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Saturday, 30 October 2010

DR GOOGLE

“I’ve got a tumour,” said one of my best friends, bursting through my front door, clearly dispensing with the preamble.

“A what?” I tried to feign interest, never diverting my eyes from the television screen.

“A tumour, in my head, my whole head. I’ve probably head cancer.”

“You’ve got what?” I asked, this time hitting the pause button on my dvd and going to the fridge for wine. I felt it was the least I could do.

“I’ve got this thing in my mouth,” he said, getting out two wine glasses, “and it’s been there for ages but I’ve been ignoring it.

“My head feels funny, I feel a bit weird, it’s my throat, there’s a growth…” the words came tumbling out as fast as the wine tumbled out of the bottle.

So I asked the logical question.

“Did you go to the doctor today and is this what she told you?”

“No,” he replied, “I’m going to the doctor tonight. But I researched all my symptoms on the internet and it looks like mouth cancer.”

The World Wide Web has made doctors of us all. We can diagnose every symptom. All we need is the training on how to make people wait around for ages in their underwear, and then we’d all be medical practitioners.

I’m no better. A few years ago, I noticed that every time I got out of bed, or stood up too quickly, I would get a dizzy spell. Or if someone called my name, and I spun my head around to see who it was. Once it happened when I was wearing heels, but to be fair, they were ridiculous high.

It was around the time that this story was being emailed to all and sundry about some poor fellow who, after seeking extensive medical treatment for his constant headaches, discovered he had a brain full of maggots. They said it had something to do with eating too much sushi. Urban legend? I don’t know.

But the story stuck.

And I like sushi. And I had a weird head. So naturally, I concluded that I, too, had been afflicted with the same condition.

Without even consulting a GP, I rang my nearest hospital and booked an MRI. It was just as I was getting in my car to go to the appointment, that a very dear friend gently suggested that perhaps a little visit to her friendly GP (“gorgeous woman, you’ll just love her”) might be the better course of action.

It was. I had an inner ear infection. Not a filthy disgusting maggot in sight.

Another time, the tip of my left index finger went numb. Stone cold motherless numb. It freaked me out a bit. I was a smoker at the time, and it scared me more because I had to hold my fag in the other hand. For anyone who has ever smoked, you’ll know what I mean.

So I did the only logical thing and hopped on the internet and typed in my symptoms.

According to Dr Google, I was having a stroke.

Oh great, I thought, and I’m not even 40!

Google helpfully directed me to a site where I could conduct some basic checks to see whether or not the stroke diagnosis was correct.

First I had to read aloud some sentence that scrolled across my screen. Then I had to throw both my arms above my head and expel air. There were a couple of other checks, which I can’t remember but they involved something to do with eyesight and reflex.

What I can remember is being able to do all these exercises easily. Ah, I thought, with the wisdom you get from watching Grey’s Anatomy and ER, it’s still a stroke, it’s just not fully happening yet. But it will.

Did I call a doctor or a friend? Or even an ambulance? No, I just sat miserably in my home and waited for the inevitable.

Which of course, never came. My finger went numb because I had squashed some nerves by carrying too many plastic grocery bags loaded with food. And after about a week, it went back to normal.

And my friend? No, he doesn’t have cancer. Or a tumour. Or anything serious. A couple of wisdom teeth needed extracting. He’s fine.

Which, of course, was another great reason to crack open some wine!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

LET HIM BE

The first time I noticed it, I mean really noticed it, was when I was wedding dress shopping with a girlfriend. Her wedding, not mine. She wanted a frothy concoction for her upcoming beach wedding.

We were in some over priced, under resourced dress shop at the top of Broadway on the Mall, trying on dress after dress after dress, closely followed by countless skirt and top combos. Alternating between hysterics at how aged and superficial we looked in some of the kit, and fury at the price tags for garments which amounted to no more than a square metre of chiffon held together precariously with two paper clips, albeit diamante paper clips.

Poised on the de rigueur pink circular couch taking prime position in the centre of the shop was this miserable looking bloke. He had shopping bags at his feet, bearing the logos for David Jones, Napoleon and Mollini. In his fidgeting hands were a thrice-folded racing guide and a mobile phone. On his face was a look of desolate boredom.

He didn't want to be dress shopping. He wanted to be at the TAB. Actually I think he would have more fun kissing Jim Carey or having surgery in the Bundaberg medical precinct.

That's because behind one of the change room doors was his wife/fiancé/girlfriend, resplendent with giggles, guffaws and gladiatorial intensity to find the perfect frock for her particular function.

Every few minutes, she would squeal in delight or dismay, open the door and parade around him like a five year old girl showing daddy her first fairy costume.

The man was made of steel. Step aside Superman. He had a look on his face as straight as the Queen Street Mall and politely "oohed" and "aahed" and correctly answered all her inane questions without the benefit of asking the audience or phoning a friend.

"Do you think it's too low at the back?" What a stupid question to ask a male. Women's clothes, in men’s cultured opinion, can never be too low at the back nor the front.

"Do you think it's too low at the front?" Sentence above answers this question.

"Do you think $899 is too expensive?" Silly woman, I thought. Don't ever tell blokes how much clothes cost. Even if you're earning more than they are; even if you're one of the world's eight supermodels and can easily afford crazy price tags. They don't understand.

They will spend the same amount on golf clubs or a limited edition State of Origin signed print, but not on clothes. And certainly not on one dress that will be worn for approximately six hours in total then put in the back of the wardrobe.

"Which one do you like best?" was the next fatal utterance. Don't go there mate! Whatever you say will be wrong, and you will pay dearly for it for some time to come. Why doesn't she ask him something simpler, such as how to test an egg for freshness or whether this season's eyeliner is worn across the top rim or under the lower?

As soon as she ducked in for another change, he'd scan the racing guide and furtively text whom can I only assume was his bookmaker.

Put it this way, I don't think it was to his best mate. Men don't tend to send the sort of text messages to other men like girls do. I am yet to see a male send a text saying: "I am in hell; I'm in a dress shop with her".

With blokes and clothes, I am discretion central. Some may call it deceit central, but I totally disagree. Here's an example. I might buy say a fabulous skirt and wait until there’s no one around to chop all the labels off it, and throw away the store bag. Then I'll chuck the skirt into the laundry basket and generally let it subsume itself into the other clothes.

When next I'm washing, I pop it in, stick it up to dry and just carry on as if it's a regular wardrobe item. Or I'll buy new shoes, but wear them home. Hiding evidence is a trick my mother taught me years ago. She also told me to always wash off my make up before going to bed so she can't be all that bad at advice dispensing.

If it's not in their face, they don't notice. They might say, “Darl, is that new?” Just give the standard answer, “What, this old thing?”

I say let him be. Do your dress shopping sans boyfriend. Take your sister, mother, girlfriend, third grade teacher - whoever - but not your man. Unless he’s gay. It's just not his scene. You don't want to be at Bunnings or Trade Tools with him on a Saturday morning, so don't drag him out for haute couture with you.

There is ample opportunity for joint retail frolicking that doesn't involve change rooms. Think Bose, Mercedes, Flight Centre. And yes, I know that he is incapable of purchasing a pack of 7-days-in-Rio men's briefs without your consultation and support, but accept it. Blokes will be blokes, girls will be girls and Gwyneth will never live down that embarrassing Oscar acceptance speech.

That is, of course, unless he makes you sit at The Gabba for the Boxing Day test match or prop him up at the $25 minimum bet roulette table at Conrad's. Then you've got every right to retaliate.

Oh, and my final piece of advice - hide your credit card statement. My mother might have told me that one too.

Monday, 18 October 2010

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Once I worked with a lady who hired a personal trainer. Buff young man who ran marathons to relieve boredom. Personally I thought he was putting the “fun” back in dysfunctional. For a few weeks, maybe a month, they got along swimmingly. Exercise pun totally intended. He’d rock up at her place at 6am every Tuesday and Thursday and off they’d go to box, or jog or cartwheel.

Until one morning she didn’t want to do it. Late night, too cold, too tired. He knocks on her door, she opens it in her pjs, hands him the $50 fee, closes the door and goes back to bed.

Exercise. The poor person’s plastic surgery.

I’ve tried a few personal trainers in my time. My gym had a 20 year old energiser bunny called Charlie who taught me my fear and loathing of squats.

Then, similar to my workmate above, I had a fellow present at my place two mornings a week. It went well, until I realised that he was costing me almost as much as my mortgage and I decided I’d rather have another house than a 25 inch waist.

