Monthly Archives: June 2007

How to bury your mother

graves-original.jpgHere is a story my friend Lee told me when we were both sixteen: 

“When I was little, mum used to leave me with the guy next door.  He used to take my clothes off and tie me to the kitchen table.  Then he’d stick things up my arse.  I remember him chasing me around the table once.  When I told mum she said that I was lying and that I was naughty boy.” 

He only partly remembers his dad, a smiling man waving from a tram.  When he asked about his father once his mother told him, “All you need to know about him is that he was a drunk.”  When Lee was about eight his mother sent him to a home for boys.  She didn’t take him there, just sent him off in a taxi with ten bucks in his pocket. 

The driver had a thick accent that scared Lee.  “You must be a naughty boy,” he said. “Only naughty boys get sent to this place.”  

“I’m a good boy,” Lee said.  But the driver didn’t believe him. “Have you got money to pay me?” he asked.   Lee gave him the ten dollars.  At the gates they were met by one of the Brothers.  “This kid’s mother didn’t give me any fare,” the driver said. “Someone has to pay.”  The brother paid him and turned angrily to Lee, “You get up to the house.” 

Years later the Brothers gave him $5 000, all signed off and legal so that he wouldn’t take them to court.  He had to agree not to talk about what had happened to him in that boy’s home.  “I know it wasn’t much money,” he told me, “but I didn’t want to go through all that stuff again.” 

Then, two years ago his mother died.  She was old and lived out her last years as a slightly eccentric old lady who was liked by many at her local church.  When Lee walked into the funeral ceremony I watched his mother’s friends frown at him, filled with anger from the stories his mother had told about him.  She left him nothing, not a cent.  All she owned went to his younger brother, a nice kid who never amounted to anything and lived on the streets of Brisbane. 

They lowered her body into the ground of the graveyard on the red sand hills just out of town.  As people drifted away, I watched Lee pick up a shovel and start throwing dirt into the grave.  No one stopped him.  He was strong and he just kept going, dressed in his white shirt and black tie, sleeves rolled up, sweat pouring down his face.  He just kept going until that hole was filled to the top. 

But I knew he’d buried her a long time ago.  He buried her when he grew into a good man and a talented teacher with a special connection to the dispossessed and lost kids in his class.  I knew he’d buried her when I heard him busking in the café strip, his long fingers sending notes washing over passers-by like gifts.  And one day I saw this great and deep love for their dad in the eyes of his two kids.  

That’s how Lee buried his mother.

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Filed under child abuse, death, friends, loss, Love, rape

Inland

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Do we draw borders around love?  Do we take a great land and make it little with our littleness?  I know that I have at different times of my life. 

Take the time when I was 19. I went for a trip inland with my brother in law Jake who was a sales rep for some mine supplier.  Home from university, I jumped at the chance to see the gold boom for myself.  The two of us spent three days at Mount Gamble and on the third night I found myself at the pub drinking with a group of miners who I’d got to know a bit through Jake.   

One of them, Petey, was about my own age, a farmer’s son who was looking to make a quick buck.  We got on almost straight away and he shielded me a bit from some of the barbed remarks that came my way for my neat clothes and way of talking.  I hardly even swore in those days.  Everyone drank a lot of beer and smoked.  Some played darts; some spilled on to the wide streets of Mount Gamble and talked and argued. 

The smoking became a bit of a joke between Petey and me.  He asked me why I didn’t smoke; I told him I had given up.  I don’t know why I said that.  I had never smoked, couldn’t stand the thought of it.  Maybe I just wanted to fit in with these rough men and their easy confidence and their eyes that looked right into you.  But at least I drank beer and by midnight I was drunk. 

I liked to think of myself as a writer in those days and somehow Petey ended up in my room reading a scrapbook of poetry I carried around with me everywhere.  I could tell he’d probably never read a poem before but he was doing it for me and because he was drunk. 

I took off my shoes and stretched out on my bed.  I noticed cobwebs in the corner of the ceiling.  The bare light bulb hanging in the centre of the room threw a shadow around the upper half of the tin walls.  There was a calendar with a picture of a creek with Gum trees around it.  Underneath the picture it said “Kelvin’s Meat Supplies.”  But I was finding it hard to focus and the letters started to dance. 

I glanced up at Petey who was now looking out of the window into the darkness as if he was thinking.  “What are you doing?” I asked. Petey looked down at me over his shoulder.  “I can’t read anymore, mate.  Actually I feel fucked.” 

“Half your luck,” I said.  I’d meant it as a joke but somehow the words hung heavy between us.  Petey stood up.  “I’m gonna hit the road, man.” But he just stood there still looking out of the window.  And then he glanced at me again and added, “Unless you want me to stay.” 

I sat up on my elbows.  A generator that had been humming outside suddenly stopped with a loud click.  “Nah, I’ve had enough to drink, Petey.” 

“Yeah, right,” he said but there was a touch of antagonism in his tone that I hadn’t heard before.   He looked at me. “Do you do anything other than write?” 

