Friday, February 29, 2008

Retiring in her prime

For decades now (in blogging terms at least) I've been writing about my gorgeous little 'Lost Dogs Home' adoptee, Dogadoo, whose real name is actually Milly. According to the vet, she's a cross between a Jack Russell and a Corgi and has been fortunate enough to inherit the best traits from each breed.

She can run faster than a whippet and can turn 180 degrees like the crack of a stockman's whip on a five cent piece. Fellow dog walkers frequently comment on her speedy skills and she barely stops for any congratulatory pats until after our session is completed: after all, there’s running to do NOW and any cutesy touchy-feely stuff can occur afterwards at any time.

For four years she's been my Personal Trainer. She insists that we get up at 6am about three or four mornings a week, trot to the school oval and do our fifteen laps totalling 6km. Well, what's fifteen laps for me is about sixty for Milly if her additional distances criss-crossing to chase magpies, sniff other furry buddies’ butts, roll in old school sandwiches and making sure she leaves her ~ ahem ~ 'Chum Nuggets' in the middle of the cricket pitch are taken into account.

However (and I hate having to write 'however' in Milly's case), she had been starting to limp for the rest of the day after our runs together.

The limping would stop on the second day, so I just assumed she'd pulled a muscle and it would soon go away. Last week, however, she started slipping on the floor when she tried to stand up in the mornings. The problem now seemed a bit more serious, so we trotted down the street to the vet.

The vet isn't Milly's favourite place and she tends to start shaking as soon as we arrive in the waiting room. Conversely I find the reception area hugely entertaining as it is filled with all sorts of dogs and cats of various shapes, sizes, colours and temperaments. Sounds, smells, floating fur and even wet patches make it a potential location for a future blog article.

Once in the examination room it is increasingly clear that Milly considers her vet appointment about as much fun as a mouthful of sugarless carob. For in spite of the vet’s reassuring voice, head pats and liver treats, Milly’s ears immediately flatten when the thermometer is inserted without so much as a "Do you mind if...." beforehand. And who can blame her - each time she there she gets poked up the bum to get her temperature taken; has her skin scraped until blood appears for skin samples, a long needle jab under the collar for protection against various worms and kennel cough and, this time, her hips and legs manipulated until she cried out in pain.

$500 later, she was knocked out for x-rays and taken home with dilated triangles for eyes and a tendency to tip over sideways like a cow in rigor mortis. She was too stoned to do anything more than whimper occasionally, clearly puzzled as to why the room was spinning like a frisbee and we humans were appearing in triplicate.

It was bad news for a four year old in the prime of her running career. Milly has acute arthritis and was no longer allowed to go running. Ever again. In fact, we were informed that she must have two weeks of total rest, which means no walks, no time off the lead in the park or any form of happy laps around the garden when Love Chunks gets home after work.

It also means losing three kilograms of weight to ease the strain on her back knees. Here she is standing by the fridge, hoping that I'll open it again and say, "Oh sorry mate, that tiny handful of 'diet crunchies' I gave you was merely the appetizer. Let me open the magic white door again and give you the bone, bacon rinds, doggy moosh in oily juices and leftovers you so richly require and deserve." No such luck: not only is she bored and puzzled, but she's also hungry; her two favourite activities now being denied her.

The irony is that I still have to keep running on the oval because my knees are too buggered to cope with cement footpaths and bitumen any longer. Milly hears my alarm and whips herself up into a furry frenzy of excitement: 'Kath's up first, so that means we're going RUNNING. Whoo Hoo!' Not any more, my little friend.

On the first day without her, she managed to slip under the side gate and I could hear the ‘clicka clicka clicka’ of her nails on the footpath. I turned around to see her exuberant face, telling me, “It’s OK Kath, everything’s all right. I’ve got the situation in hand. I managed to get out and I’m joining you.” I felt like the scummiest person on the earth when I picked her up in my arms, walked back to the house, locked the gate and saw her confused face behind the bars before I jogged out of the garden into the distance.

In two weeks' time she will – depending on the outcome of her next vet appointment - be allowed to go on two five-minute walks on a lead each day, maybe building it up to ten minutes after a few weeks of seeing how her legs hold out.

