Things an Australian ACTUALLY Learns Moving to the U.S.

“Five Things Australians Learn When They Move to the U.S.” the article link told me. First of all, I bloody love a list. Second of all, I’m an Australian who’s moved to the U.S.! What could be more relevant to me?

Literally anything, it turns out, as the list was actually just a long-form advertisement for a money exchange website. I mean, there was a list, but it had clearly been bashed out by an intern with eight minutes to spare, so the content was, in a word, shit. Here are the things that were touted to me as “things I’d learn”:

  1. Minimum wage is lower! The first thing on the list was as dry as it was already known by everyone.
  2. University tuition is higher! What they actually meant is that student loans have to be paid back faster, but never fuck up a good story with facts, am I right?
  3. They use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius! This is 110° of dull.
  4. They drive on the other side of the road! Oh wow way to bury the lede, list. This is mindblowing! Whoaaaaaaaaa etc.
  5. They use dryers! Um. What? So this was some meandering, unfocused commentary on…electricity use? Water use? The weather in Cairns allowing people to hang their clothes on the line all year? It touched all those points, and it was drivel.

But of course it was drivel, it was hastily farted out copy meant to distract you from the fact that the entire website was an advertisement.

This website, on the other hand, is not one of those things (though feel free to spend money on me if you want). So I’m going to use my six weeks and five days of experience to tell you what an Australian actually learns when they move to the U.S. These facts are presented in no particular order, and entirely without apology. They are also 100% factually accurate. Don’t email me.

1. Your accent is adorable…until you say the word “capsicum”. capsicumI became sexual hot property when I set foot in this country, based solely on the sound of my voice. Check the facts: I couldn’t get a date to save my life in Melbourne; over here I already have a boyfriend. (Now, before you go me for clunkily shoehorning the fact I have a boyfriend into this post, I submit to you that waiting a whole 328 words before mentioning it shows remarkable restraint on my part: it was almost part of the title). I say a lot of words differently to Americans—jumper for sweater, Autumn for Fall, doona for comforter, Minogue for Jenner—but nothing sends my New York friends into a more violent rage than when I call a “bell pepper” a “capsicum”. I can’t even explain why. They just HATE IT. Look, I’m not saying you have to assimilate: you can eat Vegemite and call everyone mate and keep all the Us in your spelling if you want to be belligerent. But if you’re going to make ONE concession, make it the abandonment of the word “capsicum”.

2. CVS coupons are next-level. cvsI come from a land of Shop-a-Dockets: coupons and advertisements printed on the back of shopping receipts that offered everything from 10% off a wheel alignment to a free small muffin at The Coffee Club and everything in between. I thought I knew receipt coupons. But CVS? Oh man, they do not fuck around. They have discounts and cash back offers and buy-one-get-one-free deals and the receipts you get unravel before you like a train on a royal bridal gown. And there’s no limit to how you use them? I’m pretty sure one time Tracey, my surrogate sister here in America, walked out of a CVS with a bag full of groceries and more money than she went in with. I myself got a four dollar discount on something today for NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER. I used to be too embarrassed to use Shop-a-Dockets, but CVS coupons are like a long-form logic puzzle and I’m already hooked.*

3. The toilets have too much water in them. toiletThey’re fishbowls for your poop. Sit down for long enough and you’re essentially a steamer pot perched above a soup of your own creation. It is eleven years since my first trip to the U.S. and I’m still not 100% comfortable with the way the toilets work here.

4. But all that water and the way they flush is effective.stoppoopingOkay, fine. Yes. I’ll admit that. It’s very swirly and effective. But it doesn’t make having a glistening, floating display case for your turds any less fucked up.

5. The coffee is fine. coffeeHonestly, shut up about it. Or don’t (I sure don’t), but at least know what you’re being an obnoxious prick about, ie. IT’S AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT TYPE OF COFFEE. It’s filter coffee. Filter coffee tastes the same if you make it in the southern hemisphere. There are places to get a latte literally everywhere around here, and while they all vary in quality, that is true of everywhere**.  (And don’t try to tell me some nonsense about filter coffee being better in Australia especially if the next words out of your mouth are “cold drip” that shit is fucking. disgusting.)

