Tag Archives: humor based non-fiction essays

Traversing the Tinderverse

16 Aug

The Tinderverse is a bewildering flotsam of social media space junk. The lost and the lewd, the peculiar and the promiscuous- they all hover uncertainly amidst Internet acronyms, unselfconsciously meta profiles, and enthusiastic emoticons. In my mind, Tinder embodies the Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars: a quagmire of freaks, all killing time in between misadventures, all disappointed that they can’t play with their droids, and all waiting for the chance to unholster their weapon.

He’s 5km away from me and has a gun. Shit.

And I’m in the middle of it all. Looking for a young Harrison Ford. And just trying to get to fucking Alderaan. 

Bam-chicka-wow-wow: Storm Trooper porn


Hold on…Alderaan explodes, doesn’t it? 

Well that doesn’t work as a reference. 

I mean, I’ll never make it there. 

And I’m three decades too late to find a young Harrison Ford. Young Mr. Ford doesn’t exist anymore. Not even in the post-apocalyptic Tinderverse.

Wow. That just makes that whole metaphor kind of…depressing. 

And meta as fuck!

This is apparently two images of the same man. And that, my friends, is a failed Jedi mind trick.

Anyway, every now and then, your weirdness meshes serendipitously with the weirdness of another, and you find yourself on an actual date.

The Muso was a horrifically cute fellow that I went out with a few times last year. He was the main songwriter in an unsigned prog-metal band​. I matched with him and, feeling frisky, decided to break conventions by sending the first message: “Is the state of Sydney’s live music scene so calamitous that a musician has to find women on Tinder?! Don’t girls just peg their underpants at you as you walk down the street?” 

Apparently, being nerdy enough to use the word ‘calamitous’ as an online mating call endears you to some people and, impressed by the size of my dictionary, he invited me to beers at an achingly hip pub in Bondi.

Our first date ended with a warm smile and a chaste hug. And it was refreshing. Old-fashioned. Other-worldly, even. The force was strong in this one.

He messaged the next day to say that he’d had a nice time and would love to see me again.

How nice, I found myself thinking, to be in the company of a dude who didn’t make his desire to wrench my legs asunder the focal point of our time together. It’s refreshing. Old fashioned. Other-worldly, even.

And the second date? Well, it started with a beer and it ended with the phrase, “I’m seeing a psychologist because they think I’m somewhere on the autism spectrum. You’ve heard of Asperger’s, haven’t you?”

Ah. So I was wrong- the cute musician boy wasn’t not making a move because he was a gentleman. He was not making one because he couldn’t pick up on my ‘I am amenable to the concept of being kissed by you’ social cues.

Fuck.

Nothing’s easy, is it?

His announcement should have signalled that he wasn’t the droid I was looking for, but I didn’t want to be judgemental, especially since he a) played lead guitar and b) continued with, “Being a nurse I figured you wouldn’t run away. Thank you for not running away.”

Heartbreaking, no?

And there might have also been c) he had a pierced tongue.

But I’m not admitting to anything there.

And I figured that the words “autism spectrum” were more palatable than “casual heroin habit” or “I only killed animals as a child”, so I agreed to a third date.

It was on New Year’s Eve. We were going to have a socially isolated quiet evening at his house. He was stoned when I arrived. I was unimpressed. He misread my facial cues and offered me a joint. I poured myself a glass of wine instead. He began to sermonise that weed is healthier than alcohol. I became irritated. We debated. The exchange became somewhat heated, then he blurted out, “I was an accessory to murder once.”

Wait- what?

An accessory to…what?!

Was this a debate technique? Misdirect your opponent with ejaculatory disclosures? Why was he telling me this? I hadn’t even kissed him yet. And, in the timeline of relationships, should your lips not briefly converge with another’s before you unlock your closet and dump a pile of rotting bones on them?

As I pondered this, his cat jumped on my lap. I began to stroke the beast’s head; noticing for the first time the disquietingly large number of Pop! Vinyl dolls there were in his lounge room. The entire cast of Dr. Who was there- he’d collected the Spectrum out of them. They stood, crowding every surface: an army of esoteric sci-fi characters, mute, but somehow proud in their zanily proportioned, bobble-headed glory. They were all spaced precisely three inches apart. They were all angled to face the lounge we perched on, and they were all

Watching

Us.

I took a swig of wine.

And, under their unyielding, inanimate gaze, the Muso told me his story, giving it the sort of unerring attention to detail that only an Aspie can muster.

The murder happened during a drug deal gone bad, one that took place in a dowdy, inner-west flat. My soft-spoken, seemingly gentle Muso was there with a volatile, steroid-injecting acquaintance. They were visiting an emaciated dealer. To buy an ounce of pot. The PlayStation in the corner was broken. There was a hole in the curtains. And a blue Louisville Slugger softball bat was by the door to the kitchen.

To cut a long, disturbing story short: Steroid smacked Skinny with the bat mid-deal.

Completely out of the blue.

Ha! Geddit? ‘Cos the bat was…?!

Golly I’m clever.

Anyway, Steroid hit him once…twice…a handful of times. Skinny collapsed on the carpet. The Muso started to rise from his seat, buttocks hovering over cheap pine, when Steroid turned, pointed the blood-streaked bat at him, and told him to “wait in the fuckin’ car.”

Unsurprisingly, he obeyed.

“He had the new Slipknot album,” he told me, scratching his knee through his shorts, “so I just listened to that while I waited.”

“What song?” I interjected. “‘Wait and bleed’?”

He frowned. “No. That was on their first album.”

I rolled my eyes. Friggin’ Aspies. “Never mind. Continue.”

When Steroid emerged, the Muso asked him what happened. Steroid stripped off his bloodied shirt, wiped himself with it, threw it in the car, and told Muso to clear it from his fuckin’ mind. 

Muso left Sydney the next day. He boarded a train to Queensland, planning to move back in with his mum. On the way there, in a burst of melodrama, he threw his SIM card out the window.

“So I couldn’t be tracked,” he explained.

I ran a finger over the rim of my wine glass. “Did you call the cops?”

He looked at me like I asked if he’d changed his underwear. “Of course not-”

Of course he hadn’t changed his underwear: Aspie’s don’t like change (!!) 

“-He’d have killed me,” he finished.

I paused. “Did you ring an ambulance?”

“Nup. Too risky.”

At this point, the cat on my lap had begun to feel suffocating. “But you could have anonymously rang one and saved his life. Does that bother you?”

He frowned, genuinely confused. “Why would that bother me? It was none of my business.”

Holy-fucking-hell. He wasn’t ‘somewhere on the spectrum’, he was Aspie as shit. Aspi-er than Susan Boyle.

And funnily enough, that night after I left, ‘I dreamed a dream in time gone by…that I was high…and playing softball…I dreamed the game had gone awry…’

I awoke the next morning to a message from him. He wanted to progress to “a dinner” because he felt that we connected on “many levels”.

Which, in a way, we did: we were both smokers, both socially awkward, and both fans of Karnivool.

The only problem was that pesky ‘accessory to murder’ nonsense.

Because it wasn’t the ‘my sister’s boyfriend used to abuse her, so I gave her a gun to defend herself with’ kind- which, under the right circumstances, I may or may not be able to justify- but the ‘I sat in a car while one man bashed another into a pile of broken bone and brains’ kind.

Which is, generally speaking, the disturbing kind.

I mean, ‘once there was a time when men were kind, their voices soft, their words inviting…’

Sorry. I’ve got ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ stuck in my head now.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to go on another date with him any more than I was going to part his arse cheeks and wear him as a hat.

So I replied to his text with a generic and insincere ‘thanks for the lovely night/ maybe we should just be friends/ best of luck in the future’.

His response came three hours later: “Well FRIEND, I appreciate your honesty. And since you don’t want to date anymore, how about you come and see my band sometime, FRIEND.”

I shivered, He’s really got to work on recognising those social cues.

I threw my SIM card out the car window.

 

 

Trawling Tinder

8 Aug


I’ve never had a good experience on Tinder. And yet, like a woman trapped in a co-dependant union, I keep going back.

Because Tinder is fucking hilarious.

Pockets of humanity lurk on there and trawling Tinder freaks has become a perfectly acceptable way to spend my weekend.

He Gives Good Head

Take this guy:

img_0352

Check out what he’s holding. Doesn’t the image of a man with a decapitated goats head scream, “IT PUTS THE FUCKING LOTION IN THE BASKET!”?

Who’d make that their Tinder profile pic anyway? I mean, doesn’t that just get your goat?

I’m ‘kid’ding.

Can you see where this is ‘head’ing?

Ooh- maybe he’s trying to allude to giving good head?

This joke is old now. It’s time to put it out to pasture.

Pre-Battle Banter

Some men on Tinder are only after one thing.

TinderMan1: “So are we going to meet? What’s your address?”

CC: “We can meet, but I’m not giving you my address. How about a coffee?”

TinderMan1: “We know where coffee is going to end up, so just give me your address.”

This vexed me: Where, exactly, did this audacious prick believe that coffee was going to end up? Does coffee herald coitus? Not necessarily. Coffee can wind up in lots of places: a manic discussion on Jack Kerouac. A hilarious foam-on-the-upper-lip moment. Hell, I could be a stage five clinger that thinks espressos will mean babycinos.

CC: “You see, coffee is my he’s-not-an-axe-murderer-and-I-can-invite-him-into-my-house insurance policy :)”

TinderMan1: “Yeah. See, I work in the music industry and I can’t afford to buy every girl coffee.”

As this message was read, a thwack echoed across the city as the drawbridge to my lady-parts slammed shut.

CC: “What a shame: I’m a gold-digger and I’m not interested in poor men. Better luck next time.”

Luckily, the men on Tinder are a production line and Tinderman1 segued seamlessly into Tinderman2.

TinderMan2: “Where do I work? I work in banking and investments. So how about a vino sometime?”

When I didn’t expeditiously respond, he messaged again.

Tinderman2: “What, is working in finance a deal breaker? :P”

CC: “No. It’s not a deal breaker at all. In fact, it might even be fun to have a drink with someone devoid of a soul :D”

He blocked me after that. He wasn’t devoid of a soul, but apparently devoid of a sense of humor. My sardonic wit often combusts in the tinderbox. I was blocked by another fellow after I playfully said, “Don’t get too excited to meet me- I might yet be a convincing pre-op transsexual ;)”

Testing my Patients

I recently matched with a bearded bloke from Enmore whose profile spoke of ‘sustainability’, ‘craft beer’ and ‘meat trays’.

My, how I do love a hipster.

On our first interaction, The Beard gave me his Instagram handle and invited me to stalk him. I did. There was- amid jumpy iPhone footage of a plethora of live bands- a surprising number of posts dedicated to Shiner Bock beer. These were photographed in glistening, moist, pornographic glory. I counted eleven pictures of beer, but hardly any of him. There was more beer than beard on there.

I pulled out my phone and typed, “Saw your Instagram. Nice. I think my first question is: are you still sponsored by Shiner Bock?”

It was a whimsical bon mot that deserved, at the very least, an emoticon smiley. Instead I got a long, not really coherent explanation that was so convoluted, I wondered why he didn’t just type the word ‘no’ and save us both a lot of time.

We decided to meet for a drink at Newtown. I caught public transport in. Trains weren’t running due to trackwork, so I arrived ten minutes late, breathless and nervous. I scanned the crowd, my gaze finally settling on what I can only describe as a ‘demented lumberjack’. And he wasn’t okay.

Neither was I, actually.

Because who this bloke was in the Tinderverse and who he was in reality was somewhat incongruent.

The man from Tinder was bearded, smiling, slender. He wore Wayfarer sunglasses in one shot, clutched a bass guitar in another. He drank from a stein. He posed with a mischievous pug.

