Love Thy Neighbour

neighbours

I was revisiting Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall” the other day, and though I’d always thought of that guy, the one that’s lumbering round his yard screening out his neighbour stone by stone, as a hard-boiled misanthropist who probably lived with his mum well into his forties, I can kind of see his point now, get the gist of his repeated refrain: Good fences make good neighbours.

I thought that once I bought my own place, my lingering aversion to neighbours would disappear, or at least decrease somewhat. I remain, however, unmoved. As much as I desperately want to be that amiable individual who, moments after unpacking their bags, delivers freshly-baked cookies next door, promising to tend to the inhabitants’ garden and ghastly Rottweiler should they ever go on holidays, I have no desire to encourage feelings of mateship. Not with the neighbours on either side of me. Not with the neighbours opposite me, diagonal to me, or literally anywhere else on the street.

I put it down to the fact that my past is littered with a string of bad neighbours, all of whom proved to be unsuitable candidates for friends, let alone casual acquaintances. While the folk on Ramsay street might happily wander through each other’s houses helping themselves to sugar, eggs and (as has been the case in several Neighbours episodes) other people’s husbands, I was content to have as little interaction as possible with these individuals who, through nothing more than a random chain of events, had wound up living next door to me.

Not all of them were bad, per se. The first neighbours I remember were lovely, a young twenty-something couple who moved in when I was in primary school. Smart, sophisticated, and exceedingly hip, they were the kind of people I imagined myself to be a smaller, shorter version of. I also observed, with the eye of a seasoned horticulturist, several favourable changes they had made to the former owner’s backyard. Various shrubs and flowers covered what had previously been a vast expanse of dirt leading from the back door of their house up to our fence.

“Is that something from the Sterculiaceae family, dad?” I said one day, directing his attention towards one of several plants in their garden, all gloriously green despite a sweltering summer. I had just started learning the scientific names of a range of Australian flora, and though most of my knowledge was confined to your usual suspects, Eucalyptus something or other, Acacia this or that, the addition of the Sterculia marked my venture into more exotic territory.

According to some article I’d recently read in a doctor’s surgery waiting room, my brain would only be able to soak up data swiftly, and in large quantities, until the age of 16. I was horrified – how had I not learnt of this earlier? It was inconceivable that my source should be a year-old edition of Woman’s Day and not one of my parents or teachers. This, after all, was crucial information. As far as I saw it, by the time I reached my parent’s age, my brain would resemble less a sponge than it would a crusty old pile of cellulose fibres, incapable of retaining any new material whatsoever. Spurred on by this horrendous image, I devoted myself to learning.

There was no Google back in the 90s, so said knowledge was gleaned from my dad, an avid gardener and floraphile. I would pester him for names and variations while he was mowing the lawn or pruning the fig trees, trees whose purple-veined, frankly terrifying, fruit my sisters and I would later have to collect in plastic bags before they decomposed, turning to jam in the grass. When my dad cut them down years later, we saw not the death of a delicious source of fruit, but the elimination of one of the ickier chores from our weekly to-do list.

I thrived on disseminating my newfound knowledge whenever, and wherever, the opportunity arose. “Oh that,” I’d say to friends, as they pointed to one of any number of plants. “That’s an Acacia Fasciculifera, or what you,” I said, turning my attention to the dimmest-looking member of the group, “might call a wattle.” Wattle was broken into two distinct syllables. Wat-tle. I was unsure that these simple folk, who had not even a rudimentary understanding of plants, let alone Latin, would be able to keep up with me.

If the scientific names ever eluded me, I used the plant’s regular title and attached to it the name of a dinosaur, or a Greek-sounding surname. Rose for example might become Rosus Papadopoulos, the gerbera Gerberatus Diplodochus. They smelt a rat one day when I called a hibiscus a Hibiscus Tyrannosaurus-Rexus and I swiftly lost my status as the smartest kid in Year 7. The baton was picked up by a guy called Simon who knew how to recount the 12 times table in ten seconds flat.

The diagnosis of my hip neighbours’ plant, it turned out, was way off the mark. This plant, unlike any from the Sterculiacea family, sported a different shade of green, and broke off into leafy, ragged fingers. It was, as I would later find out from my parents, Sweet Mary Janeus Illegalatus. I was so taken aback that we were living next door to hardened criminals that I would give my mum strict instructions whenever I left the house. A trip to the letterbox was logged. If I’m not back within the minute, I’d say, taking one last, lingering look at her face, please contact the authorities immediately.

Not long after my horrific discovery, the couple moved. Maida Vale, it turned out, must have been less of a pot hot spot than they had envisaged. This was surprising to me – I had imagined that the local high school alone would have kept them afloat. Hell, some of the pre-schoolers looked like users. In hindsight, though, the average Maida Valean was probably chasing a little more bang for their buck, something that started with “m” and rhymed with “eth.”

Whatever the case, I was sad to see them go. Sure, they were dangerous, but they seemed like genuinely good people. If only, I thought, they’d taken a moment to speak to me, I could have shown them the error of their ways, talked them through a ten-step programme in which they moved from social delinquent, to thriving member of the local community. This is you now, I’d say, pointing to a sketch of two people holding guns and bleeding from various points on their body. And this is you if you follow my advice. They would be effusive with their praise, swearing off drugs for life. I would smile, knowingly, as though I’d seen it all before, as though they were the last in a long line of people whose lives I had pulled from the gutter.

A young family moved in after them. They had a Jack Russell and one insufferable, precocious child, a Shirley Temple lookalike who spoke with a lisp and an American accent she had inherited from daytime television. She was the kind of kid you might see on Oprah, chosen because of some odd, but wholly unremarkable, gift – an unusual birthmark, perhaps, or the ability to name obscure capital cities on request. Benin? my pint-sized neighbour would say, tapping her index finger against her nose and squinting into the camera. Then, after a tension-filled few seconds, she’d jump from the couch, exclaiming: Why, ith Porto-Novo, of courth – when you gonna athk me the hard oneth?!!! The entire studio audience would dissolve into laughter. The only member of the family I could identify with was the dog who, to his credit, was always running away.

That kind of kid, naturally, had no respect for age-related hierarchies, and even though I was at least six years her senior, she insisted on addressing me by my first name, rather than, say, Miss Green, or Ma’am. And she was always there. Always. A stool was installed just by the fence, and if she stood on her tippy toes, it allowed her full scope of the left side of our house. Given her supersonic hearing – she could hear a pin drop at 50 yards – any outdoor venture was suddenly fraught with danger. I wanted the junkies back.

“What are you doing?” she’d say as you dashed out to grab something off the clothesline, whistling merrily through a bus-sized gap in her front teeth. If you were running late in the morning, she might move her chair to the other side of the fence, issuing a cheery admonition to your retreating figure. “Thouldn’t you hurry up?” she’d shout, “you’re going to be late for thcooooool!”

Her parents pulled off the remarkable feat of being even more insufferable than their daughter. The mum was into belly dancing, and while that’s all well and good as a dirty secret one only discloses after too many Bacardi Breezers, I once had the misfortune of witnessing an impromptu demonstration, accompanied by a concomitant dialogue on the virtues of gyrating one’s hips and upper body. “It’s very good for toning,” she said as she writhed around our living room, arms flailing, legs akimbo. “You can really feel the burn.”

While the dad didn’t have similarly questionable hobbies, he had perfected the art of turning any conversation into a legislative debate. Put it this way – the man could politicise a light bulb. Luckily, I was spared his diatribes most of my childhood, but as soon as I graduated high school, I became an unwilling sounding board to some of his more, let’s say, outré, ideas.

