Things I Would Kill For Right About Now

Nonfictionish. Really toes the line between self-help and homicide. Fun!

At the time of writing, Greater Sydney has been locked down for 300,000 consecutive days. Local Government Areas are surrounded by medieval castle walls, from which specially trained archers shoot cotton swabs up the nostrils of the citizenry. Cauldrons of piping hot Dettol boil above the city gates, ready to be dumped on pox-riddled travellers—be they coming or be they going. Sydney’s public transport infrastructure is running smoothly and free of delay for the first time in 125 years. Much easier without the passengers! The CityRail Network was officially named the World’s Biggest Model Train Set and ferry drivers have set up a cumbersome aquatic jousting league just for something to do. There’s more. We say, ‘Zoom you later!’ unironically and we have forgotten what it feels like to be touched. Armed PPE’d Police rip around the city streets, shoving torchlit-tongue depressors down our throats, using street directories and celestial bodies to determine 5 km radii. There’s no traffic but there’s also nowhere to go. A bohemian team of iconoclast accountants, witch doctors, and precocious children plug epidemiological data into a magic machine, and every morning at 11:00 AM the Premier reads the number on the tele. The number is never ever good. We do not look at each other for non-essential reasons. We do not talk about anything other than how nice it’s going to be to talk about something other than it. We wonder if the people of Melbourne have as little sympathy for us as we did for them. 

And well, like, I mean, there are just only so many laps of the same street a human being can walk before something inside of them explodes. I exploded yesterday. I just couldn’t take another step in this godforsaken lockdown! I collapsed into the foetal position in the middle of the footpath, rocked myself back and forth into a sort of rabid psychosis, and I started to list all of the war crimes I’d commit just to do an in-person pottery class or something.

The fetal position is not beloved by fetuses (fetii?) for no reason. I felt warm and safe and nurtured by the universe—although admittedly given quite a wide berth by my neighbours. I realised, muttering in the dirt, that we’re in this crisis together. It’s not about me or the terrible prices I would be willing to pay to work at multiple construction sites; it’s about protecting the vulnerable members of our community by staying home. I get that, and I support it. 

And so, to prevent more homicidal epiphanies striking me down on my next lunchtime walk, I have written this short, non-exhaustive list of all the things I would literally kill for right about now.

Trivia At The Pub

It’s human nature to imagine pub trivia nights will be a glorious celebration of your own niche personal store of knowledge and factoids. ‘Look, hey, don’t ask me why I know,’ you might say, with a bemused kind of shrug, as you pluck yet another long-dormant, functionally useless tidbit from your special, special brain. ‘But I’m pretty sure the capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagudougu.’ 

But it’s never really like this, is it? A criminally over-priced schnitzel and an $8 beer later, you’ll find yourself thinking that you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in educational institutions for no reason. You apparently don’t know anything of value? You aren’t sure what type of clouds are formed by volcanoes? You can’t point to Azerbaijan on a map? You don’t know the first thing about a bird's skeletal structure? Ha! Moron! What were they teaching you in that arts degree?!

Lockdown alternative: Drool dumbly while watching The Chase on Channel 7 at 5:30 on weekdays, and set fire to $30.

Miniature Golf

Have you noticed that, no matter what time of day you play mini golf, the group in front is always, always, really slow? This phenomenon is actually Newton’s forgotten Fourth Law of Motion. It might be a family with young children that’s really big on “playing properly”. It could be a corporate bonding situation where no one wants to disturb fragile social/power dynamics by telling Lenny from Accounts that this isn’t the fucking PGA tour, champ, so maybe just hurry it along. It could be two hot and heavy high schoolers who just needed to get out of their parent’s house, with almost zero actual interest in the putt putting—if you catch catch my drift drift. It could be gnarly youths running amok, taking their sweet time to do trickshots and piss in the bushes.

But, gosh, I’d just love to spend one or more hours than I’d initially planned mishitting a temperamental ball around a bizarre obstacle course. I’d even be happy to keep score! With that little pencil they give you ! That’s always blunt! I’d carve the score into my bare flesh with a sharp stick at this point!