“What do you mean?” I asked.  It was funny because just at that moment, the way he said it, I felt like he knew I’d never smoked.  And that it somehow mattered. 

“Doesn’t worry about it, mate.  I’m pissed.”  Then he moved suddenly towards the door.  “I’m off, mate.” 

I was still leaning on my elbows.  I heard his steel capped boots walking down the wooden passage.  Then the generator clicked on again.  I stood up and looked at my scrapbook open to some poem about love.  I was 19 and I didn’t have a clue about love really. 

Suddenly Petey was at the door again.  He was leaning against the doorframe and he was smoking.  Before I could speak he said, “I hate bullshit, mate; I fuckin’ hate it.” 

“So do I, Petey,” I said but the words were lame and they just fell on the floor between us. 

“No, mate, I really fuckin’ hate it, you know?”  He straightened himself up like he’d made up his mind to say something but it just made him look like a kid somehow.  Maybe he felt the same because he smiled and his voice was kind of sheepish and firm and slow at the same time.  “And so I came back to tell you that I like you and I didn’t want another drink just now.  That wasn’t what I was saying, OK?” 

I felt stupid just standing there.  Petey was looking right into my eyes now.  “Do you get it, mate?  I can’t stand bullshit and I didn’t want to end the night with bullshit and all that unsaid crap and lies.”  Then something made him laugh and I think it was embarrassment.  I laughed too. 

“You should write, Petey.” 

“And you should smoke.”  He reached out his hand to me.  “Now I really am off,” he said.  Then we shook hands and though he didn’t avert his eyes I could see a faint blush spreading across his neck. 

“I like you too, Petey,” I said.  “Now fuck off and let me get some sleep.” 

The next day I went back to the coast.  I never saw Petey again. And a few days after the trip inland I started smoking.

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Filed under australia, drinking, drunk, friends, life, Men, sexuality, writing, youth

200 Philistine Foreskins

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I think in the back of every atheist’s mind is the comforting thought that, even if they got it wrong and Heaven and Hell do exist, God will give them credit for integrity.  I mean, not believing in God is the expression of the very free will God granted, isn’t it?  And, if we are to believe anything that the Church says at all, why not the bit that says God is love. 

Or is that kind of like hedging your bets?  As if we can rely on God to forgive us because he’s merciful.   

But what if he’s not?  What if he is actually an extremely angry and punitive Father and he really art in Heaven? 

And there is definite evidence of God’s magnanimity in the Old Testament.  For example, one day King Saul offers David, Beloved of God, his daughter’s hand in marriage on the condition that he kill 100 Philistines and return with their foreskins as proof.  David, an early over-achiever, returns with 200 foreskins, which works out to be a really bad day for the court foreskin-counter.   

Now, according to the word of God, those Philistines really came in for a hammering and many and varied are the ways in which they meet their sticky ends.  Or, in this case, many are the ways in which their ends became sticky. 

And I don’t think atheists should go to their own just reward with the faint hope that Jesus will stick up for them.  Even he lost it sometimes, as is evidenced by his somewhat violent behaviour towards the sellers in the temple.  What will he make of some left wing, smart arse intellectual who spent his life claiming he had no father? 

It all sounds a bit risky to me.  Perhaps, as the foreskin-free Philistines found, no matter which we you cut it, not believing in God is even more dangerous than smoking.  Verily.

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Filed under atheism, Bible, death, fear, foreskins, jesus, Religion

The upside down river

I grew up on a large empty river, lined with gum trees and winding outwards from the heart of my empty country. Along time ago the Ingaada people lived there. It was peaceful enough around the river’s mangroved and windblown mouth until the squatters came and then the missionaries.  After that, the Ingaada were gone forever. 

But that river was not as dry as it looked.  Deep under the its hot sands, giant aquifers fed the thirsty plants of the banana growers whose plantations lined its ancient banks.  My grandfather called it the upside down river. 

Once or twice a year brown water would surge seawards from the east, brought to us from unseen rain somewhere over the flat horizon.  When the river past it’s zenith and steadied to a clear shallow stream we boys would go lashing. 

It was Marko who taught us how to twist two equal lengths of fencing wire into a steel lash about the length of our bodies.  Then we would trot through the water on tireless feet searching for the silver flash of schools of small fish.  We would rain down our lashes scattering the silver sheen into helpless fragments, sundering flesh, and exposing the tiny, perfect innards. 

We were thirteen and cruel. We cheered and laughed with breaking voices. 

And then one day Marko’s older sister joined us.  Unca was sixteen and went to the Catholic school.  I don’t think we had ever talked to her.  I don’t think we had even noticed her.  But we did that day.  She ran ahead of us wearing a brown bikini and looking over her shoulder saying, “Run faster, you boys!”.  Her legs were brown and when she leaned over we could see the paleness where her breasts began.  When she spoke it was odd like a boy but hoarse.  When she laughed her white teeth flashed and her black eyes swept us with disdain. 

