Buttons, Beaches and Ham
I've been off-line for a fortnight which is the Hundred Year War-duration in blogging terms yet strangely enough I didn't miss it.
Sometimes my fingers absent-mindedly typed out something on Mum's Christmas tablecloth but Dad's computer - newly available in broadband - wasn't tempting me.
It must Location blended with varying amounts of Hard Work and Self-Designated Break Times that lure me back. We'd arrived home in Flemington last night and it was only after hanging out two loads of washing, doing a workout and weeding the front and back gardens that I found myself back in the study. Officially it was to find the Christmas decorations box to start de-bauble-ing the house but somehow the monitor switched itself on and I was instantly hooked.
It got me thinking, however. Not about the things that most people enjoy (such as blogging or reading blogs, or you wouldn't be here; or chocolate, sleep-ins and hugs) but things that everyone else seems to like except me.
Such as buttons. Like circus clowns and Nicolas Cage, they've always given me the creeps.
I honestly don't know why, but my earliest memories are of intensely disliking any knitted jumper (or cardigan) that featured buttons and avoiding them where possible ever since. Yes I have button jeans and shirts and jackets but they're always very discreet and never ever the feature of the garment.
This is a dislike I've kept a secret and barely acknowledged myself but it rose up again like a burp with bile in it when my mother dragged out a plastic crate full of the infernal items. She was sorting through them to sell for her local gigantic garage sale fundraiser, putting pairs, fours and sixes onto white cards as sets. A worthy intention yet I could barely make eye contact with her or finish a conversation when the card table in the good room was covered in buttons. The maddeningly torturous click-click-click of them as they touched each other meant that it was time to head out for a walk so that the sight, sound and idea of them were far away.
Even including this photograph makes me feel a bit squeamish. Buttons scream 'Cardigan' as well as 'Old Fashioned', 'Cranky Nanna', 'Nerdy' and 'U-u-u-u-u-ugly'. There's no fairness in these reactions, but they're how I do respond when buttons enter my psyche (which isn't very often).
Driving, on the other hand, is a necessary evil. Life in Flemington usually means that I can walk or tram my way to the city and back and the 'ol magna only gets a trot when it's time for the weekly grocery shop or to see friends who selfishly live outside our postcode. Then I can grit my teeth, stay extra alert and keep my hands at ten-to-two on the wheel.
Having family in South Australia means that the Big Drive occurs at Christmas and usually one other time throughout the year. 650 km of boredom, ceaseless engine noise and arse-sweating onto greasy old pie and pasty crumbs does not a relaxing day out make. Admittedly Love Chunks drives most of it only requiring me to drive the middle third when he needs a wee, a read of the paper and to fiddle about trying to find the best local ABC to hear the cricket.
As he relaxes I feel my neck and jaw tighten as I nervously flick my eyes from side to rear-vision mirrors, wondering if the tailgating Toyota Landcruiser behind me will just get it over with already and pass or if the meandering Mazda in front will eventually decide if they want to stick to 70 or 110km for the next hour.
It probably doesn't help that our car - now looking like a toothless old lady with a back hubcap missing - contains a dog, a rabbit, heaps of presents, several suitcases, three human beings and is decorated on the outside by ten thousand fluttering dead and dying locusts.
If truth be told, I'd be happy to live a well-off Manhattan lifestyle of 'Taxi....!' if money and location permitted.
Driving often involves arriving at a beachy destination. Beaches and me rarely gel unless near-drowning, blistery sunburn and a sand-filled crotch are considered positives. Swimming isn't any better: once I've waded in and got over the shock of the water hitting my girly parts first and then my boobs second I somehow scrape my pathetically-soft feet on the rocks, have sea weed wrap itself suggestively and determinedly around my waist and blink away salty tears of agony when I dip my head in and get my eyes wet. And that's all before I scream, "Something just touched my leg!" and thrash the water to white foam in my haste to get the hell out.
Sitting out is worse. Unless I bring a tent thingy, there's no shade anywhere and a rashie, wide-brimmed hat and Factor 30 merely slows the inevitable roasting of my fluorescent skin to a barely discernible sizzle. When the afternoon breeze springs up it enables the sand to coat my Anti-Cancer Council-coated extremities but not before scouring them raw. Woe betide if I forget to shake out my towel before wiping my face on it......
Here's my older brother Rob being a ham whilst carving the ham on Christmas Day. Like fully-intact prawns, boiled pumpkin and pate, I can not stand ham. Flaccid, pink, salty - not unlike myself after a 'fun' day at the beach.
Everyone else at the Christmas Day table - and for the rest of the week - goes nuts for the stuff, somehow finding room to cram it onto their plates next to Dad's weber-roasted chicken (that's worth a plate load all on its own), turkey roll, fresh prawns (de-headed and no poo pipes), gravy and vegetables. Why? Who wants a clammy slab of raw-looking jelly rubber on the nicest day of the year...? I know I know - you all do.
Staying at my parents meant that I didn't have access to the Age newspaper and couldn't fathom why the Adelaide Advertiser has to feature a colour photograph of every single reporter for every single story (here's Eliza Northington, Lifestyle Reporter. Lifestyle reporter? Do we really need to know what she looks like?) and would therefore watch the ABC news if I remembered.
It's summer time now, so politicians and spokespeople are outside more and when the great outdoors are involved, so are the blowflies. One's buzzing around the room as I tap this out and will be allowed to live in peace but if it dares lands on my face then my hands are a blurred frenzy of distracted dance moves and waving until it buggers off again.
To see someone speak to the camera with a fly crawling on their face makes me feel ever so slightly nauseus. When it is idly walking around the tear duct and then wanders, buzz buzz buzzing down towards the edge of the mouth and then up to the nostril I'm sickenly hypnotised..........
Someone told me that it is a big 'no no' to brush away a fly during an interview because it distracts the viewer from the message but I instead sit there in disgust and a tiny bit of agony thinking 'Get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off get it off----- oh thank god we're onto sport now. Wonder what the fly guy was talking about?'