6. The internet is so fast.geoblockIt’ll bring a tear to your eye. And nothing is geoblocked. At least, nothing worth complaining about. I’m on a phone plan with unlimited data and I can just watch Netflix whenever I want, wherever I want and I HAVE NEVER FELT SO FREE. I have also moved to a city where there is so much happening at all times I don’t have a fraction of the time to watch Netflix that I used to, but it’s just nice to know it’s there.

7. Happy Hour will genuinely make you happy. margaritaWhat’s a standard Happy Hour special in Australia? Coronas are $7 instead of $9? All drinks are full price but you get an unpunched face? Happy Hours over here go for FOUR HOURS and you can get a full margarita for six bucks. I’m HOME.

I’ve also learnt that light switches and mailboxes are enormous, train conductors will yell at you if they catch you holding your ticket in your mouth (more than fair, but also I’m not used to anyone touching my ticket but me sir, your job is obsolete where I come from), you can get a giant pickle with every sandwich FOR NOTHING, and all shoes become heel cheese graters in the snow.

Oh, and everyone uses dryers.

*Just now, literally this second, while typing this out, I received an email from CVS offering me YET MORE DISCOUNTS. Locate your chill, CVS.

**I had a latte from a place called Filtered in Washington Heights that was the second best coffee I’ve ever had, after Brother Alec in Thornbury. If you’re in either Washington Heights, NYC or in Thornbury, Australia, go to either of these places. Tell them I sent you, though they’ll have no fucking idea who you’re talking about at the place in Washington Heights.

Archie: Unexpected Life Raft

When I was eight years old, I was hauled against my will to a tiny village at the northernmost point of the Australian continent. From there we moved even further to a tinier island on the edge of the Coral Sea.

This is part of a much larger story that a lot of people have already read over at “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore“, but in case you haven’t read those stories (and the question “why the fuck not” will have to wait for another day): as part of the fallout of an abusive relationship, I was in a strange land where I knew nobody, could barely speak the language, and was afraid every single day. (During this time I got scurvy from malnutrition, had an encounter with a tiger shark, and was sexually molested, so it turns out my fear was justified, although in entirely unpredictable ways).

While I felt alone and afraid for most of the time, I did find some comfort in an odd place: a stack of mid-1980s Archie digests in a bookshelf in the first house I was left in.

how does that pink ginger fuck have so much confidence anyhow

The benign action in Riverdale between Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones, Reggie Mantle and interloper Sabrina Spellman was a buoy to which I clung while everything that happened around me filled me with terror. As I had done for most of my childhood, I took refuge in the books.

If I’m being perfectly honest, the attachment I had with Archie did not stay with me. Eventually we got off that island, and Archie and the other citizens of Riverdale, now permanently associated with that time of my life, got pushed down with all the other memories. I kind of forgot about the comics altogether. I forgot about how much solace I took in Archie and Betty and Veronica; I forgot about how I wished to live in middle-class America in 1985 (I’m specific about the year because I distinctly remember one comic panel in which Veronica assures Betty that women were equal because “it’s 1985!”); I forgot about the escape that fictional universe provided.

archie_triangle

AND I forgot how tormented I was by the horror of only ever getting one third of a milkshake at any one time.

Twenty-eight years later, and Archie has made the jump to the small screen, with the CW series Riverdale:

I watched the first episode this morning, and the memories of how much Archie had once meant to me came flooding back.

I loved this episode. I relished it. It is dramatic and camp and heavenly. And I was so heavily invested in every single one of these characters I’ve technically known since I was nine years old that it was more than a bit surprising.

Even more surprising is the timeliness with which Archie has resurfaced just as I, once again, find myself in unfamiliar surroundings.

Six days ago I arrived here in New York from Australia. I got myself a visa, reduced everything I own to two suitcases, put myself on a plane and moved to the other hemisphere.

I hasten to point out that his fish-out-of-water scenario is seven galaxies away from what I experienced 28 years ago. I came here of my own accord. I am enjoying every second. I am surrounded by a small but important group of loved ones. And I mostly speak the language (except when I say “capsicum”).

But then, the Archie of the TV series Riverdale is also nothing like I experienced 28 years ago. He’s ripped as shit for a start.

archie

More importantly, the series is now some kind of dark, sexy, camp murder mystery.

But while I may not personally be as scared as I was back in 1989, the world sure is a more terrifying place. There is still a lot of madness, a lot of danger, and a lot of not knowing what’s going to happen next.

So thanks, Archie, for coming back right when we need it.