Sometimes, I try and engage them in a conversation in order to delay the inevitable pain that will come when they make me do 100 lunges.

I whimper at length about my fitness goals. How I really don’t want to be fit and strong, I just want to look good naked. How my boobs hurt when I jump, and how I think triathlons are a mental sport because you’d need to be insane to do them.

Of course, what I never realised, is that the only time (and money) I’m wasting is mine. This fellow probably couldn’t give a toss if I wanted to discuss the merits of holding a Mardi Gras in Brisbane. Or whether amphibians need to wait an hour after eating before they get out of the water.

Sure honey, he’d think, chat away, I’ll just pop down on the grass beside you and join in. Ooops, there’s your hour up. $80 thanks. Chat again Thursday.

Eventually I made my iPod my personal trainer. She and I go for long rambling walks along the Brisbane River. She only plays the 80s songs I like. When I want to put some grunt into my walk, maybe even a faux jog, she makes sure “Eye of the Tiger” is next in the song queue. When I am stretching she spins “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

And I only had to pay her once.

But seriously, I would exercise more. Only I’d spill my wine.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

MISSION ABORTED

I’ve never completely understood why males train to become obstetricians and gynaecologists. Isn’t that like females giving boys instructions on how to stand up to pee?

Instructions on how to put the toilet seat down, now that I would get.

And so what I don’t quite understand is why men become involved in issues of supreme sensitivity like abortion.

For centuries, women have always been left holding the baby. And the reason we’re left holding it is because sometimes we’re the only one left to do so. I mean, someone has to hold the dear little mite.

Passion will usually have its way. We’re active sexual humans, and we are blessed with all the body parts necessary to enjoy sex, to feel sexual, to love, to feel attraction. To want to rip the clothes off him (or her) and submit to that primal animal instinct.

And it can be jolly good fun too.

Years before contraception. And by that I mean, years before indoor plumbing, antiseptic and dental floss, babies were being born all over the place. And left all over the place to perish.

That’s because there was no social structure to assist an unwed mother, or the family with far too many mouths to feed already. The father could well have been some duke or land baron. The girl may very well have been in love, but love doesn’t buy you security. Or a home for your baby.

Home abortions, with tragic and fatal consequences, were the act of desperate girls more fearful of their father’s rage or family shame than their own health and survival.

The advent of the pill, and certainly widespread acceptance and availability of contraception, has made a woman’s lot in life a fair swag easier. We can now control our bodies, control our decisions, and control our timelines.

Which means we’ve got less chance of ending up like the old woman who lived in her shoe.

But accidents happen. Surprises, if you will. Nothing is 100% foolproof. So somewhere along the way, women, even intelligent, educated, wealthy women, are going to find themselves preggers and think “Oh no!!”

In today’s civilised society — a society of options and choices, expert medical assistance and family support — if a woman makes a measured decision to not go ahead with her pregnancy, she should not have to justify or explain that decision.

Until technology takes us to a place where the men are having the babies... where they come to the realisation that they are pregnant and alone because of one moment. Or where they are simply not ready to become a mother.

Where they throw up non-stop for three months. Where they have to rush out of business meetings to hurl into the work toilets. Where their boobs ache and their stomachs stretch and their hormones make them want to stab people in the heart. Often repeatedly.

Where their vagina is put through so much trauma that they feel they’ll never pee again, let alone have sex. Where their size 10 jeans remain on the shelf for years because their bodies didn’t bounce back as the books said it would.

And where what they were doing before they got pregnant becomes no where near as significant after the pregnancy…

Then, and only then, should they become involved in decisions about abortion.

And the naysayer women, well, my only comment is this. If the woman doesn’t want the baby, then it is her body and she, and she alone, will need to live with that decision for the rest of her life.

I don’t know a single woman who, having gone through a termination, has be able to wipe it from her mind. She may very well wipe the memory of a huge credit card bill or the time she backed her car into a light pole in front of a new boyfriend. But she will never wipe the memory of her decision.

So why that poor couple in Cairns had to endure the humiliation and public shaming of a court trial for taking a very safe option to end a pregnancy is just awful.

In Queensland, we’ve been told we can’t change archaic abortion laws because it is felt that the changes wouldn’t get the full support of all MPs.

Most of who are male.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A FLOOD OF MEMORIES

Not so long ago, Brisbane (and large parts of Queensland) was conserving water by showering every third day with a thimbleful of water, urinating outdoors and filling the dog’s bowl with beer.

We were in the throes of a massive drought. Our dams were dry. Our tanks were dry. And so were the clouds.

I think there was even that moment when former Premier Pete saw fit to scutter off to Singapore and beg them to allow us some of their bottles of recycled water so the state could clean its teeth. In true form, of course, the state revolted, not dissimilar to what we do when New South Wales wins at Origin or when too many Victorians crowd our beaches in summer. We were just fine with our teeth the way they were.

Then, just as it was reaching critical mass, when we were considering syphoning water from the Brisbane River to make our coffee, it began to rain. And rain and rain.

And rain.

To the point where, today, Wivenhoe Dam, the water supply king for south-east Queensland, is opening its spill gates because, quite frankly, it’s got too much water.

With so much rain in SEQ in the past month or so, talk has turned to the Great Flood of 1974. Over a five day period between 24th and 29th January 1974, around 900mm of rain fell and the Brisbane River reached a height of 6.7 metres, four metres above normal levels.

And my mum was pregnant. We were holidaying on the Gold Coast, along the Nerang River. We woke to find the garage and ground floor units awash, the swimming pool and garden disappeared under water, and dad was wondering how he was going to get his paper.

The road to Brisbane was cut, the rain wasn’t stopping, and as it was a Saturday. Meaning our holiday had ended and we were required to vacate.

My mother has a 6th sense and a storeroom of nifty ideas. When flooding threatened, she had popped down to the car and covered the exhaust with cling film (such a housewife). This simple act apparently saved something or other in the engine, because when the water subsided, dad was able to effortlessly start the car. Still not too sure what happened there, but I was only eight and had too many wines since then to fully remember every detail.

Mum had an appointment with her obstetrician on the Tuesday which she wasn’t keen on missing. Dad wasn’t keen on her missing it either. But we couldn’t get back to Brisbane, so the four of us (I have an older brother) descended on some distant relatives buried in the Currumbin Valley who had a spare room.

Oh my, weren’t they thrilled to have four extra people and no fresh food deliveries for miles around. I remember eating a lot of porridge and watching the adults drink a lot of red wine. Even mum had a few. But that was back in the days when cigarette advertising was on television and a Datsun 120Y was a car of choice.

Tuesday rolled around (by now, the date is 29 January 1974) and we made the arduous trek north on a very dodgy road known even then as the Pacific Highway. It was basically a cattle track.


We drove straight to Wickham Terrace, the location of choice of uptight supercilious obstetricians and ENT specialists. Still is, I guess. Except I believe there’s a smattering of plastic surgeons as well.

While mum waited for her appointment, dad took my brother and me for a wander around Brisbane CBD to view the damage.

I clearly remember standing at the high point of Albert Street, where it crosses with Queen. My Brisbane readers, or anyone who has read books by John Birmingham or Nick Earls, will know what I mean. There’s a dirty ugly mall there now, but back then, it was just a street. And not a very good one either, because it was flooded.

Looking down towards the Botanical Gardens, I could see the sign for Festival Hall forlornly yet proudly keeping itself aloft. Kids were swimming around in the flood waters and using the roof of Festival Hall as a diving platform.

I did ask, but dad wouldn’t let me go and join them.

The other thing I clearly remember was the mortification of being in the city wearing nothing but a Sea World t-shirt, terry-towelling shorts and rubber thongs. Circa 1974, a trip to town meant wearing my communion dress and black patent Mary Janes.

My baby brother was born the next day. One month early. I remember we were at home when mum’s waters broke as she was standing in the kitchen peeling potatoes for dinner.

“As if there isn’t enough bloody water around us already,” was her only comment.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

BALI BEAUTY

Bali’s been in the news a bit lately. Julia Robert’s outing in Eat Pray Love showcases the area’s tranquil richness. And Javier Bardem's emanating hotness. And sadly, today, October 12, is the eight year anniversary of that horrific night of bombing where 202 people were killed.

It was only this year that I took my first trip to Bali. Long time listener, but first time caller. I’ve been fortunate to travel our gorgeous planet widely but for some reason, had never been to Bali.

Maybe because Australia’s Gold Coast is less than an hour away from me. Or perhaps I harboured concerns that my shopping purchases would require a charter flight back to Brisbane. Which kind of negates the purpose of all that cheap shopping.