When I told him, one year, that I hadn’t placed a vote in the federal election, he shook his head in disbelief. “It’s that kind of attitude,” he said, trailing off, temporarily derailed by the horrifying nature of my crime. “It’s that kind of attitude,” he continued, gazing off into the distance, “that led to the Holocaust.” I struggled to see how my apathy could possibly birth the Fuhrer, let alone the slaughter of six million Jews, but I had no desire to prolong the dialogue. Engaging with a madman, as I have learned, rarely yields fruit.

The people on our other side weren’t much better. Being a rental property (and not a particularly upmarket one at that), it attracted all kinds of undesirable tenants. The term “house proud” would never, even by an immense stretch of the imagination, be ascribed to any of its various, ephemeral inhabitants, each of them lasting only several months before they moved on, presumably to rehab or a maximum-security prison. Grass grew nearly as tall as the fence, and when it was mown, it was stripped back to dirt, so as to prolong the inevitable.

Perhaps its worst tenants, though, were a middle-aged couple who brought with them a fleet of beat up cars, none of them roadworthy. While presumably do-ups, I never saw either of the owners attempting to fix them, and they ended up becoming less a potential means of transportation than hokey installation art, the sort bought by rich collectors intent on diversifying their collection.

Apparently of noble stock, public transport was out of the question for this family, and so my mum became a kind of ersatz Uber driver, shuttling them to doctor’s appointments, soccer training, birthdays. Towards the end, though, they started pushing their luck. Mom officially abandoned her imagined reprisal of Driving Miss Daisy when they rang her up on New Year’s Eve at 3am to say that they needed a ride home. “We, hiccup, need you to give us a ride home, belch. We’re too tanked to drive.” It was the final straw.

Finally, and perhaps most memorably, there was the lady across the road who shared with the ancient Egyptians a near-psychotic devotion to cats. Her entire life, I fathomed, had been devoted to her beloved Himalayan, an animal so ugly Noah would have rejected it passage, and whom she claimed could dial Chicken Treat.

It’s worth repeating. She claimed that her cat could, and did call, Chicken Treat whenever he felt like Chicken. And a treat. That was one liberated feline. What annoyed me most about this woman was that she, and those of her ilk, were personally responsible for the term “cat lady.” I hated dogs, and it pained me that if – mon Dieu – I chose to remain single and childless, I would have to forego owning a cat for the sake of my reputation.

It’s a misconception that continues to irk me, the notion that dog lovers are active, attractive and outgoing, and that, conversely, cat lovers sit at home in a pool of their own urine, knitting countless doilies and growing their own whiskers. Cats don’t smell or bark, they rarely hump your leg, and most crucially, they’re not needy. It’s creepy enough when people are clingy, let alone animals.

I once ended up inside her house – for what reason I can’t quite remember. Perhaps to take over freshly-baked cookies, or retrieve a stray ball. Whatever the case, I was anxious to make the encounter as brief as possible. I would not go the way of my mum, I thought, who had once been cornered in our kitchen for two hours by this woman.

When our cat-loving neighbour finally answered, she was bleary-eyed, agitated, no doubt woken from a mid-afternoon nap. Nonetheless, she invited me through to the kitchen for a drink, on the condition that I not track in any dirt behind me, or speak too loudly. Loud noises, she claimed, upset her delicate senses, and could precipitate a nervous breakdown, or worse. Or worse? I thought. It could get worse than this?

I had seen enough in my brief stay to know that the neighbourhood rumours of her having killed her husband and stashed his body in a spare closet somewhere were probably unfounded. “She may look crazy,” I’d say, after my reconnaissance mission, “but I doubt she’s actually knocked anyone off.” The lesser claim, however – of her being mentally unhinged – was evidenced elsewhere, in her alarming choice of interior decoration, for example.

If she was trying to lose the cat lady moniker, I thought, surveying her collection of porcelain cat figurines – cats dancing, cats playing the piano, cats doing gymnastics – she was going about it all wrong. And every surface of her loungeroom, I noticed, seemed to be covered in plastic – from the hall runner, which extended the length of the loungeroom floor up until the kitchen, through to the armchairs, whose floral print was petrified under a layer of thick, dirt-resilient, film. There was even a plastic cover on the remote. How unclean could hands possibly be? I thought. A bum, your feet – those were dirty parts of your body, but not your frigging hands.

On the way out, crunching my way back across the plastic runner, I stopped to pat her cat, who was lazily splayed on a table near the door. He looked at me, plaintively, his hideous face imploring me to take him with me, somewhere with surfaces he could dig his claws into. Meeeow, he purred, and I knew that he was trying to communicate to me, in the only language he knew, that his owner was batshit crazy. “Good possum,” my neighbour said, bending down and rubbing her nose against his. “You love your mummy ever so much, don’t you?”

Mine, as you can see, was not a past that would inspire me to love my neighbours, regardless of the biblical exhortations. Jesus, I figured, had never lived on our street. Nevertheless, I’ve tried to make more of an effort now that I have my own place. And my neighbours here aren’t that bad, in all honesty. It’s just that I have no desire to start a relationship with someone purely because they’re in close proximity to me. It’s as illogical as dating the postman because I see him every day, or the checkout guy at Coles. Or, for that matter, my psychologist. At least with the psychologist I’d be saving money – with mate’s rates, it might only cost $100 to be told I’m unhinged.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, says Frost. Maybe so, but it sure as hell, ain’t me.

Minority Report

st-sebastian

For those of you not au fait with the term microaggression, it is not, as one might suspect, the act of being flicked with an elastic band at close range. It is something far more serious. You can check those antediluvian notions of overt racism, sexism, sizeism and classism at the door – years of research by microagression scientists has revealed that most “isms” are now near-imperceptible, lurking beneath hitherto innocuous words, sayings, possibly even styles of breathing.

It’s only thanks to obscure psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce (who in 1970 finally decided to throw his hat in the ring) that we have the term. And what a relief. Explicit racism and the like was starting to feel a little gauche – here was a chance for people to be casually derogatory by reading a name from the telephone book.

Familiarity with the full range of microagressions is, naturally, of vital concern to that nebulous lot known as “progressives.” (What exactly they are progressing towards is unknown, even to them, but I suspect that much of it was covered by Orwell in 1984.) And where else do progressives like to loiter than universities, that last bastion of reason, morality and awkward poetry readings?

Between getting wasted and drawing doodles on their desk, a few student activists at UCLA bullied faculty into releasing a list of all possible microaggressions, and it’s a real eye-opener. Thanks to this list, I’m no longer under the illusion that complimenting someone on their shoes is a nice thing to do (more on that egregious act later), but see it for the teeny, tiny, weeny act of violence that it is.

I’ve compiled, for the equally ignorant, some key examples of microagression from the university handbook, as well as several others gleaned from the internet. Ignore at your peril.

1. I like your shoes (said to a woman after she has presented a university lecture).

If I had a dollar for every time someone commented on my shoes, I’d be a few dollars richer. My only gripe here is that they haven’t mentioned the equally devastating microagression of NOT having your shoes commented on. Trotting out your best pair only to have them silently overlooked is an act of violence against both the person and the shoes that no amount of therapy can hope to correct.

2. Where are you from?

Nothing troubles me more than being asked where I’m from. Yes, it’s Redcliffe. No, I don’t know any good dealers. (On a side note, I also don’t like it when people ask me where I’m going – it reminds me that the trajectory of my life has been generally southbound). The interesting thing here is that assuming that asking someone (presumably not Caucasian) where they’re from automatically implies an overseas “from” effectively enacts an even more insidious form of microagression. An Asian person, for example, could easily respond “I’m from Darwin,” to which you might reply “Sweet, I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s shit.”

