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

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To Be Rectified Immediately

To say Jim, Mick and I have a difficult relationship with our neighbours would be incorrect. We don’t have a relationship with our neighbours to speak of. Nevertheless, considering we seem to be the youngest people on our street, and the only renters in our block, we consider ourselves the definition of low maintenance – considerate parkers, thoughtful returners of incorrect mail, cheerful nodding acquaintances – when it comes to those that live within our general vicinity.

We do our best to combat the undying assumption that the 3 of us are filthy university students living in a world of vice and excess as some sort of ménage à trios. Perhaps we undermine ourselves a little with our loud references to choosing a Mormon lifestyle, and the occasional quips about working a nearby corner, but on the whole we try to give off an air of maturity.

Sorry, we tried to give off an air of maturity.

Then our neighbours, after 3 years of living in awkward, but relative harmony decided they had a problem with the way we kept our yard and complained to the building’s strata board. Then the strata board complained to our disinterested real estate agent (who only remembers we exist when there’s a water bill). Then our perpetually absent real estate people contacted us with one of their typically abrupt missives (the type you find rude for the first 2 years, then merely mildly offensive after that), copying in our kindly landlords.

Suddenly, based on the report in the letter we received last week, it sounded as if Baghdad and the Amazon rainforest had a drunken hook-up one tequila-fuelled Tuesday, resulting in the conception of our yard. Our faux garden (because it’s not really a garden, so much as an unofficial gathering of greenery – casual drinks, the occasional BBQ, nothing serious, just friends) was reportedly so overgrown it practically sounded lecherous. Never mind the 3 construction sites peppering the homes of our street, the overhang of our hedge was such a OH & S issue for sidewalk lovers everywhere it might as well have been mugging them.

So then, it was official. Maturity, as with ‘all bets’ and ‘the gloves’ was off.

Intent on avoiding being accused of noncompliance, but keen to show the teenage scorn all these grown ups seem to have applied to us we decided to that (as our agent scrawled) this needed to be rectified immediately.

Shovel? Check.

Pickaxe? Check.

Giant garden shears? Check.

We sort of took a scorched earth policy. They wanted that front yard cleared? You can bet your arse it got cleared. Cleared of character, cleared of charm, cleared of anything that disguised it from being the patch of dirt it was when we first moved in. Goodbye hedge, farewell small tree.

Landscape & Design By The Neighbours Who Dobbed On Us (without ever once trying to discuss the issue with us directly, which, needless to say, would have led to an apology and a gentle pruning).

In the end, we decided salting the earth was a little extreme.

Painefull Out

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Told You So

There is nothing more frustrating or infuriating than belatedly discovering your parents were right. This rule doesn’t apply to every piece of parental wisdom, every pearl of sage advice, but rather specifically to the suggestions which are smugly ignored by children who are certain that they can conquer any future problem.

Do you think parents eventually get bored of saying “I told you so”?

If there is one warning Mother Painefull handed me most often during my youth it regarded my appalling posture. People, to this day, are often amazed by my actual height which (like a super hero hiding their true identity) is veiled by my refusal/inability to stand up straight.

If there is one piece of advice Father Painefull has harped on about with alarming fervour in recent times it has been that above all else I needed to get personal health insurance. He actually rang me one Saturday morning out of the blue, for no other reason than to provide a 30 second spiel on the importance of health insurance (30 seconds being the average length of any phone conversation with Father Painefull before he asks if I need to speak with my mother). I kindly informed dad just last month that when I was old enough to actually need insurance, I would definitely get it.

Imagine then my dismay when, at the increasingly withered age of 25, I injured my back while jogging and was promptly informed by my physio that the real problem was (drum roll please) my appalling posture. Then, after realizing my injury is going to take a series of regular, expensive appointments to heal over several months, I go to sort out my bill at reception and am asked for my insurance details. All the receptionist could manage was a look of mortified pity when I quietly informed her I was currently between insurers.

I have given my parents one (ONE) free pass to say “I told you so” over this double-whammy of my own making. They, being wise parents, are currently holding on to that pass for what they believe will be the perfect moment.

Meanwhile I had to spend 3 days either standing or lying down, but above all not sitting. Have you ever realized how important sitting is? I have now realized most of my favourite past times involve sitting – writing, watching television, eating brunch, staring vacantly off into space for hours at a time… all of these are pretty sitting-dependent sports.

It could have been worse of course. Kiwi Snow White later revealed that when she first saw me hobbling through the office on the day I hurt my back, she had quietly wondered to herself whether I might be sporting some sort of minor sex injury*. So it definitely could have been worse – it could have been genuinely difficult to explain.

What was genuinely difficult to explain was the moment when my poor physio, working on the muscles in my lower back, accidentally discovered that I was sporting underwear that may or may not have featured Wonder Woman. I was forced to hurriedly explain that it was my washing day. It was. It really was.

If I were to sum up the true lesson I have learnt from all of this, it’s not that mum and dad are always right (though they would undoubtedly disagree), but that really, ultimately, if you think about it… exercise is actually bad for you. At least that’s what I imagine I’ll be telling my kids in 20 years time.

Painefull Out

* = Oh Kiwi Snow White, you never cease to amaze.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Reverse Prank Prank

There are several things I don’t do well – making first impressions, ordering takeaway without wanting to strangle the person on the other end of the phone and remembering what people’s names are the first 5 times I meet them are just a few of those things. Another one is pulling off pranks.

Not long ago I mentioned a couple of colleagues who delight in their skill with a prank. Well, I am proud to say that in my debut April Fools performance, a couple of other committed workmates and I managed to prank one of the pranksters. In addition to this, in the equivalent of hitting a bull’s eye target while blindfolded, I managed my part without even being present for said prank.