And the man trudging towards me? Well, he was the kind of overweight that usually has the adverb ‘morbidly’ attached to it. His soft, round midsection poked through a threadbare, black sloppy joe that was long ago washed to grey. It was, at least, clean. There were no obvious cum-stains or spag-bol remnants on it. His beanie, on the other hand, was coated in a powdery white substance that was, at best, cocaine and, at worst, dandruff. His face and eyes were completely flat- nary a flicker of emotion was spared for the jittery brunette before him.

And really, an expression would have been nice.

Because I’d only made a tiny bit of fucking effort in getting there.

I’d only spent an hour or so trying on outfits in my bedroom in a Tassie-Devil whirlwind of cotton. I’d only spent ninety fucking minutes battling rail buses, half of which was time spent in close proximity to a man with a facial tattoo who overused the word ‘cunt’. And then, when I changed buses at Strathfield station, there was only that tiny, little argument that I got into with the douche-bag in the hatchback; the guy who, after clocking my vintage army jacket and Doc Marten boots, decided that I was a Neo-Nazi. The dude that then began to trawl me in his car, chanting things like: “Where’s your Swastika, love? Adolf, hey? Seig Heils! Yeah! Nice boots Adolf!” through the open passenger window as I willfully ignored him for as long as I could.

‘As long as I could’ turned out to be ‘half a block’. I snapped after that and shouted- yes, shouted– “Go fuck yourself, you Peugeot-driving wanker!”

Not my finest moment. If I didn’t look like a scary skinhead before I started shouting at passing motorists with wild-eyed zeal, I certainly did after. Something clever and punchy like: “How dare you call me Adolf! Call me Eva. Or Miss Braun, you socialist swine,” would have been better.

Fucking l’esprit d’escalier.

Anyway, this bummed me out, because I thought that my carefully-chosen outfit said, ‘I’m stylish without trying too hard and my Heathers t-shirt says that I understand and embrace cult pop-culture references.’

But it didn’t. Apparently it just said two words: Master Race.

But, back to The Beard: when he greeted me, it was in a monotone, and he slurred his words.

Oh fuck, I thought. Is he drunk?

He leaned in for a kiss. I offered a cheek. He rested a paw uncomfortably close to another cheek. I pulled away. His hand lingered on my jeans like Velcro. He told me about his Sunday: a long walk with a friend that was hard because he got “munted” Saturday night, but a walk that he persevered with nonetheless because he’s “a fat bastard now”.

Then he asked where I wanted to go. We could go anywhere except The Townie. He’d been kicked out of The Townie last month- a feat that I, nor anyone who has ever set foot in The Townie, would think possible. But it was. The Beard’s version of events was: ‘I slur even when I’m not drunk.’ The bouncers was: ‘Even so, ten beers and a broken chair is inappropriate, and you have to leave.’

He asked if I’d eaten, the memory of his fat arse breaking a chair seemingly jogging him back to food. “Let’s go to Mary’s. You ever been there?”

I hadn’t.

He wiped his mouth. “I can’t believe you’ve never been to Mary’s,” he exclaimed in a flat voice.

We began walking up King street, taking a left turn down an alleyway. He led me through the darkness, deep into sex-crime central, before stopping at a place that had no signage, just a bare red bulb glowing above the door.

Oh Christ, I thought. He’s taking me to a brothel. Or a rape dungeon.

It wasn’t. In fact, Mary’s may be the only good thing to come out of that night. Mary’s is a dingy, heavy metal pub that serves fried chicken so consumable, I’m fairly certain it was a Breaking Bad, crystal-meth laced, Los Pollos Hermanos bird. They also serve a fried chicken dish named ‘Larry Bird’, which tickled me. Immensely.

He sat opposite me, studying me with open curiosity. “So how’m ah’doin?”

I put down my piece of chicken. “What?”

He wiped his mouth. “How am I doin’ on the date?”

I was taken aback and laughed. Loudly. “HAHAHAHAHA! That’s a…question. Isn’t it? Look at you asking…questions.”

“Is there like, any chance of,” he paused. “You know…”

Oh please God, don’t say it.

“Because I don’t go for casual stuff,” he continued. “Mostly. Like, I had a friend with benefits once, but that ended. It’s not me. There was one Tinder girl who took me home. That was weird because, like, she was tall and our feet touched during it. She left straight after it.”

I’d like to pause the story and assure you that I am absolutely not making this up. He absolutely said this to me, and as he spoke, I was absolutely conducting a mini-mental examination on the poor bastard: What the fuck is he talking about? That didn’t make sense. That was thought disordered as fuck. And I think he’s derailing. Is he derailing? No, he’s totally derailing. Is he a patient somewhere? I bet he’s a schizophrenic.

He wiped his mouth again. “You’re, like, big- for a chick, I mean- aren’t ya? You’ve gotta be five eight or…?”

Maybe I should ask if he takes Clozapine. The belly. The drool. Fuck! Okay, this is weird. I think I’m accidentally on a date with a fucking-

He considered me. “How do you usually go on Tinder dates? Like how do you do this?”

What the shit…? Oh no, he’s staring at you! Quick, say something now! Change the subject! Talk about  the chicken! Larry Bird! LARRY BIRD!

He left to use the bathroom. I took the opportunity to broadcast my woe on Facebook. When he returned, I casually brought up the uni assignment due that evening. I’d already done it- it was submitted earlier that afternoon, in between leg-day at the gym and my ‘yuck, I now smell like a diseased yak’ pre-date shower. I didn’t know that The Beard was going to be a living nightmare and I wanted to be free from responsibility if he wasn’t.

“So I have to leave. Right now.” Which is a shame, I tried to say with my eyes. But, you know, responsibility. Stuff.

“Have another beer.”

“I can’t.”

“I’ll drive you home.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that! To Hornsby!”

“It’s an easy drive.”

“No, it’s fine. Besides, you’ve been drinking.”

“Only four pints.”

In two hours. And I don’t want to die in a fiery car wreck. At least not before I erase my Google Chrome history. “Really, I’ll get the train.”

He walked me to the station, I glanced at the board and saw that a train- although not my train- was leaving in two minutes. “Two minutes! Nick of time. I’ve really got to run.”

He responded by grabbing me around the waist and grinding his crotch into my hip like a horny Doberman. He went in for the kiss and, again, I offered a cheek. He smelt like chicken. Craft beer. Plague. Peristalsis. Hormones. And desperation.

I boarded my train feeling fed-up. You can’t go on a bad date without it draining you of something. Even if you enter the evening with no expectations, you leave robbed of a little effervescence. I can usually see the funny side, and writing about it fortifies me, but there are times when I can’t help but wish I could go back to that heady period in my early-twenties when the world didn’t seem to be full of weirdos.

Wanting a little pick me up, I opened Tinder.

And found this guy.
img_0023His profile states- with a two-finger salute to the rules of grammar- that he is “the badboy you’re mothers warned you about”, he’s “the real 50 shades baby.”

He’s also a poet, because he goes on to claim that he’s “hung like an ox”,

“enjoys nibbling at your…”

“and making you scream with his…”

But only blows his load into socks.

Okay, so I made that last one up.

Tinder, hey?

Shit.

A Shitty Thing to Write About

6 Jun

0G6KGyX

It was a bus shelter empanada that made me break that bathroom in Cartagena.

Three hours before consuming it, I was in a seedy cantina with my new friend, Atlanta: an ex-army medic and survivor of the Fort Hood massacre. Atlanta’s PTSD had pushed him to the north east of Colombia where he volunteered at an isolated jungle hostel, periodically returning to civilisation to replenish his stocks of rum and cocaine. It was on one of these trips that we met, striking up a conversation as he urinated on a police car—the sort of introduction you can only have in Cartagena. After an evening of mayhem and laughter, he decided to smuggle me back to the Sierra Nevada, too.

We found a bus shelter hidden in a laneway that, for reasons unknown, was still selling tickets in the middle of the night. We asked the emaciated Morlock behind the counter for two on the early bird bus to Buritaca.

“And,” I added as an afterthought, “one of those empanadas.”

“I wouldn’t eat that,” Atlanta said, eyeing my Colombian surrogate midnight kebab.

He had a point: it’d been baking under a heat lamp like George Hamilton for the better part of the millennium, and the hands that plucked it from the cage were varnished with grime. Nevertheless, I took a bite. It was basically Whiskas in shortcrust pastry; and while a reasonable person might think, ‘Yuk, if I wanted to eat something crusty and fishy, I could just track down Lindsay Lohan and have a gnaw on her’, I was too stubborn to admit that he was right. So I forced it down with the vigour of a dickhead.

Back at the hostel, I clambered into my bunk, set an alarm for quarter past dawn, and dropped into sleep.

My stomach woke me before the alarm could. Apparently the piscine abomination I’d just consumed was so fetid that my body’s only option was to violently expel it. Right. Fucking. Now.

I vaulted off the bunk with an athleticism that I don’t possess and spent the next hour trudging to the bathroom and back until I gave up and lay on the floor, my head resting on the tiles, breathing shallowly through my mouth like a pregnant kelpie. I was okay with this—what little pride I had was lost when vomit had leaked through my fingers when I didn’t make it off the bunk in time.

And, on a side note, I’d like to apologise to the girl in bunk number seven. If you send me the dry-cleaning bill, I’ll reimburse you.

At about 3:45a.m., my belly gave the sort of ominous rumble that tells you to find a toilet, trash receptacle, or tin-can of sorts. Exhausted, but desperate, I grasped the side of the sink, intending to use it to lift my turgid carcass from the floor. As I pulled myself up, the basin came out from the wall, separated from the porcelain column it rested on, tottered elegantly in midair for a moment or two, and then crashed to the ground like Newton’s apple.

So—to recap—I was trapped in a bathroom wearing a Peter Alexander singlet in fetching, vomit-fleck yellow, and men’s Target-brand boxer shorts with an erroneous, easy access crotch panel. Half-digested Nemo could be found in my hair. My hands clutched part of a sink with the remainder scattered in shards around me, and, to be honest, I probably smelt like a sex crime.

My stomach rumbled.

Oh, and I still needed to go.

The remainder of the basin dropped from my fingers.

 

Shortly later, I snuck to the reception for confession.

The night porter was sitting at the desk, his feet crossed at the ankles, a block of chocolate resting on his belly. He was engrossed in his laptop, which was playing pornography. He jumped when I approached him, dropping his chocolate (which is a nice euphemism for what I’d just been up to myself, really), adjusting his glasses and offering an uncertain, “Hola?”

I attempted to explain in manic Spanglish, trying to highlight the fact that I hadn’t intended on smashing the bathroom like Keith Richards on crack, but an empanada (“Which might have been cat food. You know, el gatto.”) caused me to vigorously evacuate everything from my system which had, inadvertently, caused me to break the bathroom.

Perdon?”

“I’m not on drugs you know,” I babbled. “Honestly.” For some reason it was very important to me that he know this. “I mean, I know it’s Colombia but I’m not.” I blinked, my anxious eyes jittering across his face. “I promise. But the bathroom is—”

From the desk, the naked woman on the laptop let out a moan. We both glanced at it. With one hand he slammed the lid.

“—completely fucked.” I finished.

He explained that his English was not very good, and even if he spoke fluently, he’d struggle to cohere the nonsense that I was hurling at him, so I should just shut the fuck up and show him whatever the hell I was ranting about.

To paraphrase.

I led him to the bathroom, head bowed like a war widow. He looked in. Coughed. Crossed himself.

I glanced up.

The toilet hadn’t flushed properly.

Fuck.

“The other bathroom,” he began, a smirk on his lips. “She is okay?”

I frowned. “I guess so.”

He locked the door. “Then use other bathroom tonight.”

That was it?

Wait—that was it?

He just shut the fucking door? I could have done that! In fact, why didn’t I just do that?

“They fix in morning. Now it’s late. You sleep.” He laid a paw on my shoulder and, remembering the porn, I tried not to think of where it had been.

