“You should date somebody from Twitter,” my flattie JC told me one night at the pub. This was a couple of years back, when meeting people from t’internet was still something of a novelty and you didn’t tell your mother when you were doing it.
“Don’t be an idiot,” I said and waved my beer dismissively. The truth was I had already considered this and had reasonable-sized crushes on more than a few of my followers. Plus my Twitter network was relatively small, highly interactive and privy to a lot of details regarding my personal life. It’d save a lot of the legwork involved in getting to know somebody on a first date.
“No, seriously,” JC continued, “I bet that if you tweeted on a Saturday night and said you wanted somebody to take you out, you’d have at least 5 offers in the first hour.”
I didn’t know whether he was right or wrong, but the likelihood of me actually doing this was roughly equal to using my beer money to sponsor an African child. I had met enough people online to know that some of them were fun and could become your new BFFs, but others were fun and then later proved to have a very tenuous grip on reality. In the beginning, it’s almost impossible to tell which category the stranger sitting on your couch chopping weed will fall into.
So I put aside the idea of Twitter dating for the meantime, but then after a depressingly dry season, I began to consider it more seriously. I mean, if I was on Twitter and I wasn’t a freak, then surely most of the other people who were on Twitter weren’t freaks either? Maybe I should be more open minded?
Later that week, I was on the bus after 6 or 7 cocktails and recklessly decided to ask out someone from Twitter. I looked through my list of followers and finally settled on a guy who had flirted with me a little in the past.
“Want to grab a beer sometime?” I DMed him.
“Sure!” he replied.
I arranged to meet him for drinks after work the following Wednesday. Then I texted my friend Keira and said, “I just asked out a guy from Twitter.”
Keira wrote back, “Two words: Mister Burns.”
Mister Burns was a philosophy student I had met a couple of years earlier through RSVP.com and, after seeing his reasonably attractive profile picture, agreed to meet in real life for coffee. But when he showed up on the day, he looked a bit like Gollum and was wearing a matching block coloured tracksuit. He smelled vaguely of urine. “I have to go,” I said, not even bothering to formulate an excuse, then climbed straight back into my car and drove away.
I wasn’t so worried about meeting this Twitter guy though. I’d seen a few photos of him and he looked okay. I was confident about the date, but when Wednesday arrived, I found myself feeling nervous. “What if he’s ugly?” I asked the girls at work. “Or what if he’s fat? Oh my god, what have I done?”
Fortunately, he wasn’t fat. In fact, he was pretty cute. We smashed some beers and had great conversations and I thought, yes, this is going so well, snaps for me.
I agreed to meet him for a coffee the following weekend, and I was genuinely looking forward to it. But in the harsh light of day, he was nowhere near as attractive. In fact, he kind of looked a bit like my brother, which was cause for immediate disqualification. It was too late to back out though, so I sat down, ordered a coffee and began mentally scraping together a list of possible excuses to leave early. He seemed nervous in a sober setting and spoke at great length about his cats.
This date was very borderline: bad enough that I knew I wouldn’t see him again, but not quite bad enough to leave after only half an hour. But then he solved my dilemma by shifting the balance.
We were discussing his vegetarianism, and I inquired about his iron levels. “Do you get sick a lot?” I asked. “I went off red meat for a while last year and just seemed to come down with cold after cold.”
“Well it’s different for women,” he said, “As they have a tendency to….you know…”
Here he made a violent flowing gesture with both hands and whispered, “Bleed.”
I picked up my bag and left him with the bill.
After I ignored him for a few days, he messaged me.
Him: “Was that initial drink supposed to be a date or a networking thing?”
Me: “A networking thing. Why do you ask?”
Him: “Oh I’m embarrassed… Not that I had assumed one way or the other, but yeah… Shit, I’m an ass.”
Me: “It’s okay, everybody makes mistakes.”
He unfollowed me on Twitter not long after.