And, I mean, of course, there’s that Schapelle/Bali 9 cloud.


Well, I fell in love with the place. I’ve been to other Asian countries, but this gem was instantly welcoming, friendly and happy. Its people may have been poor but they were happy. Laugh out loud happy. I think there’s something in that for all of us, don’t you?

Bali outwardly appears to have harsher sentencing regimes and criminal punishments regarding drugs (reference Schapelle comment above). No Australian-style resort prisons where you are offered three meals a day, in-room laundry service and a chance to study for a university degree.

But feel free to crack open a Bintang beer and suck down its brewed hops while you wander at leisure down one of Kuta’s multitude of shopping alleys.

Light up a fag as you flick through this season’s fake D&G singlets or Chanel sunglasses. Hell, feel free to flick the butt straight into the street.

Tidak masalah. No problem.

(Although I had to laugh at the stand of fake Christian Dior sunglasses that had the bling on the sides that read: “Diro”. I think someone forgot to do a spell check.)

Here’s the part I loved. Swan dive into the hotel pool and swim up to the pool bar to get stuck into happy hour. Enjoy your cocktail or three while splashing about on a li-lo or chatting with other holiday makers. (Check out the picture, that's the place we stayed!)

When the dinner hour tolls, or if you’re just plain hungry, it’s out of the pool, a quick towel dry, don the crumpled singlet and shorts that have been sitting by the pool all day, then make your way barefoot to the restaurant. In Bali, they don’t care that your wet hair is dripping down your back or that the most make-up you’re wearing is a drunken smile.

They just want you to have a good time.

I caught the Bali version of White Knuckle Transport a few times. This involves sitting pillion on a 50cc motorbike sans helmet, hanging on for dear life, and dodging the other two million bikes, all intent on getting people and their purchases back to their hotels.

Whizzing down those narrow alleys puts the skills of F1 drivers to shame. These nationals know their bikes, know their roads, and know how to get you there. Cepat, cepat.

I visited the memorial, and stood at the sites of the two bombings. It is impossible not to feel the invisible horror of that night, and bow your head just for a moment and pray it never happens again.

The shopping was a hoot. I would guess that many of you reading this have made the trek down the filthy streets and snapped up bargains. I was traveling with someone who was a Bali regular so to watch him haggle was pure genius.


But just to refresh your memory, it goes like this:

Me: “How much for this handbag?”

Him: “Oh, that velly ‘spensive, that leather, but for you, ahh, I say 700." (rupiah) This is about $80.

Me: (adopt look of offense and shake head) “Ahh, too much, too much.”

Him: “I have to feed my family, you no pay this price, I no feed my family.”

Me: “You have plenty of food for your family, I only pay 300.”

Him: (in mock offence posture) “You rob me, I no make any money if you buy that price.”

Me: “It is a fake piece of crap that will probably break before I get to Denpassar airport, it’s not worth any more than 300.”

Him: (again mock shock) “This is best stuff you buy, it genuine leather, here me hold lighter to material to show you no burn.” I am serious, this really happened, he tried to burn my bag.

Me: “ok, 400.”

Him: “600.”

Me: “No, no, no, too much, I’m going now.” And proceed to walk out of the shop and down the street. He chases me.

Him: “Mrs, Mrs, Mrs, wait! Ok, it hurt me but you have for 400.”

And so it goes on.

I amassed 23 sunglasses, two handbags, linen, t-shirts, singlets, scarves, dvds, necklaces, bangles, shoes, hair ornaments, knick-knacks, tops, dresses and a hand woven hat. Two of the sunglasses broke before the end of the day. The rest are doing well.

And I can’t wait to go again. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if I bumped into Javier Bardem while I was there!

** was using colloquial lingo regarding rupiah value, so where I say "700" the true value is "700,000", however the point of my story was to be authentic and use dialogue of the locals, sorry if I have confused some readers... So 700,000 rupiah is about AUD80. 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

PRIVACY ISSUES

If I’d taken up all the penis enlargement offers I’ve had emailed to me over the years, I could square off at a duel, using my penis as a lance. With The Terminator as my opponent.

That’s how big it would be. Or more precisely, that’s how many times I’ve been offered enlargements which would equate to how big it would be.

Pity of it all, of course, is that I’m a girl. And I don’t have a penis. (Nor do I particularly want one, but that is a theme for a future blog.)

About once a week, minimum, I am politely advised that I have a critical parcel collection awaiting my attention. This is from the good folk at United Postal Services in the USA. I always find it odd that my parcel is located somewhere in the USA mid-west and I’m domiciled somewhere in the middle of Australia’s east coast. But perhaps I worry about detail too much.

I am too polite to reveal information about the status and content of my sex life, but needless to say, there are those out there who vehemently believe I need large, regular doses of Viagra. Who have they been talking to?

Oh, and if I want to quit working in marketing, I can simply hand over my credit card and get an instant diploma, making me an accountant, or a vet, or a politician.

Which means that the mobs that send these emails have a less than average marketing department. And a zero budget for market research.

Which got me to thinking about privacy, and why we need to hide behind anonymous emails and social networks. And mentioned in one of the famous rants of bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change, Seth Godin.

Imagine there is no longer access to free emails. No hotmail, gmail or yahoo. What if you had to pay a fee to have that email account, say even just $1 a month. Would that halt this escalating abuse of the wonderful tool that is the world wide web?

How about a fee of $20 for every email you send that violates anti-spam regulations that these email hosts wold enforce. Mmm, maybe then you’d have to actually visit a doctor and get your Viagra prescription in the safe way, meaning that it would be after a physical check-up.

Better still, you would need to provide formal identification when you were signing up for an email account.

Ouch! Would that just be making us honest and transparent?

Why do we need the avenues to be able to contact people anonymously? Are we trying to sell them something? Then you should be making yourself visible. Are we trying to sell something illegal or harmful? Then you should never be allowed access to vehicles that enable your destructive path. You should just go straight to jail. Do not pass go. Forget the $200. You’re screwed buster.

And maybe, just maybe, it might put an end to that hateful little practice of cyber bullying. Or meeting people through internet dating sites, only to find that the Brad Pitt you were chatting with online was really more akin to Frank from Everyone Loves Raymond.

I’d pay a fee, that’s for sure. Because I don’t have anything to hide.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

PUTTING THE BOOT INTO FOOTY

To be honest, I don’t give a hoot about the big football weekend that is being touted around the news services and public bars of our fabulous country.

Two grand finals in one weekend? Does Australia have enough beer?

So St Kilda and Collingwood wouldn’t get their act together and deliver a professional and final result when they had their chance last weekend. Not being a football lover, I didn’t watch the game, but saw the meltdown unfold on Facebook and Twitter.

No, I’m not sorry I didn’t watch the game. But I am sorry we didn’t get a winning team because now the whole debacle has to be played out again.

What happened? Did the players forget that the purpose of the game is to decide a winner? Or maybe they were a bit upset that the NRL was doing better business at TAB Sportsbet and figured they wanted some of that lolly. And the way to do it was to stage a rematch.

What do you get if you see a Collingwood supporter buried up to his neck in sand? More sand. Or you can insert St Kilda. I really don’t mind. If you asked me which team I wanted to win, I’d say St Kilda, only because I’ve spent some fabulous nights drinking at the Espy and one of my favourite TV shows was “The Secret Life of Us” which was set in St Kilda as well.

To add insult to an already injured weekend, the NRL is posting its grand final on Sunday. If you love football, you’d be in heaven. If you hate football, you’d be in the shopping mall.

Having grown up with football mad brothers, my mum and I quickly became accustomed to retreating to other parts of the house when the television turned to football. My dad would umpire the game from his chair. He’d be gesturing and lecturing in such a passionate manner that I kept the emergency room on speed dial in case he had a heart attack.

As a teenager, I learned that it was always the most opportune time to ask him if I could borrow some money or go to some dance. He always said yes. Ask him at any other time, and he wouldn’t just say no, he’d tell me “not in my lifetime”. Or words to that effect.

It seems that men globally know how to play football better than the actual players who have done the training, are getting paid the big bucks and are on the field right now doing their job.

“You bloody moron, pass him the ball would you, you ding bat!”

“Oh for heavens sake, kick the damn thing you idiot.”

“Where did you learn to play football? From your grandmother?”

