Furious Eye

Month: August, 2012

Lovely Biscuits

He’s that guy on the news, in the artist’s sketches, the one staring blankly into the near distance while before him the judge in her powdered wig makes a vain attempt at the imposition of order, at quieting the cacophonic courtroom; the bloke, could you see him in the flesh, whose clean-shaven lip, where once dwelt a well-cultivated, greying moustache, would betray not a hint of emotion as the photographs are exhumed, Exhibit A, dug up from the depths of the evidence stacked against him, the shots of the thirteen (presumably once) virginal boys that were until recently buried in his back yard.

He’s the guy the neighbours, the fucking suburban clichés, said was such a nice man, a little quiet, and his wife hardly spoke, until the cancer, and then she fell to silence completely, but didn’t she bake lovely biscuits, and charitable too, and their kids are normal, well-off, and all the rest, and on it goes, as everyone sits around and tries to make sense of it in their unimaginative little suburban universe, in their inability to understand one another, in their inability to understand themselves.

But not you. No. You look at his face, staring, his lips occasionally forming the ghost of a cheerful, tuneless whistle, and you know exactly what it sounds like. You used to work with the guy. You can still hear that mindless fucking warble, mixed with the endless whir of the photocopier, the open-jawed chomping on his afternoon milk-arrowroot biscuits, the mouth-breathing as he meticulously checks every item on a list his checked every day for thirty three years. The sound of a photocopier still makes you weep.

And none of this surprises you in the fucking slightest. You used to (half) joke, and shake your head as he wondered out loud when his kids were coming back from Europe, or China, or wherever the fuck they’d run to this time. You used to tell people you were sure he had boys in his backyard, thirteen even, virgins… until the time of their disappearance.

It all started with the paper, with the decreasingly passive aggression, with the fucking photocopier. If you think back on it, you’re perhaps surprised it was boys. It could just have easily been trees. He might have, if his love of printing, re-printing, copying, and wasting unfathomable reams of paper was anything to go by, had a fucking pulp mill in his backyard; a swath of tree stumps and a few miserable, curious, currawongs, wondering where the fuck their perches went, but sticking around in case the crows came back, and they’d get a chance to bully them. The crows, meanwhile, having taken up residence down the back fence, wondered when Mr Moustache, the Supervisor – by virtue of his length of service, and nothing to do with his fucking intellect – was going to dig up all those bloody stumps and get around to burying the little boys that were in the shed – it wasn’t the trees after all – and maybe the crows’d get a chance for a feed. Nothing like a bare, diminutive bum-cheek to peck at after all.

You wonder if he was as careful in his selection of the boys as he was with everything else, as he was with that fucking microwave oven he bought, printing out the spec-sheets for thirty-two of the bloody things, from thirteen different retailers. Something about that fucking thirteen. You wonder if he was a religious man. He never said so, but there was that whistle, as unmelodic as a hymn, and his habit of just doing what he was told, and his seeming inability to fucking think for himself.

You asked him once why, for every single transaction that went through the office, the same checklist got printed, filed, and then printed again – you know, thinking that perhaps you might print just the one, stick it to the wall, and use it at least twice before another hillside in Tasmania got pulped. He said “because that’s the way it’s always been done.”

You imagine a hungry, dirty, beaten and recently buggered little boy, looking up at him in the darkness beneath the floor boards of the back shed, and asking why he was doing this. And he responds “because this is the way it’s always been done.”

You’re cool, and…

By the end of the day, every exaggerated sigh from the next desk is a wave of rage crashing on the shore of my resolve, rapidly sweeping the dunes of my attempt to remain even-headed away to nothing. Had I remained a single minute longer, I am sure I’d have let loose such a tide of abuse that could only have ended in one of two ways:

1) with my summary dismissal, or

2) with me getting my head beaten in by a colleague whose bulk is matched only by his lack of subtlety in fobbing work off onto everyone else… wait… I lie… his size is very much equalled by the volume (in more than one sense) of his sighing.