“You boys are too slow.” She stopped and held her lash behind her. “And weak.”  We heard the lash swish through the air and strike the shallow water like a hammer.  Dead fish floated towards us.  “All in one hit.   That’s how you do it.” 

Later we sat down and I stared at her as she sat silently kicking holes in the sand with her bare ankles.  I had never seen a woman this close.  I watched the drops of water drying on her shoulders and a feeling came over me like love but I knew it couldn’t be love but it made me feel sick and helpless like the fish. 

And then she stood up and, without even looking at us, said, “You boys are boring.”  She climbed the grassy bank and walked slowly back towards the tin packing shed. I’d like to say that I followed her and that, between the cardboard packing cases and with the smell of over-ripe bananas, she took me gently from a boy to a man. 

But that wouldn’t happen for a few more years and then it was someone else and I was drunk and awkward and dumb with my lanky legs sticking out from the back seat of my mother’s Datsun 120Y. 

Years later I saw her in another town.  She had her own business.  She was beautiful and when she spoke she said she remembered me.  “You were one of Marko’s friends.” And there was that voice like a boy but hoarse.  A feeling started in my belly and swam towards my chest.  I said, “I live here now; I’ll see you again.”  And I walked out but I never did see her again. 

I bumped into Marko himself about six years after that.  He had this long haired girl on his arm.  He sold drugs.  He was cool like a thug.  “Unca?” he said.  “She married a pig.  I told her leave him but women like pigs, you know.  Anyway they got two kids and she’ll never leave without them.  Life turned out bad for her, you know.” 

I bought him a beer.  I asked him, “Do you remember when we went lashing?” And then we got drunk and we didn’t spoke of Unca again.  

I keep that feeling for her deep beneath the surface of my life.

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Filed under life, loss, Love, memory, sex, youth

Hands-free masturbation

I can’t believe that I joined one of those online dating agencies last week.  And only a year after the last time. 

Suddenly I am inundated by the virtual kisses of people who want to treat me to candle-lit dinners and empty moonlit beaches.  Yeah, right. But I’ve been there, I’m afraid.  And I know what we’ll talk about over those romantic dinners and evening strolls beside the water: fucking house renovations.  And in the morning I’ll end up at the hardware store looking for tools I never heard of to do jobs that my teachers told me I could avoid if I got an education. 

So, I’m taking my profile off the net again.  There has to be another way to find love.  Short of buying it, that is.

 

 Not that I have ever bought love.  OK, let’s not be coy here.  For a start, you can’t buy love or talent or virtue or anything else actually worth having.  But you can buy sex and I have never bought sex.   

That is, I have never paid money for sex; we all pay for sex in some way.  Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t.  You just have to accept it like you do when you walk out of a used car yard – it doesn’t matter what deal you think you got, you know you just got screwed. 

Anyway, back to sex and the purchase thereof.  I do not have anything against paying for sex per se other than the fact that it is rarely sold by those with power, which suggests to me that buying sex is probably about exploitation.  But that is another story and that is not the reason that I have never paid for sex.   

Although perhaps I wish it was. 

The fact is, while I am quite comfortable to suspect my sexual partner is lying, I just can’t relax knowing that they’re lying.  Of course, the whole nature of human intercourse, sexual and social, is one of lying e.g. “I’ll always love you.”  “Your hair looks nice.”  “No, this dress is not new; I bought it on sale months ago.”  The list is infinite.  

But paying for sex is to knowingly buy into the lie without even the remotest hope of love, without the slimmest possibility of happiness.  Just hands-free masturbation performed to someone else’s script.  And a pretty clichéd script, it is (so I’m told). 

I can’t perform like that, just can’t suspend my belief for that long.   

And anyway, I’ve lived long enough to learn this; that the things you buy became stuff; but the things you’re given became treasures.  

That is, of course, with the exception of sexually transmitted diseases. 

Of course, I could just stay as I am; lonely but with complete control of the TV remote.  Maybe it really is true what they say: that there’s someone in the world for everyone and, if you’re lucky, you miss them.

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Filed under humour, life, Love, masturbation, sex

8 Random things about Oscarandre

  1. picasso-guitara-player.jpgI was once married to a perfectionist until I decided that I couldn’t spend my life scrubbing flaws. 
  2. For a while I flirted with being gay but found that this lifestyle cannot be sustained on the simple premise that the world is full of arseholes.
  3. I have the temperament of an artist but without any redeeming talent.
  4. Artistically I am a nihilistic minimalist, which is nothing to write about, I can tell you.
  5. My main hobby is ennui and I have managed to combine this cleverly with my career.
  6. For a long time I thought I was paranoid schizophrenic but the doctor told me that the nagging little voices would disappear when my kids left home.
  7. I am interested in sex but the feeling is not reciprocated.
  8. When I grow up I want to be like my Dad but not so old (or sleeping with my mother).

 Caveblogemand solnushka nominated me for this meme so you can pass on your thanks by visiting their blogs

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Filed under art, gay, humour, life, self