In the meantime, I run on my own, saying my usual ‘Morning’ greeting to the other oval regulars such as the owners of Sheba the German Shepherd, Hoover the kelpie, Ben the sheepdog, Rowley the terrier and Izzy the spaniel, calling out, “Not any more, she’s got arthritis” when they invariably call out, “So where’s Milly today?”

I feel glad when the salty sweat trickles into my eyes because it blends in to disguise my tears. It’s just not the same running on my own and not be able to hear the joyful jingling of Milly’s tags as she hoons along beside me.

Please please please let me come too. Please?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sleepless in the Suburbs

It’s now 3:25am and way past my bed time. It’s also one of those nights where I hate my beloved, Love Chunks, with a passion. No, he didn’t sleep with the Penthouse Gymnastics team or gamble away our life savings, it’s much more annoying. He’s one of those lucky, lucky bastards who only has to roll over and say "Goodni---" and be fast asleep before his head has even made a dent in the pillow.

In direct contrast, Sleep and I have a very fraught relationship; kind of like Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. Once we were very close; soul-mates who spent quality time together and got along like a house on fire, but now we are completely estranged and wonder just what the hell we had in common in the first place. A court case is soon to follow, with me prosecuting Sleep for breach of contract: failure to provide decent, regular service under the 8/24 agreement I signed up for.

Love Chunks isn't the one to blame for my predicament. A couple of years ago he bravely underwent surgery to get his – erm, I’m not sure what the exact medical term is – fleshy ‘curtains on the side of the stage’ in his throat cut out so that he’d no longer snore like an bellowing elephant trapped in quicksand. He endured two weeks of agony afterwards so that he’d no longer be banished to the spare room or be glared at for the entire time the sun was up. It worked too - all I hear now is a faint 'Ooosh Ooosh' sound of air travelling in and out of his newly constructed Heysen Tunnel.

Sometimes the insomnia can be blamed on the pillows. Too flat, too hot (so flip them over, I hear you say - and I do, so often they might as well be set on rollers), too high, too hard, too soft.... The quilt - too cold, too fluffy or LC's hogging too much of it... The room? Too bright, too dark, too creaky. The local hoons who seem to choose our end of the street to do their black tyre skid mark signatures and burn outs? Who the hell knows but surely they're not actually attracting any potential shag partners doing so?

Well, I do know the reason for my insomnia actually. It's my stupid, over-loaded-with-useless-pop-culture brain. It's a well known fact that human beings have been estimated as only being capable of using ten percent of their brain capacity during their lifetimes, but did the lab coats who spent their grant money on Pocket Pen Protectors and Tomb Raider toiletries ever stop to consider the insomniac sufferers amongst us?

For us, a further 60% of the brain is worn out but unfortunately not in a useful way. Instead, we lie awake with our eyes squeezed shut, trying to approximate the state of relaxation when in reality our bodies are completely rigid as we try to block out inane ditties such as the Wiggles' song 'Wobbly Wobbly Wobbly Dance.' My daughter hasn't played that video for five years yet it's that song that tonight decides to superglue itself inside my complaining cranium and replay itself over and over and over.

Even when I try to change the track listing and instead imagine that I'm lying in my childhood bedroom, trying to remember where all the furniture was and what toys I had, the song keeps creeping in: "Wobbly wobbly wobbly dance….Front, back and side to side…..", so that I actually, genuinely want to be having a nightmare but one where I'm the bad guy: kicking over Anthony the blue one's fake drum set, smashing Murray the red one's guitar, violently shaking Jeff awake and giving that smug yellow one Greg a good hard kick in the goolies.*

That poetic visualisation can often make things better for me in the bedroom, but not tonight. I stayed laying there on my hot pillow, under the scratchy quilt, biting uncomfortably down on my retarded mouth guard as though it was a chunk of wood in my teeth to help me get through the pain of a bullet being yanked out of my leg by John Wayne. The Wiggles had finally departed my brain, no doubt being taken to the emergency ward by Dorothy the dinosaur with Henry the Octopus driving and Captain Feathersword seeking legal counsel.