3. I think we should have our staff retreat at the country club. Let’s plan a round of golf.

This is not only a lame suggestion, but a microaggression of the highest order. Not all of us can afford to make up for our tiny member with a Porsche, some are forced to do so with a Barina and a rear spoiler. Interestingly, I realised that I was unwittingly the subject of microaggression throughout much of my childhood. Yes, I went to a private school, but was I forced to wear a second-hand blazer? You bet your bottom dollar.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In Year 10, our school had the audacity to offer the French class a trip to Paris. Did this vagrant go, or was she forced to stay behind, staring long and hard into the face of bone-crushing poverty and social isolation? I’ll let the reader decide. Had I known then what I know now, I would have macro-aggressively sued the school for damages.

4. I believe the most qualified person should get the job.

Imagine if Trump had taken this one to heart? In my opinion, lack of experience should never get between you and your dream job. Sadly, for me, it often has, my lofty aspirations trampled beneath the feet of more “suitable” candidates. In my younger years, I was gainfully employed by Centrelink. For reasons unknown, my primary role in the company was to search for employment elsewhere and then record those attempts in a journal.

In what I now identify as a microaggression, Centrelink constantly told me I was looking for work I was “unqualified” for. “You applied for chief neurosurgeon at Royal Perth, Megan?” said a beleaguered fellow employee, rolling her eyes. “I mean, for goodness sake, you don’t even have an undergraduate.”

On another occasion: “you rang Channel 7 about their newsreader position? With absolutely no experience in broadcasting?” “Damn straight,” I replied, as my associate reached for his stamp. “Susannah Carr can’t live forever.”

5. So what do you guys speak in Japan? Asian?

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To be mad at the person who asked this question is to return the microaggression in full. The cognitively delayed (yes, this is an actual term) are not to be derided, even in Asianese.

  1. When people think it’s weird that I listen to Carrie Underwood.

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It is weird, man. It’s really weird. This is the woman who brought us songs with the following lyrics:

Stand on the box, stomp your feet, get clapping
Got a real good feeling something bad about to happen

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh

Pulled up to the church but I got so nervous
Had to back it on up, couldn’t make it to the service
Grabbed all the cash underneath my mattress
Got a real good feelin’ something bad about to happen

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh

Need I say more?

7. I don’t see colour.

Not being able to see colour is no laughing matter. If you’re old enough, or your family was as poor as mine, you might remember having to watch Hey Hey it’s Saturday on a small black and white box that was more static than picture. Even worse, you might remember the human rights violation that was getting up from the couch to change channels. Ugh. Now imagine doing your whole life in greyscale. It’d be worse than having to watch an eternity of Red Faces.

8. Please stand and be recognised.

Imagine being in a wheelchair, hearing this and realising that you can’t stand. What you will want next, more than anything, is for everyone to stay seated. Forever. This will improve your sense of worth, your bank balance, even your love life. Heck, with enough self-righteous pity from others, you might even walk again.

Interestingly, when I investigated further, I realised that the world of bodily idioms contains a vast store of potential microaggressions, several of which I have listed below:

Keep your chin up – offensive to people with multiple chins, or none to speak of at all.

Stand tall – offensive to the vertically challenged, or what I like to call short people because I’m not a patronising wanker.

Get a foot in the door – offensive to people with no feet.

Lend a hand – same offence, different appendage.

I’m all ears.

Caylan-Clossick

Imagine how this guy feels.

Let one’s hair down – offensive to bald people.

See eye to eye – offensive to the blind and Steve Buscemi.

Old hand – offensive to the aged.

Cost an arm and a leg – this one is appalling, because it’s classist as well. The next thing you know they’ll be challenging amputees to a round of golf.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s tough being a minority. Quarter Jew that I am, I’ve known my fair share of heartache, hostility and shame. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the     most of the money    a small amount of…    If anything, I’d actually like to be more Jewish, but that’s the way the kugel crumbles.

I’ve got some serious connections in the Jewish community, though – more than enough to make up for the remaining impurity in my blood. Apparently, my great great grandfather, Gustus Luber (or G-banger Lubes, as he was known back in the day) brought the scrolls of the Torah over from the UK, as well as founding Perth’s first synagogue. On a less verifiable note, my mum claims that we’re related to Benjamin Disraeli, Britain’s first (and only) Jewish Prime Minister, and all round good time guy.

When I press her on this, she is adamant. “It’s documented somewhere” she says, before rattling off a list of Jewish names – Presslers and Solomons, Greenbergs and Brecklers, all of them apparently friends or relatives. “All of them, mum?” I ask, knowing her fondness for embellishment. “Everybody in Perth who is Jewish is related to me,” she says. “Every single one.”

Given my illustrious lineage and the fact that mum knows literally every Jew in Perth, you’d think I’d be immune to aggressions from fellow Semites. Wrong. My brief foray into the world of microagressions has taught me many things, one of those being that haters are just as likely to come from inside the fold as out.

There will always be someone, somewhere, who will question your identity, your ethnicity, your very person. Such was the case for me recently when my heritage was challenged by a sister of full-blooded (or “real” in her estimation) Jewish descent. It was at my brother’s art exhibition, no less. Over an unassuming glass of chardonnay.

I was midway through a speech about the relevance of conceptual art in the age of globalisation when I was interrupted by my mum. She wished to introduce me to a childhood acquaintance. The woman, bedecked in pearls, and doused in what I can only imagine was an entire bottle of perfume, gave me the handshake equivalent of a wet willy and proceeded to add her tawdry two bobs to my already fully-realised musings.

Now I can’t recall exactly what turn in conversation prompted me to mention the fact that I was Jewish, but, as my friends often remind me, contextual relevance is seldom required. “You find a way to bring it up, dude,” they’ll say. “You just do.”

“A fellow Jew, eh?” said my new friend, her attention piqued. “And has that always come down through the female line?” She took another sip of her drink, feigning nonchalance and failing miserably. The room started to spin. My sense of balance deserted me, along with my composure. “Well…” I paused. “Well, technically…” This shmendrik had me by the matzos, and she knew it. She had found the rot in my family tree and her Jewish stock had skyrocketed.

“Alas,” she purred, taking my silence as confirmation. “Alas, you’re not really Jewish.” The kvetch could barely contain her delight. “It has to come down from the woman’s side. Always the woman’s side.”

This was not how I was going down, though. Not like this. If the entirety of recorded history has taught us anything, it’s that us Jews (quarter or nay) don’t go down without a fight. No full-blown minority was going to take my birthright from me. Not tonight. Not ever.

Instead, I referenced the one thing I had on her. The one thing that visibly evidenced my Jewish bloodline. “Your nose,” I said, gesturing towards her slender snout. Involuntarily, she raised one hand to it, resting it there. “It’s so lovely and small,” I said. “So straight.” I saw the cogs turning, the triumphant look vanishing from her face, and in its place a rising pink that moved from her cheeks upwards, towards a greying hairline. “I’d give anything to have a nose like that,” I continued. “But instead I got this.” She followed my index finger to the proboscis that serves as my nose, took in its length and width, its tell-tale aquiline curve. Defeat imminent, she muttered something about shmutzy shikses and moved on to greener pastures.

I’ve never liked my nose. Always wanted it to be smaller, thinner, less intrusive. But tonight, for the first time in my life, it had served a noble purpose: It had vanquished my microagressor.

 

A word of advice

 

abbs

Dear Abby,

I’ve just turned 40 and have started to notice my husband’s interest in me waning. There is a new secretary at his office with flotation devices for breasts, and I’m scared of losing him to her. What can I do to get him back?