For a while there, I dated a fellow whose rugby league team consistently came last on the ladder. Year after year, they played with hope and they died in vain. I used to wonder why they bothered showing up at all, and wasting all that energy, only to get injured and lose. Much better to arrive, shake hands, say “you fellas take this one” and then everyone can go have a beer. And not get dirty.

Anyway, when his team lost, as they invariably did, he was so consumed with alternating levels of anger and grief that I literally could not speak to him for a day. Nor he to me.

Early in the piece, I foolishly said what most women who don’t give a rats about football say. “Oh for goodness sake, settle down, it’s just a game.” As I said, foolish mistake. Apparently there is pride at stake. Who’d have thought?

Happy footballing if you’re a mad keen supporter of one (or both!) of the codes. Happy shopping if you’re not.

PS: one last joke, only because it is funny. How many Collingwood fans does it take to change a lightbulb? None, they’re all content to live in the shadows.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

POLYGAMY MY WAY

Remember those reality television gems such as John and Kate Plus 8, Little People, Big World and 18 Kids and Counting?

Stories about multiple births in one family, dwarfism in another, and a family bigger than the Walton’s with all the kids’ names starting with the letter J. Well the good folk who kindly brought us those are now decorating our screens with Sister Wives. A tale of polygamy on steroids with ego on the side.

It goes like this. Fundamentalist Mormon Kody Brown, not content with his three current wives, snags the affection of a fourth, and so the rot continues.

Mind you, I’m still trying to work out what attraction the position of Wife #4 holds but each to their own, as they say. And I can’t help but wonder, in our society of sexual health, if anyone gets tested? Or is this another case of keeping it in the family?

Either way, it got me thinking. About what it would be like to have four husbands. Disregard issues of sex or childbirth. Just the husbands. Hey, I never said mine was reality!

Husband Number One would be my tradie. This bloke would be the man’s man. He would wear steel cap boots and coveralls, drive a ute, drink VB, watch football, play poker, and sport a crew-cut. He could stand in for Bruce Willis if Armageddon comes, or when Scott Cam is on holidays. He could install a new kitchen and shorten the electrical cord on my hairdryer.

He’d be muscly, sweaty, call me “hey sweetheart” and probably give my bum a playful smack as he walked past. He would take out the bins. And bring them in.

Husband Number Two would be Mr Mum. He would get the kids ready for school, fill the lunch boxes, iron the uniforms, make the beds and do the drop-offs. Dinner would be simmering in the oven when I returned from work. He’d make sure there were adequate supplies of toilet paper and tampons. Clean clothes would magically appear in my wardrobe and he would be the only one who heard the baby cry at 2am.

Husband Number Three would be my cultural attachĂ©. If you will. He would source invitations to premieres, box seats to Madame Butterfly and Coldplay, guest appearances at black-tie dos. There would be moonlight picnics and poetry readings. He would look like George Clooney in Armani at the Oscars. He would be on a first-name basis with leading chefs and effortlessly secure us the best tables in their restaurants. He would open doors, choose perfect wine, call me his “beautiful bride” and let me choose which seat I want on his private jet.

Husband Number Four is a no-brainer. He’s gay. Gay as a picnic basket. He tells me what to wear, usually after he’s tried it on himself. Then adds the accessories. Usually after he’s tried them on himself. He sits for hours listening to my problems and telling me how truly fabulous I am. He hates on sight anyone who upset me, no matter how trifling. He takes the phone call from my mother when I don’t feel like talking to her. And when I run out of foot balm or hair conditioner, I can always borrow his.

I think I like my polygamous set up much more than yours Mr Brown.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

MY “PRETTY WOMAN” MOMENT

If they could get it so wrong with Julia Roberts, who even as a hooker looked amazing, then it’s not so far-fetched that they could get it wrong with me.

I know it’s a movie, I know it’s make-believe, I know it’s all fantasy but the principle remains. Remember how Julia – all legs and torso exposed – struts into some high-end Rodeo Drive clobber shop and is just as quickly evicted as not being suitable calibre? Or some such nonsense.

Yet she returns replete in Prada et al, in a fab hat and total glam. And tells the snooty assistants to get stuffed. Brilliant moment (and one that she revisited at the tail end of the movie “Valentine’s Day”, possibly the best part of that labouring movie).

Here’s what happened with me.

Living in New Farm, on Brisbane’s lazy meandering river, means that my favoured mode of public transport is usually the ferry. The other day, I had reason to catch the ferry twice.

First time was just before lunch. I had an appointment in the city and figured that while I was there, I’d reacquaint myself with my gym. We’re like long-lost friends. "Hi sweetie, gosh it's been ages, how've you been?"

So I chucked clothes for my meeting in my backpack and trundled to the ferry in my daggy gym gear. I know gym gear has a tendency to be daggy but mine is a little daggier than most.

I run in the old shorts I painted my house in. My sports bra is so stretched that I usually need to wear several of them to get adequate support. I hide my bed-hair up in a baseball cap. Etc.

The guy who puts out that little bridge for you to walk onto the ferry was a bit cute. And being the lovely person I am, I called him a  cheery “good morning” and smiled a bit as I boarded.

No response. Almost dismissive. Now this happens a bit to me anyway, most times when I’m going about my business. I think it is because I work from home and alternate between slothing in my pajamas and donning the ugliest clothes known to mankind to slip down to get coffee and the papers.

So I wasn’t that surprised at the ferry man’s reaction. As the song so aptly says, "don't blame the ferry man".

Fast forward about four hours. I’ve been to the gym, had my meeting in the city, done a bit of work at home and now I’m heading back to the city for a pre-dinner drink.

So I stepped out of character and glammed up a bit. Straightened my hair, popped on some heels. Even my treasured Chanel lip gloss had an outing.

And as these things go, old mate on the ferry was still working his shift. Again, I repeated my cheery greeting, using the p.m. version, not the earlier a.m.

Not only did he simper and smile and coo a bit, he sat with me on the trip. Couldn’t shake him.

Bugger being Wonder Woman or Lara Croft or even Medium’s Allison DuBois. My superpowers are GHD and Chanel.

Sha-zammmm!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

GETTING IT OFF

Ask a bloke how many pairs of boobs he has seen in his life and he’ll probably say, “Not enough”.

Ask a woman how many dicks she has seen in her life and she’ll probably say hundreds because she works in an office full of them.

And speaking of anatomy, I’ve never quite got my head around the male pre-occupation with watching strippers. Bored businessmen who are nodding into their schooners, or uni boys celebrating an 18th by guzzling double rums and uttering phrases of sophistication such as, “get ya tits out”.

All class.

I’ve seen it for myself a few times. As woman oft do. Could be due to curiosity, could be due to playing out your bloke’s fantasy. Or in my case, a long birthday dinner, followed by a spot of karaoke, followed by “oh my God, there’s a strip club next door, let’s go”.

Which means it could be something to do with the four glasses of champagne I’d drunk. Or was it five? Hic hic.

I give full points to these girls. They may be naked but they’re wearing full-body armour. They may look like they love what they’re doing, but mentally they’re calculating how much longer they need to strip before the house is paid off.

They may appear nonchalant and sexy, but they’re thinking “oh bugger, that idiot is back here again, the one with the sex appeal of a bin liner. Where’s my security guy?”

In addition to being forced to interact with goofy dipshits, they must perform complicated dance moves with their legs permanently spread 90 degrees apart. Try doing that in your next Combat class.

These gals are smarter than smart. I’ve worked out it takes them about three songs to totally get their kit off, yet they don’t actually lose their drawers until the last 30 seconds or so.

They walk around looking gorgeous and slutty, bob up and down the pole a few times, slide off the feather boa or see-through skirt. This can take at least two songs. Maybe the bikini top is next, with the requisite boob shake aimed at the guy with the oily forehead who is sitting at the front.

Meaning the tossers sitting in the audience are on the edge of their collective seats, gasping in hope for a glimpse of the mighty vajootz. I doubt one of them would be able to lead a group in silent prayer. Sorry fellas, you’re only getting the merest peek before it’s pants up and off stage.

What these guys need to know is that as soon as the lady runs off stage, she’s making herself a coffee and calling the babysitter to check on her kids.

Years ago, I met a bloke who said he loved seeing strippers because they made him feel like he was a king. He couldn’t quite understand that he was paying her for that feeling, and in a domestic situation, she’d be telling him he’s a tosser and to take the garbage out.

Hey mate, you want to be worshipped? Go to India and moo.

Rule #1 buying a stripper a drink will not get you laid. Rule #2 looking a stripper in the eyes when she gives you a lap dance will not make her love you.