And please, please, please tell me where I can get that 21st-century knitted version of Jughead’s hat.

jughead

I haven’t been this desperate to copy a TV character’s wardrobe since Robbie Sinclair’s red high-tops.

New York Tourism

On this day last year, I capriciously booked a trip to New York for a holiday.

ny

It was my fourth visit in a decade, but my friend Tristan Lutze, who loves New York even more than I do (I would try to argue I love it more, but he has a literal ace up his sleeve: an NYC tattoo on his arm) decided he’d help anyway. He compiled a ridiculously ignorant To-Do list for me, and it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

Exactly one year later, and I am but four days away from finding out if I get the visa approval to move to New York. So I think it’s time to dust off this list and start preparing to tick things off. I share it with you now (without his permission, because eh, fuck him [I love you Tristan]).

I hear you’re off to ‘The Pink Apple’! I’m actually a bit of an expert…. Here’s some cool non-touristy stuff to do in New York:

– there’s an observation deck on top of the Imperial State Building that’s really something.

– over half the city is this giant park called ‘Centre Park’ and in summer people drop balls there at midnight. Also, you can get a whores-and-carriage ride, but I was too scared.

– there are plays and musicals you can see, but if you can’t afford to buy a ticket, a bunch of the actors from the shows dress up as Elmo and stuff in Time Squares.

– Time Squares has some of the nicest food in America.

– In the water, there’s the Statue of Liver Tea, who I think was named after this drink that the founding fathers had when they were poorertans.

– There are some great hidden bars in the East Village. I found one that was literally just this half-empty bottle of Wild Turkey and Dry in a phone box. You just don’t get that kind of cool theme bar here really.

– A nice walk to do is to go down to Walt Disney World. They have some great rides and if you see Cinderella in a bar after a shift she’s allowed to slap you. I caught a plane but I think you can walk it.

– if you get there early enough, you can break into the apartment building where they film the outside bits of Friends.

– hot dogs.

– if you want to feel like a real ‘new yorker’, ask for all your food by just yelling “A SLICE! FORGET ABOUT IT!”

– squirrels are cheap and

– the Museum of Modern History is where they filmed that hilarious film ‘A Night At The Opera’.

– while it’s hard to get an exact number, estimates say up to 15 other films have been shot or based in “NYC”

– Love contemporary art?

– They’ve converted a train line into something called the ‘High Line’, but you have to walk through DOZENS of subway lines to find it, and the trains are really fast.

– There are plenty of ‘incredible’ department stores in the city, but none of them have a t-shirt of Kramer from Seinfeld blowing the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters

– There’s this amazing piece of performance art called ‘Sleep No More’, where if you open the window of your AirB&B you can’t sleep because of the noise.

– To get around the city easily, rent a car.

Obviously if you want any SPECIFIC advice, like which showers to see, or which Pizza Hut does the best ‘slice’, I’m happy to help. Have fun! So exciting!

I can’t wait.

Spew Blue

For at least the last 25 years, I have been vomiting in secret.

Wait.

That sentence—like vomit itself—came out wrong.

I don’t mean to imply I have been clandestinely munting on the regular like some kind of digestive geyser. What I’m saying is that since I was old enough to hold my own bucket, if and when the need to speak into the big white telephone has arisen, I have done it alone, and as quietly as possible so as not to alert anyone nearby what I was doing.

puke

This past weekend that all changed in a way I never knew possible.

As part of my “cram-everything-in-that’s-possible-to-cram-in-before-I-leave-the-country” intiative, on Sunday I went with my friends Lachie, Rai, Jax and Bones to Lachie’s family holiday home in Point Lonsdale. Lachie’s family shares it with another family, so it’s constantly filled with various groups of people; as a result the house is imbued with a natural ability to make anyone who sets foot in it feel instantly welcome. I mean, I’ve lived in houses—actually resided, with my clothes in the drawers and mail arriving and everything—where I haven’t felt as comfortable and welcome as I do at this house.

15439801_10153934208121793_1600180107640977226_n

Clockwise from the left: Me, Bones, Lachie, Jax, Rai.

When the five of us arrived we immediately set about doing what everyone does at a beach holiday house: eating too much, drinking too much and getting too much sun exposure. I mean, if you’re not using your holiday house primarily to recover from low-key heatstroke and belting hangovers, you’re not using it correctly.

I will nap on/against literally anything if it stays still long enough

Yes, I had to rest mid-board game. That’s when you know you’re holidaying right.