‘The Reverse Prank Prank’ – in which the pranker becomes the prankee, and the original prankee joins a secondary conspiracy and becomes a co-pranker.

Stage 1 – The Prank

LJ decided to prank our boss, Dame Deadpan*, by asking for a meeting and explaining to Dame that she was leaving the company for a top secret project with the opposition, and she had asked another key staff member to come with her.

Stage 2 – The Reverse

Helena and I consulted on the matter, and then promptly told Dame Deadpan about the plan. We decided to reverse the plan, without telling anyone else.

Stage 3 – The Setup (a pause for paranoia)

LJ, becoming increasingly paranoid that Helena and I were planning something, but not sure what that something was, sent us a pointed email containing nothing but a link to the Split Enz song ‘One Step Ahead’. This was ironic, because she wasn’t. I placated her by pointing out I wasn’t going to be at work on Friday, and that though we had tried to think of a suitable prank we had decided it was too difficult to get a pro like LJ on April Fools. What I did do was warn LJ that I thought her prank on Dame Deadpan might push her over the edge, and the reaction might not be pretty.

Stage 4 – The Reverse Prank Prank

LJ (accompanied by a complicit Kiwi Snow White) enacts the prank, telling her lie to Dame. Dame promptly (in an Oscar nominated performance) loses her shit, grabs her bag and declares she’s had enough of everything and storms out of the office, with LJ (feeling nauseous) and Snow White (horrified by the dramatic turn of events) chasing after her calling out “April Fools!”

Of course, I wasn’t actually there for Stage 4, so my satisfaction has been limited to several re-tellings.

Fortunately, as her penchant for practical jokes suggests, LJ has a sense of humour.

Painefull Out

* = Dame Deadpan is British, cynical and hilarious. The other day she put a giant Lindt chocolate rabbit on my desk because she was afraid she had been mean to me. Despite the fact it is more likely that I was just being my usual smart arse self, I accepted the Guilt Chocolate willingly.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Very Painefull Family Trip To The Gold Coast

The Family Painefull doesn’t often go on holiday as one – it’s become such a giant, conflicted, constantly morphing organism that trips together are now as complicated to plan as Oprah’s incredibly low key, and ultimately unfulfilling visit to Australia. Nevertheless, Mother Painefull decided to bite the bullet in celebration of her latest 30th birthday – thus on her very generous dime the Family Painefull invaded the Gold Coast for 4 days.

It began, as all proper family holidays should, with a fight. Perhaps the most surprising element of that fight was its participants – Me versus Father Painefull. I have mentioned previously that Father Painefull has a pathological terror of being late for a flight. When my parents arrived to pick me up on their way to the airport and I foolishly dared to be 3 minutes late walking out the front door, Father Painefull and I found ourselves engaged in a protracted yelling match that began with a bang in my lounge room, before fading into a car trip filled with self-righteous indignation (from both of us), snide comments (almost entirely from me) and the sound of my mum chuckling with amusement and delight because it had nothing to do with her. Frankly I still fail to see the problem, considering Painefull Mean Time (PMT) usually involves running 10 minutes late to everything, I was technically early.

Almost everyone made it to the lovely resort (it had never met a water feature it didn’t like) – Mrs Ryan + 3, Mrs Woog + 3, Elspeth + 3… and Single Sally (aka Me). I like to imagine I am not old enough yet to be mistaken for the spinster who scored a pity invite, but rather I’m the nanny that gets taken on vacation (and does very little actually nanny-ing work).

Throughout the 4 days several attempts were made to give me a makeover, the most memorable moment featured me spending 25 minutes pretending to be asleep on a couch to avoid a particularly grueling assessment of my short-comings. Of course, whenever Mrs Woog did get near me with some earrings and a scarf she undoubtedly improved my situation immeasurably, and her critical eye was nothing if not honest. A few gems…

“This jacket should suit Painefull, it’s very man-ish.” – Mrs Woog holds up a catalogue for all to see in the maxi taxi to the resort

“God you have broad shoulders. It’s great… if you play football.” – Mrs Woog expresses her frustration while struggling to find clothing that might fit me in a store

“Isn’t it amazing what accessories and great shoes can do to dress up a really boring, plain, ordinary dress?” – Mrs Woog gives her approval, she owned the accessories and shoes, I owned the dress

Some other key Family Painefull Holiday Milestones were hit right on schedule. Mother Painefull had a crippling migraine on the first night, The Brothers Grim (aka the triumvirate of Brothers-In-Law) went to grab something from the shops across the road and came back 3 hours later from the pub, and the vegetarian Mrs Ryan got soused while watching everyone else eat prawns for dinner (well… that was her excuse, the rest of us became intoxicated out of solidarity). That was Day 1.

If I had known then that the following evening would involve the family hijacking the opening night of a restaurant, most of us joining a belly dancer in her performance, mum developing conspiracies about a group of nearby Russians (and resolving them by joining their conversation), and a group rendition of the Macarena (why?) I would have realized that Day 1 was just a warm-up.

It really was quite a successful holiday all round, capped off when Mother Painefull took us girls to high tea at the Palazzo Versace where everything that was ever gold went to live a decorative, cosmetically altered life. Basically the Gold Coast in miniature.

Most importantly our matriarch herself had a good time, and as it was in her honour (and at her expense) that we went, the whole thing felt like a triumph. If only the flight attendants served something to ease the nausea of crashing back into everyday life at the other side of the whole thing.

So above all, Happy Birthday Mother Painefull!

Painefull Out