Not for long, unfortunately. They must have needed petrol in the big red car or forgot their keys or something: "Dorothy! Dorothy! Would you like to dance with me?" I tried my damnedest to think of a classic 'Nebraska' or 'Ghost of Tom Joad' Springsteen mope tune to give me a big enough downer to numb me for sleep. But nooooo, I had already moved on to a mental stocktake of what toys I have stashed in the cupboard for children’s birthdays - Sam will be getting a Bionicle pack like all of the other boys' parties that my eight-turning-nine-this year daughter will be invited to. And for the love of god, did I need to try and figure out where sesame seeds come from tonight?

Like all insomniacs, I know that taking a trip to the loo might do the trick bladder-wise, but is fraught with disappointment in terms of seeking any opportunity to slip back into bed, 200ml lighter, ready for Nod Land. An empty bladder, alas, does not equal an empty mind. Still, I go through the standard, worn-out, futile routine. I walk s-l-o-w-l-y through the house, hoping to be quiet but instead allowing each and every 80 year old floorboard to crack and squeak. I make sure to keep my eyes shut in the vain hope that my body will think it’s asleep. I successfully groped my way carefully along the walls into our newly renovated bathroom until I accidentally touch the heated towel rail, flung my hand backwards and cracked it against the door handle. F%$#@!!

Oh who the hell was I kidding? I decided that I might as well stay awake and see what Benny Hinn's got to say to his devoted flock today. Maybe not. Milly the dog, not known for her ability to tell time, got excited and thought it was time for a run. “Get down beast, you're scratching my legs with your claws. No, it's not time for a run or walkies just yet, can't you see that from the silent yet deadly glare from my road-map like red eyes? Get down!" I said in my most furious whisper. A few hopeful licks of my bare feet and a ‘thumpa thumpa thumpa’ of her tail against the coffee table was her answer.

Eventually, I gave in to the obvious and had a squizz inside the fridge. Mmmm chocolate.....such a shame when three rows snap off instead of one. No point in putting them back, is there? There was also a Farmers Union Feel Good iced coffee that had a ‘use by’ date of today and if anyone needed to 'feel good' it was me.
Alrighty then, so Zzzzeds in bed was clearly not going to happen for me tonight – or should I say this morning, so I decided to stay up, eat my choccie, sip my FUIC, enjoy myself and suffer the grumps later on this afternoon.
I’ll just go and slip on a DVD, preferably something featuring John Cusack, lie back on the lounge and give Milly a good cuddle, making sure that no chocolate gets smeared on her ears or the new lounge cushions. Life isn't too bad after all I s’pose. Even if I do get irritable today, no-one will notice anything unusual. So, if we only use ten percent of our brains, and supposing that insomniacs use another 60% at night on useless thoughts, then what is the remaining thirty percent used for..........

* I know it’s Sam who’s the yellow one these days, but it was Greg who sang the stupid song in Sapphire’s old video and therefore he is the one who will be paying his dues. In my head at least.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Playing up

After Sapphire finished her tennis lesson on Saturday morning we wandered over to the nearby Adventure Playground. According to my current role in life, I sat down on a nearby park bench like a sensible parent and watched as she scampered from one piece of equipment to the other before making some temporary friends to play with.

Their methods of introducing themselves always make me smile. They will climb together; chase each other and try to swing higher than each other a good half an hour before any formal introductions take place. Even then all they want to know about each other is the name and the age. “Hi my name is Sapphire, I’m eight. How old are you?” Simple and always effective, but for adults asking the age of a potential shag at an over 35s singles night it may not result in anything other than a bacardi breezer being flung in your face.

After these idle musings, an immature yearning swept over me. I used to be able to swing upside down from monkey bars and land deftly on my feet ready for a long session on the whizzy. Why don’t they make playgrounds for adults? Who says that adults can’t play on the playgrounds with their kids? Emboldened, I put down my obligatory morning carton of Farmers Union Feel Good Iced Coffee next to my handbag and ventured into the previously-forbidden zone.

