Three years ago, I sold my Yamaha Pacifica. I was living out of home, studying full-time, working part-time, drinking heavily, and dirt poor. I really needed things like bread and dental work, so I flogged my guitar on eBay for $150.
To be honest, I had no regrets at first, as I had purchased Francine mainly to hold while I struck rockstar poses in front of the mirror in my bedroom. She was also useful for creating extremely loud and distorted noises while my parents attempted to hold bible study lessons in the living room. But apart from that, I didn’t play her often. Sure, she was soft and sleek, but I always seemed to come back to my Maton acoustic because he complimented my voice better.
However, now that I’m getting older and more experimental with my music, I really miss Francine.. She allowed me to do so much more than Mate, and was smaller, thus allowing me to dance more freely while playing.
The worst part is I don’t even know where she is.. I have no idea who bought her, because I made my friend sell her online, not having the guts to do it myself. I simply told her that I needed a “break” and that she was going to spend a little time away from home.. then I collected the cash, had a boozey night out in the cross, and awoke the next morning fully dressed with a splitting headache and a bruise the size of a grapefruit on my thigh.
I’m really worried about Francine. She could be sitting in any old geyser’s garage in Australia, cold, alone and unsatisfied. I’ll bet whoever bought her has put his filthy hands all over her.. By now he’s probably stroked her neck, removed her g-string and touched her entire body. Thank god she’s not acoustic or he might have put all kinds of things in her sound-hole.
I guess I just have to hope that Fran has gone to a better place. Perhaps she’s in a nice house in the country, surrounded by a loving family, romping through fields of daisies under a bright blue sky.. Or maybe she is the pride and joy of some young budding guitarist, the next Nathan Cavaleri, and will rocket him to early stardom..
I will never know for sure. I just hope she’s okay.
Last week, during a quiet moment at the office, I completed a “Dating Profile” Quiz on OKCupid.com. After I filled in my age, gender, sexual orientation, and general views on dating etiquette, I came across the following question:
Who would you rather walk in on you while masturbating?
a) your mother, or
b) your father
I’m sorry, what? Where is secret option c) – I’d rather tend bee hives naked with a daisy in my arsehole?
The wording of the question wasn’t crystal clear either. Are my parents barging in with their hands down their pants while I calmly sit and drink peppermint tea, or am I wanking with the door open? And which scenario would require the greatest number of therapy sessions to combat the resulting drug and alcohol addiction and chilling nightmares?
When I completed the quiz, it told me I was “The Window Shopper.” Apparently, I am slutty with my eyes, and then discerning with my hands. I figure that’s better than the other way around. But then this high-brow evaluation told me, “You tend to obsess over men who you have only recently met.” I snorted and shook my head in disgust, then read every wall-to-wall Facebook conversation of the guy I picked up the weekend before.
Unless I appoint myself a title, I generally do not like to be assigned labels or slotted into any particular category of society. Earlier this year, I announced to my boyfriend at the time that I was planning on stopping smoking. (Note: “Stopping” sounds easier than “quitting”, as I stop things constantly – my car, the dryer, anybody unbuttoning my jeans, etc – while “quitting” implies defeat, and “giving up” has connotations of abstaining from something desirable. I am fussy with my verbs.) “Don’t worry,” the boyfriend said supportively, patting me on the head, “You’ll smoke again. That’s what smokers do.”
Smokers. Excuse me? Who’s a smoker? Admittedly, I enjoyed the odd cigarette – up to half a pack a day – most days since I was fifteen, but that did not make me a Smoker. Did it?? When asked whether I smoked, I would usually reply, “Only socially. And alone.” There was nothing false about that statement, but it generally did not sit comfortably with others.
How many times does one need to commit an act before being assigned a title and stuffed into a pigeon-hole? I have kissed girls, but I’m not a lesbian. I have prayed, but I’m not a Christian. I have stolen, but I’m not a thief. I’ve taken drugs, but I’m not a junkie.
To be honest, I find it offensive that the internet so often requests me to define my entire self by ticking a bunch of boxes. And whenever it graciously allows me the freedom to “describe myself in a few paragraphs”, I usually respond with the only thing genuinely applicable:
I am Annik.
While I was growing up, my family did not put up the Christmas tree for five consecutive years. I’d like to say that we were progressive non-traditionalists who scoffed at commercialised pagan rituals, but in truth we were simply lazy. My mother, especially, believed that if something would only require undoing in the near future, there was no real point in doing it in the first place. (I suspect that this, along with being overweight, is the reason all her pants had elasticised waistbands.) I’m now wenty-two years old and I still have no idea how to make a bed. When I was a child, my mother furnished my bedroom with a mattress, a pillow and a doona. During summer, she would simply remove the doona and leave me with its cover. It never presented an issue until I began sleeping over at friends’ houses. Then I would secretly pack a sleeping bag and lie inside it on top of the bed, terrified of wrinkling the sheets. “Oh sweetheart,” my friend’s mother would say as she poured me an orange juice the next morning, “You didn’t have to make the bed!” Unbeknownst to her, I never unmade the damn thing.
My family has never really been into festivities. Last week I had a birthday, which was largely ignored apart from the household making the effort to eat a meal together. As a present, my parents agreed not to force me to pay for my own car insurance and registration for another twelve months. Two days later, I came home from work to find a book sitting on my bedside table. My brother had stuck a post-it note on the front reading: “Dear Annik. Happy thingy. Chris.”
As far as Christmas is concerned, over the years we all gradually began copying Chris’s method of purchasing gifts, tying the top of the plastic bags in which they were packed by frazzled sales assistants, and writing the intended recipient’s name on the front using a permanent marker. Then we stacked them in a messy pile underneath the coffee table and prayed that the cat would not urinate on top of it.