Cathy.

Hi Cathy,

Your predicament is common. Just the other day my own husband told me that my face looked like a discarded rhino hide and could I please, for the love of all that is sacred and holy, do something about it? Sadly, there is no cure-all for man’s wandering eye, but let me suggest a few ways to keep the home fires burning!

  1. MAINTAIN your natural beauty. Sadly, some women grow lax in their later years and start to place undue emphasis on what they dubiously term their “personality.” I knew one woman who went completely off the rails after her husband, in a drunken stupor, told her he valued her “inner beauty.” By the time he’d sobered up, she had cancelled her gym membership, burnt all her bras and was halfway through her third tub of Häagen-Dazs (I’ll give you one guess as to how that relationship panned out).

 

  1. KEEP the right balance. Although the odd display in nature is acceptable, on no occasion should the human male be more attractive than his partner. If you feel you’re slipping, try to avoid unflattering lighting, or consider a face transplant. Remember that your husband should always be capable of making the lighthearted remark to family and friends that he is, as it were, “batting out of his league.” (If in even the majority of cases he is referring to you, you’ve scored a home run!)

 

  1. THIN for the win. As the old saying goes, “it’s better to be skinny in hell than obese in heaven” (anon). While thinness is universally attractive, make sure you don’t get too emaciated. Men like women with a bit of meat on their bones! Avoid full-blown anorexia, but ensure you’re thin enough to warrant concern from well-meaning colleagues. If food is too hard to quit, consider nature’s godsend: the humble tapeworm. It only took me one month of eating undercooked meat from infected animals to contract one, and while side-effects can include nausea, weakness, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fatigue, it’s a small price to pay for an enviable bod!

 

  1. PUTyour money where your face is. Many over-the-counter products promise to eradicate lines and age spots, but in my personal opinion, only one cream delivers. At $500 a pop, “Pony Power” isn’t cheap, but aged horse semen never is. While the smell takes a little getting used to, you’ll love the wrinkle-defying properties of this bad boy. Giddyup!

 

  1. KISS and make up. As we all know, there’s nothing quite so terrifying as the naked female face, but some women seem to think that the occasional skinny dip is reasonable. Those same women lost their husband to the secretary with flotation devices for breasts.

 

  1. SMILES for miles. Smiling is scientifically proven to make a woman 6 times more attractive to men. In one clinical trial, men were handed pictures of several women and told to rank them in their preferred order. Of the subjects, the woman who had the biggest smile was consistently chosen. (In what they later saw as a conflicting issue, that lady was also a supermodel). Make sure that when you smile, you engage your mouth only; never involve the eyes. While you may look dead inside, you’ll also avoid those dreaded crow’s feet!

 

  1. LOL a lot – Men whose jokes are regularly met with laughter almost never file for divorce. Always laugh with, and not at, him – the distinction is paramount. Under no circumstances attempt to be funny yourself – this can emasculate a man just as quickly as your stony response to his one-liner. (There is also a direct correlation with lesbianism.)

 

  1. AVOID comfortable clothing. I have seen happy marriages fold on the introduction of tracksuit pants. They may be snug, but they are also the death knell of desire. Was I tempted to just lounge around in hospital garb after my third pregnancy, tending to my newborn daughter and waiting for my nether regions to repair? Sure! Would I ever do that again? No way! Because it’s a slippery slope. One minute you’re wearing tracksuit pants, the next you’re growing a moustache and talking about equality.

 

  1. BOTOX, baby! A lifetime of incorrect smiling may have damaged the delicate area around your eyes. Never fear. While advances in medical science may not yet have cured cancer, they’ve done something far more important – they’ve decelerated the aging process! If you can’t fit a trip to the clinic into your busy schedule, I recommend hosting a Botox party. Like Tupperware, it’s all about the plastic! Unlike a Tupperware party, the product doesn’t come with a lifetime guarantee, so make sure you’re vigilant with your upkeep.

 

  1. SWEAT it out. Ever wondered if maybe the gym won’t bypass your congenital predisposition to store fat around your mid-section? Ever think that you could be doing more worthwhile things with your time than going up and down fake stairs in a bra that is able to reduce bounce by 999%? You’re probably spending too much time thinking and not enough time on the treadmill.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive, Cathy. In reality there are hundreds of ways to stave off the inevitable, most of them requiring only minor adjustments such as sleeping upside down or subsisting on a diet of cabbage and water. Best of luck in your quest to stick it to mother nature, and remember that above all, it’s about being comfortable in your own skin. As long as that skin is wrinkle-free!

 

Konnichi wa Bitちes!

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Oh Japan, sweet land of cherry blossom, majestic temples and bottom rinsing. I’m here, and it’s every bit as good as the infommercials. This isn’t my first rodeo, but the last time I was in Asia, I was swiftly whisked away from the airport to an island paradise where everyone spoke Asian Australian and laughed behind my back in English (it was disconcerting, but at least I could understand.) I’m in real Asia now, and these guys don’t mess around – you can’t just tack “le” on to the beginning of everything and hope they’ll understand. They’ll just look at you blankly, blankly but politely, in a way that says ‘you’re an idiot, but I still love and respect you and your extended family.’

And the politeness is next level. These guys make Canadians look bad. They bow after everything I say. And I’m just asking where the toilet is. Now I’ve started saying, “bend before me mortal, for you are in the presence of the Gods.” It’s really fun, except when I said it to an American who just flipped me off and said, “yeah, Buddha, maybe.” I consoled myself by eating two enormous sushi rolls.

Highlights of Japan so far:

Aforementioned douching – It says something about me that my cultural highlight so far was not traversing the breathtaking grounds of Osaka Castle, but the sweet sensation of warm water hitting my nether regions. If only we could combine the two.

Street drinking – like all culturally-advanced societies, one is free to imbibe in public places. And imbibe I have. In the street, on the train, in the toilet, and probably in an auditorium, just before I do my presentation (not sure how the crowd here will react to my driver’s licences.) Like Tom Cruise, it could go either way.

“Ladies Only” carriages on trains – this was really convenient, because I couldn’t wait to debrief the ending of Gossip Girl with someone. Sadly, all I got was blank stares. And the other women were too busy trading tampons and crying for no reason.

Sugary treats – My body would be a trainwreck if I was left unattended over here. Vending machine cakes. VENDING MACHINE CAKES.

Dogs – I actually like the Japanese ones. They’ve got bows in their hair and they look like tiny teddy bears. I even stopped to pat one. Which was difficult because I had two cans of Asahi in my hand at the time. The lady smiled at me and then walked briskly off. Briskly, but politely. Then laughed about me in Japanese to her friend.

In short, it’s cool. Just left Osaka (pronounce Osaka) and about to hit up Kobe with my dear friend Leonie, who has kindly flown over from Melbourne, and who can also apparently say hello and goodbye fluently in Japanese. Should be smooth sailing from hereon out.

Knot without my bun.

hate crime

For those who haven’t heard, my brother’s coiffeur has been the subject of a malicious, unprovoked attack that affronted not only his tiny man bun, but questioned his sense of style, his grooming habits and – dare I say it – his sanity. We are not sure yet who the hater is, but we know this much: we are on the hunt for someone who uses scare quotes around established words, we are tracking down the sole person keeping Australia Post in business, and WE WILL FIND CAPS LOCK.

topknot

The entire Green family has felt the weight of this attack, as each of us has sported questionable haircuts over the years. I had a mullet in 2003, it was at one stage difficult to distinguish Lucy’s head from a bowl, Sez’s mercifully short-lived fringe looked like discount Spotlight curtains, and my mum gets told at petrol stations to take off her helmet before entering.