“Hey Mum, what are you doing here? Do you want to push me on the whizzy tyre?”
“No thanks love. You carry on; I’m just going to have a little go on the monkey bars over here.” My big hands gripped the first rung tightly and confidently as my feet lifted from the ground. This was all very well, but how the hell was I going to find the strength to swing my enormous bulk over to the next bar? Somehow I did it and could feel the tendons and muscles twanging off one-by-one down the side of my body like a migrating Mexican wave. My pride made me swing to the third bar, if only to have the same painful muscle pulls occur on the other side of my body.
I thought that perhaps it would be better to try something a bit less grueling, such as the cute little rockin’ rabbits on the coiled springs. Sapphire saw this, and clambered onto the blue bunny next to mine. It was rather satisfying to note that my butt could actually fit into the seat even though my knees were splayed outwards in a peculiar frog pose. We rocked back and forth, back and forth as Sapphire sang “See saw margarine’s jaw, Ronnie will get a new blaster….” Whilst she warbled happily, my mouth was sealed shut in determination, mostly because I was afraid my brains would fall out onto the bark chips. It was a sensation very similar to an enforced bout of head-banging at a Metallica concert with the same result of pounding temples and swollen eyeballs. “You keep going Sapphire, I’m just going to, um, have a quiet sit on the swing over there,” I gestured vaguely towards the trees and staggered off, clutching my head.

Swings surely would be a much nicer and safer activity to try, I thought hopefully. Harumph. Well, first there was the humiliation having to wedge my arse into the seat, which felt like trying to stuff a inflatable dinghy into a Pringles packet as I struggled into a u-shaped strip of rubber that even an anorexic munchkin would consider snug. My left butt cheek quickly grew whilst I started off swinging low and slow. I was actually enjoying the sensation and waved triumphantly to my daughter on the swing ropes. “Woo Hoo! Look at me Sapphire, look at me!” She gave me a terse nod in response, and went back to her climbing.

My arms and sides ached after their monkey bar experiences, but were still doing an expert job of hanging onto the chains of the swing as I went higher and higher. “Woo Hoo Sapphire! Come and have a swing with me! I’m going sooo high!” She didn’t seem to be able to hear me; no doubt it was due to the wind generated by my altitude. These smug thoughts immediately disappeared when a sudden wave of motion sickness swept in.

I skidded my heels into the ground, recognizing the very familiar, sweaty car-sickish feeling from childhood: sitting in the back of the Volvo on a trip to Adelaide with a filled-up ice-cream carton in my hands. The parking bay near the tollgate was always the most convenient place for my mother to stop and do her regular routine of rinsing’n’flinging out the contents. It was no surprise that wildflowers grew so well there amongst the cracks in the bitumen…..

When my gut stopped its queasy flip-flopping, it was obviously time to see what Sapphire was enjoying so much about the ropes. They were bright orange and erected on splayed poles to resemble a huge spider’s web. She had climbed so sure-footedly to the top of the web many times – a bit like her mother at the same age really.

My already-abused arm muscles shook with uncertainty as I grabbed at the web. My massive grown up feet somehow managed to find a grip on the slim rope and I found myself on the lowest row of the web, smiling at my own achievement. The other kids weren’t as happy about it as my bulk had stretched the ropes to the tautness of cable, causing the cone-shaped web to rise alarmingly high on their side and touch the ground on mine. Oh, so that’s why my feet could balance on the rope – it was on the ground. Pretending to be distracted by something else in the distance, I jumped off the rope and made my exit. I'm sure that at least half the kids managed to hang on as the ropes snapped back into formation at least.

The point farthest from the stupid spider web was the pipe tunnels. “Sapphire! Sapphire! Wanna come in here with me?” Never mind, she seemed to be in earnest conversation with another girl on the monkey bars. The pipe was only four feet at its tallest point, so my stroll inside was that of an osteoporosis sufferer determined to find every coin dropped on the ground. You would think that this vantage point would be prevent me from stepping – and slipping – on the slimy, stale black mud, but it didn’t. And trust me to be wearing light fawn shorts that morning too. Maybe the kids’ll would just assume that the two gigantic black shiny circles on my arse were skid marks from the swing seat.