“You need something else?” he asked.

“Do you have any Gastro Stop?”

He frowned. “I don’t know what this is.”

“How about a cork?”

“Goodnight, miss.”

 

The following morning, Atlanta was in hysterics. “I told you not to eat that shit!” he crowed.

“Be kind to me,” I mewled.

Dehydration had pulled my eyeballs into my skull and the soles of my feet were laced with micro-cuts from the porcelain. Brittle and wan, I was shaking like a dild—

…um, like a…llama. With Parkinson’s. Yeah.

I’d run late for the bus, too. Which was total bullshit. Colombians operate on ‘Colombian time’: a vague assemblage of moments distinguished by phrases such as ‘mas tarde’ and the idiom ‘ahorita’, which, to Colombians, means ‘Nowish…ish.’ It’s impossible to be behind schedule when even a nebulously binding reference to time is abstract. This bus driver was apparently a German expat because Atlanta had to bribe him to wait for my leaky arse.

“You want drugs?”

I peered at him through knock-off Raybans. “You think cocaine fixes everything.”

“I’m not sharing that. I mean these,” he fossicked in his pockets, dropping loose tobacco, receipts, lint, and lighters on my lap before presenting a battered pill packet.

I turned it over. “Codeína?”

He nodded.

“You want me to take,” I squinted at the packet, “sixty milligrams of codeine for food poisoning?” In a distant part of my brain, my nurse training came online. “I don’t think it’s indicated for that.”

“Codeine causes constipation,” he began with forced patience.

It’s true, codeine can turn chia seeds into concrete…and we had eight hours before we reached Buritaca…

“If nothing else, it’ll help you sleep. Keep the pack,” he grinned. “I’ve got shitloads.”

That pill packet would resurface a year later on a bus in Nepal.

 

My gorgeous sister and I had travelled through there in January and—aside from a slightly rapey overnight train, a pair of sunglasses landing with a squelch in a squat toilet, and a clutch of hysterical pilgrims that nearly swallowed my blanket-wielding sibling whole—we’d navigated it without incident. I even swam through crap and corpses in the Ganges, managing to emerge free from sin and dysentery. So when I kissed my sister goodbye in Pokhara, feeling bulletproof, I did what any cocky tourist would do: I gave salmonella prevention the middle finger and ate a discounted hamburger.

The following day, when the rancid meat was somewhere in my jejunum, I boarded a bus to Kathmandu, fragile and cranky. Initially, my ire was blamed on the obnoxious Americans behind me: the ones comparing the selfies they’d taken with malnourished, haunted, but tentatively hopeful Cambodian orphans on their recent poverty-porn world tour. At the first rest stop—with six hours left on a bathroomless bus—I sprinted off to abuse a roadside toilet. It then became as clear as the second line on a pregnancy test that I was screwed.

Buying a bottle of water, I downed the Colombian codeine along with a handful of Gastro-Stop, hoping to calcify the evil that was incubating within me. It worked and six Gastro-Stops later, I was in Kathmandu.

I disembarked into chaos, knowing that my hostel was somewhere, unsure of where, but trusting HostelWorld’s claim that it was a $3 cab ride away. The first two taxi drivers didn’t know where somewhere was, but could get me everywhere else for $5. I declined, and since they didn’t want to go nowhere, they followed me around until I tersely said that I wouldn’t be going anywhere with them.

The third driver didn’t speak English, but nodded with the sort of earnestness that I find charming. I showed him the address on my iPhone—a move which proved to be as useful as a bathroom door around Oscar Pistorius—he couldn’t understand it and I couldn’t pinpoint where Samjhana Street was in the melee before me. We drove through crowds, sporadically stopping to ask random strangers for directions, my iPhone proffered like pocket-sized oracle. In three Gastro-Stops we found it. I checked in, went upstairs to my room, and passed out on the stained futon.

I awoke just before midnight in a batten-down-the-hatches state that can best be described as ‘gastrointestinal Armageddon’. Throwing open my door, I bolted downstairs to the dingy washrooms. This became my first evening in Kathmandu: a veritable red, white and green kaleidoscope of bad decisions punctuated by a shitty staircase. In desperation, I took my entire stash of Gastro-Stop, something that may have caused mild delirium because I recall kicking open the toilet door at one point and swaggering to the bowl like John Wayne after an enema, snarling, “Hello again, you old bastard. Remember me?”

Even though I’d booked the hostel for three nights, I decided to leave early the next morning, because fuck running up and down stairs like Tom and Jerry. I splashed out on a hotel that had a bathroom in the room, packed my bags, and headed to the front desk.

Not wanting to pay for the whole stay, I approached the clerk with a smile and said, “Hello, my grandfather’s dead. Can I check out?”

In Australia, a family emergency trumps a cancellation fee. In Nepal, it opens up a negotiation. With a small nod of condolence, he tallied my bill, swiped my card, and presented me the receipt as if it were inconsequential: bacon rind given to a hungry dog. I glanced at it.

“You’ve charged me for three nights.”

“Yes.”

“But I’m only staying one.”

“Yes.”

“But,” I paused, trying to direct my thoughts through the fog of fatigue. “Can’t you…?” I trailed off, letting the sentence rot in the air between us like a bag of liposuction fat.

He slid a notepad and pen across the counter. “What is your offer?”

I stared at him. “What?”

“You tell me what you want to pay and then we discuss.”

“But…I,” pause. “No! My—”

“And I’m sorry for that.” He tapped the pad, looking delighted. “Your offer?”

The only offer that felt appropriate was a bucket of dicks for him to suck but I had no idea where to unearth such a treasure—not in Nepal, anyway—so I gave up. I reasoned that the money wasn’t worth the very real danger of shitting my pants mid-negotiation—a tactic that could have worked in my favour, but seemed like the sort of thing I’d ultimately regret.

 

Outside, the streets were still quiet and I stopped at the only pharmacy that was open. I bought the essential narcotics from the white-smocked clerk, neglecting to do the currency conversion in my head. Later that evening, I discovered that he’d charged me roughly three times the amount he was supposed to. A fact which bothered me roughly three times the amount it should have.

Sure, it was a minuscule amount of cash to me but a modest amount to him, but I was vexed: It was wrong, I was just a tourist. And I was sick. Vulnerable. He was taking advantage of that. He was shitting all over me. I had to say something—for colonically-challenged travellers everywhere.

Two days later, lathered into frenzy, I strode to the store with my indignant inner monologue juggling words and phrases in my head like linguistic Sudoku. I stormed up to the pharmacist, struck my fist on the counter, and said—among other things—“You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”

Yep. Apparently food poisoning turns me into Dorothy from Oz. I mean: who says ‘ought to’ in general conversation? What the fuck was that? Why not just go all-out and put my little soliloquy into iambic pentameter?

At the end of my rant, he was flummoxed. Here we go, I thought. He’s going to find some ridiculous justification for it.

“Madam,” he began delicately. “I’ve never seen you before.”

My first reaction was shock, “What?” which slowly gave way to confusion, “I was just in here the other day,” then realisation, “Oh,” and finally, a throbbing mortification: “You didn’t serve me, did you?”

He shook his head.

I looked around, trying to pick the offender from the line-up of neat men in matching uniforms. “Does your twin brother work here?” I gave what I hoped was a charming, disarming, and completely non-racist smile. “Maybe he served me?”

“Madam, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Okay,” I turned, and then looked back. “Just, you know, don’t overcharge tourists. Not that you do. Because, um, we now know,” grin, “that you don’t.” Pause. “I’m a nurse by the way! Yep. An egalitarian nurse who is totally supportive of refugees and…”

I prattled on like this for a while, determined to dig myself out of the hole I’d just placed myself in.

Perhaps I should have just buried my shit in it instead.

Most cats do that, you know—bury their crap.

But not this one.

This cat flings it into the ether of the internet in a scatological frenzy.

A Post About a Threesome…

13 Jul

Ha! I’ve busted you, you perverted little sausage. This isn’t a story about a threesome at all. I’ve told a lie in a blatant ploy for attention that stops just shy of ‘tawdry’ by my omission of the word “lesbian”. My salacious title is just pandering to the voyeur in all of us. It’s my ‘now that I have your attention’ moment. There is no fornicating to speak of in this post. Just pornographic self-publication.

I am endeavoring, like The Little CC That Could, to get my book published via Kindle Scout. It’s called Funereal. It’s a black comedy. About a fucked up family squabbling over a will. There’s a twist at the end. And the heroine gets committed to a loony bin. That’s not the twist, though. That’s like, a plot point right near the beginning. It’s dark in places. I tried to write a sex scene. And failed. A monkey smokes a Parliament. And the word “fuck” appears 221 times, making the book 0.39% ‘fuck’.

The tagline is: And you thought your family was bad.

And it’s good. I promise you. Don’t believe me? Here are some recent reviews that I’ve gotten:

“I’m so proud of you honey. No, I didn’t read it, but you wrote a novel! Look at you! You came out of my vagina and thirty years later you wrote a whole book! Kiss, kiss. Dinner is at 6pm Tuesday.”

-Mum

“It’s not bad. That doesn’t mean that it’s good but…well…it’s done now. That’s something, right?”

-Uncle Theodore

“CC, I paid you to edit my sociology essay, and you send me this? Where is my essay? If you don’t replace this nonsense with ‘Merits and Demerits of Media for a Society’, I’m taking it further. You can’t hold my essay ransom until I write your book a good review. It’s unethical. And answer your goddamn phone. Return my damn calls. Goodbye.”

-Girl I met in the Manning Bar at Sydney Uni

“One of the greatest, most provocative and enlightening books of our generation. ‘Fight Club’ is an absolute must read.”

–A positive review for a totally different book.

“It’s hilarious. Well written. Compelling. Full of well drawn characters that seem to jump off the page. The next time you hear the name ‘Casey Millikin’, it will be alongside names like Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare.”

-Homeless man at Central Station who is, on a completely unrelated note, now $50 richer.

“You surprised me, its actually not that bad. The bisexual musician character, that’s based on me, isn’t it? Your saying you want to get back together, aren’t you? …No? Oh. …Well, your writings shit. Prick tease.”

–A grammatically inept email from an ex-boyfriend.

“Okay, just so we’re clear- if I write a good review for your book, you blow me. Right?”

-Something that never actually happened.

“CC, I’m going to say this one more time: Stop contacting me, stop stalking my Facebook page, and leave my secretary alone. The poor woman is two steps from a nervous breakdown. Threatening her cat was completely inappropriate of you. Yes, I gave you an ‘F’ but it was ten years ago and I stand by it: your poem was dreadful. You need to move on with your life. And stop sending my mother your smutty novel. I have no idea how you got her address but she’s had a stroke. She needs rest. The nursing staff have your picture and have been instructed to refuse you entry.”

-As Associate Professor Barnes can now attest: you never give CC an ‘F’.

“Alright, alright. It’s good, okay? There. Please stop crying. You’re so ugly when you cry.”

-Beneficial friend #23

I should probably tell you how Kindle Scout works. It’s basically crowd funding. I put my book up, you read the beginning of it, you peruse some Q & A I’ve done, you read a short- and not entirely truthful- bio of me, and then you log in with your Amazon account and nominate me in your top 3. If I’m popular enough to get selected for an eBook deal, you get a copy of it for free. Either way, you get a personalised thank-you note from me just by voting. It’s Sally Field’s acceptance speech from the 1984 Academy Awards- you know the one. She says, “You like me. You really like me.” in it.

And, just to add a sweet little kicker, if you vote for me, I’ll totally get Megan Fox to date you. Don’t believe me? I met her earlier in the year. She was an inpatient at a ward I used to work in. Lovely girl- a little volatile when she’s coming down from crack- but nice nonetheless. She has what’s known as a ‘grandiose delusion’. Sure, she’s let herself go a little bit since Transformers, but if she’s still heavily into the gear I can probably call in a favour from her. Guys, you’ll love her. Heroin has taken almost all of her teeth. They call her ‘Gummy Joe’ now. And she might even be a bit manic- and we all know what that means.

