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.