“Oh Mum, you’ve got mud all over your BOTTOM,” Sapphire whispered in 150 decibels. “It looks like you’ve pooed yourself, yuck!”
“OK OK, how about giving me a hand here by the water fountain, and I’ll see if I can wash some of it off.” Thankfully most of it came out even though I now did feel as though I’d truly wet my pants, squelching to the spinning teacups.

“Have a try of these Mum, you’ll love them”, Sapphire urged.
Again, my wet bum wedged itself into the tulip-shaped yellow cup quite effectively. “Now Mum, I’ll give you a push and then you sort of wiggle your legs around and the tea cup will spin. Ready?”
“Oh er, I’m sure not sure spi-------- Aaaaaarh!”

I’m no physicist but I’m sure that the tiny circumference of this individual whizzy would make it, um, more ‘whizzyish’ than the larger one designed for the use of many children at once. It felt clinging on to the end of an over-powered bamix which made it impossible to focus on anything around me as the landscape whirled by in psychedelic whirls and stripes of colour. My iced coffee was threatening to return again, albeit in slightly chunkier form with added peas and carrots. “Stop me Sapphire, PLEASE!”
She did, and I fancy there was a suctioned pop! sound as I extricated myself from the satanic spinner as quickly as I could, only fall face down into the bark chips.

Sapphire laughed, patting my wet bottom, “Oh Mum, you’re so funny.”
“That’s great,” I mumbled, still spitting chips. “Time for us to go home sweetie.”
“Awww Mum!”


“Mum? Muuuuuum, why are we just sitting here? Why aren’t you driving the car yet?”

I took a big, slow gulp of air. “Er, I’m just sitting here for a bit so that I don’t, er, get sick in the car.” Another big gulp. “Why don’t you see how many cockatoos you can count sitting on the lawn over there…….”

Monday, February 18, 2008

The losing of wisdom
As a struggling student, my wisdom teeth and resulting face aches had got so bad that I was forced to visit the Dental School in the hopes that they'd consider my complaint urgent and valid enough for a vaguely capable dental student to work on. It was either submit myself as a guinea pig for free dental treatment, or perform sexual favours in bus shelters, and I didn't fancy my chances at the latter option.

The dentist who examined me agreed that I was a case study worth giving to one of his students. Each tooth was literally growing sideways, with the twisted roots butting up against my other teeth, trying to push them further to the front. No wonder my eyes felt as though they were being forced out of their sockets. Despite being marked as urgent', it was another four months before my day was due. I was ready 120 days of chewing Panadeine pills like Pez had seriously worn thin, as had my pain threshold.

The actual process of removing my teeth fully conscious, and in the chair was an incredibly terrifying mixture of Sweeney Todd and The Shining but without any stunt doubles. The student performing the removal didn't have the social skills (or was it the confidence?) to introduce himself or look into my eyes and the nurse continually had to interrupt what he was doing, grab his arm and say, "Hang on a minute there mate. You might want to rethink that move," before he'd pause, sigh in annoyance and continue doing it the way he wanted to.

He did, however, let the nurse administer all TWELVE needles of anaesthetic because, in his words, he was ".....dying for a leak and would be back in a tick." My eyes started misting over with tears of pain and that was before he came back, clamped my teeth with some godforsaken set of dentists' pliers and kept yanking my head off the chair and letting it land again with a bump over and over and over again in his futile attempts to yank the offending tooth out of my mouth. Eventually, he gave up all pretence of caring about my humanity and climbed onto the chair, put his knees on my shoulders and yanked at my teeth with the full force of both hands.

My eyes were now firmly squeezed shut out of sheer horror: the last thing I wanted to see was the bloodied reflection of my stretched-out-mouth in his protective goggles. "Calm down, dear," the nurse tapped on my forehead more than once to get me to listen. My breathing was ragged and panting and tears were now rolling down the sides of my face and pooling in my ears. Any sobs or moaning that emanated from me were muffled by now having two pairs of hands and implements working away at my teeth, with the corners of my lips starting to tear and bleed into the general chaos. They were too busy to suction out any fluid with the little metal tube thingy and the warm fluid slid steadily down my throat, threatening to come back up again a short while later.