Theories abound: primary suspect being Tony Abbott, who thought it came over in a boat. Second, Rolf Harris, penning another belle lettres from prison, and lastly (and this one I find a little dubious) Mum, who is sick of getting asked by Miik how much Lego pays her in royalties.

59362.12159222571507210_449894448493414_5690963904434464806_n

Uncanny.

My money is on a Facebook friend, which proves what we’ve all long suspected – that Facebook contains 1% real friends, 98% people you don’t know, and a few people that really hate your guts. I also think that it has to be a girl (possibly with a receding hairline which should narrow things down) because we cry when a split end we were fond of gets chopped, and because surely no guy would care enough to think about what another man’s hair gets up to on the weekend. As I mentioned to Miik while he was weeping and cramming chunks of cake into his face, to not expose the perpetrator is to let the terrorists win, and so we will be launching a full-scale criminal investigation. And by “we” I mean Miik, who has promised me that once I’ve finished this blog, he will ring the police station and ask them to investigate this as a hate crime. I have no doubt that the good folk at Midland police station will take the matter seriously as there are no other problems in the area.

What is particularly troubling about the attack is that the perp didn’t just focus on Miik. An innocent bun got hurt in the debacle, which is not really fair, because what did the knot ever do? All he does is ride around atop the head of an artist, which means that the amount of wanky conversations he’s had to suffer through are already turning him grey. If you’re reading this, manbun hater, we will not kowtow, and we will not back down. All this has done is prolong man bun’s stay of execution. Also know that the long arm of the law will soon be coming your way. The letter on which this hateful note came has already been dusted for fingerprints, and the vitriol with which you no doubt drafted this attack will allow us to swab your flecks of saliva for DNA.

Lastly, I’m curious to know what haircut you would like your mate to sport once the “topknot” is gone. I have several excellent suggestions:

80s-Classic-Men-Hairstyles

Yeow.

Vanilla-Ice-bad-haircut-92211-286x300

Ice Ice Maybe?

kimjongun

Define terror?

Then again, Miik could just go back to his classic mid-90s bob, which was a massive hit with the ladies.

IMG_4719[1]

Don’t ask.

It’s a hard knock life.

Filling a car with 'Coalene' petrol, 1935.

Since scholarship money only extends so far, and I’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle (eating), I’ve taken a weekend job at *undisclosed petrol station* #humblepie. I joined for the uniform, primarily. It’s the way it sits on you. It’s the cut of the fabric, the way it takes every one of your best features and says nothing to see here. Which is a shame because if there’s any time you wouldn’t mind looking a little sexy, it’s while you’re on the forecourt. Dragging a bin behind you. In a fluoro vest that stops people from running you over. #tasteslikemamas

I have learned some hard truths on the beat: gas is transparent, 90% of the population are tools (don’t be one of them), and old ladies do drive offs.

Old Ladies

I didn’t see that one coming either, but as age increases, so too does the likelihood that your perp will be a woman. Don’t be fooled by their faltering gait, these are psychotic thrill-seekers in Homypeds and control briefs. These are rheumy-eyed dames that’ll pinch $100 premium from under your nose and smile at you on their way out.

The rules of who will and won’t do drive offs, I’ve realised, are often counterintuitive, and vary from station to station, but the following works as a general guideline.

People that don’t do drive-offs:

Bald head

Receding hairline head

Combover head

Sensible pants

Asians

Old men

Young women

Beachcombers

Nerds

Hipsters

Learners

Missing fingers

People that do:

Commodores

I hate people that drive commodores. Don’t you mean you hate commodores? NO. I hate people that drive Commodores. I drove one for a while, out of necessity, and even I hated me. Sometimes I would just stay at home, attach electrodes to myself and look at images of Commodores while slowly increasing the voltage. Eventually it worked and I sold it to some hoodlum who threatened to come bash me up with his friends when it died on him. Then I got my brother to call him. Then he messaged me five minutes later begging me to forgive him. (Sometimes it’s best not to know.)

Other drive off red flags:

Very old cars

Very new cars

Missing teeth

Caps

Oakley glasses

Greasy hair

Rear spoilers

Statement tees

Let it also be known that if that place blows, I have zero idea what’s going on, so don’t come to me for help. I’ll be the person on the ground screaming “it’s the apocalypse, we’re all doomed” while people run past me saying doesn’t she work here? And even if nothing’s on fire I’ll be stopping dropping and rolling, because that’s all I seem to remember from any of the safety instructions I’ve ever been given. Tsunami – SDR, attempted mugging – SDR, bad hair day – SDR. You can roll your way out of anything, really, providing you do it with chutzpah.

On a less flammable note, I also have a bone to pick with pharmaceutical companies. Or rather, one of my customers does. You would think that on a bottle of lubricant (not the stuff for cars) they would make the barcode extra large and extra flat so that transactions could take place quickly and discretely. Not the case. If anything they’ve made the barcodes deliberately small and wrapped them around almost the entire bottle.

Which is what I discovered one fateful night when a softly-spoken taxi driver dropped by to purchase a pack of condoms. He’d just paid for his fuel, and after looking over both shoulders shuffled what I can only imagine he thought were illegal goods across the counter, whispering that he wanted a bag, which was weird because it made me whisper too even though we were the only people in the store. But whatevs. Condoms went through fine, but the lubricant (still not for cars) wasn’t so compliant. I tried numerous angles, I did the side swipe, the up and down swipe, the whirlpool swipe, the close-up-then-far-away swipe, and the magic swipe where I don’t even swipe it at all. In the end, I had to enter it manually, and I couldn’t remember where the button for doing that was so I had to fuss around for a while poking things like ‘staff member discount’ and ‘price override’ until I found it, during which time a small queue had started to form behind him. I really wanted to say “slippery little sucker” but he looked like he was about to cry, so I just winked at him and said, have fun with that you pervert.

I have many more tales from *undisclosed petrol station* to tell, including the one where I locked myself out of the building at night and then accidentally shut the pumps down with the back of my head while I was waiting to be rescued, as well as the one where I locked my lunch in the staff room and had to wave an IOU sticker at the camera so they didn’t think I was stealing their chips.

I have no idea why I’m still single.

I actually don’t. I’m bloody brilliant.

I knew what epistolary meant before you.

he-was-plancking-before-it-was-cool

Hi Grace,

You might not remember me, but I met you at Jill Landers’ party two weeks back – I was the one wearing the hessian scarf, stone-wash overalls and a shirt featuring the entire cast of Hey Dad. It was an outfit inspired by my late grandad, a humble wheat farmer, whose earthy ensembles have heavily influenced my fashion sense. The point of my email is that my friend apparently overheard you referring to it as a bit too “now?” I insisted she misheard, but she was adamant. Just hoping to settle this bet (I’ve got $50 riding on it!)

P.S. I couldn’t stop ogling your fedora – where did you get it?

Yours enquiringly,

Stephanie!

 

Hi Stephanie,

I do remember you, and that shirt. What a brilliant aesthetic nod to a truly legendary Australian show (albeit one that harboured a paedophile). In regards to the above comment, I wouldn’t be caught dead saying anything so gauche. If I was pushed, however, to find a fault – and I’m reaching here – it would possibly be that your gloves were a tad obvious (if you get my drift.) Perhaps something you might see in an indie film, but one that has been too successful. The rest of your outfit was impeccable, however, and this minor gaffe shouldn’t detract from what was an otherwise arresting ensemble.

P.S. As for the fedora, I’d love to divulge, but my dealer has sworn me to secrecy. (As you can imagine, the more clients she has, the less successful she’ll be.)

