Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Because My Middle Name Is Carmel Doesn't Mean I Had Bad Parents

I’m pretty sure my parents’ motto while raising my brother and I was “no child will ever control how I live”. These are parents who thought overprotective meant having a baby monitor; but I’m not dead so their philosophy has to hold some water. Fair enough I say, but I have to tell you that your parents going about their lives as they would if you weren’t there (not in a neglectful way, but in an empowered parent way) can result in some pretty embarrassing moments.
One particular incident, or should I say “recurring item of nightwear”, comes to mind in regard to this credo. My dad had a favourite night dress, he’d probably say it was a nightshirt, but that’s just semantics. Anyway, this nightdress was short and made of a thin fabric – I guess you would call it a summer night gown, it looked like something Kim Kardashian would be wearing in a sexy photo shoot where her hair was all tousled and her bra was showing. My dad was a teacher at my school so anything he would do in front of my friends meant that the shame factor was immediately squared. One summer’s eve I had a sleepover with some girlfriends and, in true dad style, my father stomped up the stairs at about 10’o’clock to tell us to shut up. Fine, it was his house and his rules. But of course he was clad in aforementioned gown. No one said a thing, we promised to keep it down and that was the end of that, until a week later at school when one of the girl’s asked in front of the rest of our group why my dad wore a dress at home. No one ever let me live that down and I’m pretty sure everyone kept an eye out when they stayed over for their favourite science teacher in his house dress. I breathed a sigh of relief when the worn out old nightie ripped up the side, “the end of an era” I lulled. And it was, until dad returned from the shed, gaffa tape in hand and gave that puppy a whole new lease on life. Believe it or not that motherfucking dress lasted until I finished high school.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Biggest Lie I Ever Told

I used to have this cat called Jeffrey. I know this is an abnormal cat name but I feel it is important to give cats names that have dignity; they are elegant creatures and should be labelled as such. Jeffrey was however, neither elegant nor dignified. He was actually, for lack of a better word, a total retard of a cat. He would sit nose to nose with the fridge for hours hoping it would feed him, was completely afraid of the wind and he once went missing for a few days only to be found sitting at the bottom of the garden, completely unharmed, with some type of moss growing on his back. He was also thoroughly unpleasant, so of course I loved the shit out of him.

You know when you have a pet, you often feel like it has certain things it wants to say to you? Jeffrey had a permanently angry look on his face, like he was dying to yell abuse at us, and so my family would voice his inner monologue; giving words to his misgivings about his food, his surroundings and his dislike of the world in general. The dialogue we had on his behalf revealed him to be a well-spoken but cranky old man of a cat. I still worry about the times when people would walk in on us talking from the cat’s perspective, but that’s ok because my family wasn’t particularly normal and I guess no one expected any better from us.

For a few years when I was quite young I had this concern that I may be possessed, like the main character from The Exorcism of Emily Rose, as I would often get up of a morning covered in scratches with no idea where they had come from. One night I woke up to discover that it had been Jeffrey all along; he had been sneaking into my room after I was asleep and settling on my bed; whenever I moved he would attack my legs leaving them bloody and battered. Another time he pooed on my history text book and I had to explain it to my teacher. Yes, Jeffrey was not a pleasant cat at all, but he had character and to me that is the most important thing any animal or object can have.

The following story is about the day that Jeffrey died. I am aware that this anecdote paints me as a liar and I guess I was a bit of a liar in this situation, but you will come to see that I only told one lie. Except it was a massive lie. Probably the biggest lie I have ever told actually. So if you have a problem with fibbing it is best that you stop reading now.