I’m kidding.

But in all seriousness- the book is good. Everyone who I’ve shown it to has read it in one or two sittings. They’ve laughed out loud. They’ve disliked the anti-heroine but found themselves rooting for her anyway. When I got it professionally edited, the feedback I received was, “It’s great! I stayed intrigued and interested to see what was going to happen next all the way through…The chapter titles work well; I loved the humour, enjoyed the profanity and the gutsy-but-fucked-up heroine.”

So, there.

And you know what? Fuck it, I believe in it. think it’s good and sometimes that’s all you need- delusions of adequacy.

Here’s the link. Vote. Not just for me, but for your country. Vote to stop the tyranny of ISIS in it’s tracks. Vote for the second helping that Jenny Craig won’t let you eat. Vote for the cake you dug out of the bin and ate with your hands after the last attempt at fitting into your skinny jeans failed. Vote for your dog. For the one-legged pigeon that confronts you on the way to work each morning. Vote for the red wine that you drink out of a chipped coffee cup when you can’t be bothered to do the washing up. Vote for Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Vote for the hug you get from your best friend when the man/woman/dishcloth breaks your heart. Again. Do it for God, because s/he would totally read Funereal. If you believe in that sort of thing, look at it this way: God put this in my brain for you to read, so you have to vote or God will get cranky. And we don’t want an angry God- Nepal can’t handle another earthquake. You don’t want that in your conscience, do you? Hmm? Well, vote. Now.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/42SZ05LUODJV

FUNEREAL – ON KINDLE SCOUT

Watch out where the huskies go…

20 Jan

A Colombian coke binge seemed like a good idea at the time.

Don’t judge that statement. I don’t actually do drugs in Australia, you know.

She adds defensively.

Don’t get me wrong: I have. On many occasions. The majority of my university years were spent in a purple haze. My memories of that time are so smoggy that I might have studied in Beijing…it’s possible, you know- I smoked a lot of pot and can’t be entirely sure where I was at that period of my life. I’ve enjoyed so many illegal narcotics that several of them don’t work on me anymore. My brain has mutated and apparently developed anti-bodies to most strains of MDMA. My time on drugs can be summed up by the word ‘Disneyland’, and I ceased with my sanity and without any stories that involved me robbing someone or sucking something to fulfill a suburban white girl Ecstasy habit.

In other words, I did the shit out of drugs and passed with flying colours.

But the first rule in the Drug Users Handbook is ‘When they stop being fun, it’s time to move on’, so I stopped taking them, choosing green tea, smugness and meditation instead.

Then I got to Colombia, a country that looks at an afternoon bump of cocaine much like a double espresso- it’s just a little pick-me-up to get you through that post lunch drag. It’s their cultural siesta. In fact, in Colombia, cocaine is cheaper than beer. I’m a traveller on a budget. A temporary coke habit was the fiscally responsible choice, really.

It’s my second night at The Royale and Atlanta and I have just left the party that is blazing through the bar. We clamber up fifty dirt-hewn steps by the light of our mobile phones to arrive at my room for the evening: a man-made hilltop cabin that overlooks the jungles of North East Colombia. The next morning, a woodpecker will rythmically slam it’s beak into the balcony railing, acting as a natural alarm clock, and my blurry eyes will peel open to a glorious view of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This night, though, Jim Jefferies is playing on my laptop, a half filled bottle of rum sits, uncapped, by a cheap lamp that is perpetually surrounded by Colombia’s largest jungle bugs, an open packet of tax-free Venezuelan cigarettes lays on the bed beside me, and the table is covered with AUD$1600 worth of Colombia’s finest disco shit.

Over here, five grams of cocaine is worth less than a packet of cigarettes in Australia, and our transatlantic bounty is spread haphazardly before us. We dip our noses into a pile of white snow like talkative, debauched huskies. We rack line after line and when I feel my heart start to beat faster than an ice addict masturbating after three days of no sleep, I take a break, chain smoking cigarettes and talking about myself as if someone gives a shit. As I natter, Atlanta blows a handful of coke in my face like a child with a dandelion. As an Aussie, this sort of behaviour is hard to get used to. Coke in Australia is more precious than the purity of your first born child. When I arrived in Colombia, I was still chewing the empty bag to get every molecule of Charlie into my system, by the time I got to Rancho Relaxo, it was so prevalent that I was giving myself cocaine milk moustaches for cheap laughs. I had cocaine smeared on, and snorted off, several parts of my anatomy. The whole thing was like a scene from Blow.

My mum must be so proud of me.

My mum must be so proud of me.

Atlanta and I rant at each other with the manic, misplaced sense of self assurance that copious amounts of narcotics brings. The hours slip away, and eventually the party downstairs disbands. Aside from our two person and a-man-on-a-laptop-screen party, all is silent.

Then a gun shot cuts through the night.

Upon hearing it, Atlanta immediately snaps to life like a KGB sleeper agent who has just heard the trigger phrase. He pauses Jim Jefferies, slams the lid shut on the laptop, pulls the plug on the lamp, and plunges us into darkness.

“Someone just got shot at the checkpoint.”

I struggle to sit up on the bed. “Where’s the check point?”

“Just out the front of the hostel.”

“Just out the…what the fuck?” I screech.

“Be quiet, I want to listen.”

Everything around us is silent. I have now leapt, in one fluid, drugged-out motion to stand at the balcony, clasping the rails with a labor-inducing fervor. I peer apprehensively over the blackness of the hostel into the jungle before me. The amount of cocaine in my blood has surpassed ‘excessive’- I’m currently at ‘Charlie Sheening’- and half a bottle of rum is slowly digesting in my stomach; but in that moment I am more sober than Robert Louis Stevenson at a Logie’s after party.

Yeah. I couldn’t think of anything funny so I went for nonsensical instead.

Anyway, nothing can kill a buzz quicker than South American jungle paramilitary. I stare at the night stretching malevolently before me and begin to wonder if I’m about to die with cocaine boogers caking my nostrils and an M16 jammed beneath my mandible. Full scale drug paranoia hits me. “Are we safe?” I squeak.

“Yeah, they probably just shot someone trying to smuggle something over the border.”

A drug shoot-out. In Colombia. In a guerilla and paramilitary soaked area of the jungle that I probably shouldn’t even be in. Where I am currently fifty shades of fucked up. ‘I’ll take ‘Stupid things that gringas do’ for $500 please, Alex.’

“Drugs?” I squeak.

Atlanta laughs. “God no,” he drawls. “The biggest thing being smuggled into Colombia from Venezuela right now is gasoline.”

I glance at the 10c per packet, tax free, Venezuelan cigarettes beside me. “And illegal tobacco?”

He nods, switches Jim Jefferies back on, and settles back in the chair to rack up more lines. “It was probably just a warning shot fired into the bonnet of the car as they tried to sprint across the border. It’s nothing.”

I’m in the middle of nowhere and a gun has been fired fifty feet away from me. To anyone who doesn’t live in a South American Golden Triangle, it’s fucking far from nothing. Atlanta is an ex army medic who grew up in Georgia. Gun shots probably accompanied the majority of his lullabies. Rifle fire is like elevator music to him. I’m from Sydney, the place where gun crime is as common as egalitarian bogans. In short, this is far from a normal occurance for me and I’m fucking terrified. Has someone just died? Are the military going to come into the hostel and look for witnesses to shoot? Or were the shots fired from the guerillas in the Colombian mist, and not the military at all? In other words, am I going to fucking die?!?

Atlanta sees the look on my face and immediately switches into Southern gentleman mode. “Anyone coming up that hill will need a flashlight and we’ll see them. We’re safe.”

This calms me mildly.

“Besides, it’s nothing like the time the military stormed this place and Boss Connecticut and I had to negotiate with them while we sent all the guests to hide up in the jungle with their passports.”

Any calm that has settled in my drug-addled brain leaves abruptly. “Um,” I begin. “What?”

“It was fine. They just came in with guns because they wanted money.”

“Wait..what?”

He offers me a rolled up fifty mil bill and explains. One sleepy evening, armed militia stormed the property with machine guns drawn. The hostel staff sent the guests up into the mountains to hide with their passports- you know, just in case negotiations with the armed men went sour and they had to flee the area and/ or country. The guests hid, presumably discharging bodily fluids from circular orifices while below them, agitated Spanish raged as the owners renegotiated with heavily fucking armed, mildly fucking sociopathic, post adolescent, testosterone fuelled military.

“That won’t happpen again. Not tonight, anyway.”

I glance at my bag which contains my passport and a laptop which can probably be sold for a plane ticket in a pinch. “Are you sure?”

Atlanta glances at me. “Calm down, Tweak.”

“I’mnotfuckingtweaking,” I snap.

He ruffles my hair. “It’s going to be fine.”

To be pompously continued in the next post…

Sufferin’ Succotash

29 Nov

As I write this, I’ve been in Puerto Escondido for nearly three weeks. This beautiful beach side town has made me it’s unintentional prisoner as I wait to receive a package from Australia. I underestimated Mexican postal services. I foolishly thought that an express post package that should arrive overseas in three business days would have made an appearance in Puerto Escondido within a week and a half. Silly CC- I forgot about the phenomena that is Mexican Time. If one was going to compare the Mexican postal service to anything, it wouldn’t be to a Looney Tunes mouse.

SPEEDY

Once I learned to blithely flick the bull ants off the bed and ignore the geckos fighting in the corner of the room, the accommodation I stayed at for my language school was lovely. Mix that with amazing people in the area and the purpose that comes with a scholastic responsibility each day, and I found myself quite content with my Escondidian routine. After travelling for six weeks, it kind-of, almost felt like my little Mexican home, but when the language course finished, I had to find new digs. Without giving the matter much thought, I chose the hostel that a friend was staying in. It was disconcertingly devoid of human beings every time I walked past, but The Texan had found a private room there for $2000 pesos for the month- an obscenely good rate- so I booked a room for three nights.

I didn’t notice my surroundings on the first night. I’d been involved in a particularly debauched drinking session with The Texan and an English expat chum of his, and I fell down no less than eight times during the 500m walk back to my room. Once I made it to the door, it took me a good fifteen minutes to open it. I stood, swaying in the hallway like an inebriated fuckwit, clumsily inserting and reinserting each key over and over. I was given three keys when I checked in and I never did discover what the other two were for. I jammed them into everything from the storage closet to the cat, but their purpose remained enigmatic.

The next morning I woke up looking, feeling, and smelling like a bruised puddle of bulldog vomit. The bathroom was located down the hall. It was a poky, light blue room, smothered with leopard spots of mould. The noxious odours of Mexican feasts past had long stripped the paint from the walls, and what was left hung in flaky chunks like sunburned skin. The toilet cistern lid was broken, and damp books were piled haphazardly on top it like some make-shift lavatorical library. And there was never, ever any fucking toilet paper in there. In fact, if you asked at the front desk for toilet paper, the staff would half heartedly look behind the counter before saying, “I don’t have.” This was uttered in a completely indifferent tone, almost as if you’d asked for a pen or a cigarette lighter. The first time they said it I was flummoxed, “What do you mean, ‘you don’t have’?” I asked in Spanish.

Shrug. “No tengo.”

“I need to go to the toilet,” I said. “What do your suggest that I use?”

She smiled, nodded and said, “Use. Yes.” Then she turned, walked across the reception floor and stood by the fridge, staring at the wall, her back to me.

It was a tactic that I had employed myself. The staff spoke almost exclusively Spanish and when they’d say something I didn’t quite catch, I’d lean forward and ask them to repeat it. They would, and if I couldn’t cherry pick enough words from the sentence to create a meaning, I’d often just repeat the last word they said and add a ‘yes’, so it sounded like I understood them thoroughly enough to confirm the final word of their sentence. You know, you do it if someone offers you directions:

“Turn right at the park.”