Now ordinarily I manage to remain more amused than aggravated by his oft repeated lamentations. So much so, in fact, that for my own entertainment, I keep a daily tally of his exhalations of dissatisfaction.

Like giving someone a run-down of the amount of property they would now be in possession of if they’d saved their thirty seven years worth of dollaroos instead of planning for their retirement by buying fucking lottery tickets, as a leaving present (as in, when I leave) I’m planning on giving the bastard a little framed poster that says:

Just think,

you could have spent 1460 hours

in a job you actually like,

if you’d gone out and got one,

instead of sitting on your arse

and sighing about how much

you fucking hate this one.

Either that, or I’m going to walk into the office with a megaphone and make my way around each member of staff saying fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, and fuck you!

Twin Cities

Like the infamous and dire coupling of Danny DeVito and The Governator, one of a pair of twins always seems to suffer by comparison with the other—though for posterity’s sake I would like to register my preference for the little guy in that particular example. But the argument, nevertheless, holds up… I think.

Now, Esau was a stand-up guy, but Jacob a deceitful little fuck; He-Man was a walnut-stuffed condom of awesomeness, She-Ra a blatant and unsuccessful attempt to get girls to buy Mattel products1; Tweed Heads is South of the border, Coolangatta in Queensland; and Fremantle’s all brew-pubs, artists and hippies, where Perth is … well … Perth. See what I’m getting at?

And then there’s Eugene and Springfield. The Springfield.

While Perth and Fremantle are separated by a (nearly) subtle, yet discernible, ideological difference—characterised by fisherman’s pants, beards and IPAs on the one hand, and expensive suits, police presence and Emu Bitter on the other—the gulf betwixt Eugene and Springfield is more akin to that between a 1990 Grange Hermitage2 and a 40oz of malt liquor. Anyway, regardless of Groening’s claim to the contrary, I know that Springfield, Oregon is that Springfield. As I said, I’ve been there.

Thankfully the Willamette River separates the place from Eugene—though it’s a shame it’s just a river, and not a sixty-foot wall, topped with broken glass, barbed wire and snipers. Springfield is the dark twin, the ageing shopping mall, wife-beater who sits at home all day in his underwear drinking beer and eating potato-chip crumbs and ketchup from his belly button.

The moment you cross the bridge from Eugene, it’s clear you’ve entered a new world … Or an old one … Either way it’s a god-forsaken (though, typically, not God-forsaken) place. Gone are the bicycles, the sock/sandal combinations and the mandolins – even the banjos are noticeably scarce, robbing the place of some of the charm of its easterly compatriots. Gone are the “alternative” thinkers (and dare I say it, the thinkers), the viticulture and the proclivity for bartering – which as a general rule involves the swapping of handicrafts and edible delights baked with the assistance of illegal vegetable matter, or, for the less dough-inclined, just handfuls of said vegetable matter.

Founded some twenty-odd years after Eugene – which in the life-cycle of a city, is the equivalent of being squeezed out of the womb three and a half minutes after your twin – Springfield is the brother3 forever living in the shadow of his slightly elder sibling, both eager to be close, and striving to be different from, the talented, beautiful other child, ashamed of his slightly oversized, misshapen head, and endlessly smarting from the sting of scorn heaped upon him by the others’ adoring friends.

Still, Springfield has managed to carve a niche for itself as a major supplier of its siblings’ prodigious appetite for dope, and the home of shopping malls and one-dollar cinemas, to which attractions, Eugeneans guiltily slink across the river, later returning under cover of darkness, and pretending they watched, instead, some low-budget Canne fare at the arthouse cinema – without, of course, feeding that venue’s resident cat that’s the size of a small truck, because, being the enlightened folk that they are, they refuse to pander to the rampant consumer culture that plagues the cultural wasteland across the river.

1 – And here Mattel’s androcentrism is cleary displayed in the gross failure to understand that simply giving a well-loved male character hips and a pair of anatomical uncertainties that one can only assume are meant to be breasts, does not a sensation among the young ladies make. And let’s not even begin to examine their assumption that any diminutive owner of a vagina will love this bastion of feminine strength because, instead of having as a companion a green tiger with a saddle! (which, let’s be honest, even little girls acknowledge is cool as fuck), she rides a (ho-hum) Unicorn, clad in pink barding. Really? Pink armour? Hello, McFly, unlike grown men, not all little girls are in love with pink, for fuck’s sake.