Earlier this year I decided to go back to uni to finish my bachelor degree. I’m not sure why. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My first lot of exams was reasonably traumatic. Here is a summary:
Exam #1: Gender, History & Culture
- Wake up late
- Injure eyeball while putting in contact lenses
- Cannot ride bike due to the rain
- Cannot find taxi due to the rain
- Phone a friend and make them drive me
- Accidentally slam my writing hand in the bathroom door
- Arrive 10 minutes after the exam has started with throbbing hand
- Mistake a pair of boobs for a bum and write half an essay on dual gendered identities before realising what was actually in the photo and having to rewrite the whole thing.
Exam score: 83
Overall grade: Credit
Exam #2: Australian Studies: Images of Australia
- Arrive on time to realise exam is open book and I did not bring my books
- Decide to go home and get books, sacrificing valuable writing time
- Run up the hill of death in Ultimo, through the pissing rain, trying to find a cab in morning peak hour
- Am too unfit and have to stop to rest while precious minutes tick away
- Stand in the rain for 10 minutes trying to find a taxi
- Find taxi
- Lose it to some lady in a power suit
- Find taxi
- Drive all the way home, get books, drive back to the exam venue
- Hand over $40 in taxi fares
- Sit exam, which started 20 minutes earlier
- Hate life.
Exam score: 80
Overall grade: Distinction
I ended up withdrawing from the following study period two days after the census date, forfeiting roughly $1,400 in HECS but not really caring.
When my mum gets back from Turkey, she will read this and be disappointed in me.
By far, the worst job I ever had was during the summer when I was twenty-one. I’d returned from South Africa early after a failed attempt at voluntary work (I like money) and couldn’t resume my old job for another 4-5 months because there wasn’t yet any work for me to do there. For the first time in seven years, I was unemployed.
I played nintendo for a few weeks, drank a lot of beer, and sunbaked all day in my parents’ backyard before my mother told me I should think about contributing to society.
“I’m an organ donor,” I reminded her.
“No, I mean you should get a job,” Mum said. “Pay some taxes.”
“You don’t,” I argued.
“Not according to your father’s accountant.”
“Fine, I’ll get a job.”
And after a few interviews with recruiters, I eventually landed a temp-to-perm position doing accounts payable in North Sydney….for a funeral home.
“Is the nature of the business going to be a problem for you?” I was asked during the interview.
“Bills is bills,” I said nonchalantly. “Besides, I like the quiet.”
However, unlike an episode of Six Feet Under, this job proved to be less fascinating than you might think. I was primarily trained by a balding middle-aged man who smelled funny and breathed heavily, which meant I could never have any sort of meaningful professional relationship with him. The hours were 7:30am to 4:30pm, which meant I had to drive in because the buses didn’t start until 8am. And so, every day, I parked my car illegally, and every second day, I got a parking ticket. The residents in North Sydney were clearly sick of the parking situation, because they often abused me. One morning, a lady drove out of her driveway, then told me I had parked too close to it.
“You just drove out of it,” I pointed out.
“I hope you get a ticket!” she said.
“Fuck you!” she said and drove off.
At work, I spent my days coding and entering invoices for flowers, catering, burial plots and children’s coffins. I could tell you how much it cost to cremate an adult, an adolescent or a baby; what flowers were most popular; and which funeral celebrants were well-respected. I spent all day looking at names of dead people, and every time I saw a surname I recognised, I had to stop and google them to make sure they weren’t related to somebody I knew.
My co-workers were mostly Asian mothers. Our boss was Cruella de Vil. On my first day, she showed me the depressingly small kitchen. I opened the fridge and noted a complete absence of alcohol.
“You can have a biscuit from the jar, if you like,” she offered. “It’s free.”
“Sure,” I said, knowing that I would eat as many biscuits as possible to compensate myself for working in such a soul-sucking hell hole.