One hot January day I was on a train on the way home from the city. My phone rang and when I answered it, I heard my very concerned mother on the other end – I immediately knew someone had died. Upon realising I was on the train my mum told me she would call me later, but as they say – curiosity killed the cat (har har har) – and I pushed her to tell me what was wrong. She informed me that Jeffrey had been found in the neighbour’s yard where he had died after his kidneys gave out. To say I was inconsolable was an understatement. I hung up the phone and burst into tears. Now, I am by no means a pretty crier. I am frowny, blotchy, and above all, a snotty crier. I cry hard and loud until big slimy ropes of snot pour from my nose. So I sat there, in the most crowded carriage of the train, forty minutes away from home and sobbed. And so OF COURSE this was one of those rare train journeys when the State Rail guards boarded and checked that everyone had paid for their journeys. I handed over my ticket, still whimpering and covered in snot, which they checked and walked away. Relieved, I returned my face to the nook between the window and the seat and recommenced my howling.

BUT OF COURSE THEY CAME BACK. Because nothing is ever that simple in my life.

When they returned they silently escorted me to that small portion of the train which you initially step onto, the part which is neither up nor down. They had cleared this section specifically for me. Oh, the shame. So, they sat me down and asked me what had happened. I didn’t feel quite like I was able to say that my cat had died (how embarrassing to be wailing at that decibel level about a cat) and so I told them that I had lost a family member. I silently congratulated myself on something which wasn’t really a lie and continued to hiccup. Oh, how I wish they were your run-of-the-mill uncaring, bastards and left it at that. But they didn’t.

“Who was it, darling?” the extremely concerned, fatherly, train guard asked me.

This was really the moment that it all fell apart. Flanked by two burly men in uniform, devastated and embarrassed that I had been removed from the main population of the train I looked him in the eye and said “it was my brother.”

Just like that. Earnestly and honestly (except for the fact that it was an utter fabrication), and then shocked by this whopper of a lie I had just told, I burst into fresh tears.

He gently patted me on the back and continued to ask me questions, like any kind stranger would. Ugh.

“What was his name?”

“Jeffrey” I stuttered, my voice thick with tears. Thank god we hadn’t called him Mittens.

“How old was he, love?”

“He was fourteen.” He was. But he was a cat.

“How did he die?”

“Kidney failure.” It was kidney failure, but he was a fourteen year old cat.

“Where was he?”


The guard looked absolutely stricken and I swear to god, he wiped a tear from his eye. At this point, I was so shocked by the enormity of my lie that I stopped crying altogether and just sat silently, praying for time to speed up and my stop to arrive.

“I’m sorry to take up your time” I ventured. “I’m sure you come across things like this all the time.”

“It’s never anything this bad.” He told me, his voice shaking ever so slightly.

I am the worst person alive.

When we got to Hornsby (where I lived at the time) they escorted me off the train, into the lift and waited with me until someone came to collect me. I had to quickly call a friend to come get me, telling them through gritted teeth that “Jeffrey has died, please meet me at the station.” You’d better believe I high-tailed it right out of there – before any conversation between the guards-who-were-comforting-me-about-the-death-of-my-brother and my friend-who-was-there-to-comfort-me-about-the-death-of-my-cat could transpire.

Oh boy. If I wasn’t sure about it before this, I was after – I am definitely going to hell.

Hopefully I’ll see Jeffrey there.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Starburst Sucks Are Aptly Named

I had a fiery debate recently with some friends regarding veganism, the day before this there was a spat between two kids at work about whether coke or juice was a healthier option and finally I had a scare at a restaurant when a buddy with a nut allergy ingested some nuts. These three food related incidents got me thinking about the things we put into our bodies.

I like my body. I feel like we are fast friends. My body gets me through all sorts of situations and is yet to complain, no matter what I do to it. For example; last week I was rejoicing that I was only five minutes from the end of my shift and decided to let out a celebratory “woohoo” accompanied by a double fisted ‘yes’ gesture. You know the one, kind of like you’re doing a chin up without a bar, grasping at the air with both fists and pulling down hard and fast while ‘yes’ becomes ‘yesssssssssssssssss’. The only problem was, I had just been washing all of the steak knives and had placed them, blade side up, in a cutlery basket. This meant that instead of the celebratory gesture I intended it to be, I actually ended up stabbing myself in the elbow. The wound was a good centimetre deep. And no complaint from my body. It just puts up with the stupid shit I do, ah, my constant friend.

As was the case a little while ago when I accidentally ate something a little iffy.

