Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day Twenty Seven - Appreciative August


Alright, alright, before any of you start, I know. Opting to write about people as one of my Appreciative August topics is about as vague as 'earth' or 'air' or 'life' but it's so much more than that.

You know how someone will say, "Oh he's a real character" and you'll invariably think, "Hmm, so he's definitely not the full can of Fanta and I should avoid eye contact at all costs," right? Well I'm here to tell you, in today's modern equivalent of you sitting down and me waggling my pointer finger at you, that there are people out there who are genuine characters. Folk to enjoy; to get to know; to appreciate.

This year, as part of my personal quest in the 'Year of Yes', I've also been trying to create opportunities as well as say 'yes' to any that get thrown my way. One of those was to attempt to get the city paper to publish articles on non-celebrities. You know, people who haven't appeared on Big Brother, weren't invited to Bec and Lleyton's wedding and wouldn't know what an IT girl was unless she was good at killing off Trojan viruses. Folk that aren't dating AFL footballers, or own shoe stores at the age of 24 funded by their wealthy parents, or trucked over as 'interstate talent' based on other equally dubious claims to fame.

I wanted to develop a no-name regular column on local South Australians. By 'locals' I mean those who don't already feature in the news. Not the puzzled-but-later-found-to-be-drug-dealing victims of 'unprovoked' home invasions, meth-heads who lead police on 200km car chases along Port Road at 3am, or the owners of back yard amphetamine laboratories destined to shove a Today Tonight cameraman into the gutter. I mean the friendly bloke who runs the coffee shop; the old lady with the zimmer frame and wicked laugh or the taxi driver who only takes his beloved Bentley out for a spin in the middle of the day when the rush hour has ended.

So far, I've managed to persuade about twenty South Australians aged from 20 to 85 (with perhaps a seventeen year old and a ninety-five year old to extend the range when they finish considering my request for an interview), to answer the same set of questions. The questions are:
  • Name / Age / Suburb or town / Job
  • The best time I ever had that didn't cost a cent was ....
  • The worst job I ever had was ...
  • You know what irritates me?
  • If my partner was the forgive-and-forget type, I'd love to spend the night with .... because .....
  • The last time I laughed was ...
  • If I could invent anything it would be ...
  • ___ deserves a kick in the backside because ....
  • ___ deserves a pat on the back because ....
  • The one thing I've learned is ...
  • My favourite spot in South Australia is ....

I'm a firm believer that everyone has a story and has something interesting to tell. They may not necessarily believe it, but the above questions, whilst seeming annoyingly cliched and generic, have allowed me to participate in some of the most touching, hilarious and fascinating discussions I've ever had.

There's too much to reveal here, but I'll share some of the answers to the 'If my partner was the forgive and forget type, I'd spend the night with....' question. These reveal only a tiny glimpse of the fun I've had in gaining them:

"Forget having sex with someone else, unless it's Diana Krall for her musical talent and visual appeal. I'd rather have an evening with Johanne Sebastian Bach to hear him play and find out how his brilliant mind worked." (Dan, 46, music teacher and sustainable farmer)

"My wife, no question. I'd hang out with her any time (pause). Although, if I must, I'd say Catriona Rowntree (pause) but only because she enunciates well." (Roc, 47, actor)

"I'm not the forgive and forget type but I'd bend the rules for Johnny Depp. He's a bit of everything, so imagine what he could do...." (Salome, 30, receptionist)

"On looks and strength alone, Andrew McLeod." (Melissa, 26, shop owner). I wonder if my own beloved partner, Love Chunks, would answer the same, but haven't yet asked him.

