jim finally got his wish, and my one and only scary movie cinema experience occurred the other week when I went to see Scream 4. First up, breaking news, people die in this one. Secondly, I could not find a fast forward button anywhere. The only way I was talked into going at all was because Jim had seen the movie a few days earlier, given me a complete plot breakdown, and agreed to sit beside me and narrate what was about to happen before it happened.

Sample Jim Spoiler #1

Jim: She will walk outside, we will cut back to the friend inside, then the killer will burst out of the cupboard to her left and stab her to death.

Painefull: Her left or our left?

J: Her left.

P: So she dies?

J: Yes. The girl in the opening scene dies.

Sample Jim Spoiler #2

P: (slouched, shirt pulled up over my head) Is she about to die?

J: No.

P: (bobbing my eyeline above the neckline of my shirt) Is she dying in one minute?

J: No.

P: (a hint of hope creeping in, now watching the screen properly) Does she have 20 minutes?

J: Okay, now she’s about to die.

Given that I once convinced Jim that we should definitely see Bride Wars on the big screen, I suppose every single moment of terror was some form of karmic retribution. Fi, who sat on my right, was at one point concerned I may have a panic attack. I really wish it had occurred to me to have a panic attack – it would have been a fantastic excuse to run out.

So tick that one off the bucket list – I will never be doing it again. I had to check under my bed 3 times that night, and a minimum of twice ever since. You know you’ve lost touch with the rational when you catch yourself wondering if a killer could be hiding under a pile of shoe boxes in the back of your wardrobe.

On the upside, my cardio is definitely feeling the benefits of the pre-dawn sprint to my car now that I’m on early shifts. I’ve even added a little zigzag maneuver to help avoid all shadows that I think adds a really nice zest to the work-out.

Painefull Out

P.S. Jim and Mick’s hilarious idea to greet me home from work one day wearing Scream masks has been cancelled since I showed them the softball bat I keep under my bed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another Year

Sometime last year I read an article, or saw a morning television segment (not that I would ever, under any circumstances admit to watching morning television) that explained the dangers of sharing too many personal details on Facebook. Apparently the information we hand over while social networking, as readily as tissues at a hay fever festival, can be used by those pursuing a career in the highly competitive world of identity theft. The key element among the data we thoughtfully provide to credit card scammers and Mossad agents alike is our birthday.

As I am technologically inept (the computer I currently speak to you from is virtually a glorified typewriter, and my mobile phone of choice looks like something Julia Roberts might have used in My Best Friend’s Wedding) I have an irrational, paranoid fear of cyber crime. It’s something to do with the fact that I don’t really understand how anything I use actually works – it’s like a dark alley, I don’t know that there’s a rapist lurking in the shadows… so a part of me simply assumes he’s there. So upon finding out the danger of having your date of birth on Facebook I promptly deleted that piece of information from my profile.

And that’s how I turned my birthday this year into an accidental secret.

It’s like I staged a subconscious conspiracy against myself. It’s as if part of me, that part that only jumps out to take some air in around early April, the one that is becoming steadily terrified of my increasing age, decided to sabotage the whole getting older production.

Most of my poor Gen Y friends simply forgot. Understandable. On the upside, it gave me a chance to avoid those awkward Facebook salutations from people I haven’t spoken to in 10 years. On the downside is led to my rather awkward attempt to invite people around for minor, quasi birthday drinks later in the week, without actually stating that it was to mark my birthday. I didn’t want to ambush anybody, but I couldn’t help it. When Peta arrived and offered a fist bump in celebration of Friday I guiltily replied, “Also… you know… I’m 26 now so… yay.”

I’ve always felt oddly uncomfortable about staging birthday parties, it can’t help but feel like I’m saying:

“Hey… come celebrate ME.”

Even my 21st celebration was a challenge my mother (thankfully) pushed me through. I woke up on the morning of that party and clarified that mum wasn’t going too large with the whole thing. She reassured me she was being rather low key in her decorations, and it was only when I walked into the yard that I discovered she had gotten several close up photos of my face blown up to billboard proportions and plastered on the walls on one side of the house. That’s how Mother Painefull does low key – the same way Lady Gaga does understated.

My family (most of my family) remembered. I missed calls from Mother and Father Painefull respectively. The first phone message was a gushing speech about mum’s personal pride in my survival, the fact that she wanted to be the first to talk to me, and how she wished I had the best day ever. It ran for 2 minutes. The second one came with a rapid fire delivery, and went:

“Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday. This is your father.”

I managed my usual obsessive catch up with my age group pace setters – those women with whom I share a birth year and not much else. Keira Knightley has been out of one serious relationship and into another one, and she’s still incredibly famous and successful. Thank god for Haylie Duff, the Other Duff Girl.

There’s something so decidedly clichéd about obsessing over getting old. After my 1985 celebrity round-up, I decided I needed to move on. There’s probably no point in being terrified by ageing if I’m already the kind of elderly spinster who gets scared enough by technology to erase my birth date from Facebook.

Painefull Out