I think we need a new relationship book, called "Women are from Venus, men are just wrong".

Thursday, 23 September 2010

MY TWO CENTS WORTH

Rarely is it that I use my blog to weigh in on matters of public controversy. It is my vehement belief that, as women, we face sufficient levels of competing priorities in our daily lives. We juggle careers, kids, partners, hormones, evening meals, homework supervision, vacuuming and orgasms.

What I prefer to do with What Women Think is provide a comedic outlet, an hilarious take on the issues of our hectic lives. None of you reading this need yet another reference tool or cumbersome media transcript that adds further confusing viewpoints to pointless debates or social hyperbole. 

But something in today’s news is too close to my heart to ignore.

I hear that a Melbourne academic wants to boost breast-feeding rates by making formula available for purchase only via prescription. 

Those of you with sensitive eyes, skip the next line. Those of you with not-so-sensitive eyes, read on. 

Stick it up your arse love. 

And I can say that without fear of prosecution or being thrown into some skanky Russian prison with provincial lavatory facilities and nowhere near enough fresh fruit or Dettol. Unlike the communistic society our RMIT colleague would seemingly prefer to see us dwell. 

When my daughter was born, it was love at first sight. This is not an unusual case with mums, especially first time mums. I have chronicled my delight, fascination and admiration for her openly on these pages. I doubt there would be any reader of mine (be it long time listener or first time caller) who would think that I didn’t put her happiness, welfare and self-esteem above all else. 

But I bottle fed her.

My girl was born in those halcyon days of Paul Keating inspired 18% interest rates, business belt-tightening and soaring unemployment. Four weeks before her birth, her dad finds himself without regular employment, and two weeks later, with a belly extending from here to the moon (or so it seemed) I too was minus a weekly paycheck.

I’m heading back 20 years here, where there was no maternity leave, baby bonus, work place rights etc. This was allowed to happen. And it did. To us.

So when our gorgeous bundle arrived, I had already made the decision to bottle feed her, because I knew I would be finding myself back in the work force before too long. With the stress of potentially extended unemployment, crippling house repayments and a brand new family member, I was looking for ways to ease the load. Or at least share the love. 

Bottle feeding for us meant that we could tag-team night feeds. Her dad to this day will proudly say that he gave our daughter her very first feed, a paltry 5ml of formula when she was an hour old. It meant that when I found some temporary work, he could adequately and competently parent Jade without being controlled by the amount of expressed milk lined up in the fridge. 

And I could do my job without my boobs leaking down my keyboard. 

Moreso, it was our choice. And it doesn’t’ seem to have hurt her. She’s yet to see the inside of a hospital as a patient, excelled in her primary and secondary (and tertiary) education, is a thoughtful, positive and happy adult with one of the sunniest dispositions I’ve ever seem. Yes, even better than mine! 

Mind you, she rarely ate processed food from a jar. Even though I worked, she had fresh vegies and meat and home-made custards and porridge and soft-boiled eggs and all that really good stuff. 

I wonder why our RMIT friend doesn’t get on the processed baby food band wagon and chide mothers for not growing vegetables in the dirt of their own backyards to stick down the necks of their offspring? 

I’ll tell you a story. I was adopted at birth, in the 1960s in Brisbane. Never knew my birth mother. I was literally born and taken home by the couple I proudly and adoringly call my parents. Do you really think that they had access to formula? Or a wet nurse? Or that mum could just lactate by wishful thinking? 

I was raised on carnation milk. Thousands of tins of the stinky smelly stuff. To this day, it makes me want to throw up. But I’m fine. Well, my friends attest to that, and I choose to believe them… I was no more no less sick than any other kid in the 1960s. I went to school, did much better in English, languages and the arts than I ever did in maths and science (which is no doubt why I am a writer, with no ability to fix household appliances or balance a bank account).  

I doubt my clear talent towards the arts lay in an oversupply of carnation milk. Some gifts are intrinsic. 

Dr James, there are mothers out there coping with post-natal depression, breast cancer, disabled children, remote living, abusive or absent fathers, limited financial means. But they’re doing the best they can.

Let them be. If what they are doing doesn’t directly affect you and your life, then let them be. 

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

HAIR TODAY

So, I'm staying with my g/f for a few days, change is as good as a holiday etc etc etc. In the shower this morning, washed my hair, thinking it's all fabulous. Having a scratch around in her bathroom shelves looking for fun new products to try.

I come across a hair product that looks suspiciously like some form of anti-frizz serum that promises my golden locks will resemble G Paltrow, J Aniston, lady in Pantene ad, et al.

Slather it on en masse, and congratulate self on super-smooth hair. Feeling fabulous.

Said g/f arrives home. Do upsell on said hair product.

Only to find out that I've just put shampoo in my hair, and then gone to the trouble to blow it try.

Note to self: wear glasses when attempting to read labels on product bottles that belong to people other than myself.

Will be interesting to see what my hair does when I pop it under the shower tomorrow...

This is one for the blonde books my friends.

Monday, 20 September 2010

JUST KIDDING

You can fool some of the people some of the time. What amateurs. I can fool all of myself all of the time.

Oh Lordy, how good have I become at it!

I think nothing of enjoying a glass of bubbles while I'm getting ready for a big night out with the girls, or even Lover Bloke for that matter. Hell, I might even enjoy two or three. Because sometimes I take extra long with my eye makeup or my hair straightener.

But see, they don't count as part of my - what was that again Bridget Jones? Ah yes, daily alcohol units. It's only the bottle of wine that I down over a long long dinner that counts.

Now if I've been out to lunch and partaken of some wine while the bread was being broken, that doesn't really count either. That's just lunch. A few Chardys at lunch, back to work for a few hours, then home to my first drink of the day.


Or so I kid myself.

It seems almost sinful not to finish the bottle. After all I'm only going to drink the rest of it tomorrow so it's nothing more than efficiency that I finish it tonight.

The truth is a very heavy burden to carry. And I don't get to the gym nearly often enough to have the strength for it.

There's nothing wrong with drinking scotch. That's because I balance it out with by pouring soda water all over it.

Ending the night with a glass of Baileys is akin to having a mocha. It's sweet, smooth, mild coffee flavour, bit of chocolate, works well hot or cold - see the sort of trouble I get myself into?

That's because I kid myself that the double shot of Berocca I take the morning after clears me of all sins. Bless me Father, etc. And sets me up for the day to do it all again.

I spend a couple of days eating total and utter crap. Toast and peanut butter for breakfast, Dreamy Donuts at morning tea, something toasted with lots of cheese for lunch, a packet of chips, maybe a chocolate bar around 3pm, and then a massive pasta with the requisite bacon, mushroom and creamy sauce for dinner.

But I don't feel too bad because I've taken a multivitamin. Which purports to contain all the key ingredients to making me healthy and functional. Makes you wonder why nutritionists go on and on about eating salad.

I know I need to diet. Just even to lose that annoying 5kgs that forbids me from wearing some quite fabulous frocks and low-rise jeans that hang neglected at the back of my wardrobe.

But it's always tomorrow that I'll start. I can't today because there's either a work breastfast somewhere (ooh Eggs Benedict, yum!) dinner at my mother's (“eat up,” she says, “you’re a growing girl”. Did she not come to my 40th birthday party?) or a weekend in Sydney (too many fabulous places to eat). Perhaps tomorrow. Or next Monday.

I went through a phase where every Saturday morning circa 7am, I would present at the Rocklea Fresh Food Markets. I purchased a myriad of salad, vegetable and fruit items, all hand-picked by me and paid for in cash by me.

By 11am, I had it stored in the refrigerator somehow (sometimes by drinking that pesky bottle of wine that was blocking space). I didn't touch it for the rest of the weekend (I mean, who eats healthy stuff on the weekend; it's the weekend for goodness sake!) But Monday morning I would rise early and chop chop chop to make fresh juice, a salad for lunch and stir-fry vegies at the ready for dinner.

By Tuesday I would at least get the salad done. Wednesday, maybe juice. Thursday? Friday? Forget it. This means that on Saturday, I had to throw the whole rotting mess out to make room for the new wad of stuff I'd just purchased from the markets.

While my lips continue to move, and my brain continues to function, I guess I will continue to kid myself.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

TWENTY THINGS YOU'D NEVER KNOW IF IT WEREN'T FOR MOVIES

1. If you’re being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St Patrick’s Day parade – at any time of the year.

2. All beds have special L-shaped top sheets that reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only waist level on the man lying beside her.