2 – Yes, yes, I know that’s about when they dropped the Hermitage, so technically it would be a 1990 Grange, but at $36,000 a case, you can call it whatever the fuck you like.

3 – I am not unsympathetic to the gross prevalence of the use of the masculine, particularly when it comes to pronouns, paying no mind to the fact that we don’t all have a cock – or for that matter consider ourselves male even if we do – but in this case I think it’s a fitting eschewal of the feminine comparison. So, it is both intentional, and meant with the utmost respect.

Even a Scrap of Bog-roll.

I

‘ve been a little … absent of late … yeah … that’s it … or, at least, that’s what I’m calling the extended period of consumption I’ve been engaged in for the last … er … I can’t quite remember. Weeks. At least.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of: Consumption? He means booze. How’s that any fucking different to usual? Fair call. But given that I’m getting on a bit – akin, as I like to think of it, to a nice ripe camembert that’s been out of the fridge for a while, all soft, and sagging about the middle, yet somehow all the better for it – and my metabolism is like that of a three-toed sloth, I usually make an effort to rein in my bibulation … slightly … well, alright, I don’t … but I do try to confine it to the less yeasty varieties. But recently? Oh no. The past couple of months it’s been all about the brewery … and maybe the biscuits … and the butter. Indeed my tippling has become a bout full blown gluttony. And I have, in turn, become somewhat more expansive, slug-like even, a regular Jabba-The-Fucking-Hut. In keeping with my engorged state of being, everything has slowed to a crawl … you can probably even see everywhere I’ve been by the trail of slime I’ve left.
Yes yes, I have a talent for exaggeration.
But really, the last couple of months have been enormously apathetic. There’s been minimal exercise, very little reading beyond trawling endless, irrelevant tech blogs, micro-blogs (alright, Twatters), and the late-night, intoxicated musings of the luminaries of the writing world. There sure as fuck hasn’t been any actual writing. It’s probably appropriate, then, that this stretch of indolence has reached its climax. Even more fitting, perhaps, that said ejaculatory peak is characterised by the receipt of a rejection letter…
It may be the result of my well-developed sluggish state of being, but I am (disturbingly?) unconcerned by this development. I’m well aware of the worn path that most, even all, writers wear from the toilet to the letter box, as they oscillate between shitting themselves over submissions and collecting their missives of dismissal. So, I’m quite comfortable with the likelihood that mine is but the first of at least quite a few.
I’ve always said I’d frame my first rejection letter, and while this one isn’t technically my first, the only other one I’ve received – apart from the crushing primary school brush-offs that were passed from the girl to her friend to my friend to me, in response to me asking my friend to ask her friend to ask her out on my behalf – was from a last-minute submission to the UTS Writers Anthology, which, though well enough respected, is made by students for students, and that particular year was edited (in part) by a young lady [and I use the term in its loosest possible sense I assure you] whose dislike of me was proportional to mine of her, so that letter doesn’t count. Besides, I submitted poetry – at the time having nothing else complete – and my skill and grace as a poet is in direct (inverse) proportion to the significant (and aggravating) poetical prowess of the afore mentioned editorial skank.
Anyway, my letter-mounting plans were foiled by digitisation. I didn’t actually receive a letter, it was a fucking email. No calligraphic let-down for me, no. Efficiency, I’m afraid, has leeched all class from the process of telling someone to piss off and peddle their shit elsewhere. I really don’t think it’s asking much. I mean I know my rejectionist had fifteen-hundred-odd submissions to wade through, but the least you could have done was posted me a scrap of bog-roll with a hastily scrawled fuck off! on it; anything that I could tack up on the wall over my desk to remind me to get my fucking back up and prove him the fool for passing up the chance to “discover” an impending literary behemoth…
Or something…