The real me

Okay, time for a few home truths. It may surprise you to hear that I’m not a completely swinging manic lunatic who spends his days and nights partying, indulging in wild drinking, and making everyone in the surrounding area laugh constantly from dawn til dusk. I’m actually quite a boring individual, and you would probably fall asleep if you got stuck in a conversation with me for more than a couple of minutes. My idea of a wild weekend is a visit to K-Mart. It’s a late night if I’m in bed after 10. I don’tknow the words to the Roger Ramjet song. Well, not all of them. I have haircuts at a barber. I can’t even remember what frequency Triple-J is on. In fact, I’m so boring that my idea of a joke is to rabbit on about how boring I am.

I’m also pleased to be able to say that I’m not famous. I’ve never been recognised on the train. Stared at, yes, but not recognised.

And I’ve never been in trouble with the law. Yet. Though I have maliciously jaywalked once or twice. And returned my library books late. By mistake. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before they catch up with me.

"Right men, this is the target. Bowen, Daniel Francis. Offences over 15 years ranging from jaywalking, stealing other people’s junk mail, watering the plants too hard… Believed to be in possession of late library books. So, a real hard case. Not known to be armed unless you count a rather heavy sticky-tape dispenser he sometimes swings around. So here’s the plan: Ummm.. same as the last raid, really. Go in waving shotguns around, I guess. Any questions?"

An astonishing week

It’s been what you might call an unusual week for me. Please allow me to tell you all about it.

ASTONISHING EVENT #1.

I really thought it would never happen. I thought it was the kind of thing that only happened on TV shows where the main character was 35 weeks pregnant. But it really happened to me. Last Wednesday, I was trapped in an elevator for a whole half-hour.

Someone once said that hell was being locked in a room with your friends. Well, that’s not quite right… actually hell is being trapped with your friends in a lift-sized area, when you don’t have any heavy weaponry to ensure that they don’t shut up.

It all began like any other lift journey… you press the button, wait for the lift to arrive, then everybody piles in, holding the doors open for the last person to arrive. If you time it right, you can catch the tail of their jacket in the door as it closes.

You press the button for the floor you want, and presto, you’re on your way. But this time, we weren’t on our way. Because this time, we had entered *THE DEMON LIFT FROM HELL*!!

We should have known. We should have been wary. For years now the lifts in that building have had reputations. Reputations of treating their passengers like bits of meat chopped up then thrown out because of mould. One lift was known to stop between floors… another had, it was rumoured, shot six floors straight down a la gravity… and the third seemed okay, but occasionally decided to stop on, say, level 5, and refuse to go any further down. But we climbed in anyway. Happy to be at the end of the working day.

We knew things were bad when it went in the wrong direction. We wanted Ground, and said so. But the lift mechanism had obviously failed, because it spontaneously decided that to get to the Ground from the ninth floor, it should go up.

And so it lurched into action, catching us all by surprise. It surprised us almost as much when 2.7 seconds later, it stopped again, displaying “10”, the top of the building in question. Perhaps the lift was trying to escape? Perhaps it was preparing for a very fast descent. But no, it stood still. We paused. We pressed buttons. Every button. Every single button. Twice. Well, we’d modified our elevator itinerary to visit every floor, but we hadn’t actually made any progress towards going anywhere.

We discussed the options. There seemed to be five possible ones.

  • Press every button again to see what happened (which we had already)
  • Panic, scream, tear at the walls and doors to escape (which although it would have relieved the tension, probably would have got us nowhere)
  • Just sit there and wait. Which was not an option really, when you consider it. We all would have missed our trains, for a start. (We ended up missing about 3 trains each, actually, but oh well)
  • Do like they do on spy movies, and open the trap door on the top of the lift, climb out and go up the shaft on the rickety ladder to safety. With the risk, of course, that the lift would start working again while on the ladder, and squash us. Fat chance.
  • Pick up the very handily placed emergency phone and ring the lift maintenance people (Which we eventually concluded was the most sensible solution)

So, we rang. And we waited. And while we waited, we used our mobile phones to call relatives (I’d rather use the word “relatives” than “next of kin”). We also called our colleagues, who were still in the building, and who were able to have an enormous laugh at our expense. “You’re not going to believe this… but we’re stuck in the lift. STOP LAUGHING YOU BASTARDS!!!”

Eventually the maintenance people came, and let us out. No-one had got pregnant. Nobody had to be eaten to help the others survive. We were let out by the heroic lift maintenance guy. Strange thing is, we heard him calling, but when the doors finally opened, we couldn’t actually find him. Did he selflessly plummet down the shaft to gain our freedom? Perhaps we’ll never know.

