During a recent school night session with some old co-workers, the conversation turned to growing up and childhood pastimes.
Claire: So I named my budgies Popcorn and Peanuts, and when they died, I buried them in my fairy garden.
Me: What the hell is a fairy garden?
Claire: You didn’t have a fairy garden?
Julia: I guess your parents just didn’t love you enough.
Claire: If it makes you feel any better, my parents eventually turned my fairy garden into a Japanese stone garden.
Me: No, that doesn’t make me feel better. I hate all your North Shore problems. I played with empty cardboard boxes and tupperware containers as a child. I didn’t even know what a Barbie was until I started school. I had a sandpit full of dirt and everything I owned was a hand-me-down of some kind from my brother.
Julia: Is that why you dress badly?
Me: Fuck you.
Too many of my conversations like this. I still want that fairy garden though.
According to the internet, this is what I missed out on.
Ugh. My parents were soooo mean. My mother had me convinced that raw cookie dough tasted like medicine until I was old enough to wonder why she was eating it all herself if it was so gross.
Did you have a fairy garden? Or were your parents bad people too? What is the phone number for DOCS?
Most people don’t really think about Tim Allen very much. I probably think about Tim Allen once every three years, unless I see his picture somewhere, and then I think about him for roughly four seconds before I get bored and stop. But those four seconds are filled with a vague yet certain sense of hate. And all over the world, people of all shapes and sizes, colours and creeds, religions and other silly things, all share one thing in common: we hate Tim Allen.
The average punter doesn’t hate Tim Allen very strongly, because it’s not a cause worthy of too much emotion. But we do possess a mild collective distaste for the Tool Time man. A slight wrinkle of the nose upon hearing his name. An immediate reach for the remote control. An eye roll. A head shake. A twist of the monocle and a shot of brandy. And a pinch on the bum.
So why exactly do we hate Tim Allen? Nobody knows for sure, but I have a few ideas.
The first question we should ask ourselves is this: what’s to like about Tim Allen?
And, of course, the answer is “nothing.”
The second question is: would you accept a lift home with this man?
Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical.
I recently went to a Tim Allen support group meeting and the following are just a few of the notes I made. These are real stories, from real people.*
Tim Allen broke into my house, stole a waffle iron and left obscene polaroids on my pillow.
Tim Allen took me out for a nice dinner once, and then got what was later described as ‘mildly rapey’.
I once had to watch The Santa Clause as a child. I cannot say anymore on the subject; the rest is repressed.
Tim Allen tried to pickpocket me while I was on holidays in Thailand, but he was clumsy with Mekhong whiskey & easily foiled.
Who wedged a red crayon between his buttocks and ‘autographed’ my house? Tim Allen did.
Tim Allen attempted to have an orgy with my dogs but I managed to beat him off with a spatula.
Tim Allen is responsible for the life I’ve led; the tears I’ve cried, the blood I’ve spilt.
Tim Allen borrowed my car for the weekend and returned it with a dead hooker in the trunk.
Now I’m not a biased person, and I want to deliver balanced views on this site, so I spoke to a well-known movie critic to get his thoughts on Tim Allen. This is what he said:
“Tim Allen is a man’s man man’s man. I’ll never forget the first time I met him; I’d fallen down a hill and broken my leg, and he carried me four miles to hospital, telling me hilarious jokes and reminding me why we let him into our lives (and hearts!) as Tim “The Tool-Man” Taylor.
I think that says it all, really.
When I was in kindergarten, my parents were trying to teach me the concept of sarcasm. One day we were all in the car and my father pulled up at a set of lights.
“Oh boy, traffic!” he cried, glancing at me in the rearview mirror. “I just love traffic. Traffic is my favourite thing ever!”
My mother turned around in the passenger seat so that she was facing me. “Neeky,” she said. “What is Daddy being right now?”
I hesitated, uncertain, and glanced at my brother before turning back to Mum.
“A dickhead?” I guessed.
This morning a girl who I was once very close to died. I’m not going to pretend to know the particulars of the situation, because I haven’t had contact with her for years, but something about Crohn’s disease and the latter stages of liver cancer, etc, etc, she didn’t make it, please pray for her family.
I’m sitting here trying to come up with some memories of this girl. Pick the pieces out of my brain, look at them with renewed perspective, type them out and embody one small part of her life: the impact she had on me. She and I spent a significant amount of time together during highschool, and in theory, I should be able to recount specific anecdotes, quote directly, dig up old notes and emails and photographs.
