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Archive for February, 2009

Somehow I managed to fall in love with – and subsequently marry and have children with – a man who did not share my taste in books. Yes, my husband simply refuses to read any fiction published after a very specific date which I  believe to be somewhere around mid-July, 1959. He has, however, conceded that he has some interest in reading “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis one of these days, claiming it was published in the early ’60s. However, when I wikipediaed it, I found out that it was first published in 1954, thus proving that his Cut-Off is iron-clad. 

Anyway, this was all an interesting lesson for me about how we can’t get everything out of the one relationship and why they invented Book Group (see “In The Good Books” for more on that merry band of women in my life). And in any case, I have been lucky enough to collect enough friends over the years to complement the many different facets of my personality. I have Sparkly friends and Sane friends. Silly friends and Soulful friends. Coffee-Scones-and-Double-Cream friends and Long-Afternoons-Drinking-Cheap-Fizz friends. And I love them all. 

And then I have “The Cousins”. On my dad’s side of the family, there are eight of us who have been putting on Cousin Christmas Spectaculars and sharing in-jokes since we were in nappies (some of us are still in nappies but I ain’t sayin’ who). Somehow, however, the Cousin Thing in my life has been kept largely separate from my Friends Thing. Perhaps it’s because, whenever the two worlds meet, all my male hetreosexual friends try to crack onto my cousins – both the boys and the girls. What can I say? We’re one hell of a good looking family. 

Recently we had a mini Cousin Get-Together because one of my cousins was in town with her brand spankin’ new fiance. Some last-minute scheduling problems meant that this get-together converged with a spontaneous BBQ we had put on for some other dear friends of ours. As I was introducing everyone, I realised that they already knew each other but just not in the flesh. Why, there I had three of my regular blog commenters all in the same room – “mystery v”, “MM” and “KC” (although, I should hasten to mention that MM and KC have been married for over a decade and have managed to have a relationship outside of my blog, their son being overwhelming proof of this). Luckily, mystery v’s new man “Imaginary D” had been exposed to enough of my blog to appreciate the exchanges of knowing “Aaahhhs!” and cries of “Boobalicious!!” that followed. 

And so we all sat around my kitchen table for some hastily-thrown together food, cheap fizz and lively conversation. I realised I was in safe hands when I was able to exclaim “Bloody Haemophiliacs!” without anyone judging me too harshly for such a random and tasteless joke. And certainly, once my “Rock Cousin” arrived, things shifted to a whole new level. At one point, there was muttering in one corner about “www.cousinswap.com”, which nobody involved in its conception seemed to be able to explain to me. And then later, there was even talk of “www.cousindump.com” which I think was a website that helps arrange certain scattalogical services to be performed by a distance blood relative but I can’t be sure. Best not dwell too long on such things, really. 

In any case, I was well pleased. Some of my worlds – virtual and real, family and friends – had successfully converged for a pleasant afternoon of spontaneous silliness. As you would certainly hope would happen when some of the family you love and some of the family you’ve chosen meet… Perhaps that’s what http://www.cousinswap.com was all about?

Whatever the hell it is, we here at NDM Central raise our glasses of cheap fizz to friendship! And to cousinship! And lazy Saturday afternoons! May the three often converge…

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Every time I swipe my card at the supermarket there’s always a few anxious moments before the transaction is approved. And when the little machine gives me the nod, I grin like an idiot because I don’t have to go through the humiliating process of splitting payment over three cards or, worse still, having to say “Oh, I think I’ll leave it today” and walk proudly away from $12 worth of essential groceries. 

Somewhat ironically, after a particularly nail-biting swipe experience the other day, The Pixie and I were approached in the supermarket car park by a Gentleman With Extremely Poor Dental Hygiene asking for money. I explained that I had just swiped my account clean and had no cash on me, but he wouldn’t let it go.

“Don’t you have just 20 cents you can spare me? Just a few coins?” he pleaded. But as he spoke, I saw his eyes shift past me to the filthy interior of the Love Bus, across to my daughter who was showing a healthy portion of underpants and bum-crack and had a face covered in some unidentifiable green sticky substance, and then back to the necklace around my neck that literally came out of a Bi-Lo christmas cracker three years ago.

In the end, I didn’t even end up having to refuse him a second time because he suddenly backed straight off. Wishing me luck, he went off to find someone a little less tragic and leaving me to feel relieved, annoyed and guilty all at the same time. 

The Pixie was intrigued. “Why did that man ask us for money?” she wanted to know.