Hoping for your understanding,

Grace

 

Hi Grace,

Thanks for taking the time to get back to me. I would have replied sooner, but I’m currently writing a dissertation on the religious leanings of underground 80s punk band Crimson Moon. You may not have heard of them as they were only famous for one week, and even then only among five people, (one of whom includes yours truly.) A small heads-up: I may have accidentally found your fedora!! And when I say your fedora, I mean its duplicate, at Target. People were buying it in their droves! Uh oh!

Love Stephanie

 

Hi Stephanie,

Cheers for the heads-up, but I burnt it several weeks ago (almost immediately after leaving the party), as my faultless fashion radar augured its eventual dribble into the mainstream. It would have been classic if you’d purchased it though. ROFL.

(I am quite literally ROFLING at the moment – I’m trying to break in a pair of dungarees I bought from a homeless man. It has nothing to recommend it other than the brutally distressed look I’m currently applying).

Yours from the floor,

Grace

 

Hi Grace

I went back and bought the Fedora soon after sending you this email. It was a figurative finger to consumerism, and since the herd will soon have discarded it in their migration to the next mass trend, I plan on wearing it ironically at the very instant it becomes redundant. Perhaps with a pair of bifocals that only allows me to see half the world clearly. (A metaphor for the intellectual blindness that envelops the general public).

Stephanie

 

Dear Stephanie,

It was with a sense of sadness that I read your latest correspondence. I fear you may have fallen prey to an avaricious sale assistant offloading last year’s stock. How awful to be thwarted in your attempt to stick it to the man/woman/transgendered. Love to write more, but I’m currently in Paris. (The plane ticket was so dear I had to make my oeufs brouillés from caged eggs. Gasp.)

Grace

 

Hi Grace

I pray to anything or anyone that may or may not listen (I’m currently an agnostic pantheist) that you aren’t in Paris for the purpose of shopping. In 1987, when I began my sartorial quest, viciously jettisoning the foul booties my mother was attempting to shod me with, I vowed never to support a country that so brazenly railroads the avant-garde individual, whose lack of money in no way reflects his stylistic vision.

Yours from the under pits of an Armadale op shop,

Stephanie

 

Hi Stephanie,

Your presumption that I am doing Paris as the everyman shows an appalling lack of insight into my self-effacing aesthetic. Far from relying on the vulgar greenback, I’m currently eschewing worldly pleasures in a hostel that has attempted to recreate the squalor of early 1900s Montmartre. The unassuming couple who run it rely solely on good faith donations and the profits from their medicinal marijuana business. My quarters are frequented by a Tibetan monk, an ex-KKK member, a failed fashion designer and a four-fingered prostitute. Need I say more? All of which have inspired me to create this outfit (photo attached) which, I think you’ll appreciate, could not have found its inspiration in Armadale.

And yes, that gentleman begging in the background is a genuine leper.

Love Grace

 

Hi Grace,

Please refer to me now as Marcel – I recently changed it in honour of the great Marcel Duchamp, whose ground-breaking piece, Fountain, changed forever the face of modern art. (One need not travel 9000 miles in order to be inspired by the denizens of that great land). By adopting a unisex name, I simultaneously challenge the shackles of gender dichotomisation. I think you’ll find that the sexism inherent in unambiguously “female” names (see Grace) may foster sexual harassment, rape and even literal/figurative death.

Marcel

 

Hi Marcel,

And I can hardly bring myself to say that name without revisiting my dinner. That particular name, at least according to the New Yorker, featured in the top 100 baby names of 2014. Whoops. I’m sure you can have it rescinded. I just lit some Fair Trade incense in the hope that you can.

Grace

Hi Grace

Oh no!! I think my message may have been too revolutionary for you!!! Let me elucidate: I was already aware that it was in the top 100 names – (I’ve been subscribed to the New Yorker since 1993, when, as a young girl, I realised that Enid Blyton’s overtly misogynistic works were retarding my intellectual and spiritual growth). In a startlingly bold move, I have intentionally chosen the most popular contemporary name, ergo undermining the fetish for the “novel” which so dominates mass culture.

Have you come across the writings of Slavoj Zizek? In one of his more ground-breaking claims he suggests that overt conformity tacitly operates to subvert conformity. I strongly recommend it, especially if you’ve been consisting solely on a diet of that notorious fraud Hegel, whose work, frankly, leaves me cold.

Enlighteningly yours,

Marcel

 

Hi Marcel,

Impotent missions aside, I believe it was the revered writer Elmore Leonard who advised that one should use no more than three exclamation marks per 100,000 words of prose. Unless you plan on rewriting War and Peace (and I highly doubt this given the quality of your emails), you will still have far exceeded your quota. Ironic exclamation mark!! It is also clear to any discerning woman that the exclamation mark is a phallic symbol that represses woman at the very moment of its employment. I hope you don’t mind me speaking bluntly, but I’m a little shocked at your ignorance.

In the hope of your grammatical emancipation,

Grace

 

Hi Grace

This supposedly phallic symbol, I think you’ll find, is complete with a period at the bottom. If the stamp of the female was ever more clearly inscribed, I’d eat my ironic fedora!! Among the vulgus this might be construed as male dominance, but the period clearly overrides this, functioning as the base from which all (re)productive male exploits find their source. It’s a fact generally overlooked by those who haven’t proceeded beyond an undergraduate degree.

A free-form Haiku I wrote on this exact topic has recently been published in online Zine, “Plato’s Lunchbox” and they have kindly agreed to donate my fees to the fund of my choice, most of which will go to “free the caged chickens and their compliant oppressors.” Considering that situational ethics are the refuge of the moral pauper, I found that your week-on/ week-off support of chickens’ wellbeing, inexcusable. But that’s just me and the chickens talking. The rest I spread out across numerous aid organisations, as to privilege one charity over the other would no doubt plummet us into that very same caste system which currently holds the Indian people to ransom.

The Ganges, on a side note, is a personal Mecca, and I look forward to swimming with these noble people, who, despite their tragic attire, exhibit a true artistic spirit.

Marcel

 

Marcel,

To implicitly support the work of late 16th century missionary Vasco de Ataíde, who ingratiated himself with the locals of that hallowed land as a purely self-gratifying venture, you enact a neo-colonialism that is as appalling as it is tasteless. It is also a dreadfully common offense. If you no longer wish to be shackled by the burden of conventionalism; one which is obviously taxing your mental health, let me take this opportunity to invite you to a small seminar I’m delivering this afternoon entitled “society’s salamander; shedding orthodoxy in the age of (un)reason.” I think the error of your ways will soon become evident.

Grace

 

Grace,

I mean no offence when I say that I think your seminar will be little more than the ravings of a madman and that I would rather drink cat’s piss than come.

Best,

Marcel

 

Hi Marcel,

No offence taken. As the great Alexander Pope once said, to err is human, to forgive, divine. With this in mind I overlooked your obviously self-directed anger; anger that was, no doubt, the result of gross inebriation and the humiliation of another rejected manuscript.

P.S. I am currently in the process of writing a book called “Dante’s Inferno Revisited.” In it, I detail a Tenth circle of Hell which involves all its citizens having to wear those gloves and listen to your voice (which I imagine resembles the mating call of a particularly libidinous bird) ad infinitum. After a day, I imagine the residents will be gagging for some good old fashioned hellfire.

Grace

 

Hi Grace (Exercised below)

Touring inside the cesspool of your mind was a Kafkaesque nightmare from which I may never recover. Consequently, I face Robert Frost’s proverbial fork in the road: one path tells me to raise funds for your immediate lobotomisation. The other involves me telling you that you’re a Grade A shithead and I hope you lose whichever hand is responsible for penning the relentless excrement that you label “literature.” Let me confess that I did not take the road less travelled.