But sadly, my brain has wiped most of my memories from early adolescence, and I have thrown away all the physical evidence over the years.
And so, digging deep as possible, all I can put together is the vaguest of pastimes, but a stronger sense of her spirit:
The memory is blurred and non-specific, but I do recall the intense camaraderie I felt from the day I met her. And I remember that at every church-related event our fascist parents dragged us to, she and I snuck away, without fail. We stole biscuits and ran down the street. We hid in parks and bitched about every single person in that church. We condemned their hypocrisy and ridiculed their sensitivity. We were ruthless and nasty, delighting in which one of us could shock the other the most.
Believe it or not, she was a lot more cynical than I am. She was more negative. Less ethical. More bitter. And that’s exactly what I liked most about her.
“Can we go home yet?” I whined to my mother, as she squinted at me through her camera lens.
“Smile, darling!” she encouraged as I wailed and thrashed in the arms of Scooby-Doo. I hated Wonderland, despite my constant nagging to go there. I endured each visit because I was obsessed with fairy floss and I hadn’t yet figured out that you could buy it from any standard lolly shop. Once I’d gotten my sugar fix, the theme park’s crowds made me nervous, the rides didn’t seem safe, and the life-sized cartoon characters roaming the grounds and posing for photos completely terrified me. Most kids ran to these characters, swarmed them and jostled for a hug with their new furry friend. However, I was under no illusion that these beings were my favourite cartoon-network personalities. I wasn’t fooled by the costumes or the funny voices. I knew exactly what they were: creepy adults wearing full-body suits in order to lure children into close physical contact.
Which is why I ran from Scooby-Doo as soon as he let me drop to the ground. I ran straight into Fred Flinstone, and when he too tried to scoop me into his burly arms, thick with muscles from whittling away hours in a prison gym while serving his pedophilia sentence, I punched him in the crotch and turned to my parents.
“Can we go home now?” I asked. And we left.
Most people who grew up in Sydney were probably dragged down to the Hawkesbury at some stage during their childhood to visit a popular tourist destination known as Butterfly Farm. This is a magical place where many rare species of insects reside and you are free to roam among them, observing and absorbing at will.
One weekend in the early nineties, my parents decided that my brother and I should experience the faunal wonders of this Butterfly Farm.
“But I hate bugs!” I whined in the car.
“Don’t be silly, they’re harmless,” my parents reassured me.
And so we made the long drive while I whinged and sulked and everyone ignored my pathological fear of insects.
When we arrived, my parents led me around, pointing out various beetles and spiders, while I hovered near the exit and glanced, terrified, towards the glass cabinets that writhed with creepy crawlies.
“Shall we go look at the butterflies?” my father suggested.
“I hate things with wings,” I reminded him.
“That’s ridiculous,” my mother said, “How will you ever travel internationally or select sanitary products?”
And so I was forced to enter a room filled entirely with winged creatures that flapped around my head and cast evil stares in my direction and scared the shit out of me.
I was trying to be brave and enjoy the butterflies the way all the other kids were, but after a few minutes, one of the hideous beasts suddenly made its way over and settled upon my upper arm.
I let out a blood curdling scream and swiftly clapped my hand down on the butterfly, whose lifeless body then dropped onto the dirt floor.
A moment of silence passed, not in respect for the delicate and endangered life that was just lost, but in horror of the four year old child who had snuffed such a (generally considered) beautiful creature.
“I’ll bet that happens all the time, huh?” my mother joked nervously to a Butterfly Farm employee standing nearby.
“No, that was the first time,” he replied.
And we left very quickly.
- told me I was adopted.
- punched me repeatedly.
- headbutted me when he broke his arm and couldn’t punch me.
- used my skipping ropes to tie nooses and “hanged” my dolls from the curtain rod in my room, so that when I walked home from school and approached the house, I saw a mass suicide happening in my bedroom window.
- told me that I was retarded and had been inside a mental institution for my entire life. Mum and Dad were the “doctors”, my teachers and friends were “nurses” and “orderlies” or other people hired to amuse me and keep me company so I could live a “normal life.” I was so out of touch with reality that I had no idea.
- slapped me repeatedly.
- pooped in the bathtub because he knew it would uspet me. I got so scared that I jumped out and ran naked through the house, then slipped on the lino and smashed my head against a ceramic step, resulting in a wound requiring three stitches.