ASTONISHING EVENT #2.

I found out last Friday that I’m gonna be a dad. My wife is pregnant.

Okay, so it wasn’t totally unplanned, but it was still a surprise. “What, you mean all that machinery actually works?!” Yep, now I can strut around the streets with a deep and steady voice proclaiming "I am virile! Stand aside citizens, for VirileMan is here! Behold my working machinery! Behold my SuperSperm(tm)!"

Of course, the immediate reaction was very less macho and testosterony. The way the news was relayed around the place basically goes a little like this.

DOCTOR: “Congratulations” —> EARS —> BRAIN —> JAW (which drops)

So, prepare for pregnancy jokes a-plenty. The first of which begins here. The hippies say it’s good to speak to the growing foetus. So we’ve decided to prepare the kid for life with its parents. We’ve been telling it to “Keep your womb clean.”

Skase

Failed business tycoon Christopher Skase is still battling extradition from Spain to face trial in Australia, claiming illness. But he doesn’t seem to be attracting much sympathy. Why? Because he’s taken in exile in Majorca, that’s why! It’s not exactly a case of "awww… poor Skasey… down and out… penniless… sunning himself on the beach in Majorca… leave him alone…" Instead it’s "Bring him back to face the music! Ill and he can’t fly? No hurry then – put him on a boat!"

Obviously he should have gone somewhere like Rwanda. Then it’d be "Good old Chris, helping the starving masses… leave him be! Stop hounding the man!"

What to do while waiting at the airport

Planes arrive late. For some reason, those in charge of planes (i.e. pilots) sometimes do very silly things, like fail to load enough fuel to quite make the distance, go via Fiji because of turbulence, forget about and overshoot Hawaii, accidentally take a wrong turning at Auckland, or even happily land in Austria before realising they’re over the wrong continent. Face it, you’re gonna need something to do while you wait.

1. Luckily, there’s usually lots to do in airports. Like give uncomfortability ratings to all the chairs in the various waiting areas. Watch the soapies on the TVs. Try to work out how many ratings points for these shows are attributable to people waiting in airports.

2. Wonder when it was that those armed guards actually tackled anyone armed with anything more threatening that a glass of lemonade. Test them out by setting off a firework.

3. Ask everyone you see where they’re going to, and see if any of them admit that "yeah, we’re off on one of them Thai sex tours…"

4. Ring the airline arrival hotline that you should have rang before you actually left to go to the airport. See who can guess the arrival time down to the nearest hour.

5. Go up to the observation deck and see if you can spot any planes touching wings in mid-flight. See how long it takes to freeze up there, before giving up and going back down to the cafeteria for a hot drink and a view at the window that’s just as good.

6. Pretend to be a disgruntled tourist balking at the $25 departure tax. "You mean it already cost me thousands of dollars to set foot in this godforsaken country of yours and you wanna charge me to leave?!?"

7. Take along your electronics kit and see if you can pick up (and interfere with) control tower broadcasts.

8. Hang around International Arrivals with a sign saying "Dr U. G. Koorier".

9. Compare how many different types of condoms and travellers’ kits are in the machines in each toilet.

10. Sneak into the airport offices, get hold of a PA microphone and make a "We regret to inform you that flight XXX has plummeted out of the sky and ummm… well, let’s just say I hope your relatives can swim…"

A plea

This is a plea to any of my relatives who may be reading. (Actually, not many of my relatives do read this drivel, meaning that my standing in the family as a "fine upstanding young man with a promising career etc etc" has not yet been completely shattered. Give it time.)

Don’t give me any more novels to read. The backlog is getting embarrassing. They pile up in the bookshelf… Okay, I admit it, I’m not a great reader. I’ve never been a great reader. In school, it may have looked like I was reading "1984", but to tell the truth, I never got past the first sentence. The one about clocks. "Animal Farm" — no problem. Appealed to my love of small furry animals, probably. (I still deny any accusations of cruelty to these particular creatures. There is no substantial evidence.)

It’s not that I can’t read. I’ve read for many years. It’s just that I have a belief in only reading things that can keep me interested. If a book doesn’t have one even mildly interesting thing on each page, then chances are I won’t be bothered. It’s not like music, which you can just turn on and listen to without too much bother. You can leave it going in the background. Books are effort.

Maybe I just don’t have enough patience. I just can’t be bothered to read through 250 pages of narrative to discover that the butler did it. Maybe I’m too much a part of the TV generation. Maybe the whole plot has to be given to me on a 19 inch black-tinted plate with stereo sound. And commercial breaks every five pages.