Archive | July, 2010

Buy this shirt and I’ll shag you

20 Jul


I wander down Bridge Rd, Richmond to peruse the various men’s clothes stores. It’s a Tuesday and nice and quiet; nothing like the rolling maul of Saturdays, where it seems every woman in Melbourne converges here in one hysteric mess.

I’m heading interstate on the weekend, so I think, a tidy shirt, yes, a nice tidy shirt is just what I need. A little sparkle to ritualise the trip.

Anyway, anyway. I skulk into various stores and only get the this would look great on you routine from a couple of sales-folk as they hold up an aubergine skivvy or some godless ‘nam’ flashback of a shirt. I scare a couple off with my barking “NAH. IT’s NOT FOR ME.” I don’t mean to sound like I just got out of Long Bay, it’s just that my social banter skills regress to an eight year old being dragged for a haircut whenever I shop.

If I like – I buy. If I no like and you want me buy – well, we’re both in for an awkward twenty minutes.

Which, in the last shop, is exactly what I got. My bad. Alarm bells went off as soon as I entered and saw I was the only customer and that the stock was in sparse and immaculate piles. Warning!Milliondollarshirtzone!Warning!

Being unnerved by the symmetry, I engaged the enemy with a question about boot cut jeans. I mean, I didn’t want to look like some palooka from Glen Iris in his thirty dollar jeans. The sales assistant, a late thirties Greek gal with crazy hair pinned back, swiveled a glance to my ripped runnered feet and purred,

What sort of boots?

……confused silence…….then…awkward silence…..

Err Cowdy

Cuban heel?


What colour?

Err Dark Cherry?

Where’d you get them?


And then I notice as she’s been talking she has maneuvered her self between me and the door and is starting to remove shirts from a nearby rack. Shirts for me.  All the while she’s still talking.  

You should come back and show me them.

Show her what? Hey…oh….you mean the…does she dig me?

You’re very tall.

A shirt gets laid out before me.

This would look great on you!

And the eight year old now regresses to the level of potty training. I am bathed instantly  in this ridiculous feeling of guilt and a sinking need to buy something. From her. To please…her.

Ohh..errrr..I….its…not….really….ah..errr.         Plonk.   Good boy.

Ultimately, I did manage to get out of there. I did manage to not buy anything, but there are no trumpets for triumph of the will. It was a mercy release. I think maybe beyond the sales glide she did actually have a soft spot for rangy, scruffy types and in some old boyfriend archetype pity projection, she smiled, stepped aside and wrapped it up with a..

well, good luck with your hunt...

and I darted like a flathead.

So, it’s back to faceless department stores for me. Where I can hunt in silence and examine collars sans stalkers. Where I can turn a private price tag and mutter a healthy fuck me!

Where I will not be reminded, that even though I know they are singing a commercial melody upon me, that I feel utterly exposed and adrift before it.

That,  for all my this’s and that’s, where’s and why’s, I remain ultimately, one nervous cog in in the great wheel of jingle.



Shrink and depart

18 Jul

Animals make an unmistakable sound when you hit them with your car. And so, at 1 a.m, as I’m driving home through Oakleigh, grooving  to the  intro of “As I sat sadly by her side”, and really just thinking about my how soft my bed is going to be, I am jolted by a darting shape and that sudden rolling concussion.

It’s a cat, and as I check my rear view mirror, hoping like all hell it’s smashed instantly dead, I see it has turned tail and is dragging itself back across Warrigul Road.  Another car approaches from the opposite way. A taxi. I see its brake lights and the cat crawling in to its path.

And here I make decision. Conscious.

It’s their mess now. You touched it last.

Then a vague urgency bubbles and settles in.   I remember being in a car when my father mowed down a black kelpie He got out, watched it drag its way up its driveway over several minutes, then settle with an excruciating groan by an above ground pool. I quietly pleaded to stay with the dog, to ring a vet, but my dad, seemingly satisfied, ordered me back in to the car. He grew up in the country. I’m a suburbs lad. Country folk, it seems, shake their heads at our fussiness over such things.

So, ten minutes later, when I turn and drive back,  there is a certain selfishness in it.  I want to relieve myself of this feeling. I don’t want to think about how that cat looked in the mirror, all fucked up and broken, trying to crawl back to what I suppose was its home. So I need to replace that with a new image. There is little noble going on.

