29 July, 2011

Out of the Past I

I wondered whether this was too pissy to post about. Then I had a look through the Lad Litter archives. And came to the conclusion that this might just be the equivalent of a Foreign Policy White Paper by comparison with some of the complete piffle I've churned out on this blog. Plus, it gave me a pretty good excuse to use the title of my all-time favourite film to head up a post. Evocative, no?

I'm on Facebook. I have the security settings on Friends Only, but my name and profile image are searchable. I'm not on it all the time like some, but I do attend to it by putting up the odd smart-aleck comment on my wall and the occasional patronizing and by-no-means-heartfelt "like" on friends' wall posts. It's the nature of the medium, boys and girls. Facebook, where the shallowness glows wanly through even the densest layers of mock-sincerity.

But I'm not really as cynical about Facebook as all that. No, if used for niceness and goodness instead of meanness and rottenness, it works pretty well. Except for the people who seem to think you're important enough to send a friend request to, but that you lack the critical cachet needed for them to actually reply to any message you might send them.

But as I said, it's not like I check in on Facebook all that often, just now and then. So it was something of a surprise to find about a month ago that I'd received a message from someone whose name I didn't recognize. The message wanted to know if I was the same tall Lad Litter with long blond hair who'd gone to a particular inner suburban high school. She identified herself by mentioning that she'd dated a mate of mine from those days. I told her I remembered her well, but not to leave the porch light on for any long blond hair.

I also let her know that I hadn't maintained contact with her old boyfriend for long after school had finished and had no idea where he might be. That didn't seem to faze her, so we exchanged messages about current events and figures in our lives and briefly and superficially discussed my reluctance to engage in any cavalacade of reminiscence about that time. It's been quite a lovely correspondence.

But back in 1976, she used to wait in the mornings at the Mt Rd tram stop at the top of my street. I'd cycle past on the footpath on the other side of that busy road. She was on her way to the Catholic girls' school in North Melbourne and used to wait there with a friend. We'd be looking at each other as I rode past, the two girls and I, but without any interest, just awareness. Some mornings I'd wave to them, but I can't remember if they ever waved back, or just rolled their eyes. If it was eye-rolling, someone had given them sound advice.

It was such a small part of all our days that I'm sure none of us gave it much thought at all. Besides, they looked a couple of years younger than me too.

Late December of that year seemed replete with balmy, well-lit evenings and it was my ritual to walk our dog across the park out the back of our place, south along the Moonee Ponds Creek valley, and have a cigarette in one of our kitchen window’s blind spots. Once I'd crested the low hill that put me in Travancore, walking through the naturalized aniseed, I met a bloke I knew on his way to see a mutual friend and neighbour of mine. We smoked and then headed back in the direction of my place. As soon as we'd retraced my steps over the hill, we saw two girls sitting having a chat right in the middle of the park.

Our path was going to take us close by them, but before any awkward encounter could take place, my dog Tiger had sidled over to make friends. The ol’ tail-wagging icebreaker was in top form and seemed to be demonstrating an aptitude for social graces that would elude me for quite a few years more. It was about then I realized it was the two girls from the tram stop. And they’d both turned out to be very attractive.

My Facebook correspondent, Leslie, was tall and with long straight brown hair parted in the middle. It’s a look that just always seems to work. As well, she seemed graceful and smart. Her friend Lisa was a stunner. Maybe a bit Mia Freedman-ish with a dash of Sigourney Weaver, although both were unknown in 1976.

I can’t remember much of what was said and it’s probably just as well. Because I’d be guessing that the other guy and I would have been talking a whole load of complete rubbish, trying all-too-desperately to be funny and probably not succeeding. Somewhere during the conversation they worked out that I was the guy on the bike and that sent them into hysterics. I just had to giggle along nervously in the hope they were laughing with me, not at me. You can never be completely sure about that.

But they seemed okay with our gormlessness. So it was nice to learn a couple of weeks later that Lisa had met this guy she really liked. Yeah? It was my neighbour, whose girlfriend lived in Lisa’s nearby street who told me this. He’d heard it from his girlfriend. And his girlfriend reckoned the guy was me.

01 July, 2011

The ICE Queen Cometh

I sometimes get text messages from TLOML at work. No, not the Liz Hurley-Shane Warne type. Just mundane family stuff like, would I pick something up from the supermarket on the way home? Did I remember to call our accountant? That sort of thing. Alright, usually there'll be one of those cheesy little emoticons attached, but nothing salacious. Certainly nothing in the kick-arse department, that's for sure. No, if I need a bollocking, that can wait till I get home.

Except for the text I received one morning this week. It was from a newly-created contact, Your Wife, which I hadn't entered myself, and went something like this:

The name is TLOML, you smartarse bastard! And don't you forget it.

I don't mind admitting I went immediately into kangaroo-caught-in-the-headlights mode. What was going on? Had some psychopath tapped into my phone? Wait. Wait a minute, that would represent an obvious but highly plausible and dramatic segue from a couple of previous posts. And would mean that the author of this blog actually has something really interesting and continuity-friendly happen to him from time to time. No, that couldn't be it.I thought I'd better give TLOML a ring to see if she knew anything. I'm pretty sure I gulped audibly just before calling her.

"Hi. Um, did you send me a text message a little earlier?"

"Yes, I did."

Alright. So, what was it all about?"

"Well, see if you can work it out."

"Don't be stupid. I have no idea what it's about."

"Alright then."

She hung up. I had some serious thinking to do. What could I have done to have made her so angry, for chrissakes? And no, I can't write "and then it dawned on me" because bugger me it just didn't. I went on with work for about another couple of hours. Alright, and THEN it dawned on me. I'd heard on the radio just before Christmas that emergency services authorities were recommending people save the phone number of their next of kin in their mobile phone address books so that if anyone was ever injured and unconscious, direct contact with their next of kin could be easily effected. The suggested universal acronym was ICE, for In Case of Emergency.

Was it possible that TLOML had been looking for a contact in my phone's address book, seen her number under ICE, and taken offence? Yes, it was. So I called her back.

"TLOML, listen don't hang up - I think I know what's happened."

"Really? Go on."

"Well, do you remember when I told you how I was listening to the radio and someone from one of the Emergency Services was talking about how difficult it was to to contact the next-of-kin of people who had undergone significant trauma like in an accident and might be unconscious or in shock? And how everyone was being urged to save their next-of-kin's phone number under ICE for In Case of Emergency? Do you remember that?

"Oooohhhhhh, yes I do."

"So you saw that your mobile number was saved as ICE and jumped to what conclusion exactly?

"Um, that you had me saved under ICE in your phone so that when I called you to get you home from the cricket club you could show everyone that The Ice Queen was after you and everyone could have a good old blokey laugh at my expense."

"What?! How's that going to be funny? If I was going for that sort of cheap laugh you'd be saved as Party Pooper Central, Leader of the Opposition or The Handbrake. At least give me some credit."

"Alright, I'm sorry then."

And then we got the giggles. We're still laughing about it.