By the end of the second day, Bones had gone home, leaving the four of us. The twice daily trips to the beach and a late-night game of King’s Cup had gotten the better of me, and I had taken myself off to bed, leaving Lach, Jax and Rai to follow through on the night’s plan of skinny dipping (something I had reluctantly agreed to, and was relieved to have been saved from).

A short time later I woke up, and my body was in full revolt: despite it being a very warm evening, my teeth were chattering and I could not stop shivering. I knew almost immediately what it was time for: a Technicolor yawn was imminent.

I could hear the other three laughing nearby; they were in the vicinity of the main bathroom. I decided to discreetly drag my vibrating carcass to the upstairs bathroom where I could barf without anybody knowing.

I’ll spare the details, but rest assured it was unpleasant.

I wasn’t even nearly halfway done when I heard from downstairs “WAIT WHERE’S CHRIS?!

Jax had gone into the bedroom he and I were sharing and, upon finding my bed empty, had immediately gone full Kate McCallister.

kevin

Lachie and Rai ran into the room in a panic. Then they saw the large, open window. For a good 20 seconds they genuinely pondered whether I had fallen out of it, but were unable to see my crumpled corpse two storeys below. They then seriously considered the possibility that I had tried to find them on the beach and had disappeared. Don’t laugh: if an Australian prime minister can vanish from a Victorian beach in the month of December, who’s to say I couldn’t?

The swelling of emotion that came from hearing three people genuinely distressed at the thought I might be dead must have affected my concentration, because for a split-second I stopped liquidating my assets in total silence and made a noise.

They all heard it.

It has been three days and what happens next still shocks me.

They ran upstairs to the bathroom. They RAN. They flung open the door to the bathroom and, upon seeing me slumped on the floor like a week-old foil balloon, uttered three different variations on “awwwwwwwwww”.

Not “ewwwwwwww”, which I expected. Awwwwwwwww.

Lachie ran back downstars to get a glass of water. Jax went in search of painkillers. Rai stayed behind and patted my head. She voluntarily remained in a room that had vomit in it to comfort me.

My head was spinning, and not just because it’s a common side effect of having a yak. I’d always kept my throwing up secret, because I figured it was something that would gross everyone out. I mean of course it does: who among us doesn’t run the gauntlet of sympathy voms every time the cat or someone on TV does it? And yet here were three people whose primary concern was my wellbeing, over the fact that, in very close proximity, several tacos had escaped imprisonment and were attempting to start a new life for themselves.

After I cleaned myself up and headed back downstairs (feeling, I have to admit, a whole lot better), they escorted me back to bed. There was a bucket by the bed and two glasses of water on the bedside table (one flat, one fizzy) already waiting for me. As I climbed into bed all three of them immediately climbed into bed with me, and there they stayed, patting my hand and stroking my hair until I started to fall back asleep.

Like I said, it has been three days and I am still utterly floored by this. If I’d known vomiting was a thing that could bring people closer together, I’d have done it loudly and publicly way before now. Here I’ve been since the early 1990s, hiding my spew under a bushel when I could have been using it to bond with loved ones.

liz

I’m very grateful for Lachie, Jax and Rai. Incidentally, I’m leaving the country in a month or so: all three of those guys will soon have an opening in their friendship rosters. I strongly suggest, if you have the opportunity, you try to take that opening. Don’t vomit near them straight away, though: they’ve had enough of that already.

And don’t leave your bed empty near any open windows. That really gives them the jitters.

Gilmore Girls: A Day in the Month (i.e. how long it took me to finish “A Year in the Life”)

GG

Well, we’ve all watched it by now, I assume. Oh don’t give me that: either you were champing at the bit to get the Gilmore Girls revival into your eyeballs the second you were able, or you didn’t watch it and don’t intend to. There is no middle ground. Nobody is a “casual” Gilmore Girls watcher any more than a person can be a “casual” eater of Mexican food. Either you are a committed fan, or you’re wrong.

But I digress. And now I’m hungry. Oh and, I guess, spoiler alert.

taco

If you’re anything like me, you came out the other end of A Year in the Life‘s four seasons filled to the very tippity-top with feelings. And I don’t know about you, but yelling at Twitter wasn’t cutting it. And so I came here, to try to parse my emotions and get some sense of clarity to the whirlwind that was the Gilmore Girls revival.

What follows, now, is an incomplete list of what I loved and hated about the series.