Hours, minutes or was it days after, I was free to go. My mouth felt as though it had hosted a particularly violent and drunken mosh pit at a death metal festival and the disinterested dental student's back was already half way out of the door before I could unsteadily rise to my feet and shake the tears out of my ears.

My clothes were soaked through with terror-sweat and I blindly stumbled my way along the grim grey corridor back to the innocuous safety of the waiting room where my then boyfriend Love Chunks was ready to take me home.

As I reached the swinging hospital doors, my sneaker must have caught on the aluminum plate at the bottom and I literally fell through, landing on all fours in front of about 20 other victims/patients waiting for their turn. It was the last straw for me: I opened my mouth to have a big, self-pitying wail, when the cotton pads staunching the bleeding dropped onto the floor like four angry polyps. There was a collective gasp of horror from the onlookers (one guy even dropped his Readers Digest) and as Love Chunks rushed over to help me up, the blood ran down my chin, Vampire style. You could have heard a pin drop as he walked me out of the building.

Three weeks later, I was finally able to open my mouth wide enough to eat a cheese sandwich. Love Chunks fondly reminisces about those 21 glorious days of peace and quiet......

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tackling the Testosterone Theory

Yesterday I appeared on ABC Adelaide Radio with Matthew Abraham and David Bevan, because they wanted me to respond to some comments made by the 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' author, John Gray, a couple of days earlier. There were vague hints from the producer that my book, 'Work/Life Balance for Dummies' might also get mentioned, but I got the distinct impression that they were more after a very non-serious female perspective about blokes, work and home.

Listening to the podcast was hilarious, informative and infuriating - quite a winner in terms of entertaining listening. Mr Gray contends that men need to rest on the sofa like lazy lumps after a hard day at work because their testosterone levels have dipped far too low. He says they need to recuperate and, even when their testosterone reaches optimum level, they should stay resting so that they have the energy to immediately deal with 'emergency situations'.

Emergency situations, eh? What constitutes an emergency? Not being able to reach the remote? Being the one-in-a-million unlucky bugger to be invaded by an angry mob with pitchforks and murder on their minds? Matt and Dave thought I was being a tad too harsh on their fellow men and reminded me that Gray's research has led him to conclude that if men get sex more often, their testosterone levels are higher and they will, as a result, be more active and helpful around the house.

Nodding whilst listening, I shot back with something like, "Well that's all very nice for you blokes, but let me tell you this: Men are more likely to get sex IF and WHEN they help out at home. Strangely enough, most women are not turned on by a semi-conscious slug snoring on the sofa when she's busy with the kids' homework, cooking dinner, feeding the dog, hanging out washing, sorting through the mail and bills, answering the phone and cleaning up only to fall into bed several hours later and get a hopeful 'tap on the shoulder' by her man."

He's infinitely more sexy if he wears an apron; a teatowel slung over his shoulder; a concerned expression over the kids' homework; and an ability to simultaneously notice the crumbs and wipe down the counter than if he has an imprint of the tv-guide on his face.

Gray also likes to go on about the differences in white matter and grey matter in men and women's brains. Men can apparently use their more analytical 'left side' at work all day and then switch off when they get home, whereas women keep the left side on permanently whilst also using their right sides. I can believe this particular theory as I can his idea that women are therefore more emotional, get more stressed and need to vent to their partners when they get home. Agreed: Love Chunks can pretty well list all of my work colleagues' names, job titles, skills and irritating office habits - even for those people he hasn't met at end-of-year BBQs. I, on the other hand, vaguely know that he works in the most hilarious looking building in Adelaide (unless you're a staunch fan on 1976 architecture that is) with a bunch of other guys who have trouble finding a decent car parking spot in Kent Town and they make the best calendars ever.