“The park, yes.”

“Then first left.”

“Left. Yep.”

“Then go straight past the school…”

“The school, got it.”

But since the phrase was spoken in a second language, I could have been agreeing to anything:

“We’re going to slaughter a stray dog in a voodoo ritual tonight. Right here.”

“Right here,” Enthusiastic nod. “Yes!”

When the reception gals couldn’t deliver the bog-roll, I was forced to fossick through my bag for travel wipes and, when they ran out, odd athletic socks whose partner had fallen victim to Mexican lavanderias. I’d drop each in the basket beside the toilet with a small sigh- another travelling companion lost in Mexico, like a pilled, grey drug cartel victim.

The shower in the bathroom was a single jet of water, a quarter of the diameter of your average garden hose. The shower head was cemented to the wall, so it stuck straight out at an 130 degree angle. This meant that the adjacent sink often got a better bathing than you did. Unfortunately the angle wasn’t obtuse enough to dislodge the seventeen bars of pubic-hair encrusted soap that were perpetually glued to the porcelain of the sink; but it did create a striking paper mâché effect with the yellowing Surf Class pamphlets that were stuck to the top of it. It looked like something an obsessive compulsive preschooler had created after binge watching Playschool under the influence of acid. The water pressure was unyielding, and, despite the room being constantly shrouded in steam, freezing. It was like trying to clean yourself in a Urinating Cherub Fountain. In fact, if the water had of been warm, it would have felt like I was being peed on by an excessively well-hydrated vagrant. Showering became an endurance event: not something pleasant and refreshing that you do of a morning, but a necessary ordeal undertaken only to rinse the smell of the mattress from you.

The mattress smelt like interspecies erotica, sherbet, and broken promises, but I’ll get to that.

My room had a large concrete mesh window which offered a lovely view of an abandoned toilet in the courtyard. If I squinted, I was transported to The Labyrinthian Bog of Eternal Stench. My window didn’t have curtains on it, something I realised as I was dressing after the shower. There was a cleaning lady outside who was systematically moving through the courtyard, scrubbing the concrete with a weathered red broom. It was refreshing that they paid so much attention to the ground outside. I mean, my room was wallpapered in dust and spiderwebs, and the pool was a particularly fetching shade of flourescent green, but at least the external concrete was clean. That patch of cement may have been more sanitary than my sheets. It was certainly cleaner than my mattress, which had morphed from beige to yellow under the strain of assorted bodily fluids from a thousand anonymous hosts. When I spied the lady, I ducked into a crouch, trying to hide. However, since I could still see her, there was a good chance that she could see the naked thirty one year old squatting on the floor like she’s trying to insert something into her vaginal canal, so I stood up slowly, not wanting to attract her attention. I did, anyway. I’m not sure if the moment our eyes locked was more uncomfortable for her or me. I think it was for her- the hairbrush dropped from my ‘giney when I stood up, and it clattered loudly to the floor with a wince and a disapproving glance.

I’m kidding.

I bring a frozen zucchini when I travel. It’s more ergonomic.

I forgot to take my toothbrush into the bathroom and I couldn’t bring myself to go back in there, so I went to the sinks in the common room to complete my ablutions. Turning the handle gave me a puff of smoke, several bats, and small dribble of rust coloured liquid. I didn’t have a bottle of water on me, so the receptionist helpfully offered me some. I accepted it gratefully.

“Can I have some toothpaste?” She asked as she handed me the glass.

I paused. It was the first time that hotel staff had asked to borrow my toiletries.

“I’ve run out,” she continued.

I was so baffled that I agreed before considering the implications of giving my toothpaste to a stranger to smear across something that scrubbed the bacteria from her mouth. I realised the ick-factor as she was fetching her toothbrush, and when she returned with a dog eared blue thing, I told her that she could keep the toothpaste.

“Really,” I said, offering her the full tube of Colgate like some babbling dental hygiene fairy. “I have plenty and it’s nearly empty, anyway.”

I wasn’t given a top sheet, so that evening I slept huddled beneath my sarong. At some point during the night the fan had stopped working, and I awoke just after 3am in an environment sufficient to bake scones in. The skin that hadn’t been covered in brightly coloured cotton was now covered in bright red mosquito bites, which itched in an insomnia-inducing ditty of frustration. I lay there, mentally offering Satan everything from my soul to the virginity of my first born child in exchange for sleep, trying to ignore the itching that was slowly making it’s way from my skin to the last shred of my sanity. Something crawled over my arm, I smacked it and felt it scurry up my shoulder and onto the pillow. I vaulted out of bed in one fluid motion, turning on the light and flapping my hands at the wrists.

The light allowed me to see that the mosquitoes had made their way into my room via a hole in the flyscreen, which was roughly the size and shape of an overdeveloped child’s fist. I was considering what other item of clothing I could sacrifice to jam into this filthy hole when a moth flew through it. It might have been as drunk as I was the previous night because it spectacularly missed the lightbulb to crash land just below my left eye. My hands started flapping again, the moth flew away, and the next fifteen minutes were spent chasing it around the room with a thong. It was a wily little bastard, I’d thwack one wall seconds after it careened off to the next one. This noise woke up my neighbour, who thought that a spell of vocal masturbation would be just the thing to get him back to sleep. The walls were thin, and I heard enough to be able to confidently do it myself, had I wanted to. I should have offered him my zucchini.

After destroying the moth, I sat on the bed, lit a cigarette and listened to the overweight fellow next door flog his meat like an unemployed butcher. I reasoned that noxious tobacco fumes might be enough to drive away both the bugs and my ever-increasing desire to repeatedly punch a badger in the ovaries, so I smoked and lazily batted at buzzing mosquitoes while he jerked away on the other side of the wall. The only sounds in the hostel were a symphony of pleasure, hunger and frustration. And I don’t even know which was which.

I checked into a hotel after this. It was three times the price. I saw clean white sheets on the bed when I checked in. Totally worth it.

“Me talk pretty one day.”

20 Nov

In an oestrogen laden opening sentence I can sum up my Wednesday: I got my hair done. In Mexico, it’s about $50 for a full head of blonde foils and a cut. For the men that don’t speak ‘vanity’: that’s cheap. Really cheap.

I went to Spanish class afterward and tried to tell my teacher about it. I failed. Dismally.

This leads me to transcribe the actual conversations that I’ve had in Spanish with my language teacher. I can’t say that it all happened on one day, but, unfortunately, it did all happen. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse, really.

“So, CC, what did you do this morning?”

“I have the white stripes this morning,” I motion to my hair.

“Ah, you do look different! Where?”

“Um, on the street. Here.”

On the street?”

“No, no. On the here street. There.” I point out the door.

Pause.

“Um, what’s the word for ‘down’ again? Hmm…okay, I walk down the street here for the white stripes.”

“Okay.”

“I run up the school for my reservation there today. Now I am a little tired but happy.”

Pause. “Escaleras is stairs. Escuela is school”

It’s nice that she speaks gringa. “Yes. I like it but I want it blue now.” I motion to my hair.

“Blue?”

“Well, when I arrive in Mexico my onion is blue. I like blue. Blue as well, now.”

“Your…wait, what?”

“I have blue…um…paint for onion with my bag and I want make onion blue. On Saturday, more or less. Maybe Sunday.”

“What are you saying?”

“My onion is blue on Saturday. Many months ago it was purple, but now with white stripes I can all blue.”

She realises what I am trying to say. “Oh! No, no. Cabello is hair. Cebolla is onion.”

“Ah.” The frown that the hairdresser gave me earlier suddenly makes sense: ‘Thank you, my onion is very good now.’

“Okay, what about last night? What did you do last night?”

“Last night I write and I go to my American friend and I drink beer with her. I drink beer because I am on vacation now and I am unemployed all day now and this morning I use the bathroom for cold shower. And I eat many chorizo tacos. I like chorizo tacos. It is very cheap with 25 pesos because I buy chorizo tacos for arrive eat.”

“You bought chorizo tacos take-away. Llevar is to take. Llegar is to arrive.”

I nod. “I need to eat more fruit and no more chocolate because I am a lazy rabbit here and I don’t gymnasium here for run. In Sydney, yes. I eat many Nutella in Sydney and run at gymnasium but here, no. I smoke a lot. More and less. I need do less smoke but more run. No. Yes?”

“Right. Let’s start the lesson now. I’m going to ask you questions and I want you to answer in Spanish, okay?”

“Yes, yes, yes.”

“What days do you study Spanish?”

“I study Spanish with the Oasis school from Monday to old man.”

“What? No, Friday is pronounced like this. Not viejo. A viejo is an old man.”

“Ah, yes, yes, yes.”

“Okay, so what time are your Spanish classes?”

“My class is three at the point.”

“No, en punto, is o’clock, not a la punta.”

“Right.”

“La Punta is a beach here.”

“Okay. Can we study on the beach?”

“Not really.”

I’m mildly crestfallen. “Okay,” but remain optimistic, “but the room is large and there is one fan so it’s not, um, fire here now but beach maybe fire there today.”

“Caliente is the word for hot.”

“Right.”

“Now you try asking me some questions. Let’s start with ‘where’. Ask me a ‘where’ question.”

“Where…is…your mother.”

There is a pause. “My mother is dead.”

Awkward. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. Ask another one.”

“Where is…Batman?”

“…what?”

“Nevermind. Where is my kitchen?”

This continues on. For some reason, she thinks that my conversation skills need work. So, this happens.

“What do you do in Australia?”

“I am a sick in Australia.”

“You are a nurse in Australia.”

“Yes. And I work in a…nurse house. A big, loco nurse store.”

“A hospital.”

How could I fuck that up?! It’s the same damn word in English. “Yes, a hospital. For loco.”

“A psychiatric hospital.”

“Yes.”

“What do you do for leisure?”

“At cafe, I drink coffee with my Australian friends-”

“You can just say we drink coffee. What else do you like?”

“Or we go and drink all the wine glasses.”

“You drink wine?”

“I like the wine very much.”

“Red or white?”

“White when I go there, red when relax on my house.”

In my house.”

“Yes, yes, yes.”

“Do you dance?”

“A little, but I am a rectum…no, wait. I am a retarded. I make bad dancing, no, wait- I am bad dancing. I want good dancing but I make bad dancing…so, um, no. No dance in Australia.”

“Do you do anything else?”

“Yes. With my Australian friends and I-”

“You know you can just say-”

“We can drink many beers. But before we have to lay down on the pizza at two in the morning.”

Silence.

“No, wait, after. After we lay on the pizza. Before beer, after pizza.”

More silence.

I realise my error. “No! Shit, piso is floor. We lay down on the floor.”

“You lay down on the floor?”

“Yes, yes, yes. Many beers. We sleep. And we drink many coffee and eat bacon because I am happy in the morning with my bacon. Bacon is friendly.”

“Just say delicioso.”

“I thought amable was nice?”

“Yes, but it’s personality nice, not taste nice.”

“Oh, correct. But I don’t like eggs for breakfast. Or lunch. Or-”

“Right. I get it. What else?”

“I do not like green eggs and ham!”

She doesn’t laugh. Maybe it was lost in translation…or maybe I said it incorrectly. “What else?”

“I write a lot. Also I write blog of good.”

“Write what?”

“Blog of happy. Ha-ha good, more or less.”

“Funny?”

“Yes, yes, yes.” Well, I do try to make good happy-funny for my friendly amigos.

“Are they real stories or do you make them up?”

“All real because I am bad with living and I make crazy story many days. When I travel, I do bad things.”

She didn’t bat an eyelid at the fact that I have made myself sound like a serial killer who hunts abroad. “What silly things?”

“I make lost. Other night. There. Not here. Many times.”

“You get lost?”