What I Loved
1) Mellower Jess
: Now THIS is a Jess Mariano I can get behind (and did you see how ripped he is these days? This is also a Jess Mariano who could get behind me if you follow my dri—oh you do follow it and you think I’m disgusting? Okay fair cop). I have never been Team Jess because frankly he was an angry little dickweed, but in 2016 I am all about Rory and Jess. Imagine if she married him and became Rory Mariano? Say it out loud; you’ll instantly feel drunk.

2) Alexis Bledel’s acting: As we all know, Gilmore Girls was Alexis Bledel’s first proper acting gig, so she was green as hell. It’s urban legend at this point that the reason Lorelai has her arm around Rory so much in early episodes is because Lauren Graham was guiding Alexis to her marks while filming, and if you watch the pilot episode, yes Keiko Agena really does stop her from setting fire to herself on her own birthday cake. But I’m not here to rag on Alexis Bledel’s earlier work. What I am here to do is marvel at what she can do now. Because she is GOOD.

rory

Do you know why some of you dorks are only now saying “Hey, Rory is kind of a brat!” when in fact she has been a brat since episode four of season one? It’s because Alexis Bledel is selling the shit out of that character. Rory Gilmore is layered and flawed and seven kinds of bullshit but you love her anyway because Alexis Bledel has made her a real person. Don’t believe me? You try saying “I slept with a wookie!” in four different ways, each one funnier than the last.

3) The cameos: God I am a sucker for a cameo. Stunt casting is a cheap ploy and I buy into it every time. Hello Ginny from Bunheads, hello real-life Lauren Graham partner Brian Krause, hello Mae Whitman, hello original stunt-cast weapons Sebastian Bach and Paul Anka, HELLO SUTTON FREAKING FOSTER. Oh, and here’s one I didn’t know until Lauren Graham mentioned it on Twitter: HELLO EMILY’S MAID BERTA WHO IS ACTUALLY ALSO STAR’S HOLLOW’S GYPSY. Yes, just like Alex Borstein, Marion Ross and Sherilyn Fenn before her, Rose Abdoo has pulled Gilmore Girls double duty. I know it kind of saps the realism of the universe, but I honestly don’t care.

4) Emily and Berta: Well now that I’m on the topic of Berta: one of my favourite squishy parts of this whole endeavour was watching Emily Gilmore keep a maid for longer than a minute. And to have it be someone who ends up being so disruptive (in a good way) to Emily’s life? That has turned an eight-year running gag into a beautifully rich piece of character development. It gave Emily even more depth than she already had (and she had heaps, because Kelly Bishop is a god damn genius), and helped soften the blow of the loss of Richard (how many times did you cry thinking about Richard Gilmore/Edward Herrmann? I got to about four).

5) Everything Emily Gilmore: Not since Wesley Wyndam-Pryce has a TV character had such a full, detailed and prolonged development. Emily has gone from barely three-dimensional villain archetype to very real woman and every single facet of her diamond-like character has been hard-earned. She has been hard to watch at times, but the pay-off was extraordinary. Kelly Bishop and Lauren Graham have long deserved Emmys for their scenes with each other, but multiply that by seven this time around. And if you think I’m not childish enough to include a gif of Emily Gilmore swearing, think again.

emily

6) An attempt to de-#nohomo the show’s universe: The original series did not have a great track record for LGBTIQ PR. It was a bit too dismissive, a bit too caustic, a bit too “gays, lol…oh that’s it that’s the whole punchline um ok”. Casually dropping into the first episode that Michel was married to a man was classy, subtle and long overdue.

7) Lorelai and Christopher were never on screen together: THANK CHRIST. I have never had time for that pairing and never will.

8) Paris Geller: Everything about her. Everything.

paris

EXCEPT…

WHAT I HATED

1) Paris’ meltdown over Tristin: Fuck off. Fuck all the way off. Fuck off in perpetuity. Become the first person to completely circumnavigate the globe travelling solely via fucking off. Land back here, sign my copy of the Guinness Book of Records in which you are now entered under the category of “longest continuous off-fucking”. And then fuck off again. There is no way adult Paris Geller drops her bundle over a fucking MAN. Yes, Tristin made her an idiot in high school, but almost immediately after graduating she started dating a professor, and would go on to have an angry, sexy, krav-maga marriage with Doyle. It’s been fifteen years since Tristin, and while we all regress a tiny bit when we visit our past, Paris Geller would not lose it that badly over a Chad Michael Murray body double. (That said, her meltdown over the empty briefcase was profound and stunning and showcased the mastery of Liza Weil, but dick should not have been the catalyst.)

paris2

2) The casual fat-shaming for absolutely no reason whatsoever: Not that there is ever a good reason for it, but it is literally dropped into a scene as colour without adding anything to the story. Hey, Daniel Palladino, keep your Family Guy jokes on fucking Family Guy.