A few months ago I stopped for petrol on the drive home and was offered a too-good-to-be-true offer of two Starburst Sucks lollipops for just forty cents which, of course, I snapped up immediately. Now, I love to eat in my car. It doesn’t have a cd player, any working windows, an interior light, an aerial, air conditioning and leaks when it rains, meaning it constantly smells like wet dog. So eating has to be the main form of entertainment on the forty minute drive home from work. I tucked right into the first of my two strawberry flavoured sweets and put the other in the centre console for the next return journey from work (or drive TO work at 5am if I was feeling crazy) and promptly forgot all about it.

Jump forward two weeks and on a hot, sticky afternoon I uncovered the remaining lollipop while crawling along in heavy traffic. What a coup. I said a silent thank you to past Maz for leaving it there for me and as we started moving I unwrapped it whacked it straight into my mouth. A few minutes later, it began to taste strange. I went to look at it just as traffic began to move again and noticed that it was flecked with black. I assumed I had simply bought one strawberry and one watermelon flavoured Starburst. That would explain the slightly more acrid taste of this second candy and the strange colouration. So I continued to happily suck away as I slowly made ground in the traffic. At the next lights I went to check the progress I was making on my lolly in order to ascertain how close I was to that point when it’s ok to chew the rest of it. Upon pulling the lollipop from my mouth I discovered that there were a few little black bits exposed and poking out of the walls of the lollipop. On even closer inspection they were ants. They had crawled up the hollow stick of the confection and had become entombed in the hard candy. Much like Han Solo frozen in his carbonite prison, their little legs reached forward lamenting their untimely deaths. So I decided the only way to honour the little suckers (you’re welcome for that delightful pun) was to finish eating that creepy crawly candy. And so I did just that. Whilst stopped amongst a hundred cars, I sat quietly and ate my lollipop of ants. I must have been the only person in at least a ten kilometre radius doing that exact thing.

I felt fine, not a trace of sickness was to be noted and I hadn’t even wasted my forty cents. Yep, that car ride home was a definite success.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Diet Has The Word "Die" In It For A Reason

I went to the States at the end of last year. And you better believe I ate out every meal, every day for a month. Not to mention the massive free-poured cocktails I consumed nightly and the candy which was so cheap and novel lining every convenient store shelf. I even bought an individually packaged pickle in New Orleans, amazing! Suffice to say, I came back a little chubbier that I was when I left. Whatever, I thought; the weight will come off once I go back to normal life – playing basketball, eating lots of veg… It’ll be fine. But it wasn’t. A month on and I was still more oompa loompa than impala. My favourite dresses didn’t sit in quite the same way, I started having to wear loose fitting t-shirts to work to cover my paunch and my confidence, wit and ability to flirt with tradies while serving them food and coffee faded a little. I even stopped cutting love hearts out of beetroot and placing them on plates beside sandwiches and pies. (This is a fun little addition I find amusing as it sends an odd mixed message; it’s cute but a little creepy, especially when it bleeds red juice everywhere.) Anyway, it was sad times in the world of Maz.

It appeared that drastic measures would have to be taken. So I did the worst thing a person could do and I googled free diet plans. Oh, the shame. I came across a diet which I had completed successfully back on ’04 – I won’t name it because it works and I want those of you carrying some extra weight to keep it on, so that we can all remain part of the same jiggly fraternity – but it basically involved only eating fruit, veg, vegetable soup and two steaks at the end of the week. I honestly thought that it would be a piece of cake to complete (pun intended).

By the evening of day two (soup and vegetables) my husband came home to find me sitting on the couch, knees up to my chest (I don’t want to say I was in the foetal position, but I was in the foetal position) a moment away from tears. We both decided that it was time to fuck that diet right off and go and get a pizza. My very best efforts and I lasted not even two days. I mean, I love being lazy, and surely going on a diet speaks to this desire to be a sloth; you are required to literally do nothing. You just don’t eat. That’s all there is to it. So I suppose I will just chalk that up as another thing which I fail abysmally at.

