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Archive for February, 2010

A terrible thing happened to me in 1987. I had my heart broken – but that wasn’t so terrible in itself. In fact, that was almost a daily occurrence for me as a teenager, along with brushing my teeth and realising I was quite possibly The Ugliest Most Wretched Creature on the Planet.

The terrible thing that happened was this: because my heart had been broken, I felt compelled to sit down with my diary and write eight poems, each more terrible and turgid than the last.

Yes, I temporarily became a poet: it’s one of the worst things that can happen to any teenage girl, believe me. 

After I’d discovered these poems again, I wondered out loud on twitter if anyone else shared this terrible affliction in their youth. The response was overwhelming: at least three separate people put their hands up and it got me thinking… Maybe I should create an online repository for the angst-ridden teen poetry. For one thing, that blog’d have at least four readers. 

That evening, I told my husband about my plan and before I knew it, we’d done some we’ve-drunk-a-bit-of-wine-and-aren’t-we-the-funny-ones-ha-ha-ha brainstorming and had created a new blog called “Poëgatory” – also known as the place “where bad poems go”. And then after a few more minutes of hysteria, lo! we’d transformed ourselves into “Sylvia Perth” and “Toëd Hughes” who (as our bio went on to state) “are technically married but rent asunder by our creative passions”.

Amidst all this silliness, I decided to read aloud the very first poem I was going to banish to Poëgatory. Man, that was hard. Not so much because I was exposing my 16 year-old-soul to my husband, but that it was difficult to get the words out, I was laughing so much. Particularly when it came to the last line, which surely need to spoken in a half-whisper:

I felt the pain. 

Brilliant. But my husband thought he could match it. He recited what he could remember of a poem he’d written when he was 19 that included the line “a soft a’feathered bed”. 

How I laughed. In fact, a few hours later, I was just about to fall asleep when I remembered the line and began silently laughing all over again, shaking the bed and waking my husband up.  

“Are you okay?” my husband asked. He thought I was crying. 

“Bwaahhhhhh!!!” I burst out laughing. “Soft a’feathered bed!!!!!!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he replied and rolled over.

“I mean, what kind of 19 year old uses the term A-hyphen-Feathered!” I kept laughing.

“It wasn’t hyphenated,” my husband said, sitting up a little. “It’s ‘as soft a feathered bed’ – like ‘as grumpy a husband you’ll ever wake up’. It’s called ‘plain English’, Ms. I-Felt-The-Pain.”

“Oh,” I said somewhat deflated. “I thought it was a’feathered with a hyphen.”

And then after a few minutes, I started shaking with laughter again.

“‘As soft a feathered bed!!!!!!’” I blurted out. 

And then, as I drifted off to sleep, I thought about how there were many reasons I loved and admired my husband but, perhaps, one of the most admirable reasons was this: he has always loved me and treated me so well that not a single poem has ever had to tumble – like so much Type 5 vomit – from my tortured pen. 

For this, I – and the world, no doubt – sincerely thank him. 

_______________________________________

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary, my dearest husband. Thank you for laughing with me every single day and helping me to laugh at myself. 

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You know that page-turning series about the trials and tribulations of teenage love? The one that’s not particularly well written, where the main character is whiny, self-centred and not very likeable, and yet you still can’t put the damn thing down?

No, not Twilight, people! I’m talking highschool diaries. My highschool diaries. 

Last weekend, I discovered a whole box of them in the shed, marked clearly in my handwriting (“[NDM]‘s highschool & uni diaries”) with my husband’s scrawl adding: “+ Rollerblades!”. I should hasten to add the rollerblades were his – as was the exclamation mark – for I do not share his enthusiasm for rollerblading. Oh no, not I. 

I randomly picked one up from the box and read the first page:

January 1st 1987

My resolutions for 1987 are: 

1. I will do well in my HSC

2. I will have at least two lovers (of over three weeks duration) by December 31st

3. I will no longer be a fool

4. I will keep my room CLEAN

Riveting stuff, right? Before I knew it, I had finished off the whole book and was scrambling around to find the next in the series so I could find out what the hell happened at the Year 12 River Rock and whether or not I got that “fab” skirt off lay-by.

And then finally, three diaries and three hours later, I emerged from 1987, shaken and shocked. And not just because every second sentence seemed to be “I’m shocked!”, for example:

Dad just gave me $80.
I’m shocked and appalled.
I’m also rich.

Also:

[Name omitted] told me in Maths he owned ABBA’s “Arrival” but he couldn’t find it. I was shocked. I mean, sure we all have one album we want to avoid – but the fact was HE WAS LOOKING FOR IT.

There were many reasons I was shaken and shocked. For one thing, it’s a hard thing to read the innermost thoughts of your 16 year old self and all the drinking, snogging, pining and whining that went on. Especially when you then realise that your children are way closer to that age than you are. Three words: Shit. A. Brick. 