"Well, obviously Brad Pitt, but then I'd shove him out the door and invite Tim Flannery in for a chat." (Ian, 43, public servant)

"Delta Goodrem, she's hot. I can do without the singing though." (Shane, 30, houseboat operator)

"Daniel Day-Lewis. In any of his weird method acting phases. All the way from Last of the Mohicans to My Left Foot." (Bernadette, 41, Cappuccino Queen)

"My girlfriend I had just before World War II started. (Laughs) Not necessarily for anything naughty, but just to see how everything turned out for her." (Jack, 85, retired mariner)

"Jillian Michaels, the personal trainer from the US Biggest Loser, but I'd like to train with her for the day first. Then Angelina Jolie - I reckon even my wife would let me have that one." (Damien, 34, engineer)

"ALL of my ex-boyfriends - if only to apologise for treating them so badly." (Pauline, 67, retired)

Some of the stories that have been discussed around the questions have been inspirational and extended what I promised was only going to take ten minutes of their time into a fun couple of hours instead over more coffee and even more chocolate. Tidbits have been revealed such as having to fish out dead bodies from the ocean during the war; having a dog become addicted to picking passionfruit off the vine and eating it; noting that a shelf-stacker at Foodland had farted and quipping, "Clean up in Aisle Nine"; being the secretive 'neighborhood ninja' with a slug gun ready to knock off annoying pigeons who crap on washing lines; beating cancer twice before the age of 24; admiring Rove McManus for insisting that tomato sauce be provided at cafes for free......

Sadly, the paper doesn't seem to be interested. I am though, and always will be. of my new best friends, Thomas Schnitzler, the Australian Maitre-Chocolatier for Lindt. He invited me to some Lindt cooking demos, gave me the only Aussie copy of the official Lindt chocolate cookbook and let me kiss him. And yes, he smells like a Lindt ball!


franzy said...

If I were Love Chunks, I would quietly slip down to this Lindt ball feller and gently bang his chocolate-scented head against the glass cabinet a few times, just to remind him where the pecking order stands. Tales of teaching, smooching, chocolate cookery! Oh yes, it'd would be all friends and smiles and innocent questions and 'Can I see the boiling pot of chocolate?' and then ... Love Chunks becomes Love Chops!
"We're just friends with Kath, aren't we?"
"Yes! Yes!"
"We're going to keep the complimentary chocolates up and the lingering gazes down, aren't we?"
"Yes! My God! YEESS!"
"That, or we're going to be experiencing Love Chunks' patented chocolate Brazilian, aren't we?"
"I'm glad we had this talk. Now, where's that kilo of assorted truffles you will be delivering on the first day of every month?"

Anonymous said...

Don't let all that material go to waste - why not start a website or blog devoted to the characters you've found (and those you've yet to meet)


lc said...

Fidelity or free chocolate?

She shares the chocolate. Why should I be so niggardly.

Kath Lockett said...

Aw Franzy, your response made me chuckle hard enough to wake up the dog - this could be an article for your blog :) Actually, Love Chunks *did* honestly and truly say to me (tongue firmly in cheek however) before he left for work this morning, "Now you're not doing him any favours for those Lindt balls are you?"

Thanks BS - unfortunate initials by the way.

That's right, lc. I share. Sometimes. When I have to.

jan said...

I don't and never will understand the interest in vapid celebrities. I'm sure others are interested in real people and real stories.

The Prince of Centraxis said...

not much point avoiding eye contact with the blind. my mother always said it takes all kinds to make a world

River said...

Pondering that list of questions and wondering what the heck my answers could be. Nothing immediately comes to mind. How can a few questions be so hard?

Baino said...

I think your questions are insightful and may form the basis for a future meme (never really understood that word) Kath, you have the opportunity to talk about these people on radio . .go for it . .life is full of colour and the most ordinary expose the most extraordinary secrets. I remember a show on SBS called Vox Populi where ordinary people were hijacked in the street and the stories were amazing, sad, wonderful, entertaining. . .there is a place for the most ordinary of us to tell their extraordinary tales (PS: Love chunks has nice legs!)

franzy said...

Actually, LC, this was kind of a veiled hint for a way to get you more chocolate ... whether by initial threat to Lindt Ball Man or by a display of manliness to Kath. Whatever man.

gigglewick said...

my job involves talking to lots of "real" people too.

It's very easy, I find, to get excited about the fascinating lives of "everyday" people.

although having said that, there are things that celebrities occasionally do that i find quite diverting (taking time off from being glamorous to go to uni, for example, is an interesting idea.

Click A Life Coach said...

MMMhhh, what a friend to have the master of Lindt chocolate. I am jealous!