“Yes. Every day more or less. And I am a bad Spanish, as well.”

“CC, you have to drink more water and less beer because the climate is so hot here that you get dehydrated and it makes you tired and unable to think straight. You look a little tired today, yes?”

“A little. Tonight I eat chicken tacos at a store of take away food and tomorrow I must go to the beach and read but not when the sun is strong because I am all white and when I am many time in strong sun I’m going to, um…ouch.”

“Right, enjoy. I’ll give you more reflexive verbs for homework.”

Buenos Aires! Oh, shit. I mean, good day. Thank you. See you tomorrow, my lawyer.”

“Teacher, CC. I’m a teacher. Adios.”

Kind-of, Almost Two Years Ago Today

11 Nov

Every year, on the anniversary of my divorce, I light scented candles, listen to Morrissey, cry, and play with myself.

That’s not true, silly. I just wanted a snappy opener. As boring as it is, I don’t indulge in any bizarre, ritualistic behaviour on D-Day; but ironically, for the last two years, I have found myself on the other side of the world, ensconced in a romantic entanglement of sorts.

It’s Groundhogian. Last year I was making a u-turn across Europe to meet a Kiwi in Amsterdam, this year I found myself with an overly affectionate Italian. Let’s call him Titto- as was his request if I ever spoke about him on the blog. And, fuck-me-gently-with-a-tent-pole, I really hope he doesn’t read this.

Because this is the story of how I fled Titto.

Fled sounds melodramatic. But ‘made a impulsive decision to leave one morning after things began to get particularly intense’ was too verbose.

When Titto and I first met, I was, embarassingly, wearing nothing but a Bonds wifebeater singlet and a pair of bright red, Wonder Woman underpants. Before he knew my name, he had seen more of me than most first dates do. Amazingly, despite being confronted with the sight of my big, white ass, he began to chat to me and, amazing-er-ly, we clicked.

Our travels plans differed- I was heading to Cuba and he was starting work in a hostel in Acapulco. We swapped Facebook contact details and kept in touch. A pocket of time appeared in the week after Day of the Dead. We could meet up again. He started to organise the details, seemingly spending hours on Google. Links were sent via email, clicking them furnished my screen with magnificent-looking beaches. ‘What do you think?’ he’d ask with an emoticon wink. Apparently, the only thing I had to do for our spare week together was show up and be adorable.

Plans changed when he had a fight with his boss and had to leave Acapulco immediately. He asked if I wanted to leave Day of the Dead before the main celebrations and travel to Guatemala with him. I did not. I was disappointed but I didn’t want to chase a dick down a rabbit hole, so I did what any normal girl would: I dealt with it. I booked a hostel at a nudist beach and figured that if we were meant to meet up again we would.

As fate would have it, we met again. Titto was unlike any man I had ever met. Aside from the affectionate, macho, chivalrous Italian blood that pumped through his veins, he was completely open with his feelings. It was a novelty. Australian men aren’t like that- being courted by an Aussie is a subliminal game of chess. You don’t listen to what they say, you watch what they do, you think three moves ahead, and you endeavour to entrap them in a checkmate.

Mwahaha.

The whole situation was fantastical. Surreal. Laying tangled in a hammock watching the sun set, eating fresh guavas for breakfast, long slow make-out sessions on the sand followed by hair-pulling nights beneath the mosquito netting as the waves crashed outside our cabin window. We hitchhiked. We held hands and strolled along the coastline. It was like a tampon commercial. It certainly wasn’t reality- no reality that I know, anyway. That’s the problem with holiday romances. They exist in a dream state, a realm where you are unfettered by the mundanities of life. As a result, they will never, ever last beyond the trip- believe me, I have tried. The only way it can work is if you choose to stay at the party forever- if you kiss the nuances of reality goodbye and live in the Wonderland of travel. Titto asked me to do this on our first night.

“Would you ever leave Sydney and stay in Mexico?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

I struggled to explain the relationship that I have with my loved ones without resorting to saccharine statements like ‘they are my heart’. I explained the deep bond we share, fortified by time, laughter and pain. “I can’t leave them,” I said finally. “I’d miss them.”

He didn’t agree and argued the point. “But friendships don’t last forever.”

“Neither do most relationships,” I fired back. “But my friends and family have been more of a constant presence in my life than any man has. They are always there for me and vice versa. I don’t want to leave them.”

“That’s sentimental.”

“Loyal.”

Besides, am I alone in thinking that this is a particularly intense question to throw at someone after twenty four hours together? Isn’t this the Holiday Romance equivalent of “How do you feel about getting married in Fiji” on a first date? Perhaps he was just harmlessly discussing the future and I am simply cementing myself as an emotionally retarded Fem-bot, but when said hypothetical future means that one of you has to give up everything well…no. Sorry, but that’s too Romeo and Juliet for me. Plus, I have shared more major life events with my Sydney comrades than I will with any man who comes into my life. Don’t make me choose between you and them. Just don’t. You won’t like the decision that I make.

And what happened to enjoying the moment in the moment without worrying where it’s heading? Why force it? If something is meant to happen, just let it happen. Yes, that statement crosses into the sticky realm of Fate and Destiny, but it’s my limited experience that no matter how much you want something, trying to mold life into your plans never works. One of the hardest things that any of us will have to do is let go of something we really want and trust that, in one way or another, it- or something better- will come to us. I don’t believe in pushing an agenda; partially because I am painfully aware of the type of female that does, and partially because I try to enjoy the show without peeking behind the curtain. If life has a plan different to the one that you have in your head it’s frustrating as hell, and there will be many nights that you pout into your pillow at the injustice of it all, but at least you won’t frighten said reality away. If you relinquish control, things you want may never come to you, but at least you know that you didn’t fuck them up- they were just never yours in the first place.

Says the emotionally retarded Fem-bot.

Actually, that whole fucking paragraph sounded like a tampon commercial.

Ergh.

Anyway, it was enough to vanquish my fragile emotions. With that conversation, hairline fissures began to appear in my rose-coloured lust goggles. ‘Affectionate’ became ‘Stifling’. ‘Macho’ became ‘Domineering’. And ‘Wow, he’s so open with his feelings’ became ‘Do we have to fucking talk about this again for the love of chocolate just shut up and stop acting like a god-damn woman’. My skin began to crawl. I became infected with Seeing The Future as well, and I didn’t like what I saw. It was suffocating. I was in a locked cage that he perpetually carried, periodically sticking his fingers through the bars for affection-attention?- the last lights of my freedom fading away as he carted me across Central America like a prized parrot.

I know. Poor, poor CC. She finds herself a devastatingly attractive man who appears to be crazy about her and she isn’t happy because it’s just too much. I should dry my tears on sex stained sheets in my fucking beach-side bungalow.

Relationships are delicate in the beginning.  You need rose-coloured glasses when you look at your beloved because you are often discovering all of their idiosyncrasies. The fluffy bubble of infatuation acts as a talisman of sorts. When you are in lust, the fact that they are chintsy, over-protective, or a nocturnal lip-smacker, doesn’t bother you; and you need that to progress beyond the first stage. You need absence, too. To miss them, to think about them. They have to exist in your dura mater as a fond memory for affection to grow. And this wasn’t happening. Titto was poisoning me with his presence. The ‘Leave Sydney’ conversation gave me an urge for space. When he didn’t give it to me, the urge became a compulsion to mentally point out every tiny shortcoming he had.

The decision to leave was a lightning bolt. My poker face is not my strong suit, and he knew that something was up. I politely asked him to leave me alone, which he did- albeit furtively glancing at me from the top of his laptop all morning. When even a silent gaze felt suffocating, I figured that getting breakfast in town by myself was a good idea. I knew that I had to snap myself out of my foul mood, so as I moodily stomped to the main street, I indulged in the sort of practical, reasonable self-talk that every chick does to stop herself emotionally overreacting to something.

And it didn’t work.

The more I thought about the situation, the worse it felt. Finally my brain snapped in a characteristic moment of CC impulsiveness: ‘Fuck this, I’m leaving. Today.

And I did. The hotel in Puerto Escondido was booked as the banana/chocolate crepes were shoved into my gob.

Sounds selfish? It felt awesome.

Freedom is a drug, man.

As is chocolate.

I dreaded telling him. With good cause. He reacted as every man does when their ego is bruised- he became a petulant child: “I knew it, I knew something was wrong. Why do you want to go? Why are you leaving me?” he whined.

What I hoped was gentle came out clichéd: “This isn’t you, dude. It’s me. You have to understand, I have been single for two years. I like my freedom, and to spend a consistent 48 hours with someone is too much. I want space.”

We argued. Why didn’t I go tonight? We could have dinner. Why did I have to leave him right now? Why?

I felt helpless. Cunty. To try and make an awkward situation less painful, I tried throwing money at it. That usually helps, right? “I’ll give you the money for the accommodation.”

He didn’t appreciate being turned into my low-budget rent-boy. “I don’t want the fucking accommodation.”

“I’m only trying to help.”

“I have no reason to stay here without you,” he said sulkily. “The only reason I came here was for you, and now you are leaving me.”

It was a cheap shot that didn’t register. I wanted to say ‘I’m a psych nurse, buddy, and I’ve been through a divorce, if you want to hurt my feelings, you have to try harder than that.

But I didn’t. I acted like an adult. “Well, you can have the money, anyway.” I rose to pack.

He followed. “When did you decide this? Why can’t you leave tomorrow?”

The more he talked, the more my resolve strengthened. I bid him farewell and waited for a taxi to the bus station.

“You really should take a collectivo, instead. It’s more economical.”

I glared at him.

He sighed. “Do what you want.”

In defiance, I paid for a private taxi to drive the hour to Puerto Escondido. From the backseat, with the wind of the highway relentlessly massaging my face, I worked on feeling horribly guilty about what I’d just done.

So, what’s the point of it all?  I’m sure there’s a lesson hiding in this, but what? That I’m emotionally unavailable? I have ridiculously high standards? That I’m just holding out for a six foot fireman who can bench press a fridge? Preferably one who volunteers at an abandoned kitten’s shelter in his spare time. Maybe I should just give up and buy some scented candles.

How about this for a lesson- no matter how many times you make my toes curl, if I begin to feel even the slightest bit trapped, I’ll run like a flock of seagulls?

Get it? “I raaaaannnn, I ran so far awaaaaaayyyy”?

No?

Come on!

Anyway, if nothing else, this experience has strengthened what matters, which means I’m probably Fem-bot Version 2.0. And while I can’t wrap it all up in a neat bow, I can give you a moral- You never chase a Y-chromosome down a rabbit hole.

You only ever chase a white rabbit with a pocket watch because he has the magic mushrooms.

The Adventures of CC and John West

9 Nov

Day of the Dead

Sunday night, I found myself in the middle of a Day of the Dead parade, hurriedly looking over my left shoulder, with a pink iPhone shoved in my underpants.

Yes. In my undies. Down the front.

It’s a sentence that will stop anybody from borrowing my phone ever again. Unfortunately for me and my poor iPhone- which is now affectionately nicknamed John West- I had no other option. How did I wind up in the middle of a street parade with a mobile phone awkwardly prodding at my genitals? Let me explain.

It’s my last night in Oaxaca and I am almost dias de los meurtos‘d out. I’ve hung out in cemeteries with Kentuckians, photographed parades with impossibly chic French women, and tonight I just want to grab some dinner and enjoy the fact that I have my dorm to myself. I’m sitting in Zocalo, smoking and reading a book on my iPhone, when a guy sits uncomfortably close to me, furtively eyeing me as I put my phone back in my pocket. He starts to talk. His name is Gustavo. And, hey, even though we just met, why don’t I add him on Facebook? His eyes drift to my pocket. Right now.