I spent every lunch break chain-smoking in a park around the corner, calling everyone I’d ever met and asking them if they knew of any jobs going. Eventually I found a temporary position doing admin at a friend’s office. I went over for an interview and drank a beer with the CEO, who was wearing board shorts and thongs. We chatted casually for fifteen minutes and he asked me when I could start.
The next day, I quit the funeral home.
“This is awfully short notice,” Cruella protested, “I have no idea how we’ll cope with the workload.”
“Oh I didn’t really do much,” I said, comfortingly.
“This puts us in an awkward position,” she continued.
“Who cares,” I replied. “All your clients are already dead.”
I never got offered anymore work through that particular recruitment agency and I haven’t been to North Sydney since.
Buckley was born in Indiana in 1962 and had eleven children to his highschool sweetheart, Regina.
Regina began to lose her sight in the early nineties and required an expensive operation to repair the damage to her eyes.
Through a commercial radio competition, Buckley won the May Day ‘Grab as Much Cash as You Can in 8 Minutes!’ contest, but he had no arms and Regina went blind.
Sometimes when you live in the Hills, you get gold in your letterbox. This arrived yesterday and I read it from cover to cover.
I’m not sure why, but I really want to know how much rice was given to these asylum seekers to pose for the photos.
Their passion is palpable.
Actually, this whole concept doesn’t even make fucking sense. The last time our household dealt hard, we were arrested and the police confiscated all our pot.
Sadly, this edition of the Hills Negotiator didn’t include a coupon for Jessica Mauboy’s new album. I have high hopes for issue #19 though.
When I was in year nine, every weekend I told my parents, “I’m staying at <insert friend’s name>’s house tonight.” Then I got drunk in a park and passed out on somebody’s couch or in the backseat of a nearby car.
One week I made the error of including a movie in my lie. “Bye, Mum,” I said, walking out the door, “I’m going to see Panic Room with my bible study group.”
Then I went to a school friend’s boyfriend’s share house, smoked bongs with a bunch of uni students, and built a tower out of empty UDL cans.
When I got home, my parents asked me if I’d enjoyed the movie.
“It was okay,” I said, not wanting to rave about it too much in case they decided to see it. And then, on a roll, I proceeded to fabricate an entire synopsis of the film. My rationale behind this was that if I told my parents everything that happened in the movie, they wouldn’t bother going to see it. I hadn’t even seen the preview prior to this, so my account of the movie was inspired by the title alone and was about as accurate as a James Frey novel. I gave extensive descriptions of the characters and made sure to detail all the plot developments, and then I re-enacted several scenes, using a set of Babushka dolls my aunt had given us for Christmas.
“I heard there’s a big twist at the end,” my mother said, “What’s the twist?”
“Jodie Foster is a robot,” I answered confidently.
“Well, that sounds like quite a film,” my dad said when I had finished. “And if you didn’t smell like a grow house, I would probably believe you.”
“Am I grounded?” I asked, leaning against a book shelf to steady myself.
“No, that was entertaining enough to redeem you this time,” Dad said, “But if you come home this stoned ever again, I will enrol you in aqua aerobics classes with your mother.”
I was sitting at my desk last Tuesday when I heard a crash and screaming. I jumped up and ran to the window, assuming one of the junkies that hang around Town Hall had lost their shit. Downstairs, outside McDonald’s on Park Street in Sydney’s CBD, a cab was half-sitting on the curb and a woman lay writhing on the ground, shouting incoherently.
“Fuck!” I said articulately and my co-worker ran to the window.
“There’s a cab up on the curb and a woman is screaming!” I explained.
“Hmm” my co-worker said and returned to his desk.
I stayed at the window and watched as the taxi driver got out of his car and walked awkwardly towards the woman he had just run over. I should go to her, I thought, I should help her. She needs me. But I was afraid of missing some of the action from my window seat. Besides, a group of people instantly flocked to the woman’s aid and whipped out their mobile phones. They cast hostile glances towards the taxi driver. Look what you’ve done, you arsehole, their eyes said. I was annoyed when enough people surrounded the lady as to partially obscure her from my vision, but I was glad that she had help. She had stopped screaming and was sitting on the ground, talking to those around her. The taxi driver moved his cab off the curb and leaned against a telegraph pole with his arms folded. There were at least ten people sitting with the lady, taking care of her. There was nothing for me to do. Except watch.
