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Short and Sorta Sweet
Nonfiction. Just some fast and loose stories.
Possibly the only thing worse than walking it through the entire house is realising before she does that you’ve done it. Because now you’ve got to work out how to tell her. This is not easy. You haven’t been dating long and the carpet is (was) purely, profoundly white. There’s simply no hiding it, even if you run away, running will actually spread it around faster. The Options, as you see them, are limited. Option A is to shriek and cry and fold yourself in half five times until you’re too small to be visible. Option B is to say ‘It wasn’t my fault!’ over and over again until she believes you. Option C is to emigrate to Sweden and it is the end of your list. Briefly, the idea of doing something bigger and worse pops into your head, since a magician’s greatest trick is the power of misdirection. But no. Stop. Look. This a rare, early-relationship opportunity to display your “true character”—that is, all the things you want to pretend that you are for the near future. Like honest. Righteous. Imperfect but self-aware of it. A person of real substance and action. You must own your mistake and you must own it soon because your behaviour, your complete total silence for ten or more seconds, is starting to smell fishy—that is, of course, if there’s a species of fish that smells like dog poo. It smells like dog poo in here. Probably it’s the dog poo you walked through the house that smells like dog poo. You take a deep, calming breath in and out through your nose. Mistake. Yuck. You’re spiralling. Get it together. You need to tell the truth. And quickly. But don’t rush it. And be witty and self-effacing without being smug—smugness will be a problem. Relax. It’s not that hard. Be sorry but don’t, whatever you do, be too sorry. Being too sorry is more annoying than not being sorry at all. Keep it casual, just slide God’s honest truth across the proverbial table as if it’s a drink at a swanky bar—like, ‘There’s dogshit on the floor, baby doll.’ Ah, nope. Wrong. Don’t say baby doll. And remember not to close off the possibility of another date. And stop pacing by the way oh my god you moron. Okay. How about something like, ‘There’s a whole heap of shit on the floor and, full disclosure, I put it there. Are you doing anything on Friday?’ Not that exactly. Something like that. You could dance around it a bit, you could flirt: ‘Do you own a steam mop, my dear, or should I order one on Amazon?’ Can you make your eyes twinkle? What if you ooze, in your most charming voice, ‘I was so hypnotised by your gorgeous face that I didn’t see the big pile of poo.’ Not bad. Unfortunately, it’s out of your wheelhouse. Doubly unfortunately, you are a terrible coward, and what you ultimately decide to do is say her name and twist your face into a (quite genuine) look of horror and point at the poo on the floor, and the first words out of your mouth will be, ‘Whoopsy daisy.’
Life Hack #1
Do not lose your wallet. Thank me later.
That Coat Parachute Was Never Going To Work
We’ve all at some point found ourselves on Wikipedia pages that are so many clicks and worlds away from our point of origin that it would be hard, gun to the head, to explain how we came to be reading an article on the Chicken Powered Nuclear Bomb. Pretty sure I started at Harold Holt.
Today, I found ‘List of Inventors Killed by Their Own Inventions,’ and here are some highlights for your consideration. Feel welcome, but in no way obliged, to extract your own Icarusian lessons from these catastrophes in your own time—I am but a messenger.
In 1928, Alexander Bogadnov, a Russian physician and revolutionary who was performing experimental blood transfusions to try to achieve eternal youth, injected himself with the blood of a student who had both malaria and tuberculosis. It was also the wrong blood type.
At the Denver International Airport there is a 10m fibreglass, luminous blue horse called ‘Blucifer’ with glowing red eyes. During its creation, a section of the sculpture fell and sliced the femoral artery of its creator, Luis Jiminez. It was assembled and LED-lit posthumously.
The inventor of the steam-powered bicycle had a heart attack during a public speed trial.
Franz Reichelt, a tailor, fell to his death from the lower deck of the Eiffel tower in the first ever high altitude test of a contraption he called the ‘Coat Parachute.’ It was, essentially, a whole bunch of coats stitched together. It had failed during every test he’d ever done with dummies, but he attributed this to the low drop height and so took it to the Eiffel tower for a proper test run.
The inventor of the segway accidentally rode his segway off of a cliff.
The inventor of Northface outdoor and adventure apparel died of exposure to the elements while outdoors.
Dyson must be shitting himself.
Life Hack #2
I recommend thinking forward to what your mum would say after you lose your wallet and action all of that feedback right now. Take photos of your cards. Fronts and backs. Don’t ride your bike and put your wallet in those shorts you wear with the shallow mesh pockets. Always in the back of your mind have a sense, a radar, for where your wallet is and if you’ve lost it. Never let it out of your sight. Don’t eat or sleep without it. Always ask yourself the question, ‘Well, where did you last see your wallet?’ and always have the answer be ‘I have not broken eye contact with it for some time.’
Otherwise you will have to retrace your steps—and if you do not do the above then that may involve riding your bicycle on the wrong side of the road. You will also have to ask Woolworths staff to keep their eyes peeled, and fill in a very long police form that makes you feel like you are in trouble. You will have to rely on the kindness and general aptitude of strangers. Not easy. And then when you finally give up hope of the wallet’s safe return, you will have to replace all your cards. That’s where the nightmare really begins.
Spectator Becomes Spectatee
It happened at the cricket. T20. Big Bash. The atmosphere at these things is excessive and loud and loose—the Big Bash is to laser tag what Test Match Cricket is to the second world war. This never would have happened to me at a Test Match.
I was there with my friends, drinking a mid-strength beer, minding my own business. So much was I minding my own business that I had ceased to even really think of myself as existing, I just simply was, I was safe and happy, I was free of the usual neurosis of being a 22 year old arts student with limited talent and job prospects, and the cricket was exciting. It’s easy to forget yourself at the SCG. The world and its worries can kind of melt away.
Even with the music, fireworks, and electric run rates, the Big Bash cannot hide that there’s a whole lot of nothing that makes up the sport of cricket. Part of its charm. One second of thrill, followed by a minute of faff that only serves to heighten the thrill of the next second, whenever it should come. It was during such a period of faff that it happened.
In the bottom left corner of my field of vision I saw something that looked eerily familiar. I took a cautious glance and saw myself looking back at me. My own image. And I looked terrible. It was in the phone of a woman in the row in front of us. She was holding it sideways, landscape, with the front facing camera pointed directly at me. We made one full second of eye contact through her screen, and then she said, outloud, ‘Oops.’ She snapped her phone away and jammed it in her pocket.
Arts student neuroses came thundering back. Low bottom left is not my angle, is possibly not anyone’s angle, and to this day I have never looked weirder than I did in this woman’s phone. I have no idea how long she was doing it for, nor do I have any sense of why. Do I look like someone she knows? Does she have an iCloud photo library full of unflattering images of unawares cricket fans? Was she just checking to see if there was anything in her teeth and I’m making way too big a deal of it? Did she recognise my voice from my extremely niche and unpopular podcast? Was she a spy? Did she think that I was a spy? Was she a talent recruiter for Australia’s Next Top Model and, if so, shouldn’t I have received an email or something by now?
It probably goes without saying that I think about this incident every time I watch a game of cricket.
Life Hack #3
Did you know that you cannot, for any reason, report an opal card as lost or stolen unless you can type in all the numbers on the back of the card that you obviously no longer have? Did you know that if you forget your password your account will be not just temporarily frozen but full on B L O C K E D? Did you know that, though very funny in theory, it is highly inadvisable to set your account’s official name as “Gassy McOpal,” as it makes account retrieval and identity verification exceedingly difficult and embarrassing?
It’s also going to take seven business days for a new bank card to arrive. In the intervening time, you will have to pay for everything with smiles.