For another thing, how come I won the English prize and couldn’t spell the word “weird” properly? It’s just not right. 

But the thing that shocked me most was this: in Diary #3, I read all about this guy who said he’d “liked” me for over a year (in the way that only high school kids “like” each other), who pursued me rather rigorously, who I snogged at a few parties and agonised (over the course of many, many, many pages) whether or not I wanted to be his girlfriend and who was finally deemed to be  “way too nice” and dumped unceremoniously. 

It was an age-old story (especially when it came to me and “nice boys”) but here’s the rub: I could not remember him. Not his name, not his face. NOTHING. Even when I looked him up in the Year Book, there was nothing about his photo that triggered a single memory. As they say in the classics: Not a sausage. 

Of course, I remember the sleazes and the cads of that year. I remember the boy who I oscillated violently between “I love him soooooo much” and “HE’S A SHIT-FACED FUCK-BRAIN”, sometimes within the same entry (Yes, I was as inconsistent as a Type One Vomit, even then). I remembered stealing a bin from one boy’s house, spray painting it gold and leaving it on the lawn of another boy’s house along with the note “I AM GOLD, I AM WILD. I’M YOUR BIN’S LONG LOST CHILD”. I even remember sending one of the school prefects a postcard that “wisely advised” him to “FUCK LIKE A BEAST!” – although, admittedly, I can’t quite remember my reasons for doing so. 

But I didn’t remember this boy. Not at all. And it really bothered me. 

You see, when I got married, my husband was adamant we shouldn’t have the wedding video-taped. He said that we would remember the things worth remembering. And at the time, I thought he was right. 

But now, reading this diary which documented (in excruciating detail) events that happened 23 years ago, I wondered. This boy seemed worth remembering, even just a little bit. Simply because he seemed like a nice person, totally undeserving of being buffeted about by “Cyclone NDM”.

Of course the bitterest pill of all to swallow was reading it all with the knowledge that Cyclone NDM was to rage on for at least another decade before finally becoming the sweet, wafting breeze it is today. (I just read that bit out to my husband who shouted “Ha!” and then muttered darkly under his breath about women with ‘strong personalities’. I’m shocked.)

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In the Old Days (before children), I used to enjoy buying birthday presents. Why, I had the time and money to spend hours wandering through the shops really thinking about the person I was buying for, before finally finding and buying Just The Right Thing. How satisfying. 

These days, gift vouchers are my saviour. Yes, I am one step away from slipping a $5 note in with the birthday card. 

But really, as impersonal as vouchers can sometimes feel, they save me from the following type of situation…

In a recent high-pressured Toddler’s-bladder-is-about-to-blow situation, I made an impulse purchase for my friend JS’s birthday. I thought I was being cute. I thought I was being quirky. I thought I had bought her a 1950s battery-operated back-scratcher in its original packaging and with its original fittings. Noice. 

It was only when I went to wrap it a few days later that I realised that I may have made a slight purchasing error… 

For one thing, the product was very prominently called a “RELAX-O-MATIC VIBRATOR”, with the words “With Backscratcher” added as an afterthought, perhaps to lend the product some credibility in more polite circles.  

Oh, and the picture showed a smiling well-groomed woman holding this very pink and distinctly penis-shaped item to her face.

And then the more I looked at it, the more I began to realise that it didn’t look like it was actually her own hand holding the pink penis-shaped thing to her face. It was someone else’s hand. Moreover, it was someone else’s well-manicured female hand

Yes, I’d gotten my happily-married and childed friend a pre-loved Love-That-Dare-Not-Speak-Its-Name 1950s sex toy… with a backscratcher attachment. Which is kind of cool, if you think about it. 

Still, when I opened the box and actually looked closely at said backscratcher attachment – which the blurb on the box cheerfully claimed gave “soothing vibration to relieve that nervous itch!” – the more it began to Totally Freak Me Out. It was a long stick with a little plastic hand on the end. And it made me realise that if someone were to relieve That Itch with it, it would be a little like receiving a hand-job from a plastic doll. Which was about a thousand different kinds of wrong.

Anyway, it was all too late for me to change the gift and so I wrapped it in the hope it would be seen by JS (and her friends) as a ha-ha-ha-quirky gift rather than presenting yet another “Oh. My. God. Who invited her?”-type scenario. My husband didn’t help matters by suggesting I write “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!” on the birthday card – which was entirely predictable considering his fine tradition of wanting to Just Watch (see “Boob-a-licious“).

And with my package in hand, I set off for her birthday cocktail party, still wondering if I should separate the card from the present so that when it was opened I could claim it was from me (or not) depending on the general reaction of the crowd.

But in the end, I stood by my purchase. After all, I was putting the “cock” back into “cocktail”, right? (CUE: laughter). And JS was, in turns, confused, amused, good-humoured and (I think) utterly delighted with her gift. 

Still, people shouldn’t invite me places, really. That goes without saying. 

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