As such, Gray suggests to the male listeners that finding ten minutes each day to sit and really listen to their womenfolk downloading their days' concerns after work isn't much of a sacrifice. As Sapphire's school teacher has told me in the past, kids have a concentration span of roughly ten minutes, so surely a grown professional can manage it. After all, it's about the time it takes to slurp down a full carton of Farmers' Union Iced Coffee or successfully open a beer bottle with an eye socket.

The last thing I wanted, however, was to appear as a strident man-hater. I'm not a bloke-bigot; some of my best friends are blokes. Love Chunks is a bloke and we've withstood nearly fifteen years of relatively happy togetherness. I therefore thought it was appropriate to mention that it is in fact Love Chunks who cooks all of the (incredibly delicious and creative) meals in our house. Matt and Dave looked impressed.

Unfortunately, I had to add the fateful word 'but'.
"But when a man cooks, he gets a great deal more positive attention for doing so. We all say 'Oh wow, did you make this; it's fantastic, you're great, this is delicious...' etcetera but there are other, less glamorous tasks that are never noticed. My job is to do the washing---"
Dave interjected with, "Yeah but the washing's easy and doesn't take that much effort----"
"No no no Dave. It's a constant, dreary process of washing, hanging up, bringing in, sorting, folding, ironing, putting away only to have to do another load. We all go nuts when a delicious plate of pasta is put in front of us, but how many blokes have opened up their jock drawer and gone, 'Wow! I've got clean jocks- this is great, thanks!' "

In my nervousness, exhilaration and utter terror, things got a bit murky from then on. I do remember saying that if Gray wants us women to accept that men need to do sweet FA so that they can replenish their love pumps, then we gals should be able to come home, take a long, peaceful nap and allow our ovaries to realign themselves with the sun. Caveman needs and analogies can only go so far. If he wants us to accept that fellas need to hunt all day and then rest and shag all night, then he must also accept that men will have their life expectancies reduced to the same experienced by their stone age buddies - 27 years. They may not die whilst battling a mammoth like their forebears, but they'll have some pretty angry females to deal with bearing nose hair clippers, salad tongs and sharply manicured nails....

Back at home, Love Chunks and I resumed the discussion. I opined that if men can come home and do nothing, so can us women, but it will be at the risk of the human race dying out because no-one will be there to look after and protect the children or the home. Love Chunks wasn't in agreement. He thought that if guys could do what they liked, there would, in fact, be many more children in the world as an outcome of men's increased access to - and participation in - horizontal hobbies.

Not a chance. In reality, there would be a load of bonked-out blokes and one very unusual and very busy woman for each postcode. The rest of us would be napping or shopping for chocolate.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The wrong side of Magill Road

Is there anything more ego-draining than hearing someone pause and say, "Oh you live on the OTHER side of (insert name here) road. We don't deliver / visit / shop / drive past / linger / buy / breathe / accept the existence of / service / acknowledge that area."

While Pru and Tru might be the invention of a couple of Melbourne-based comediennes, their plum-up-the-bum accents are quintessentially those found here in Eastern Adelaide.

I always used to wonder just how this peculiar brand of irritating enunciation actually developed. Growing up in Murray Bridge, where a good nights' entertainment meant the local bogans used to stand down-wind of the big bonfire of confiscated marijuana plants found by police for a free high; the poncy put-on voices of the town's few social climbers was a mystery. Just where, amongst the milking sheds, pig farmers and meat workers, did the tossers' timbre come from?

Of course some of them were Seymour sisters or PAC old boys from way back, but surely a decade or three in a town more known for its Demolition Derby than its debutantes would have worn away any arsehole's effeminate enunciation? Why the need to keep clinging to such a cliquish cadence that sounds so ridiculous?

Even though I was raised in the seventies, studied in the eighties, worked in the nineties and bought a house in the noughties, I expected that such silly snobberies were long past. Or, if they were still around, they were now mocked and seen as the weak efforts of a few old Highbrow Harries to maintain their inbred private school stupid old scholars' program. Some examples of this tendency is the continuing trend of placing a sticker of the school's coat-of-arms on the back of one's BMW sedan or glossy back Mercedes 4WD, or the inability to venture any further north than O'Connell Street.