3) An attempt to re-#nohomo the show’s universe: So merely hours after quietly allowing one of the long-standing characters of the show to be gay without any fanfare or yuck-yuck antics, there’s an entire scene dedicated to angrily pointing out that there are no gay people in Star’s Hollow? Eww. Taylor makes several jokes about wanting to ship “gays” in from neighbouring communities (during which he continually uses the word “gays” as a noun)? Eww. Gypsy trying pointedly to out Taylor as the scene’s hilarious climax? EWW. Hey, Daniel Palladino, keep your Family Guy jokes on fucking Family Guy.

4) Mr Kim: NO. NO. YOU DO NOT GET TO INTRODUCE HIM NOW.

5) No Liz or TJ: There are dozens, if not hundreds of men on television I want to kiss or have sex with or marry. But I have never wanted to cuddle up to someone as much as I want to cuddle up to TJ. And I was denied an update on his cuddliness and for that I am furious.

TJ

6) The sidelining of Lane: My Twitter username is currently “Justice for Lane Kim” for a reason. The original series screwed over that woman so badly. Lorelai and Rory both went through phases of being assholes, but for seven years Lane was nothing but a ray of light. And how did the show reward her? With years of oppression and misery, and just as she started to make her own way the show saddles her with twins after she has sex one time (which was a] on her honeymoon and b] bad), because the network the show as on was throbbingly erect for teen pregnancy stories. I was excited to see, nine years later, the kind of kickass adult Lane had become. And what did we discover? Nothing. She has as much character development in four ninety minute episodes as she does in that one United Healthcare commercial she’s in (that’s right, America, I know your dark secret. I’ve seen how you’ve SQUANDERED Keiko Agena’s talent on TV COMMERCIALS. You know who else does TV commercials? ME. I DO. That’s how badly you’ve wasted Keiko Agena).

7) The empty coffee cups: FOR FUCK’S SAKE PEOPLE YOU’VE HAD SIXTEEN YEARS TO GET THE HANG OF THIS.

coffee

LAUREN
LAUREN PLS
LAUREN WYD

8) The Star’s Hollow Musical: Yes it was very funny, yes I’d pay good money to watch Sutton Foster sing pages from the phone book, yes having Christian Borle show up was a delight (though Christian Borle and Sutton Foster are ex-husband and wife and that made me VERY uncomfortable*), but that musical was too long and too stupid. It wasn’t Gilmore Girls, it was like a very clever parody of Gilmore Girls. That musical was like if Saturday Night Live did an entire Gilmore Girls themed episode and Cecily Strong was having a particularly good night. HAVING SAID THAT: if that musical was something I had to sit through to get to that final Sutton Foster song at the end? Then I’ll say nothing more bad against it.

sutton

Same, S-Fo. Same.

That’s what immediately springs to mind. I may think of more things and add them, or you can yell at me if I’ve missed something out. I think on the whole I liked it, even though I was so very disappointed with parts. A (very wise) friend once said to me of Doctor Who: “You’re not a true fan until you LOVE it and also HATE it at the same time.”

I guess, if that theory translates to other shows, then I’m definitely a true fan of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

:+:+:+:+:+:+:

*IMPORTANT UPDATE. This gif seems to indicate that, just like Wikipedia says, Sutton Foster and Christian Borle do indeed get along, despite being exes. In fact, I have been told that it was Sutton Foster who insisted Christian Borle be cast. Well okay then. As you were. borlefoster

Bromoted Post

Oh good, some other part of my existence as a homosexual gets to be fetishized.

joan

While Australia’s conservative politicians, right-wing pundits and “family group” leaders have been busily—some might say feverishly—dissecting my sex life (jokes on you, nerds: I’m having a shocking dry spell), the New York Times has found a new angle to go after: otherwise entirely boring platonic friendships.