However, I did start to wonder if it was such a terrible thing to be a little imperfect. All my life I have been a trick monkey. Anything that would get a laugh, I would do. When I was fifteen and worked at McDonald’s I would serve people while pretending to have a lisp to make the days go quicker, I constantly black out my teeth with cake and icing when making cakes and the other day I literally high fived someone I didn’t know, who was standing on the median strip, while stopped at lights because I felt that maybe my friends needed some amusement on the way to the pub. The man ran away, into oncoming traffic once he had high fived me, it was hilarious – “job well done” I thought. So if my body can’t be “perfect” by conventional standards, why can’t it be comical? Personally, I think it is unfair if you are both beautiful, well-built AND a nice, funny person. For instance, I have started to really warm to a girl at work who has the most slamming body and a gorgeous face. She said something really funny to me the other day and I thought “if she gets any funnier, I am going to need her to get uglier somehow”. Go ahead; judge my character according to that statement and while you’re at it feel free to also judge me according to this list of things which are wrong with my body.

My thighs: I have larger than regular thighs. I think I am technically overweight according to that BMI thing, so of course I will always jump on board when people say that it is all a bunch of hooey. “Yes, it’s crap”, you’ll hear me yell “there is no one-size-fits-all way to determine whether someone is a healthy size” while inside I’m thinking “Geez Maz, we’d better start laying off those tubs of sour cream eaten with a spoon when alone in the house!” So while I definitely do NOT sport the “gap factor” what I can offer is, in my opinion, just as appealing. When dancing naked, my legs will literally clap together keeping the time of my jig. Not only is this humorous but it’s useful – I am like a one-lady band!

Unwanted hair: Now I know everyone has unwanted hair – legs, armpits, bikini line etc. But I have hair in two strange places which I refuse to get rid of. Firstly, I have this one hair on my cheek which just grows limitlessly. Occasionally when it gets in my line of vision I will try and pull it out with my fingers. Generally though, this will just curl it rather than remove it. So, basically, I have facial hair which I style. Secondly, I have hairy big toes. This doesn’t help with the long held theory that I may be part hobbit – I am quite short in stature and the hair that grows from my toes is long and dark. I keep it, because I feel it gives me character, plus it makes for a good conversation starter.

Chubby baby hands: While I am already quite a little person I sport smaller than average hands. They are also very plump. Thanks to them I will never be able to play acoustic guitar or hold a basketball single handed. I’m pretty sure people study photographs of me thinking that their camera has had some sort of malfunction, distorting the hands at the end of my arms to the point where they look like little Christmas hams. Never fear faithful Facebook friends, these are my real hands, your cameras and computer screens are in full working order.

Muffin top: I have what is commonly referred to as a “muffin top” (where your chub hangs over your pants or skirt resembling the muffin spilling from the top of its paper shell), but here’s the kicker: it is ever-present. Even when naked I have a muffin top. It is really quite remarkable. I am assuming that it is from wearing clothes which are too tight (I often underestimate my size, I am so gullible I believe the lies I tell myself!) Somehow I have actually smooshed all my fat above and below my hip line to the point where it permanently stays in place, now to figure a way to manipulate this further and increase the size of my boobs.

Circle head: I have a big round head. Once a drunken stranger on the train told me I had a head like a pumpkin and I have to admit, he was onto something. I have a big, round butternut-shaped noggin. When I smile my cheeks push into my eyes and make me look all squinty. It’s cool though, because the day they start casting for the movie of the Magic Faraway tree, you’d better believe I’ll be well in the running to get the part of Moonface.

So there you have it, the list of things that are wrong with me. If you can think of anything else that you’ve noticed and I haven’t, feel free to let me know. I’m also interested to find out if anyone else has deformities they are proud of. Regardless, the lesson for today is – if you are boring you’d better jump right onto that treadmill or go get a nose job. And if you are a bit of an uggo learn a joke or grow a monobrow – at least you’ll have something to talk about. Basically, I want you all to be either ugly and funny or boring and hot; just don’t be better than me – so we can remain friends.