Apparently not. After having dinner with some friends last night, Janice, who is looking the age of 67 in the face but might as well be an advertisement for Oil of Olay for forty year olds - told me that she was at a funeral earlier that day. Held in the St Peters' Boys chapel of course. For some old geezer who was in his eighties. So, for someone who attended a school nearly sixty years ago, it was still important to his foppish family and self-conscious society snoots to plonk his dead corpse in a box there, rather than anywhere else he might have held important in the 21,900 days of his life since. It is simply swanky-wanky snobbery in action - clutching onto the old cliques....

Mum tells me too, that a near neighbour of hers in Victor Harbor just has to add 'from Scotch' in every sentence relating to her now-adult children: "Oh, we've just been sooo run off our feet this weekend. Daniel and his friends - from Scotch - popped in...."

To her eternal credit, Mum just smiled and nodded, and kept on power walking to the end of the bluff and back. What she wanted to say was, "Oh yes, Scotch. As in scotch fillet, whisky or tape? For your three children who attended the school over 25 years ago, none of them matriculated, went on to further study or have done anything other than enter your husband's family-owned business. All of their cars and homes have been purchased by you and they are now aged 37, 39 and 41 respectively!"

Maybe one day it will be socially acceptable for the high school classes in the leafy suburbs to throw in, "Oh yes, we've had a whirlwind of a summer break, it was just lovely. The molls from Murray Bridge High School dropped in to compare Centrelink cheques, tattoos and hydroponic equipment."

Until then, I'll have to continue to grit my teeth when a business located in Norwood - a mere 1000 metres away, does not 'deliver' to my area, on the wrong side of Magill Road. I'll keep on driving our dented, 12 year old station wagon with the remnants of last year's Kangaroo Island dust still on it, and enjoy sitting outside in our 'garden' of baked clay, builders' rubble and dog turds.

Pass me an iced coffee, garcon, and don't forget to fling in a custard tart and a bag of burger rings!

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Blame Game

The other night we had the Catherine-the-Gorgeous and her son, Angus-the-Red-Blooded, over for dinner.

Angus may be a mere six-and-a-half and my Sapphire a relatively worldly eight-and-a-half but they really enjoy each other's company. Their toes touch as they laugh through a Shrek DVD; their heads meld when playing Nintendogs and their chortles echo throughout the neighbourhood when they try to out-bounce each other on the trampoline.

This makes it easy for us adults to stay outside, drink more rose and talk with very little interruption. Several hours later however, a clearly distressed Angus stormed outside. When a kid strides towards their parent with a purposeful gleam in their eye, it is to be assumed that some serious dobbing is likely to occur. If it is your child who is the Dobber, you feel a mixture of shame that they can't roll with the punches and some relief that they are seeking vindication instead of violence. If your child is the Dobbee, it is mostly a mixture of shame and dread - what on earth had Sapphire done to Angus, one of her best friends?

"SHE did this to me!" he yelled, pointing at her through the glass doors. Inside, Sapph was supremely unconcerned, absent-mindedly patting Dogadoo and still watching the movie.
"Sorry Angus, what did she do to you?" Love Chunks asked gently.
"THIS!" He pointed to his nether regions.

What on earth......

"Sweetie," Catherine said, "We still don't understand." (Plus we're already horrified at whatever hellish, twisted and macabre information is about to emanate from your lips): "What exactly happened?"

He again pointed to his crotch with a two handed motion that a Gangsta rapper would envy.
"SHE----" he paused to collect himself. "She......made me laugh so hard that I wet my pants!"

Our relieved and genuinely amused laughter only made him madder.
"Well, what are you going to DO about it? Look at me, I'm all wet!"

We three adults took a closer look at his dry shorts. Never did I think I'd be spending a Saturday night taking a close-range perve at a six year old's package.

"Um," I suggested nervously, "I don't notice ~ahem~ anything down there, but I can lend you a pair of Sapph's boardies if you like."
"I don't wanna wear GIRL'S shorts," he said, as he huffed his back back inside.

Seconds later, they were squished together on the sofa, laughing. It seemed that wetting your pants because you were having so much fun laughing with your friend wasn't a particularly bad way to spend an evening.