A month before my 18th Christmas, my father came home one day with a fibre-optic tree. “There!” he said, propping it up in the corner of the lounge room and plugging it into a power point, “Now is anybody feeling enthusiastic enough to flick a goddamn switch?”
The sad thing is we weren’t.
Religious people really hack me off sometimes. I live with a bunch of Jesus-praising, bible-studying, grace-saying, hymn-singing, sexless-til-married, loving, caring, forgiving Christians. I look like a pretty shit person in comparison.
Don’t get me wrong. My family are very tolerant of my “heathen lifestyle”, as they affectionately call it. My mum sometimes even spins cute little phrases around it: “If that plumber comes on time, then Annik’s a virgin.”
The thing that gets my beef going is that every opinion I have is immediately tainted in the household’s eyes on account of the fact that I have “fallen away.” When really, my views should be worth twice my family’s because I have lived both as a Woman of God, and as somebody capable of thinking for herself. I gave God a shot and he didn’t come through – as soon as I developed my higher reasoning abilities (about the same time I started smoking pot) the whole thing ceased to make sense.
Even Gilbert Grape could tell you that Christianity doesn’t reconcile with free will. Allegedly, God has graced us with mental autonomy, yet he has total control over every pre-destined whisper of the universe, and then he punishes us severely for exercising our “free will”. Where’s the fucking sense in that? On a similar note, concepts such as infinity and immortality are about as plausible as City Rail arriving on time. Any time I raised these concerns as a teenager, I was told that “mere humans cannot understand that.” Excuse me? Baking powder? That’s the biggest cop-out I’ve heard since Warnie’s mum gave him the tablet. If you undermine the entire capacity of human logic like that, then isn’t anything possible? Pigs might fly, Britney Spears could make a come-back, and Telstra might actually employ real live people to answer their customer care line instead of having a recorded voice that takes you from lengthy menu to lengthy menu before cutting you off in mechanical triumph.
I’ve been surrounded by Christianity my whole life. My entire family are devout Anglicans. 80% of the student body at my highschool and 100% of the faculty were Christians. I was one too for fifteen years. I understand that some people spend their whole lives studying the bible and are still putting the pieces together but shit, if something doesn’t grab me in less time than it takes to reach puberty, I’m not interested.
Last week I met up for drinks with an ex-boyfriend. He was very much an ex — by almost seven years — and I felt that enough time had elapsed to allow us to develop some kind of platonic relationship.
I picked him up from the shopping centre where he worked and we hugged tentatively, then I babbled about work and my new car as if nothing else of note had happened to me since grade 9. Fortunately, I require an embarrassingly small amount of alcohol on weeknights to become intoxicated. An hour, no dinner, and three beers later, I was chatting quite comfortably about everything in my life and throwing in some religious and political theories for good measure. The ex was in the middle of telling me about the hideous end of his latest romantic relationship, when he mentioned the fact that he was now seeing somebody new. I initially thought he was referring to me, and panicked, then realised he didn’t mean me, and immediately felt slighted. I took a large sip of my beer in an attempt to hide the fact that for some reason, I really didn’t want to be listening to this. Then I excused myself to use the bathroom, snuck through the beer garden and drove home.
The problem wasn’t that I planned to reinstate this guy as boyfriend one day. God knows, if I wanted to be fifteen again, I’d wear a USA hoodie, drink a six-pack of Strongbow and vomit onto a rosebush. No, the issue here is that I never want to think about my old boyfriends moving on. In my mind, I let them recover enough to get past the stalking stage, but after that I like to imagine each of my ex’s sitting in his living room, unshaven and pantless, drinking whisky and watching day-time television through eyes clouded by addiction and blurred with tears, for the remainder of his miserable, regret-filled, post-Annik life. Occasionally he rises to urinate, wanders aimlessly through the house, and pauses to kneel at the shrine of photos, flowers and candles that he has erected in my honour. Then he crawls into bed and drinks cask-wine straight from the goon-bag, attempting to achieve the alcohol-induced coma in which he sometimes dreams of my beautiful face…
But the truth is, I’m usually the dumpee. It’s hard to imagine somebody being depressed about losing you when they’re the one who initiated the break-up. You would think that being constantly rejected would damage my self esteem, but I have somehow managed to maintain a high level of morale. I am mentally unable to process the fact that I could be anything but the perfect girlfriend. Whenever a guy tells me he wants to end things, I quickly remind him, “But I’m amazing. And gorgeous and smart. Are you gay or just stupid?” If that doesn’t work, I change tactic: “Well you can’t have me anymore anyway, cockbag!” and flounce from the room. As I drive to the nearest bottle shop, crying hysterically and swerving dangerously within my lane, I imagine him back home, sitting with his head in his hands as the full extent of the huge mistake he has just made dawns upon his tiny idiotic brain. He took me for granted. He didn’t know what he had until it was gone. He will never love again.
In reality, they always love again. One boyfriend loved again in front of me at the pub every Friday night. Another called me each weekend after he had gotten laid and gave me a blow-by-blow (no pun intended) description of his shag, analysed her technique and then provided a helpful comparison on what was better or worse about my own abilities. And my latest boyfriend didn’t even bother breaking up with me before loving again.
I think that every relationship, no matter how trivial or traumatic, has something valuable to offer us if we look at things the right way. I wouldn’t want a break-up to affect any of my ex-boyfriends’ abilities to love, just as I don’t let any of them affect my own ability to love. In fact, I kind of want my old boyfriends taken off the market, just to erase any potential sexual tension that may crop up in future chance encounters. And, because I’m not a bitter or spiteful person, I want my ex’s to find somebody they can be in a relationship with, and I want them to be happy. I just don’t want to hear about it.