Something about Gustavo gives me the willies. I can’t put my finger on it. It could be that he sat very close to me, it could be that he appears twitchy and nervous, it could be the fact that he was wearing headphones without listening to music (I mean, come on, that’s weird, right?) or it could be the fact that he fingered my ring when he shook my hand.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

I mean, he shook my hand and ran his finger along the Claddagh ring that I wear on my ‘fuck you’ finger, tugging it ever so slightly. In any event, after five minutes I want to leave my creepy companion and retire to my hostel. At 9pm. Like a thirty-something geriatric. I rise.

So does Gustavo.

I pause.

“Go,” he gives a strained smile.

I wait, frowning. “You first.”

He motions with his hand. “No, you.”

It’s an excessively polite Monty Python skit. I start walking. He trails me. I abruptly zig-zag across Zocalo. He zig-zags, too. I reach the edge and stop, turning around. He stops too, pretending to be fascinated by a jewellery stall.

If Gustavo is a crook, he’s a clumsy one. Nonetheless, the walk to my hostel is down a quiet street and I really don’t want to punch a Oaxacian- with or without nefarious motives- so I take the long way through the crowded parades, figuring that I can lose him.

When out at night, I no longer take a bag with me, choosing instead to wander the streets with my possessions in my pockets, like some heavily pear shaped bag-lady. The problem is, Gustavo knows where my iPhone is. I’m not sure if it’s paranoia or common sense that drives this, but I decide to move my stuff from my jeans pockets, just in case. My coin purse fits in my shirt pocket. As I do up the button, I ponder where to put my phone. My shoe? My bra? Oh, wait- I know!

And down the pants it goes. It’s ingenious, really. Look, if the evening were to escalate to a strange hand being in my knickers sans consent, a missing phone will be the least of my worries. And while it’s not comfortable, it is set to vibrate so if someone calls me, well, things will improve considerably.

Hierve el Agua

Twenty hours, a bus, a collectivo taxi and four chain smoking French men later, I am two hours from Oaxaca, at the ethereally beautiful Hierve el Agua.

It’s 5pm, and if I want to make my bus to Pochutla, which leaves Oaxaca at 9.30pm, I should probably leave. It’s still light and I make the 1km walk back up the hill, pausing to admire donkeys, cacti, and men herding goats. Near the top, I see a couple get into a collectivo taxi. Perfect timing. I’ll climb in and be back at the bus station in 45 minutes.

But I wouldn’t be writing this post if the collectivo waited. It didn’t. It skidded away as I was nearing the top.

Hmph.

No problem, though. Another will arrive. I perch on a rock to watch the sun set over the mountains, painting the sky with a kaleidoscope of pink and orange. I take several thousand photos of it.

sunset4sunset3

sunset5

snuset2Beautiful, isn’t it? However, as 5pm slides into 6pm, I begin to wonder where the hell the next collectivo is.

Six melts seamlessly into 6.15. I’m tapping my foot. Hierve has closed. Tour buses are trundling past. Nobody else is making their way up the hill, and the French dudes from before are absent. I begin to wonder: Do collectivos come this late? Am I supposed to wait here? There is nobody to ask. I decide to walk to the guard booth that we passed on the way in. Maybe people are still there. Maybe they can call a collectivo for me. There is one road leading to the booth, so I will pass anything coming this way, anyway.

So I begin to walk.

Alone.

In the middle of nowhere.

At night.

It’s getting cold, so I put my cardigan on, crossing my arms protectively over my chest. It occurs to me that I now look like a horror movie victim. Not the slutty one that dies first, maybe the bookworm who bites it spectacularly in the third act. I’m utterly isolated out here. Even my Mexican SIM card service has abandoned me. My only companion is Mother Nature, and the donkeys that randomly hee-haw my predicament. It felt like Wolf Creek 3. Or Mexican Creek, perhaps: ‘In Hierve el Agua, nobody can hear you scream…

It’s completely dark, did I mention that? Like, totally dark. I can’t see my booted feet on the road. If I don’t get devoured by a carnivorous goat, there is the distinct possibility that I will trip in a pothole and fracture my left ass bone, or step in a bear trap and have to gnaw a limb off like a rabid monkey. Therefore, to keep myself from spinning out, I begin to sing ‘Dry the Rain’ by The Beta Band.

This is the definition of my life, lying in bed in the sunlight…

So, at this point I have officially lost my mind.

A set of headlights approaches. Feeling more and more like Laurie ‘Boo’ Myers, I flag it down. It swerves past me, slams on the brakes, fishtails, and halts. It sits, idling maliciously. With a small amount of trepidation, I approach.

The Golf Cart

Hola,” I begin uncertainly. “Ah…” I pause to gather the correct words, then begin in a slow, overly-enuncative voice. “Neccissito una collectivo taxi para la Mitla autobus stacion?

His reply? Spanish. Of course.

I try again. “Autobus? Para Oaxaca?

Spanish.

Nothing is ever easy. In frustration, I throw random words at him: “Autobus. Mitla. Oaxaca. Saucepan. Toilet seat. Turtle procreation proclamation. Anything?”

This continues for an uncomfortably long period of time until I begin to understand a single word he is saying: “Voy.” i.e.- ‘Go.’ He gestures to the cart and I come to the hopeful conclusion that he’s saying, ‘Jump in, love. My chariot will rescue you on this cold evening.’

Five minutes later I am sitting in a golf cart as we drive back to the place where people wait for collectivos. We pass it.

Nothing is ever easy. Where the fuck is he taking me?

A group of people stand on the road, holding hands like some Hillbilly Mexican Manson family. The cart skids to a halt. The Manson’s approach. Two men, two women, two children. They begin to pile in. I skid over. The women are particularly portly and won’t fit. I skid over more. I now have one ass cheek perched precariously on the seat. They fit. Unfortunately, I don’t. A man sits beside the driver. There is still a man and two children to fit into an already full golf cart. In the spirit of charity, I move my bag from my lap. A moment later I have a small child randomly perched on it. Her sister stands beside her, staring at me in that openly curious way that kids do. A lady gets out, a man gets in, the lady sits on his lap.

We now have 8 people stuffed into a vehicle no bigger than a 1976 Mini Cooper.

Pause and picture that.

I am shoved up against the side of the cart, angled diagonally, holding onto the seats. I look like a proud father with his arms around the family at Christmas dinner, but there is terror in my eyes, so I probably look like Tony Soprano during the final season of The Sopranos. With, you know, hair and stuff. Wait, he’s dead now, isn’t he? Okay, so I look like a live, female, average weight version of-

You know what? Never mind.

Anyway, the side of the cart is made of flimsy, waterproof fabric. There’s no guarantee it will support my weight. The whole thing smells like an impending brain injury. The golf cart’s engine is spluttering and, in a mark of automotive protest, it won’t travel beyond the speed that the average egg-and-spoon race is run at. This gives me plenty of time to think about how much easier my life would be if I stuck to organised tours like a proper tourist, instead of stubbornly opting to do it all myself. I could be in an airconditioned tour bus right now, happily trancing out to the new Opeth record on my iPod. Instead, I am squished like a Skittle between a fat woman, a sheet of oil cloth, and a potential future in a motorised wheelchair.

Life on the Highway

After fifteen days, the family exit the cart. My ass can spread out again. There is relief for five minutes. Then, relief turns to horror as I am deposited on the freeway like a sex crime victim.
It’s every little girl’s dream to one day be left standing on a highway, at night, in the freezing cold, with a now almost desperate urge to urinate, isn’t it? The driver thought so. He pointed at the small group of people waiting, called out, “Collectivos!” and gaily puttered up the hill.

Apparently, this is where the collectivo’s pick you up to take you back into town. I wait awkwardly beside my car-less comrades. It’s just after 7pm. We are in the middle of what could arguably be the desert. Despite wearing jeans and a cardigan, my teeth are chattering.

Ha- I am now officially The Chattering Cat.

*Boom tish* Thanks folks. Hey, try the brisket- it’s fantastic.

For every set of approaching headlights, the four of us desperately throw our hands out. Cars speed past. Hitchhiking seems like an option. Or suicide. Or, frankly, squatting to pee in front of strangers.

I’m not sure how I get myself into these predicaments. Really. I don’t welcome chaos. I don’t ask for trouble. But when I travel, my sense of wonder often runs neck-and-neck with anxiety and dread. Let’s not forget that I have no fucking idea where I am. Well, I can pinpoint “Mexico” and in a pinch narrow it down to “two hours from Oaxaca”, but aside from that I’m screwed. I could be on Pluto. It’s certainly cold enough. I smoke cigarette after cigarette, trying to stave off cold, hunger and possible stress incontinence.

Life would be so much easier if I knew more Spanish. I could ask these people beside me, ‘What the fuck is going on (!?!) Is it normal to wait a fucking decade for a fucking collectivo on the fucking highway at mothershagging nighttime?! How do you people do this? Why do you do this? Yes, the night sky is radiantly pregnant with twinkling stars, but there is a little place called civilisation, and in it they have transportation options. Let’s talk about that over a Corona sometime.’ We would bond. They’d hug me, adopt me as a foul-mouthed surrogate child, and I’d feel infinitely better about the whole ‘I’m kind of almost lost’ mess.

The Dudes

A bus approaches. Without thinking, I stick my arm out. It slows. I get on with one other fellow. The doors creak shut behind us.

The bus contains men. All men. Workers, by the look of them. There is one seat available. I take it. I have no idea where the bus is going but it’s warm, there is Mambo music playing, and it smells like the Miami Heat locker room after a Celtics game: sweat, dejection, blood, and cum.

The bus stops. Half of the people get off. The driver turns and addresses me in Spanish.

I suppose that I have to get off the bus now.

Wait- I have to get off the bus?!

…No!

It’s warm and safe and although your taste in music sucks, I’m not standing on the fucking cold freeway again.

I can’t guarantee that I didn’t say that out loud. Really, I don’t remember. I think I disassociated.

He says “taxi”, points, then physically shooed me. Off the bus. Now. Come on you silly tourist. I don’t have all night.

I exit the bus. He doesn’t charge me. Small win.

AND I discover that he has dropped me outside the bus station that I initially caught a collectivo to Hierve from.

Awesome.

But it’s now shut.

Hmph.

Three guys from the bus approach me. They ask where I am going. Tired, desperate and thoroughly fed up, I pout, “Oaxaca. Taxi,” and cross my arms like a two-year old. They reply in Spanish. I don’t understand them. They motion up the road. “Taxi. Oaxaca. Aqui.”

I walk. They turn around every now and then, addressing me in Spanish. I repeat the one phrase that, ironically, I can now say flawlessly, “I’m sorry, but I only speak a little Spanish.” They laugh but continue to speak Spanish. Since I have no idea what they are saying, I begin to answer thusly, “Yes…no…bottom left…fourty seven…last Tuesday…”

One says, “Speak English.”

Yes. Not ‘hablas inglés‘ but ‘speak English’.

I stop, now more than a little indignant. “Can you guys speak fucking English?”

They laugh. “A little.”

Cunty. Very cunty.

They ask if I want to go and smoke some weed with them. Oh, sure, I think. I’d love to abandon my inhibitions with a group of strangers who have spent the last ten minutes poking fun at me. Sounds awesome. Let me get my coat. “No, thanks,” I begin with a smug grin, “I don’t smoke weed anymore. You see, I smoked a lifetime’s allowance between the ages of twenty and twenty two and I have to wait for the multiverse to catch up with me.” Sure they can’t understand me, but being clever in stressful situations makes me feel slightly better.

As we walk, my paranoia rises (see why I don’t smoke weed?!) I have no idea where I am going, I just know that three guys have indicated that if I follow them down a dark street, I can get a taxi. The walk begins to feel like a trail of lollies leading to the witches house in the forest. Following total strangers into darkness seems about as clever as amputating fingers with toenail clippers. So I try to find a taxi as I walk. But whenever I stop to flag an approaching set of headlights, the guys stop, too. They tell me that I have to keep going. I have to follow them because taxis don’t stop on the street.