3. All grocery shopping bags contain either a bunch of celery or a stick of French bread.

4. Anyone can land a plane.

5. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.

6. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

7. Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and toast every morning, even though her family never has time to eat them.

8. A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a football field.

9. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

10. If a killer is lurking in your home, the quickest way to find him is to take a bath.

11. Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

12. Dogs will always know who’s bad and will naturally bark at them.

13. You can always find a chainsaw whenever you’re likely to need one.

14. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they’re going to go off.

15. If you’re staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises wearing their most revealing underwear.

16. Make-up can be safely worn to bed without smudging.

17. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

18. Guns are like disposable razors – if you run out of bullets, just throw it away. You can always buy a new one.

19. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone will know all the steps.

20. When paying a taxi, never look at your wallet as you take out a note. Just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

Friday, 10 September 2010

COLONOSCOPY JOURNAL (reprinted from Dave Barry)

It's just gorgeous what you find when you're trawling around the net late at night, sipping a wine, having a laugh. Or if there's no one on Facebook to chat to. Have a read of this, it is really genuinely funny. Thanks Dave Barry.

Dave Barry's colonoscopy journal:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven.

I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation.

In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening , I took the MoviPrep.  You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water.  (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug.  This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result'.

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative.  I don't want to be too graphic, here, but:  have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch?  This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle.  There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt.  You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently.  You eliminate everything.  And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic.  I was very nervous.  Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage.  I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?'  How do you apologize to a friend for something like that?  Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said.  Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts; the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand.  Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down.  Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep.

At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode.  You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist  I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere.  I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA.  I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me.

'Ha ha,' I said.  And then it was time; the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade.  If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea!  Really!  I slept through it!  One moment, ABBA was yelling, 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt.  I felt excellent.  I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors.  I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

Monday, 6 September 2010

WHAT'S UP?

Found this interesting article when mooching about online this morning, it's pretty cool when you think about it...

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP'.

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP. To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost a quarter of the page and can add UP to about 30 definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so... it is time to shut UP!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

SHOULD IT STAY OR SHOULD IT GO?

Are you a hoarder? I’m not. But I know many who are. I am the type of person who throws things out the minute I bring them home. Well, almost.

It could be the Virgo in me, it could be because keeping busy tidying keeps me from facing up to the real issues of my life, it could be OCD. But I spring clean my apartment ever couple of months and during the process, I can fill a huge box with stuff I don’t want anymore.

And interestingly, I never once regretted throwing these things out. Except one time when I gave away my Xanadu soundtrack and then had a bit of a girls night and we wanted to sing aka Olivia sans leg warmers.

Thank goodness for YouTube.

Hoarding is like safeguarding the future. We keep dresses we will one day fit into again. Old dinner sets that perhaps the kids will use when they move out. Handbags with the strap broken because we'll get around to mending it.

We won't throw the ski mask out. We haven't gone skiing since the 20th century but you never know. The wonky ironing board could be used for something so just pop it in the shed. Keep that container of odd nuts and bolts, because you never know when we'll find out what appliance or piece of furniture they belong to.

The hoarding queens are my parents. They have some seriously good stuff, dating back almost a century, like letters my great-grandfather wrote, and black and white pics of dour-looking family members (mind you it was during the Depression, so fair's fair).

But chat to my mother about a newspaper article that appeared circa 2005 and she’ll find you the original clipping. Ask dad for something to keep my gardening implements in, and he’ll pop out to the shed and come back with the perfect hold-all.

Reminisce about the fancy dress costume I wore to the 1972 Sunday School fundraiser and mum will open a box and show me the Cinderella original. Tell dad how I was trying to find a “Slip’n’Slide” for my daughter to play on, similar to the one we had as kids, and it’s back to the shed and the offering of a “Slip’n’Slide” original.

Those things are as rare as rocking-horse poo.

Mind you, there’s worse. Much worse. Someone who keeps 498 pieces of the 500 piece jigsaw puzzle, just in case the other two show up someday.

Or someone who meticulously washes and stores every yoghurt container and meat packaging tray, just in case.

Or the other someone who keeps the stand from a broken lamp just in case.

Just in case of what? Broken lamp stands make a designer come back? Along with Datsun 120Bs and sunbaking?

To be honest, as a writer my one hoarding weakness is paper. Lots of lots of paper. Scraps of paper where I’ve scribbled down an idea for a story. Pages ripped from magazines where I wanted to purloin some ideas. Quotes I’ve printed from the internet. Post-it notes galore.

But it is all put to use at some point.

Where do you think I got that line, “as rare as rocking-horse poo”? Read it about five years ago and knew it would come in handy.

Friday, 3 September 2010

SOME WISE WORDS

May you have the hindsight to know where you have been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

MORE THAN A WEE MATTER

When I worked in an office, probably the thing I hated the most, more than filthy kitchens or women who sprayed too much perfume around. was going to the loo. For #2.

For blokes this is no big deal. They don't care if they are at home, at work, on the golf course, in the boat, making love or visiting another bloke. If you gotta go, well, you just go. "Back in a sec fellas."

I once went out with a guy who had actually removed the door of his ensuite because it gave him more room. Yep - took it right off its hinges and shunted it into the garage. I'd come sailing into his bedroom in the morning with mugs of tea, take one look at him on his perch and sail back out.

For women, we think it's a huge deal. A bathroom break is sacrosanct. Private. Borderline embarrassing. It's fine at home. Still almost fine when visiting mum. And something that is never undertaken under the public scrutiny of the office, or in an environment as obscene as a shopping mall. And never ever ever at a new boyfriend's place.

One Saturday afternoon a few years ago, I cheerio-ed a girlfriend who was going for her first sleepover with her new man. The following morning, I sent her a text asking how it was going, aka did she need rescuing.

Her reply was succinct. She was having a great time, they were getting on fabulously, but right now she'd pay $1000 for a bathroom break. He wanted to take her to Sunday brunch but her need for bathroom privacy far outweighed the delight of a public outing with him. She was home before 10am.

Same happened to me. Except I was at Byron Bay. Had driven down there to a new-ish sweetheart at his fab-by-the-water holiday retreat.

As the new morning dawned, I realised I'd have to physically remove myself from Byron to gain some physical relief.

"Hey darl," I cooed, "I've got lots to do back in Brissy, so I might leave now."

"No worries," was his calm reply, "I've got a few things to do as well; I'll follow you back." Wherein I spent 90 minutes squirming around in the driver's seat while I squirmed my car around the Pacific Highway.

If I'd pulled over at a servo, I would face a dual dilemma - the horror of using roadside conveniences meeting the horror of him knowing what I was doing. After all, it takes a smidge longer than the standard 30 second pee. Not counting the time it takes to sterilise the seat ... of course.

Anyway, back at work, I inched my way bravely towards the door bearing the sign "Ladies". As luck would have it, I barrelled straight into a colleague, standing innocently at the mirror, putting on make up.

Now if I was a bloke, I'd do a "g'day mate" number, wave the sports section of the paper at him, swing into a cubicle and proceed. Blokes don’t care about noise.

But I'm a woman. There was no way I could do that. Already I could see myself in the starring role of "Most Embarrassing Bathroom Break Moments", scripted by John Cleese, narrated by Russell Coight, directed by Baz Luhrmann and produced by Sorbent.

Sometimes I've borne aural witness to my colleagues' bathroom breaks. I've shuddered with equal mortification and empathy. I've even tried to hide my feet in case other occupants are the type to take a sneaky peak under the cubicle partition to see who is in the witness box.

Ever walked into a lavatory at work and seem the previous occupant's calling card still in the bowl? I usually shriek and rush into another cubicle. What's worse than having to subject myself to being near such vileness is the fear that the subsequent user may think it was me who did it. Aarrggh!

It didn’t take me long to sort it out. A bit of sniffing around heralded a ladies loo buried three floors below ground level. It seemed that no one else in the building knows of its existence, apart from me. It became my escape pod. So when things got desperate, I’d tell everyone in the office I was going to a meeting and hit the "B3" button on the lift.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

BORDER SECURITY

Getting from point A to point B by air used to be easy; whether it was Brisbane to Sydney, or New York to London. You went to a travel agent, they gave you this lovely old-fashioned thing called a ticket (remember, they came in triplicate?), which you safe-guarded until departure day.

You’d waltz into the airport and light up a fag while your baggage was being checked. Well, of course you could – your hands were free because you weren’t digging around looking for your drivers licence so you could prove you were the person listed on the ticket.