Let’s get this straight. I don’t much like cats and cats don’t much like me. Give me a dog with its omni-adoration over  haughty little stealth attackers any old time. I especially don’t like cat owners who treat their cats as if they have consciences. I think cats being curfewed at night is a righteous law. These are the things I tell myself  as I drive back. Fucking owners. Dip-shit cat lovers. But when I see its shape prone against a small brick fence, the mantra rant ceases. This isn’t a cat, it’s a pet.

When your pets die it’s almost impossible to believe they were ever living. There is little peace in their final aesthetic.They seem to literally shrink. Deflate. You know they’re dead the very moment you see them, no matter the distance.  Maybe the reason why we are so readily able to kill fish and insects is because their expression does not change in death.

I park my car on the nature strip. It’s cold. I check if any lights come on. They don’t. The cat is twisted and still. I nudge it with my toe. It shifts, then flops back against the fence. I’m uneasy about scooping it up. I fear it might just fall apart, so I get a towel from my car and wrap it  and place it by a power pole.

He’s still warm, but that won’t last. He’s a big cat, no tag, but a real fatty. He looked loved. By the time his owner finds him, he’ll be frozen in broken pose. As best I can, I curl him to look more like a cat. I write a note explaining what happened, that he was dead when I returned.

The note is not all the truth of course. But I guess that moment of finding your pet dead is news enough that any ethical coda from me is just  indulgent noise.  He died quickly. Whose solace is that lie for?

Animals make an unmistakable sound when you hit them with your car. It’s a cruel and final sound.

Perhaps that’s the only authentic experience that informs here?

I really don’t know…

Oh doctor my doctor

13 Jul


I take these hardcore tm prescription meds for a sleeping disorder that require I front to my doctor face to face so he can ring the official drug yeppers and be yepped.

Yes. Give that man them pills. Tick.

Honestly. It’s a drag. Making a booking. Turning up on time. Sitting in a waiting room for an hour or so…. waiting.

I mean, my doctor knows who I am. I know who he is. The phone yeppers don’t even ask if I’m there or how I’m going or anything.

But last time I went in, things were different.

Dr.Lee has been my doctor since, well, I’ve been going to doctors. I remember being enthralled by the fish-tank behind his desk on my first visit. I guess I was about six. He had some mad crazy fish. Spiky, antenna, floaty, fanny things that hovered and gulped. No dumb-ass orange fish (Oh no, I’m golden), but a seriously intense eco chain and a seriously awesome sunken pirate boat. When I got up on to the consulting bed, my head was right at it.

Then he dacked me and stuck a needle in my arse. It took me a while  to trust chinese people again.

Dr.Lee had one of those crinkly smiles that smart people who don’t care that they’re smart seem to have. Cheeky. Kind. Patient. A haiku smile.

He’s pretty much seen every part of my body and heard every one of my embarrassing admissions. He’s always have that same crinkly smile  as I blurted or moaned and then he’d nod and say okay mate in that beautiful chinese/australian accent.  Often, he’d go in to the other room and return with an elaborate model of a body part and show me step by step what was going on. I loved how his voice sounded when he did this.

But on my last visit he wasn’t there. His receptionist told me he’d retired.         Gone bush and running a hobby dairy farm.

Then I thought of the visit before. How he had returned to his surgery after a long lay off. How he’d lost a lot of weight and how his smile had effort in it now. How he’d  quoted somebody as I sat and then leant forward and said, makes you think..

I can’t recall the quote nor the author. What I can recall is knowing, right to my bones knowing, that this man who had cured and kept me for the best part of a third of a century was reaching for words to find himself and was inviting me in.

And I flinched from it.

I was pissy from having to wait. I was grumbly for having to front up for a prescription. I was in a hurry to get some place for some thing at some time o’clock.

And I flinched.

I shifted in my seat and looked away. You’re a doctor. Doctors don’t get sick. He, being the gentleman he is, delicately returned to being that doctor for me, filled my script and then rose and offered his hand as I left.

Truth comes at the strangest times. Or perhaps it is always there and sometimes we are just forced to acknowledge its naked face. Men like to think we are creatures defined by the big moments and I am most certainly a manwholikestothink.  As men, we can float  through our moral narrative, but as long as we hit the big cues, the show will be fine.

I wish I’d listened to the truth in his tone. I’m glad he was the man he was to forgive me instantly for lacking. I’m glad I am the man I am that shaking his hand was the most perfect thing in the world.

I like to picture him now. A ridiculous straw hat. Gum-boots.  Leaning over a huge head holding a home built model of an udder as that lovely timbre explains the whys of the universe to a mind that will never quite get there.

Fair winds Dr.Lee.