“Um, because he doesn’t have much himself.” I replied.

“Oh. Why doesn’t he have much money? He should buy lots of money,” she said. “When we get some more money, we could give him some.”

“Maybe,” I said, changing the subject. Something told me he wasn’t going to spend any money we gave him on a toothbrush but how could she understand that? Why should I want her to understand that? She was only four, after all. 

Recently my visiting mother-in-law found herself desperately trying to distract Mr Justice from reading too much of the explicit signage outside our local “Adult Shop” when they went together to pick-up the take-away (from the Chinese Restaurant next door and NOT the Adult Shop, I hasten to add).

“The kids will have to grow up fast living around here!” she remarked to my husband afterwards. Certainly, I didn’t think, when I embarked on this Journey called Motherhood, that I would find myself having to explain to a three year old what a syringe is and what it was doing lying in our street. But then again, there are far more dangerous parts of the world for a child to grow up where they are exposed to far greater horrors than junkies and syringes and signs with the words “XXX Sex Toys” in them. 

The question remains, however: how do you bring up your children to be worldy-wise but not world-weary? How do you protect them without smothering them? How do you preserve their childhood and the innocence and joy that it should contain but without bringing them up in a bubble?

My husband has often said that he would like his bio to read “[Name] grew up in [Suburb] in the 1950s and was horrified, upon leaving, to discover it was actually 1995.”

“Still, my childhood wasn’t so bad”, my husband has subsequently mused. “At least I knew how to use chopsticks”.

Note to self: teach children how to use chopsticks. 

Another note to self: find a way of finishing this blog post without answering any of the questions I’ve raised because I really Don’t. Have. A. Clue. and these were things that were just swilling around in my brain and nobody comes to my blog Looking For Answers Anyway. Unless, of course, they come here looking for the answer to the question “How do I decorate a boob cake?” (and quite a few do, according to my WordPress Stats), in which case they really will be disappointed. 

Final note to self: write a blog post entitled “How to decorate a boob cake” so at least something somewhere is answered. But just make sure the kids don’t see the diagrams in the interests of preserving their innocence just that little bit longer.

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The other day Uncle B got offered a free magazine subscription as part of some internet/mobile/Big Mac combo deal he signed up for. When faced with a choice of “House and Garden”, “The Women’s Weekly” and “Cosmopolitan” for his lovely wife (and my good friend) KT, he chose “Cosmopolitan”. 

When KT told me about it, I felt so proud of Uncle B and somewhat envious of their relationship. After two children, five years of marriage and four years languishing away in the suburbs together, he obviously still considers his wife to be a sassy’n’streetwise gal who needs to read articles like “How Do I Show That I’m Interested In Him And Not His Paycheck” (although, in a single-income family arrangement, that paycheck is pretty important…) and “25 Random Things You Don’t Want to Read About a Guy on Facebook” (as if those things could be anything but random). Anyway, it was one hell of a compliment.

Of course, before I knew it, I had admitted to KT that I would have definitely chosen “The Women’s Weekly” for myself and had even cited “the article and recipes” as my reasons, which left me with a peculiar taste of middle-aged frumpiness in my mouth for hours. Like the time my sister Belle pegged her itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny g-string next to my post-caesar “trampoline with leg holes” on the washing line. Or the first time I saw an outfit in the window of a Miller’s Fashion Club store and thought that it looked “quite nice” (and if you’re not acquainted with Miller’s Fashion Club, I think the inclusion of the words “Fashion Club” in the franchise name speaks volumes, as well as my reaction of “quite nice”).

To make myself feel better, I quickly emailed my husband with the question “If you had to choose me a magazine subscription out of “House and Garden”, “The Women’s Weekly” and “Cosmopolitan” which one would it be?”

His one line response: “Cosmo, surely, coz it has rude bits in it.”

Hmmm. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I suspect that was more a choice for himself than for me. Which was a timely reminder that the magazine’s real target audience is not women of the 18-25 year old age bracket but in fact Men.  Of any age.

The next time I saw Uncle B, I presented him with this idea that “certain men” placed in the same situation might subscribe to Cosmo for their wives with their own selfish reasons in mind. But Uncle B proved himself to be a far nobler creature. Apparently, the very nice telephone salesman in Bombay (no doubt prompted by the script in front of him) had made a special point of mentioning that Cosmo no longer ran their sealed section before confirming the subscription. And Uncle B went ahead with it regardless. Because he thinks his wife is sassy’n’streetwise and not because he himself is Some Kind of Pervert.

“Certain men”, take note.

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