Much to everyone’s surprise, gay people are out there in the world, befriending straight people on a regular basis. It turns out they don’t all cluster together during the day, upside down, in a cave. Wait that’s bats. Anyway, some homosexuals might have as many as two or even THREE straight friends, and I’m no scientist but I can’t see a reason why that number can’t be higher. And yet? Not a single royal commission has been conducted into this shocking phenomenon.

Thank the gay heavens, then, that we have the New York Times to kick open those saloon doors and, with spurs still a-quiver, slap a name on this unholy union between friend (man, straight) and friend (man, gay):

Bromosexual.

oh-please

This name is a sweaty ballsack of a name for three reasons:

1) It’s another fucking label. It’s a shitty little pigeonhole that doesn’t fit everyone, and it others a perfectly normal friendship. Sure, sometimes giving something a title gives one a sense of belonging, of community. There are “foodies” and “furries” and the “Beyhive” and as soon as I can think of something catchy for “people who never fully recovered from the cancellation of Pushing Daisies” I’ll call myself one of those. But those names also serve as a defense mechanism, a way of feeling like there’s nothing wrong with you. Why would such a defense be needed for a regular friendship between two regular human people, neither of whom are murderers?

2) It reinforces shitty patriarchal restrictions of masculinity and sexuality: Mustn’t let straight men forget for even a second that if they don’t use the word “bro” they might be considered gaaaaaaay, and mustn’t let gay men think they can do one single fucking thing without it being called something –mosexual.

3) It makes me mad at portmanteaus. And I fucking love portmanteaus.

But I refuse to be mad alone. By which I mean I’m taking you all down with me: Let us go through this article together.

A recent ad for the Bravo TV show “Shahs of Sunset” finds two of its male stars lazing on lounge chairs at the beach. Amid a scene of scantily clad sun worshipers, the best friends Reza Farahan and Mike Shouhed gaze at different objects of desire: Mr. Farahan at musclebound guys, Mr. Shouhed at voluptuous women.

Hmm okay yes I see where the first problem might be. This isn’t even being written from the perspective of someone who has a straight-man/gay-man friendship. This is being written from the perspective of someone who saw one on the telly.

Their distinct lusts, which may have alienated gay and straight men from each other in the past, inspire the ultimate gesture of fraternal connection: a fist bump.

You got that, gents? A fist bump is the ultimate gesture, there is no other gesture of connection. Don’t you dare do anything with an open palm or oh my god were you considering a HUG? Are you some kind of FAGGOT?

Seriously, I was prepared for this to be a mess, but even I’m surprised it only took until the third sentence to lock down some kind of “no-homo” restriction. And, on a personal note, I’m sorry to all my straight, pro-hug friends who’ve just learnt we have been practically fucking this entire time.

“Mike and I are so similar,” Mr. Farahan said. “He has been a womanizer and I’ve been a player. In the ad, we’re having a moment, and it’s the same moment. The only difference is that I’m looking at men and he’s looking at women.

Just like Reza Farahan said: That is the only difference. And lots of people are different in many different ways and yet they still manage to form close, loving friendships. So I guess that’s that? Article done? No need for any further LOL JK THERE’S 1500 MORE WORDS LOL.

I promise I will skip some.

“That kind of easy relationship would not be credible to a broad audience 10 years ago,” said Mr. Gregory, 38, who is gay. “One of the things my publisher liked about my book was that this friendship was something we haven’t seen much before.”

At least in pop culture we haven’t. Obviously, there have always been friendships between gay men and straight men, but only recently have they become more prominently, and comfortably, represented in TV shows, movies, books and blogs.

No no, let me clear up this confusion. Friendships between gay men and straight men have only recently become more prominently and comfortably represented in fiction because gay men themselves have only recently become more prominently and comfortably represented in fiction. And that’s because only slightly less recently have gay men been able to more prominently and comfortably exist in the actual real world. Prior to that we were too afraid of being beaten up or murdered.

Sorry to bring the tone down, but once again, straight dudes: this isn’t about you.

There is often a traditionally masculine sense of familiarity at play in these portrayals, exuding a feeling particular enough to suggest its own term: bromosexual relationships.

Yes, sometimes gay men are masculine. Do try to hide your surprise. (And sometimes they aren’t, and that’s totally fucking okay too.)

