Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Last of the Parental Holidays

Everyone loves a family holiday.  Or at least the beginning of one.  Or potentially the concept of one.  Everyone loves a holiday, and doesn’t family just spice things up a little?

The FamilyPainefull never fails to keep things interesting.

This will make more sense shortly

But within that broad church that is the gathering together of every available relation to drink, and dance, and drink, and eat, and drink, there’re some niche groupings.  There’s the Family Holiday Gathering, where no one goes anywhere exotic, they just converge on someone’s home and start indiscriminately breaking things and fighting over bedding.  There’s the Resort Family Crashing, where everyone does go somewhere exotic to work on their cancer-baiting sunburn and non-existent surfing skills, and 1 in 3 members decide what they really need is to do something stupidly drastic to their hair.  And let’s not forget the Family Road Trip – 1 hour renditions of The Song That Never Ends, a gradual tour of Australia’s ‘Big’ things and (on very special trips) a dog vomiting in the back of the car.

I don't remember road trips looking like this

After the recent return of Mother and Father Painefull from a trip to Vanuatu with two of their grandkids, I was reminded of another niche category that will always be very close to my heart – the Parental Holiday.  The Parental Holiday comes with a Used By Date, it only really occurs during the era when your age leads to discounted prices, or your poverty leads to pity invitations.  It’s just you, your parents and the deep blue sea.

With no one else to dilute the situation, all the potentially awkward encounters one could hope for are amplified.  Then squared.  Then made even more entertaining.  As with everything in life, I have a personal top 3 for the purpose of illustration:

3. Backpacking through New Zealand
It was 1997.  I was too young and mum was too mature to fully understand what backpacking really actually meant.  It meant bunk beds with strangers, people smoking pot out the back, and mum (as the only licensed person in the building, and proud driver of a rental vehicle) being begged for lifts by the kind of individuals that probably spent their spare time attending beat poetry revivals.  To be fair, it only took one hostel for mum to get the drift – we booked into B&B’s for the rest of the jaunt.

2. Lindeman Island Club Med
2003.  There was sun, surf, activities… and compulsory communal meals with everyone staying at the resort on enforced group tables.  Fortunately, as a sullen teenager who had only just tipped over the 18 mark, I wasn’t too picky with my wines.  I overcame my daily hangovers by taking up archery.  Because at Club Med holding a weapon just makes things feel better.  Sample Highlight: Instead of befriending the only other teen my age, she actually became my resort-based nemesis.  I don’t know why.

1. Croatia
In 2007 I fully appreciated just how cool my parents are.  I think you need to be old enough to see them as more than just purveyors of authority, punishment and snacks to understand that they really do know how to have fun.  When Mother and Father Painefull caught up with me during my wandering year in the northern hemisphere they were flexible, adventurous and hilarious (sometimes even on purpose).  Sample Moment: Mum spent a great deal of time discussing and negotiating over 2 glass paintings of roosters with a local man in Rovinj.  Except his English was limited and the conversation went along the lines of:

Mother Painefull: These are lovely – are paintings of roosters quite common around here?
Man: (brief quizzical look) Ah yes, the cock.  The cock is very common.
MP: There seems to be quite a range…
Man: Yes, the cock comes in many sizes and colours.  Sometimes it’s red, sometimes orange, sometimes there are 2 cocks.  The cock is very popular.
MP: I want one for me, and I wanted to get one for my daughter, perhaps a smaller one?
Man: We have many sizes.  Lots of cocks.  Here’s a nice one.  Would you like a larger one?

I don’t feel like I really have to say anything else on the subject.

Painefull Out

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pleased To Meat You

Hi, my name’s Painefull. I’m sorry I haven’t written for a while, but you should know it’s for a very good reason. It’s because I’m a terrible person.

I appear to have skipped town for the month of April. That’s not true. Even it if was true it would be a completely ineffective excuse coming from the person that once arrived in snow-locked Germany, had her final flight cancelled, got her bag lost in the system, injured herself kicking snow, and still took the time to blog about it from the shivery confines of a friend’s charming little flat in Münster.

To re-introduce myself after over a month of radio silence, I thought I should update you on my life.

Haven't seen The Princess Bride?  Why are we friends?  Who are you??

I got older
You probably already picked that from the wrinkles in my writing. No, I didn’t dive off the deep-end into a pile of self-loathing, liver-spotted, quince paste eating devastation. I’m saving that for 30 (though I’ll probably give myself a head start and kick that shame spiral off when I clock on to 29).

I’ve never loved my birthday, and for that I find it easiest to blame Keira Knightly. I’ve also removed it from Facebook to avoid having my identity hijacked by Mossad. This year I did manage to celebrate with family, friends, and iPod-based karaoke that featured a lot of Celine Dion. And canes. And a range of WW1 and safari hats.

I discovered being a student is harder than I remembered
I got a taste of this last year, but when you ramp things up to full time student-hood and couple it with full time unemployment, you give yourself the chance to feel both stupid and poor in equal measure.

It’s also meant I’ve had the glorious opportunity of conducting business with Centrelink for the very first time. It’s a fine romance we’re having, though they’re definitely playing hard to get. It’s been 2 months, 5 extensive phone calls and 4 office based dates and I’m still not getting any. You know how it is with government agencies, they just don’t like to put out.

I continue to injure myself while dancing
It’s one part Getting Older and two parts Vigorous Conviction In My Absurd Belief I Can Dance.

I got sucked in by Delta Goodrem’s PR machine in full flight (ie. The Voice)*
If you haven’t become hypnotized by So Goodrem’s efforts to emote like her life depended on it then you haven’t lived. You can take that ruling to the bank (where they’ll undoubtedly rip you off on the interest rate front, but smile politely while they’re doing it).

I would once again like to thank the Dutch, arbiters of all things addictive in reality television (that aren’t called ‘Survivor’ or ‘Australia’s attempt at political stability’) for such a brilliant gift.

I had to try and come up with a horror movie idea
Considering I can’t stand horror movies, this is a big deal. I stayed up until 3am the night before it was due, clutching my softball bat and trying to think of something scary without scaring myself. Strangely all my ideas ended with, ‘but it was just a dream’. Then I discovered there’s some classic horror movie in which people’s dreams kill them. Then I had to try and go to sleep.

I got a new bed
This was mostly to solve my unending issues with my back. My existing bed was as old as Jesus (but there’s photographic evidence of its actual existence). It was best described by one of my housemates (Mick) as “Big enough to imply promise, but not so big as to say 'slut'”. Fair call.

I had Brazilian BBQ… and I’m still full
Steak my heart and hope to die, I don’t want to butcher this with puns (or get grilled about this later), but sometimes you do just have to ham things up. I have a bit of a beef with eating so much meat, but it was a rare occasion and it was all very well done.

If you're a vegetarian, look away now

So, now that I’ve re-introduced myself, I promise not to leave it so long between one-sided monologues. Yes mum, as the only person to have read every single post I ever put up, that promise is pretty much for your benefit (also, while I’ve got you Mother Painefull, what are we feeling for dinner on Monday night when I come visit? I think I’ll be hungry again by then).

Painefull Out

* = Delta Goodrem is Australia’s answer to the vacuum in product placement happy celebrities left by the fact that Pat Rafter is, after all, only one man. She is also a singer.