There’d be a few ratty old plastic chairs to sit on while you waited for your flight to be called. Maybe there was a bar – bonus points if so – or maybe you snuck a few voddies into your bag to make the wait more fun.

Either way, nobody minded.

Then off you went, scampering across the tarmac, umbrella aloft if it was raining, and into your plane, where you could continue smoking and drinking again. In those days, you were offered beer long before you were offered food. The seats had tiny ashtrays built-in. Anything that makes the long haul to Heathrow bearable.

Then somewhere between the launch of the world wide web and the terror of September 11, it all changed.

Bookings must be done online. Travel agents, the human ones, don’t want to talk to people. They want to talk to computers. Ditto the airlines. “People!” they bray, “those funny things that pay us lots of money so we can hold them up at horrible airports? Arrggghh shudder.”

You must print out your own ticket at home, memorise your booking reference number and do your own check-in. That’s if you can find your way through the hordes of smokers gathered around the doorway.

Today’s airport security means you need to allow at least another hour to your travel itinerary. I don’t fly all the time, but I fly enough to know a few simple rules:

1) Remove all solid gold jewellery prior to passing through security. Extend this to belts with a solid buckle. Which was ok for a number of years until I put on weight and now I have this one gold bangle which I can’t get off. It upsets officers in airports all around the world. I think they would rather have me amputate my own arm than pass through their detectors while wearing the offending item.

2) Wear thongs or slip-on sandals, heel optional. Never boots, never strappy shoes with a hundred buckles. They’re too hard to get off. Even if I am getting straight off the plane and commencing my walk up Everest, I will wear thongs. Even if I am getting straight off the plane and going to dinner with George Clooney, I will wear thongs.

When it first became essential for footwear to be removed before passing through detectors, the airport geniuses declined to provide seating. It took a number of times of me leaning against Lover Bloke while fumbling about trying to undo my shoes to realise that, much as I love looking glamorous in the air (and leaning against Lover Bloke), it’s not worth the pain of unbuckling strappy shoes in a vertical position. And putting them on again.

3) Don’t wear any form of metal hair clip. This one time I was off to Melbourne for something fabulous, getting a morning flight with a view to arriving at Lygon Street, dragging my hot pink hold-all, with that air of “Hey I do this all the time, just like my good friend Paris”. I’d spent ages that morning twisting my hair into this messy knot, secured with a hideously expensive diamante clip, only to have the security officer shug and say, “Sorry love, it’s gotta come out.” Do they think I have half a kilo of explosives in that clip? Where? Imbedded in the fake diamonds?

Last Easter, I was fortunate enough to spend the break in Perth. Being totally clued up, I made sure I had cleared my bag of anything that might eventuate with me in a maximum security facility. I had my thongs on. I had an elastic to hold my hair back. I wasn’t wearing a belt. I declared my laptop as they like us to do and I was jewellery free (save what I affectionately call the fat bangle). Couldn’t have planned it better.

Except the security fraternity still wasn’t happy with me. They wanted to get a little more up close and personal.

“Where are your little hand-held detectors?” I asked, as I watched some frighteningly overweight lady with frizzy red hair and one-inch fake fingernails begin to descend on me.

“Qantas now does initial body searches by hand,” she smiled. “Have you had a pat down before?”

“No!” I say. “Even that one time when I didn’t have sex for ages did I never went so far as to have a pat down.”

So right there, in the middle of the security quadrant she’s got her hands all over me, pat pat pat – ooh that’s some nice fat on your thigh – pat pat pat – ooh and some more around your tummy – pat pat pat.

Go near my boobs lady and I’m clocking you.

I eventually got to Perth. But clearly it is not where my bag wanted to go for Easter, since it ended up in Melbourne. Probably because the shopping is better.

For all the security in the world they still couldn’t get the luggage manifest correct.

I wonder how my bag fared at check-in?

Monday, 23 August 2010

MY TEENY PROBLEM

** this is a story I wrote about three years ago, when my daughter was 16. It is based on fact. At the time, I didn’t publish it because I didn’t want to incur my daughter’s wrath. Now she’s an adult, she can cope, can't you darling? It's too good not to share. So if you’re a parent of a teenager, or know a teenager, read on! x

The phone call came about 10.45pm on Friday night. My girlfriend and I were slothing it on the lounge, just like we did when we were in high school. Except now that we're in our 40s we have better accessories to sloth with. No Fanta bottles or large bags of Samboy chips. Nor for that matter black and white television and The Young Doctors.

We had Colin Firth and Love Actually on the wide-screen plasma, a Pamela's Pantry tray of nibbles, Belgian chocolate, a NZ Sauvignon Blanc and Chanel nail polish.

Even our bottled water came from France. But then again, it is cheaper these days to buy water from France than from the Brisbane City Council.

We had dropped our 16 year old daughters off at a party at Kenmore after we had watched them apply an unhealthy amount of black eyeliner and cheap bling. Kinda like Joan Jett meets Liberace. Or Frank-N-Furter meets, well, Frank-N-Furter.

We knew there would be boys at this party. We knew there would be alcohol at this party. But we'd checked in with the host parents and established that they were responsible and watchful and keen to have it all over red rover by midnight. So we scuttled back to switch on Colin and start painting our toes.

We had got through Bridget Jones's Diary 1 and 2, replayed the fight in the fountain scene four times, eaten all of Pamela's offerings and had started on Love Actually when the phone rang.

Dammit. Colin was just moving to Portugal to write his book.

"Mum, can you come pick us up? Nicola doesn't feel very well."

Helen and I looked at each other. Helen being the mother of Nicola. I mean, it's not like we weren't 16 once. It's not like we didn't go to a party and decide we didn't feel very well halfway through it. It's not like our parents ever refused to come get us.

We collected the girls and we're on Kenmore Road, sort of about that spot where you turn off to Lone Pine, when Nicole goes, "Stop the car, I'm going to be sick."

Helen and I looked at each other. Helen being the mother of Nicola. I mean, it's not like we weren't 16 once. It's not like we didn't sneak copious amount of alcohol when we should have stuck to the Fanta. It's not like we didn't throw up every now and then. Hell, we still do it now sometimes.

While Nicola was, I am sure, garnering the interest of the animals five kilometres away at Lone Pine with her squawking and heaving, I turned to my daughter.

"Darling, what were you girls drinking at the party?"

"Oh, like, you know, just some Midori," she says.

My stomach heaved. It took me back to my days of Peach Cooler and West Coasts. I thought these drinks were fabulous until one day I turned 24, discovered wine and really, my liver and I haven't looked back since.
 
"What were you mixing it with?" I continued.

She looked at me perplexed. "What? You're supposed to mix it?"

I will never wear green again. Not even eye shadow. Even if Jennifer Hawkins says to.

Semi-formals are another story where teenage daughters rival Britney in terms of attention stakes. Yes, I said SEMI-formals. We haven't even reached the real thing yet. This is just the dress rehearsal, the warm-up, the barrier trial. Sort of like your first marriage really.

By the time she had the spray tan, the upstyle "do", the acrylic nails, the facial with extractions, the eye brow wax, the Elizabeth Arden make-up, the gel toes, the car hire and the massage because of the stress of it all, her bank account was depleted and I was hiding my Visa.

It's a tough spot for me to be in though - she's my only child; a daughter at that, and I'm young enough to remember how wonderful yet how shitty it can be when you're 16. My gorgeous yet practical mother had purchased me a very serviceable dress for my semi-formal and did my hair herself. I'm still in therapy. I didn't want that for Jade.

So we're on our way to the semi. Ever driven in a car with four hyper-excited teenagers? Ever driven in a car with four hyenas in full make-up and heels? That's why nothing frightens me anymore. I have a teenager.

They said "oh my God" so many times, I started to think that our good Lord was in their midst. I blessed myself just to be on the safe side.

Listening to their chatter whilst desperately trying not to comment was about as challenging as having a cleared credit card and not buying the Nine West boots that were on sale.

They go to an exclusive all girls school for the chronically Catholic. The teaching staff still boasts a handful of nuns (hey sista) and the past students boast more than a handful of OP1s. Which is why I'm amazed at their perceived wisdom and interpretation of the important matters in our world.

Such as ...

"Oh my God, like, that lip gloss you're wearing, like, it's just totally the most fabulous thing. That, like, colour, man it's fully amazing. You really, like, know how to pick the best quality make up. Is it from Groove? They so have the best stuff."

And ...

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!!! Turn it up, turn the radio up! This is like the best song eva. Like eva. I love this song. I love this song. This is so my favourite song. I am so downloading this from iTunes when I get paid."