- pinched me repeatedly.
- held me down on the couch and farted in my face.
- cut all the hair off my dolls. Then cut off their arms and legs.
- told me that Taz, our first family dog who I only remembered vaguely, had to be put down because I cried whenever she came near me. In fact, the dog just barked too much and gave the neighbours the shits.
- sang this song constantly, often late at night, until I was driven to borderline insanity.
- kicked me repeatedly.
- called me a “fudge packer”, “back door stabber” and various other derogatory terms for homosexuals. I had no idea what they meant until late highschool.
- forced various things into my mouth, including cat food, dirt, and batteries.
- told Mum that I broke the neighbour’s windscreen, after he had thrown a brick at their car.
- gave me a noogie every time I walked past.
- told me that my high hairline/large forehead was actually premature baldness.
- told me that Stripe, the stray cat we found who was very violent and frequently attacked my bare legs, was nowhere to be seen. I would emerge from the bathroom, where I had been hiding, to find Stripe waiting outside the door, claws ready.
- gave me a wet willy every time I walked past.
- told me that Santa Claus was not real on Christmas morning, 1989. I was three years old.
What did your brothers and sisters do to torture you? Or what did you do to them, you sick bastard?
- put my cat underneath an upside-down washing basket and placed phone books on top.
- climbed over the backyard fence and squirted tomato sauce on the neighbour’s washing.
- head-butted another kid on my first day of Play Group and told him to “shut the hell up” when he started crying.
- stole money from my dad’s bottom drawer nearly every day to buy Zooper Doopers and carob buds from the canteen.
- put fairy wings on my younger cousin and told her she was a fly, then sprayed her with Mortein.
- wrote my mum hate-mail.
- lured a friend who was terrified of dogs into the back paddock and then let the dogs out of their enclosure and listened to her scream.
- lured same friend into the shed and told her I was going to bludgeon her to death with a hammer, then admitted I was just kidding after she started crying.
- picked pieces of cat poo out of the kitty litter tray and put them in the neighbour’s letter box.
- asked my mum what a condom was in front of her bible study group, then asked “DOES THAT MEAN YOU CAN HAVE SEX AND YOU WON’T GET PREGNANT?”
- cheated on the 1997 Maths Olympiad and accepted a trophy at an all-student assembly and had my picture in the paper for it.
- stuck a highlighter up my brother’s cat’s bum to “check his temperature.”
- cut pictures of diseased penises out of my dad’s medical journals and pasted them in my kindergarten homework book while learning about the letter P.
When I was ten years old, my parents made me change schools mid-term. We’d moved a few suburbs away and the 30+ minutes of driving every morning and afternoon was giving mum the shits.
I’ve never been able to make new friends easily, and I was no better at it back then. In fact, the only friend I managed to recruit that year was a girl named Kim, who wore thick glasses and constantly had the faint aroma of shit about her.
“Kim wears nappies,” the other kids gossiped, “cause she poos her pants all the time.”
I didn’t find the smell too bad, so I hung out with Kim and invited her over to my house a few times. She was nice enough and she always gave me half of her roll-up.
When school finished for the year, Kim went away on holiday with her family. She sent me a postcard from Jenolan Caves that read:
I miss you. I’m glad you came to our school. Thank you for being my friend and for not making fun of me like the others do.
After the summer break, Kim and I were enrolled in different classes because I was smarter than her. In my new class, a group of four girls, who were reasonably pretty, started letting me sit with them at lunch and invited me to the movies and their birthday parties. I never really spoke to Kim again after that.
When I was a kid, my mum befriended a lady from church who had two daughters either side of my age. Preferring to be stronger, faster and more intelligent than my playmates, I chose to spend most of my time with the younger daughter, Kate. We would dress up her dolls and take them into the garden, then climb onto the roof while our mothers weren’t looking.
One afternoon, we were crawling through some bushes when Kate suddenly turned to me and said, “I did a poo in my pants.”
“Flush your undies down the toilet,” I advised.
“Alright,” Kate agreed and walked gingerly back into the house. I followed her and stood outside the bathroom door for a few minutes.
“Kate?” I called out, “What does it feel like? The poo in your pants.”
She paused for a few seconds, then answered, “Bees.”
It wasn’t until much later that I wondered when she ever had a pantload of bees to contend with.