Much Love,

Marcel

 

Dear Mrs Jones,

Please accept my sincerest apologies on the passing of your daughter Marcel (nee Stephanie). I am sure that as she was being trampled to death under the feet of her contemporaries, she felt the warm embrace of knowing that her persistent rallying would, sooner or later, lead to the eradication of Hegel from all tertiary syllabi. Please kindly let me know when and where the funeral ceremony is, so I can pay my last respects to this extraordinary woman. I hope it’s not too much to ask that I be able to say a few words at the funeral? I know that no one was a more fervent supporter of my literary pursuits than your daughter. It will be a small and moving excerpt from my recently-published novel: “The ironic fedora: Cosmic justice in the age of skepticism.” I think she’d have got a real kick out of it.

Best,

Ecstatic (nee Grace).

 

 

 

 

 

How I owned a Gumtree Swindler – a series of correspondence.

 

untitled gum

There are some questionable characters on Gumtree: I found this one in the process of selling my car.

This is the story of “Ben” and what can only be described as THE reverse swindle of 2014.

* In memory of Aunty Sandy’s near-swindle of 2013 and Susannah Morcombe’s very real swindle of 2006. May this give you the closure you so desperately seek.

 

Date: Sun, 12 Jan 2014 19:18:13 +1100
Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Hi – I was enquiring about your car – what’s the present condition and final price of your Gumtree Ad, best way to get me is via this email.

______________________________________________________________________________

My Astra is in great condition and the final price is 11,000

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 19:34:13 +1100
Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Thanks for getting back,i’m cool with the price likewise the condition as described on the advert,i work with New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) and we are presently offshore in New Zealand Taranaki Basin on kupe project.We do not have access to phone at the momement and that’s why I contacted you with internet messaging facility.Regarding the payment,i will be paying you through PayPal linked up with my ANZ bank account,please get back to me with your paypal details so i can process the payment,you can alternatively send your bsb acct name and number if you have no PayPal acct.I have also contacted my courier who will come for pick up and deliver it to my place in Darwin after the whole fund has been cleared into your acct. Await your reply

______________________________________________________________________________

untitled

That sounds amazing – I’ll even throw in some car mats!

Kind Regards,

Megan.

____________________________________________________________________________

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 21:15:00 +1100 Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Advise acct details

______________________________________________________________________________

My price has gone up – I want $11,500 for it. Let me know if you’re still fine to go ahead.

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 23:33:58 +1100

Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Ok no worries

______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for being flexible.

Unfortunately I’ve just had an offer from another guy who can come round and pick it up tomorrow and he said he’s happy to pay the original asking price of $12,000 😦 SORRY!!!

I hate to do this, but I think I’m going to have to go with him, purely because I’m a struggling uni student. Lol!

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 10:01:51 +1100

Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Ok no worries i’ll do $12500 for quicksale

______________________________________________________________________________

Make it $13,000 and you’ve got a deal 🙂

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 10:04:13 +1100

Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

ok fine

______________________________________________________________________________

I’m so sorry to do this to you, but I forgot about the mags :/ :/ :/ :/

They are apparently valued at $250 each, which would mean that I forgot to include another $1000 total to the asking price. I must, in all fairness, request $14,000 for it.

I completely understand if this is now too much, but I’m sure I can find other people who are willing to buy it at that price…

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 10:09:15 +1100

Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

appy sale then

______________________________________________________________________________

Ok, ok – you called my bluff. I’ll take the $13000 firm.

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 10:14:26 +1100
Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Advise acct details

______________________________________________________________________________

Just to let you know – I went to New Zealand six months ago, and we just thought it was the most beautiful place ever!!!

(My lover actually proposed to me there and we’re about to be married next month which is why I’m selling the car in such a hurry. Baby on the way!!)

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 10:29:07 +1100

Subject: Re:
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Wow congrats

______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks! We’re pretty excited – one month til beautiful baby Shaniqua comes along!

Is it alright if I give you Rodriguez’s account details instead? He reckons he knows it off by heart. Let me know if you have any problems, though, and I’ll get him to properly check it when we get home from the gyny 🙂

Account No: 84999973
BSB: 017-431

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 11:26:43 +1100

Subject: Re:
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Advise the acct name

______________________________________________________________________________

It’s Manuel-Pedro Rodriguez

Kind Regards,

Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 11:43:15 +1100

Subject: Re: Car
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Ok good,i will let you know when payment has been made and also contact my pickup agent regarding pickup arrangement but am trying to sort out with the pick up agent hope to sort it out soon.You will receive a confirmation email when done.

______________________________________________________________________________

Awesome – let me know if Rodriguez missed any numbers out, and I’ll wait to hear from you about pickup.

Kind Regards,

Megan.
______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 11:48 +1100
Subject: Re:
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Ok

______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 12:04:14 +1100
Subject: Re:
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

I was just about to pay when i had this little problem with the picking up,my pick up agent says i will need to pay for the pick up before they can schedule a pick up date and time with you to deliver to Northern Territory,Australia,they charged me $950 for pick up and delivery,and payments for pick up made through them is made to their corporate international headquarters which is in China and the payments is made through western union money transfer,i will add the $950 to the money i will send through the transfer as soon as i have made the payments,i will email you and let you know and please i will need you to help me send the money to my pick up agent Headquarters in China through western union money transfer,this can be done at any western union section at the post office or online (http://www.westernunion.com.au),there is always western union money transfer section in most post offices.Thanks.

Let me know if it will not be a problem helping me,so i can initiate the transfer.

______________________________________________________________________________

Sounds legit.

So does that mean that you need me to pay the $950 and you’ll reimburse me when you pay the cost for the car (ie. you’ll pay me the $13000 plus $950?)

Rodriguez told me to watch out for internet scams, but I believe in the innate goodness of humanity. I’m happy to do it, but you’ll have to give me a few days to get the money together. We’re in the middle of decorating the nursery and that little scamp is bleeding us dry before she’s even been born!

Kind Regards, Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Hi Ben, ready to send $ through – just wanted to confirm that you will be paying me the $950 on top of the $13000. Please let me know asap.
Also, when will the car be getting picked up by your guy?

Kind Regards,

Megan.
______________________________________________________________________________

Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2014 06:22:17 +1100
Subject: Re:
From: pitt.ben624@gmail.com
To: megsjessie@hotmail.com

Yes. Will reimburse. It will be picked asap

______________________________________________________________________________

Hi Ben,

Manuel Pedro-Rodriguez has just noticed that he has a rather large goiter on the side of his neck.

The only doctor that operates on this particular type of goiter is located in Paris, so we have to find a way to get some extra cash quickly.

I will now have to charge you $15000 for the car. Is this ok?

Kind Regards, Megan.

______________________________________________________________________________

Hi Ben – I haven’t heard back from you. I’m assuming it’s because you think that paying for someone else’s goiter removal is unfair???

Guess what? So is stealing.

Moooohahahaha – playa got plaaaaaaaaaaaaayed.

I wrote a special ditty for you. It’s called “Ben and the case of the backfired Gumtree swindle.” Enjoy:

I once met a guy called “Ben,” who was a dirty, stinking schemer.

All his friends routinely mocked him cos he had a teeny wiener.

What led to his life of online crime? We may never understand.

A bit like wondering how Nickelback ever made it as a band.

I hope he gets a real job and stops telling naughty lies

I hear The Colonel’s hiring – I can see him shovelling fries.

If Benji hears this message then I recommend he listens

I’d hate for him to serve hard time in a grotty all-male prison.