I ran to the fridge and grabbed my lunch, then dragged my chair over to the window and continued watching while I ate. An ambulance arrived a few minutes later and one of the paramedics attended to the lady. She used wild hand gestures to explain how the taxi had run over her. The taxi driver still stood with his arms folded. I began to feel jealous. This woman had just been through a traumatic and potentially life-threatening experience, but she seemed to be physically fine. Maybe a broken leg or something, but nothing too serious. And yet she was about to become a millionaire. A taxi driver who runs up the curb is going to get his pants sued off. Better, his company would have way more money than he would. And his company’s insurance company would have even MORE money. Money that would soon belong to the lady.
I had to take a phone call, then when I went back to the window, the ambulance and the run-over lady were gone, but the police had arrived and were taking statements from four of the witnesses. That should be me, I thought, I would have given a better statement than any of those jokers.
“Linda was really special,” I would have told the police, “I saw her give $5 to a homeless man right before it happened. Did you know she was a ballet dancer? Yeah, well, there goes that.”
Then I would go to the hospital to see Linda. I would explain how I had given such a great statement. A statement that would probably be used in court while determining the amount of compensation awarded to her. Linda would owe me.
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.
- 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.
A few years ago I was lonely, bored, depressed and rarely left my bedroom. After too many white wines one night, I created a profile for myself on RSVP and sat back to watch my inbox fill with eligible young bachelors. One guy in particular sparked my interest. Let’s call him Gavin, because that was his name, and still is his name, assuming he hasn’t died.
Gavin and I exchanged a few emails and chatted on MSN. He was smart and funny, and looked cute in his profile picture.
I asked Gavin if he wanted to meet up for coffee. (Like I said – I was extremely single at this point in my life.) He agreed, but said I’d have to meet him in Penrith because that’s where he lived and he didn’t drive.
Alarm bells began to ring softly in my head, but I ignored them. Unlike today when a single spelling mistake can disqualify somebody, back then I was a lot more tolerant. I liked to think that I would never judge a person based on where they lived.
And so I made the long drive out west, found the shopping centre Gavin had nominated, and located the coffee shop he wished to meet at. It was closed, so I sat outside on a bench and watched the local ageing men walk past. Suddenly one of them stopped in front of me and asked, “Annik?”
I considered denying my identity, but I’d already hesitated too long and confirmed it. Gavin bore an uncanny resemblance to Mr Burns from The Simpsons. He was completely bald, hunched over, and had rotting teeth. He smelled like cheap cologne and was wearing a block-colour charcoal track suit. He embodied every physical Penrith cliche.
“The coffee shop’s closed,” I stammered.
“That’s okay, we can just go for a walk,” he replied.
We strolled slowly to the side of the carpark as he babbled awkwardly about a holiday he once took, I can’t even remember where, because my brain was busy going “JESUS FUCK I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE.”
As we approached the road, I turned to Gavin and said, “You know what? I have to go.”
Then I walked over to my car and drove home.
When I got there, I had a text on my phone from Gavin saying, “Sorry if that was disappointing.”
I didn’t write back. I blocked him on MSN and changed my email address. I removed my profile from RSVP and showered thoroughly. Then I burst into tears.
Never before had I felt so incredibly shallow. I’d enjoyed conversing with somebody and exchanging stories, then as soon as I knew what they really looked like, I wanted nothing to do with them. I was a bitch and I was going to hell.
Later that night, I related my online-dating experience to a friend’s mother.
“Am I totally horrible?” I asked her when I had finished.
“God, no,” she replied, “You can’t fuck an ugly person.”