Seriously- what the fuck kind of bullshit is that? ‘Taxis won’t stop on the street’? I just hailed a motherfucking bus from the highway. And it’s been my experience that you can’t walk down the road anywhere in Mexico without a taxi hopefully beeping it’s horn at you. Either you can hail them from the street, or I perpetually have a stream of toilet paper trailing from my pants and they are trying to tell me.

Now I’m convinced- following these boys any further will be about as safe as a marriage to Ike Turner. I stop in front of a store that appears to be open. The store owners are standing at the door. Good. Witnesses. I open my mouth to say, ‘My name is Casey Millikin and in the event of my disappearance please call the Australian Embassy on-‘ when one of the guys walks back to me, stopping just inside my personal space. “You have to follow us to get a taxi.”

“That’s okay,” I say, looking at approaching headlights. “I’ll hail one here.”

“Are you scared,” he asks suddenly.

This catches me off guard, which apparently makes me forget how to speak. “…Hu?”

He grins malevolently. “Are you scared?”

“No, I’m not scared,” I say, sounding fucking terrified. Of course I was scared. You’d be, too. Only a high level sociopath would feel no fear in that situation.

He lunges at me. “BOO!”

I still had to wee, you know. It’s a miracle that I didn’t widdle like a firehose in fright. In fact, if I had spent my life procreating like a normal person rather than existing in a state of arrested development, it’s entirely possible that a weakened pelvic floor would have made me wet my pants right there. He walks away laughing and I bravely mumble that he should really find an opportune time to fuck his mother.

The dudes leave. I remain stubbornly in front of the store. Another golf cart approaches. I flag it down.

Necessito taxi para Oaxaca?”

He drives me 200m up the road and charges me ten pesos. No- It’s not a rip-off. It’s the best ten pesos that I have ever spent. It’s a dollar that assuages my fear. It’s a coin that ensures I won’t make a YouTube cameo as a headless corpse in a snuff video.

Anyway, to wrap it all up, I get a cab to Oaxaca, pick up my luggage from the hostel, have the best wee ever, and make it to the bus station with three minutes to spare.

I said before that I don’t know how I get myself into these predicaments. I have an idea, it’s probably my robust taste for adventure- the same thing that will arguably be my downfall; but I’d be lying if I said that a small part of me didn’t enjoy these moments. Not at the time- at the time I’m a puddle of anxiety and fear- but in retrospect when I am safe, weeing, and warm, I giggle like a maniac. Perched on the hostel loo, enjoying a good-ol’ micturition, I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to stifle the laughter. The thing about periodically finding yourself in situations where you don’t know if you are going to make it out without the loss of your dignity is that you really appreciate the little lights beyond the tunnel: flushing toilets, safety, the first drag of a Marlboro Light washed down with a mouthful of lemonade while waiting for your bus to Pochutla to arrive. My god. They’re like sunshine in summer.

The point of this post was actually to point out that my, um, Cuban experience has infected me with moderate levels of paranoia. I’m not sure I like it. It’s making me paranoid, actually. I’m paranoid about becoming paranoid. I usually don’t look at the world through a filter of mistrust. I usually don’t keep a mobile phone in my underpants. Here, I have had two evenings in a row where my survival instincts have come online. While it’s nice to know that I have enough common sense and intuition to allow me to escape unharmed; it’s also a big crash to earth to discover that you can’t automatically trust people. Maybe I’m not paranoid, maybe I just have a sense of safety awakening in me, something animalistic that has stirred and raised it’s furry head from slumber. Maybe there’s a fine line between security conscious and paranoid; and I am, for the first time, learning to skirt it.

Whatever it is, please call me on +52 5551 366 354. Anytime. I may need help, or I may just have a mobile phone in an opportunistic location. Either way, you will quickly become my favourite person.

Stranger than truth

4 Sep

I’ve swore off internet dating.

For the thirteenth time.

I wasn’t ecstatic at the thought of returning to Plenty of Fish, but a dry fortnight turned into a dry month that turned into dirty dreams about the cute butcher with shoulders like a Frigidaire and, since I was coming dangerously close to dry humping a random stranger, I sighed and dusted off my profile.

I started chatting to a guitarist in a punk band- continuing my almost comical weakness for creative types, something I blame entirely on my ex-boyfriend. He was a bass player. Who wrote poetry about me. I’d watch his fingers glide nimbly over the frets at his gigs and swoon like some puffed up, rubenesque Edie Sedgwick. It was heady. He ruined me.

Anyway, The Musician seemed nice at first. Funny, clever, bearded. We organised a date and worked on bonding through unbearably witty text exchanges. However, as is so often the case with men on dating sites, it got weird.

If I didn’t immediately reply to a text, he would message me again.

And again.

And again.

I’d reply. We’d chat. I’d stop.

My phone would chirp.

Again.

And

Again.

There are several things that you don’t want to find yourself doing before a first date. Flinging outfits around the room in a clichéd Hollywood montage is one, and saying “Oh, for fuck sake” in a slightly resigned tone when your phone beeps is another. One morning I woke up to this:

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He was into fish, alright? He worked in an aquarium store. No, I’m not making that up. Yes, it is ironic given that he was on Plenty of Fish and…whatever. Truth is sometimes stranger than…whatever. Let’s move forward.

We’d been chatting until late the night before and I needed a lame manatee meme at 8a.m. as much as I needed one at any time of the day, which is: not at all. I deleted the text and rolled over.

8:30 a.m. – Not a fan of manatee humor, huh?

8:40 a.m. – More of an Emperor Penguin girl?

10:03 a.m. – How’s your day?

11:15 a.m. – 

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11:17 a.m.

download

12:45 p.m – You sleep late, Cinderella

3:32 p.m. – How do you feel about anal bleaching?

Anal bleaching finally garnered a response, though perhaps not the one he was after. I told him that he’d manatee’d me to death. Oh, the hu-manatee. The date was cancelled and my Plenty of Fish account ignored for a few months.

A few weeks ago, I logged in to delete the account once and for all. My brief presence on the site was time enough for a Beneficial Friend from earlier to jump back on the hook. (Ha! See what I did there?) Long story short, I had an uncategorizable tryst with this fellow late last year. He cancelled a few dates and gave me a case of the crankies- which sounds suspiciously like an STD, but is actually the by-product of standing me up to do cocaine with a club-footed flight attendant, or stewardess, or whatever the politically correct term for those overly-coiffed sky whores is.

That part isn’t even true. Just funny.

The truth is that he jerked me around and I abruptly terminated our beneficial agreement, ignoring his subsequent text messages. After seeing me pop up on Plenty of Fish his beseeching texts resumed, escalated to a spot of friendly social media stalking, and, well, since a dry month had turned into a dry…um…anyway, let’s just say he wore me down to a nub and I agreed to see him again.

It wasn’t a date. It was an unclassifiable evening. I was simply a selfish girl using an equally selfish man for a mutually beneficial transaction. You might think that makes me a tramp. I wish I could care. I don’t indulge in casual sex nearly as often as this blog suggests. Too much of it can make you feel empty. It’s refilling a glass with fluid that slowly evaporates as a dry week turns into a dry month, but topping the glass up too often sends spidery cracks splintering down the sides. No amount of casual sex is worth the amazing feeling of waking up next to someone who gives you a look that says, ‘Golly, I’m glad that you exist and that you happen to be naked beside me at this point in time’. No amount of emotionless physicality is a trade for real chemistry with another person, and I would never relinquish that. My x-rated business transaction was little more than scratching an itch. I reasoned that instead of slowly fucking my way through the men of Sydney, I was recycling. It was ingenious. I was cutting the sleeves off an old shirt and pinning a gaudy brooch to it in the hopes that I could flog one more wear out of it.

At the beginning of the evening, I was waiting at the bar while he went to the bathroom. Upon returning, he slipped a hand in the back pocket of my jeans. “I saw this chick with a fantastic ass standing at the bar,” he murmured in my ear, “and I got a little buzz when I realised she was with me.” Ugh. Player. Still, it was nice that the squats I had been steadily doing at the gym were acknowledged, even though he was admitting to checking out other women on our unclassifiable-evening without expressly admitting it. Which is poor form. It’s the almost-dating equivalent of looking over the shoulder of the person that you are talking to at a party in case someone better is behind them. But, this wasn’t a date, so I let it slide. I made a flippant comment about how all men should worship my perfect derrière. Then I had to explain what a derrière was. Then I had to assure him that I wasn’t French. I think he was disappointed. Our drinks arrived, I took a swig and the evening whirled from Coogee to The Retro to, bafflingly, The Marble Bar where we drank overpriced vodkas and mocked the rich people around us.

The following morning his hand woke me up, and I can say with total certainty that a cold digit fumbling your private parts is a subpar alarm clock. I rolled over, giving a half-asleep snuffle that was hopefully adorable- but probably closer to the noise that a suckling piglet makes- and politely explained that, at 6.30 in the morning, the only horizontal action I’d engage in consensually was sleep. At daybreak, I usually wanted nothing stiffer than a double espresso inside me. I wasn’t actually human until the sun was up for a few hours. In fact, he wasn’t speaking to CC at the moment, he was dealing with CC’s representative, and she can be crabby when groped in the bleak light of dawn. We kissed and I rolled over, letting out another snuffle and burying my face in a pillow that smelt strangely metallic.

Two minutes later, the sheet lifted, tickling my back. I figured he was going to the toilet. The sheet hung, suspended in the air like a half pitched tent. I frowned into the pillow. What on earth is going on? There was a small moan, a guttural noise of (hopefully) delight, and, finally, a rhythmic squelching.

He was jerking off.

With my face now arranged in utter mortification, and buried in sheets that had the unmistakable odour of the rejected early morning advances of women past, I began to wonder what the etiquette for such a situation was. Did I lie perfectly still? Lift my rear end slightly to pose? Pop on some porn? Roll over to offer a hand?

Fuck that, I thought. I don’t like anyone enough to give them a mildly hungover handjob at dawn.

As the squelching sped up, I figured that the best thing to do would be to feign sleep and hope that he didn’t finish on my leg. I lay still, indulging in the sort of self talk that comes when you find yourself having front row seats to- and seemingly being the star of- a male masturbation fantasy. I reasoned that this was simply a gentlemanly gesture. He was rocking me to sleep. Like a lewd lullaby. He was holding the sheet up in the air in case I was too warm. Maybe it was an obscure compliment- maybe he was suggesting that I’m hot. It was pornographic praise. I did tell him to worship my ass, I thought to myself. Maybe he took me literally. Eventually- finally?- he finished. There was a slapping sound that I imagined was him somehow high fiving himself. He wiped himself on the sheet, rolled over, nuzzled my hair, pinched the roll of flesh on my belly and asked if I felt like pizza for breakfast.

You probably think that I’m lying. That I’ve graduated from embellishment to balls-out making shit up. I wish I was. I wish I had a normal undefinable evening with a normal uncategorizable man who woke me up by spooning me, or making me coffee, or telling me that I had enough crust to crumb a flathead around my eyes, rather than a fiend that jerks off over me while I pretend to sleep.

I was biting the insides of my cheeks, biting my tongue, biting a knuckle. Doing anything that I could to keep in the giggles that were threatening to erupt. I was shaking with the effort of not laughing. My representative was shrieking at me to get dressed and get the fuck out of the house.

I gathered my clothes and dressed in the hallway. His flatmate chose that moment to pad to the bathroom, and was confronted by a dishevelled, half-naked, rubenesque deer in the headlights. I grabbed my shoes, opened the door, tripped over my feet, and nearly broke a hip falling down the stairs. I regained my balance and threw my head back, letting out great shrieking cackles of laughter.

On the train home I messaged my friend.

“It’s never easy with you, is it?” he replied.

No. It’s probably not. But at least it’s entertaining.