P.S. Happy has an ‘h’ in it. ‘Appy’ is not a word.

P.P.S Your grammar is also a crime.

P.P.P.S Let’s keep in touch.

Mills and Boon have a lot to answer for.

Image

I don’t know who Sandra Hill is and whether she’s laughing and making a packet, or whether she truly believes that love comes in the form of a (blessedly) thin book about randy she whales – yes, this features in the blurb. One thing is certain, though, her statement “Get ready for the time of your life” is presumptuous, to say the least.

If you’re having the time of your life reading a book, there’s something wrong with you. If you’re having the time of your life reading Truly Madly Viking, there’s something seriously wrong with you. If you’re having the time of your life writing a blog about these books, you’re human.

Anyhow, Sandra’s not the only nutter – I’ve searched the net and here are a collection of some of my favourite M&B offerings:

 

Jilted-Cover

Most people don’t like getting jilted, and when they do, they don’t put on their gumboots and sit on a hay bale thinking that was awesome, and grinning like a buffoon. This book was followed up by ‘Battered to Death,’ the cover of which had the same girl laughing uncontrollably and holding a poster that said ‘let’s do this again some time.

the-black-sheep-sheik

Say that ten times.

 

buttonless

Being blind is bad enough – but to be blind and buttonless…

The tragedy is that no one seems to want to buy this stud a new shirt, not even one that says “I’m blind and all they got me was this lousy blouse.” And really, Carol Finch might as well have just called it The Blind Horseman, because being shirtless in a Mills and Boon is par for the course. I have yet to see one of these books set in the Antarctic, although I’m sure they’d still find a way to strip the lead back. It’d go something like this:

Antonio scaled the cliff face, his rippling muscles aiding him in his perilous quest.  Caught on a craggy rock, his shirt tore, revealing the bronzed body of a Norse god. “You’ll freeze to death,” said Juanita, tears threatening to cloud her large, impossibly blue eyes. “Ha ha, you beguiling she-vixen,” said Antonio, “not with my invisible shirt I won’t.”

Man I should give up my day job. Oh, that’s right, I don’t have one.

 

mills

The devil wouldn’t be caught dead in velvet – it’s highly flammable.

 

grace before meat

Give me the ham and no one gets hurt.

If there’s one thing I know about grace, it’s that it originates somewhere in your heart, not your digestive tract. I doubt anyone has ever said, “I’d love to let you off, but I’ve just had lunch.” If anything, it should be called Grace after Meat, because someone who’s just eaten is far more likely to overlook an offence. Hence the catchphrase, “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” For all we know Hitler was just a guy in need of a Mars Bar.

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What’s that in kilos?

 

fabio_lips_meant_for_xing

Hand me the Marlboros. Quickly.

When Fabio gets oiled up, and stares into your soul with all the intelligence of a half-eaten pizza, you pay attention; mostly because he looks like the love-child of Billy Ray Cyrus and a cross-eyed tangerine. The opportunities for memes here are endless, but I’m trying to wean myself off them, and sometimes that means not superimposing Mills & Goon across his forehead.

There we have it, and I haven’t even begun to explore Harlequin romance novels. Sorry for anyone that actually does read these books – I’m sure you’re normal, and that you’re just in need of  your own craggy Antonio. Don’t worry, I had a quick scout and I’ve found just the guy.

 

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You’re welcome.

The Shining? Grade Seven? Really?

I’ve discovered scary movies late in life: I still don’t love the ones where people’s heads are being used as punch bowls, but I don’t mind the occasional (tasteful) blood bath. This doesn’t sound that earth-shattering unless you appreciate that my childhood aversion to horror movies was less a dislike than a full-blown mental disorder.

All my neuroses, I like to think, are a result of early exposure to the genre, although apparently I was already messed up in utero: Legend has it I came out wearing a cravat saying, “I’d kill for a stiff drink – the interior decoration in that joint was apalling.” That never happened, but there have been several other signs of mental fragility, and since my parents are both fairly normal, most people assume the apple kind of projectiled off the tree and rolled down a hill into a ditch somewhere far, far away.

Abnormalities aside, I don’t think I’m the only kid that’s been traumatised by watching these films at a young age. I’m not sure what the go is now at primary school parties, but in my day it almost always involved watching a horror movie at the end of the night, which meant that I had to sit in the toilet for the last few hours singing the theme tune to “Pirates of Penzance” until someone picked me up.

In the interest of upcoming generations, I’ve devised some not-so-scary alternatives to the classics. Basically, I’ve left the chilli in and removed the seeds. (It’s a rubbish analogy but I’ve lost my creative mojo after reading about things like Wittgenstein’s notion of the essentially philosphical nature of humour): let’s just say that the guy wouldn’t survive on the comedy circuit.

 

A Nightmare on Oak Street.

Freddy-Krueger-freddy-krueger-11894586-497-500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running parallel to Elm Street, Oak street is the birthplace of acne-riddled Frederico Kruger, a lonely Hispanic boy with scissors for hands. His dreams of becoming a proctologist in tatters, he now uses his digits for other pursuits, such as decoupage and paper tole.

 

The Sixth Pence

thesixthsense1999dualau

 

 

 

 

 

What happened to my career?

Impoverished Jewish girl in Dickensian London spends five pence on a box of matches before blowing the remaining one on a pack of Twisties. Fagan takes her into his pack of car thieves, and not long after, she and Oliver Twist run off to Vegas to get hitched. Six months later, he swaps her for a bowl of porridge. “Moving”, “genre-defying” and “courageous”, this anachronistic masterpiece will leave moviegoers worldwide saying “please sir may I have some more.”

 

Snakes on a Train (in Maine)

snakes_plane_ld_wideweb__470x310,0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing his obsession with abstract titles, the director of “Snakes on a Plane” brings us “Snakes on a Train in Maine.” The plot is as follows: a guy from New England finds two snakes on a train, throws them out of the carriage and the movie ends just after the opening credits. A lesson David Ellis could have profited from the first time round.

 

Dullsville

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Do not be fooled by Elizabethtown’s location in the “rom-com” section. Noone who has laboured through the original will deny its capacity for inflicting trauma on the least discerning of movie critics. My re-imagined offering, “Dullsville”, centres around a group of townsfolk forced to sit in a darkened room watching Elizabethtown on repeat while being forcefed biltong. (While the premise may be equally chilling as the original, no clips from the 2003 film are featured.)

 

Friday 31st: Hockey just got real mixed up.

Jason_Voorhees_001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dyslexic Jason Vorhees misreads his hockey grand final date (Friday 13th), turning up weeks later on the 31st. Still reeling from the truancy of their star player, his embittered team mates beat him with pucks, one of which hits his temple, claiming his life. Frederico Kreuger makes paper chains for his funeral.

 

The Chair Switch Project

blair_witch_project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somebody picks up one chair and switches it with another. Nothing happens in this minimalist masterpiece, much like the original.

 

The Philatelist

exorcist1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Blair is just a normal girl, or is she? She isn’t, and her mother is worried. With only a collection of stamps and an elderly mailman for friends, Blair starts to exhibit increasingly bizarre behaviour, one of which is watching season 1 through 8 of Gilmore Girls. A priest is called and burns every copy at the house as well as those in all DVD stores within an 8 mile radius. Slowly recovering, her fetish for philately reawakened, she falls in love with the mailman but dies shortly thereafter from spinal injuries originating in her neck. She donates her collection to the Gilmore Girl recovery centre in Nevada.

See now… isn’t that nice? Now I’ve just to figure out a plot for “When Carrie met Sally.” *

*All contributions considered.