Everyone does the same thing – Uni, job, travel. And they all think they’re free spirits, with a novel inside them.

Thursday, 12 September 1996  5:03pm

Hi S,

It’s after five.  I’m in a proofing coma.  I’ve proof-read absolutely stacks today.  And I’ve drunk far too much coffee.  You know how you get that skittish sort of feeling in your legs, and you can feel all the muscles in your scalp.  And now I’m just glum.  Weary.

Got your letter.  You know you shouldn’t make offers like that unless you mean it Sis.  The staying at your place I mean.  I don’t think you really want me staying in your lounge room, now do you?  Anyway, I’m terrified of leaving this job for never finding another.  With no degree under my belt, I’m just glorified unskilled labour.  Can you imagine me working on a building site, swinging my legs off the scaffolding as I sit to eat my lunch with Barney saying “You know I used to be a big-shot editor, me.”  (“Gee really, Fred?”)

It is tempting to go at the moment. Paige has just left. Lisa is going. Quinn has gone.  It’s a bit of a joke, everyone does the same thing – Uni, job, travel.  And they all think they’re free spirits, roaming the globe indulging in picturesque adventures which they all secretly hope will be fodder for that novel they just know they’ve got inside them.  I love pouring scorn on people.  Anyone will do.  Jesus, someone’s just started cooking something with Parmesan cheese in it. Just what I needed – stench.

And also I worry that travelling will simply be exchanging one rut for another.  I don’t imagine that a different setting would greatly change me.  I mean, I live a pretty isolated life here, I don’t think I’d suddenly become all gregarious and make loads of friends just by switching hemispheres.  Sorry about this, I’m not pouring scorn on you through your idea, it’s just that I’ve considered this before and I’ve been thrashing it about for some time.  My “thrashing it about” is really just another way of saying that I’m making a huge list of cons for any idea insect that’s currently struggling in the pond scum on the surface of my cogitative pond.  I’m also imagining that you may feel a bit more apprehensive at the idea of the Son-of-our-Fat-Head-Father living in your lounge room after berthing the real deal for a week. (I am so sorry Sis, as I said on the phone, if I’d known Dad was going to just land on your doorstep like that I would have warned you. Word has it, he docked his whore in a B&B whilst he stayed with you – trade off being he has to take her to Hawaii.)

Then again, travel is broadening.  I may like to take the piss because everyone else is so enamoured of it, but seeing something on TV and actually being there are completely different, aren’t they?  I mean, it does give you perspective and something to bore people with at dinner parties. “O ja, coffee in gay Paree, it’s just divine.  No-one makes a Latte like the Frogs, dahling.”  Snide, snide, snide.

Oh, and by the way (from your letter), you can always bore me with the gory details.  Life itself is in the details.  The first, fat rain drops of Spring and all that.  Or, the personal gory details too. You know, a letter is never really boring.  At least, that’s how I feel.  I suppose you may feel differently having to wade weekly through the emotional vomit of my hermetic life.

Love the scatological leitmotif in your letter.  J       apoos, S          apoos, Brady’s neat little poo and stress-ball combo.  That’s what I like a letter with a theme.

To change the topic completely, I was having a conversation with some people the other day, we were talking about faces.  I was saying that it’s funny how people’s character is sometimes written on their faces.  Or vice-versa perhaps.  And how you’ll be sitting on your tram and you’ll look at someone and think “God, look at that surly git” or “Woah, who opened the cage at the Cro-Magnon display at the Anthropology Museum?”  and then I wondered out loud what people thought of my face at first glimpse, what pigeon holes they were slotting me into. And then someone pipes out.

“I thought you looked placid.”

I sat dumbfounded (appropriately I suppose, to my new found omni-characteristic) while the rest of the table casually nodded their assent – “Yeah, me too.”  “Serene, perhaps.” sang the chorus line.  I was inwardly horrified. I don’t want to be placid (and then I remembered you said in your letter I’m placid).  Cows are bloody placid, Sis.  I wanna be Mr Lounge Lizard.  I want people to look at me and think “Now there’s a keen mind” or “I bet he’s not wearing underpants”.  Maybe this is why I have bad luck with the ladieezzz.  My appearance is completely different to my self-image.  I’m attracting women who want a dullard.  Women who want human play-doh  and what can I do about it?  Nuthin’.  A big fat zero.  Short of plastic surgery Michael-Jackson-style, no matter how much weight I lose, no matter what hair-do I paste on my noggin, people are gonna look at me and think “PLACID”.  It’s a bugger, isn’t it?  I suppose it’ll only bother me for a week and then I’ll forget about it entirely.  Your own self-image is not really easily prone to dramatic shifts.

Yours in be-grudged placidity.




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