Lockdown alternative: Full-sized golf is apparently still totally fine. Explain that one, Gladys

Get the bus to work

Busses are the absolute worst leg of any commute. If you’re on time, they’re running late. If you’re early, they’re already gone. If you’re really, really early, they don’t show up at all. There’s no winning against a public bus—another of Newton’s forgotten laws.

Before Delta, back when there were passengers, Sydney’s transport infrastructure was very fragile. Train platform announcements would apologise for inconveniences as if they were unusual or out of character, offering enigmatic explanations like, ‘There was trackwork in regional NSW over the weekend and we’re still catching up,’ or ‘The next service does not stop here, an escalator is broken at Wynyard.’ Any commute with two or more legs was a fraught and anxious way to start the day. And, well, have you ever had to catch a bus to a location by a certain time in order to get a different bus?

And yet, I miss it. I miss somehow fucking up my opal card tap at twenty-three years of age, making the people behind me all but spit on my neck. I miss being forced into that one shit seat with the wheel, having to contort my body into ideal colonic alignment for forty minutes, drastically increasing my chance of cramp or shitting my pants. I miss the sheer human indecency that takes place when the bus terminates and everyone decides they must, must alight first. I miss being late to work because of something that isn’t my fault.

Lockdown alternative: Busses are still running, business as usual. Just go catch one! Might be hard getting the driver to actually stop for you… so yeah, business as usual.

Referee a game of indoor soccer

Long time subscribers to this email blast or cherished LinkedIn connections would know that my job in high school was refereeing adult indoor soccer. Giving a self-conscious teenager a whistle and some cards and no conflict mediation training and sending them off to officiate angry adult men playing sport they think is important is like giving a teenager a whistle and some cards and planting them in the middle of No Man’s Land in an active war zone and expecting them to a) live and b) broker an armistice. But man. Now? Now I have only one wish—that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my return to refereeing and that they greet me with cries of hate.

Lockdown alternatives: Blow a whistle at Strangers on their walk around the block and they’ll treat you pretty similarly actually, in my experience. 

Ten-pin bowling next to a kid’s birthday party

One Tuesday, after uni, I found myself crushing some pins in the lane next to Jeremy’s 10th birthday party. We are not our best selves at age 10, my friends. The party politics were ruthless, chaotic, sad. The birthday boy was not bowling well and he was making it everyone else’s problem. A troubled boy named Anthony was really milking the lack of adult supervision, moonwalking down the lanes and distributing wet-willies unchecked. One kid was crying because he’d been accused of cheating at air hockey, another was bleeding from the nose because they were trying to look down that ball retrieval machine. Ugly stuff. But, if it meant leaving the house, I’d gladly expose myself to an epileptic fit and all the festering bacteria in the putrid discotheque that is Strike Bowling.

Lockdown alternative: Wii Bowling with a ‘Junior Masterchef biggest tantrums’ compilation video in the background.

Other things I’d like to do but can’t be bothered to type up a whole big thing about

  • Go on a long haul flight to nowhere

  • Attend a protest for my freedom without a mask (again)

  • Sit through an entire high school awards presentation night

  • Diffuse the vaccine into Sydney’s water supply

  • Passive aggressively clear my throat when some bozo is hogging two seats on the train

  • I want to be super clear that that protest one was just a gag

  • Make eye contact with an acquaintance

  • Sneeze in public

  • Travel back in time to 2019 and just hang out there for a bit

Sorry if this one was a little COVIDy. I’ve been trying to avoid writing about it but, I mean, it’s happening, isn’t it?

I heard a very long interview with a ‘Pandemic professional’ on the radio the other day. It was just the same relatively no-brainer tips about exercise and doing meaningful work and sleep hygiene and zooming your friends that we’ve been hearing for 15 months. The advice about how to not be sad in lockdown really made me quite sad. The next morning I wrote this in my notebook while cackling maniacally and telling Delta to “get fucked”—it was originally twice as long and three times as deranged—and I felt much better.

We’re going to get out of this thing eventually. We will putt putt again again. I’m looking forward to it. I think one of the best things about coming out of the lockdown last time was that every experience, any activity, became the most incredible thing ever. So grateful were we to be outside and together that we appreciated the world in a way that we normally can’t. I’m looking forward to it. And it sucks that it’s taking so long, but it’ll happen. On the meantime, try different and unusual things, exercise, zoom your friends, and so on. We’ll see each other soon.