Then ...

"You know Angelique, right, well, you know that guy from Terrace that she likes from the train, right, well, oh my God, but she like so went to second with him."

Teenagers can be very nice; but they recover quickly.

If you've got one, you'll know exactly what I mean. If you've had one, please accept my sympathy and commiserations. If you're grooming one, be prepared. Like, oh my God, be just totally prepared, k!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

“I’ve seen this done on TV.”

“This doesn’t taste quite right.”

“Which wire was I supposed to cut?”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s dead by now.”

“No, those windows are ok to lean on."

”I wonder where the mother bear is?”

”You look just like Ivan Milat!”

”Let it down slowly.”

”I can make this light before it changes.”

”I can do that with my eyes closed.”

”Don't be so superstitious.”

”Now watch this.”

“Hey what’s that buzzing noise?”

”Don’t worry it's not that deep.”

”Nice doggy.”

"Nah, I don't think we need to go to the hospital."

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

FAST FOOD FRIGHT

Growing up in the 1970s, my lunch was a squashed Vegemite sandwich, an apple, and a cordial bottle. I got tuckshop every second Friday, and bought a cream bun, a sausage roll and a Sunnyboy iceblock (remember those? They were in those little frozen pyramid shapes and you sucked all the flavour out?)

Breakfast was porridge, boiled eggs, toast and a cup of Bushells tea. Dinner was rissoles, sausages or chops with mashed potatoes and some token green. Dessert, weekends only, was ice cream.

That was it.

Fast food? I think there may have been a pizza joint about three suburbs along, and some rogue Chinese establishment that smelled suspiciously like somebody had died in there the week before and was still decomposing in a wok.

My mum was a midwife, so sometimes she’d have to work Saturday nights. We loved those nights. Dad would ring up and order pizza and my brothers and I would pile into the Falcon 500 to pick it up. We had two choices: supreme or ham and pineapple. Of course we only ordered ham and pineapple. Supreme was waaaay to avant-garde in the 70s. Salami? Mushrooms? Get out! I’m not eating that!

Fast forward 30 years. I see people starting their day with a can of Red Bull and a take-away double shot latte. And these are the 15 year-olds. The 30 year-olds are a bit more hard-core. They skip the latte in favour of a V-shot chaser. They do the lattes later.

Some people drink so much coffee their eyes stay open when they sneeze. They can type 60 words a minute with their feet. They channel surf faster without the remote.

Now it’s common to eat Nandos, Aportos, KFC, McDonalds. To buy pre-packaged pasta and prepared sauces, then chuck it all in the microwave on high for three minutes while you grab your 3rd can of Diet Coke. Frozen dinners, frozen spring rolls, frozen meat pies. Packets of chips, packets of biscuits, packets of fat.

Just personally, I think fast food is the nutritional equivalent of pornography.

No need to make breakfast at home! Grab a bacon and egg muffin or a savoury bread roll on your way to the office. Please, at lunch time come and buy our salad. Salad, my arse. If you look closely enough, you may spot a lettuce leaf drowning forlornly in some tangy creamy dressing. For dinner, shovel up some half-price Chinese from the all-you-can-eat buffet in the food court. I’m sure this food is still ok, even though it has been sitting under the lamps since 7am.

The factors that make fast food so popular still seem to be powerful enough to make the majority of the population ignore the obvious risks of poor nutrition and weight problems. Fast food is easily available, relatively cheap, most people find it tasty and filling and it can be purchased fast.

Although, sometimes I think it’s called "fast" food because you're supposed to eat it really fast. Otherwise, you might actually taste it.
According to a recent article I just read on nutrition, they said eating right doesn't have to be complicated. Nutritionists say there is a simple way to tell if you're eating right. Colours. Fill your plates with bright colours, it chorused. Greens, reds, yellows.

A friend of mine says she does that every day, by eating an entire packet of M&M's.

The big problem with "fast" food is that it slows down when it hits your stomach. And it just parks there and lets the fat have time to get off and apply for citizenship.

Personally, I can’t do it. I can’t even use a jar of spaghetti sauce. Sometimes I even struggle with tinned tomatoes. I’m not sure these days whether the fresh fruit and vegies I buy are in fact fresh fruit and vegies, or if they’ve been sprayed with nitrogen or some other chemical and stored in the back of a shed in Stanthorpe since 2004.

1970s food, for all its scary apricot chicken and beef Wellington carry on, was made the way nature intended food to be made. From scratch. In those days, milk lasted three or four days. Now, I can buy milk with a two-week fridge life. So exactly how much of the white liquid in that carton is milk from the cow, and how much is additives and preservative crap?

I think it would be nice if the government mob who monitor warnings about toxic substances just gave me the names of one or two things that are still safe to eat.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

I'M A BLOODY IDIOT

Let me tell you about my new pashmina. It's pure wool, pale pink, big enough to wrap all around me when the wind is blowing cold down George Street. Yet equally small enough to twist fashionably around my neck.

For weeks it accompanied me to work. It also came to a Broncos game at Suncorp, enjoyed a long weekend at Mooloolaba, met the girls for lunch at the Regatta and had a plane ride to Sydney. It got a bit cranky at me when I left it in my car overnight. But we made up.

Then I washed it. Now, I'm pretty fastidious about washing. Well, about cleaning really. I've had lots of practice. Usually because I'm the women behind the successful man who cleans up all the shit he's too full of himself to notice.

When I wash, I separate, separate, separate. Soak anything even remotely white. Hand wash all delicates. Warm water for towels, cold water for jeans. Hang everything in the shade.

So what made me throw my treasured pashmina into the same load as my gym clothes and then chuck the whole damp mess into the dryer, I've no idea. I wasn't drunk at the time. I wasn't particularly time-poor. It wasn't raining.

The next morning I opened the dryer and yanked out this pathetic little square that in a former life used to be my BFF pashmina. Needless to say, it now fashions itself as a table napkin, although not very absorbent. And I'm down $85 and back to being cold at work and lonely on plane flights.

If you wash delicate items without paying attention, you're a bloody idiot.

Here's another bloody idiot example. One Saturday afternoon, I was mooching around DFO and happened upon a pair of hot pink stilettos. And not just hot pink. Patent leather hot pink. Couldn't you just die!!

That night, I had a party to go to and these shoes wanted to come with me. Except it was a stand-up cocktail party type party. And those shoes really hurt. They pinched on my little toes and the strap dug into the side of my foot. Ooouch!

I stood against a wall, eased one sandal off, tried to massage my aching toes on the carpet and then like the bevan I can be, hurriedly shoved it back on when someone came over to say hello.

A gorgeous friend, who was midst break-up with her fella, wanted to have a chat. Should she sell her half of their house back to him or should she fight to maintain the property? Who should get the carving they bought together in Prague? Did I think he was sleeping with their neighbour?

I wanted to support her, be there for her, advise her. But the throbbing pain emanating below my ankles deafened me to anything but the screaming need for my slippers.

If you buy stilettos and wear them to a stand-up party without first breaking them in, you're a bloody idiot.

How about the time another adored gal-pal was on the cusp of her five-minutes-of fame? So what if it was as an extra in a Toyota Corolla television commercial which probably constituted four seconds of exposure? Publicity is publicity.

I invited the gang over to my place for dinner to share her moment of glory. And went ahead and broke my own golden rule of never cooking anything for company that I haven't cooked before. I mean, how hard can Moroccan spiced eggplant in a lamb tagine with cinnamon and sweet potato be to cook?

It resembled an autopsy. We ended up eating loads of cheese and a frozen Sara Lee dessert. Thank goodness I had enough wine to compensate.

Don't ever be a bloody idiot and fake an orgasm simply as a means to get a new bloke off the top of you. He'll think he's so spectacular in the sack he'll spend weeks interpreting your being unavailable as a come on.

Don't ever be a bloody idiot and buy that Alannah Hill dress in a size 10 because you have a plan to ditch seven kilos. That same Alannah Hill dress will be hanging in your wardrobe five years from now, when you've probably added another happy three kgs to your beautiful frame.

Don't be a bloody idiot and wear any form of complex buckle-up sandals on any form of aircraft. Today's post 9/11 security checks will see you sitting on your arse undoing 15 buckles per shoe whilst your rock-bottom ticket price plane blithely leaves. Does security think I'm going to stash a set of box-cutters into a stiletto heel measuring half a centimetre diameter? Probably.

Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were Bron McClain. But I repeat myself.