STORY TIME: Back in 2008, the radio station I worked at sent its programming and sales staff to Wakefield Park, a speedway near Goulburn, for a team-bonding day. We all suited up, jumped into V8 supercars and raced them round the track. One of the sales team was a particularly obnoxious dickspank named Douglas who, from the outset, seemed impressed that I was even there. He was surprised when I willingly put on the racing gear, he was surprised when I was able to identify the front of the car from the back, and he was very very surprised when I didn’t immediately crash into a pile of tyres and explode in a ball of fire (and I guess, to his mind, glitter) at the first turn. At the end of the day he came up to me and said, with genuine astonishment: “You know you drive pretty well for a…for…for…for you!” Direct quote.

The above sentence really Douglases the idea that a friendship between a gay man and a straight man could be in any way masculine. Like it’s a shocking revelation. So traditional! In fact, the “traditional masculinity” is such a surprise, it needs its own name! Enter “bromosexual relationship”!

I mean which is it, mate? Is it traditional or is it neologistic?

At this point the article goes somewhere off-topic and then finds a way to mention Nick Jonas playing a gay character in Scream Queens which, yikes, let’s walk very quickly and quietly the fuck away from THAT can of gay-baiting worms.

(This is a very clever metaphor because worms are used as bait. Just in case you missed it. I’m very layered.)

The middle third of the article is titled “Wing Men”, and it’s about as gross as it looks. And it gets to the part I was expecting to find from the first word of this article: the hetero-centric description of gay men bragging about their straight friendships:

And [Bravo]’s most recognizable representative, Andy Cohen, who is gay, rarely misses an opportunity to toast his close kinship with the guitar hero and ultimate ladies man John Mayer.

Mr. Cohen mentions Mr. Mayer no fewer than 14 times in his best-selling book “The Andy Cohen Diaries.” He also wrote an article for Entertainment Weekly last year chronicling their bromosexual exploits.

Actually, the EW article called it “bromantic”, and Andy himself simply said “bro it up”, so cool it.

Also, everyone should brag about their friends all the time. Friends are great! Friends nourish the soul! In many many many real world scenarios, friends literally save lives! Soemone being proud of their friendship should not be in any way sneered at or have it implied that it is somehow unseemly. Maybe this is my inference rather than the article’s implication, but seriously: fuck you and your need to count how many times John Mayer gets mentioned in his mate’s book.

The last third of the article is called “A Balm For Old Wounds” and it actually brings up some interesting points about a larger cultural shift from seeing straight guys as an enemy (or a very real threat) to seeing a potential for friendship. But by now this article is so gross that it’s not worth trying to pick out the relevant points from what is otherwise the equivalent of a zoo tour. “Look! It’s a homosexual in his natural environment! See how he befriends that heterosexual of the species! Everyone take photographs, this is fascinating! Now see how the heterosexual opens his bill and scoops his expandable gullet through the water, picking up fish to ea—I’m so sorry folks I appear to have my notes mixed up, this is the pelican exhibit.”

I guess my point is don’t be surprised that gay men and straight men can be friends. Or gay men & straight women. Or gay men & gay women. Or gay women & straight women. Or gay women & straight men. Or straight men & straight women.

Because when you express surprise, what you’re saying is you can’t believe that one isn’t trying to fuck the other at all times.

And that’s gross.

And I’m not just saying that because of the aforementioned dry spell.

First Date

We started talking on Grindr.

Okay we all know THAT’S not true. We started flirting on Grindr, and then unexpectedly we started actually talking. It was nice. Just regular conversation. Every now and then the flirty tones would seep in, and then they’d ebb away again.

The flirty tones were fully seeped when we got onto the topic of meeting, but had ebbed by the time we’d locked in a time and location. Turns out we were going to be meeting legitimately. In public. To get a drink.

As the time for the drink came closer, he floated the question: “do we Google each other now, or wait until after we’ve pashed?” Without acknowledging his implication that our making out was a foregone conclusion (though I was not mad about it), I suggested after, despite having already Googled him because I’m not fucking stupid.

Turns out neither is he, because he’d already Googled me too. Having learnt my first name and the fact that I’d had a show in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, he simply searched those two things. Turns out not many Christophers had had one-man shows which they’d attempted to promote with far too many YouTube videos, so I was the first and only search result.

I was impressed. (Both at his ingenuity, and my online clout.)

clevergirl

By the time we actually met, he’d watched half my YouTube videos (so it was a surprise he showed up at all, really) and had learnt all about my blog, my show and the sort of filterless autobiographical comedy I do. I told him that the next show I had in mind would be about dating.

“So your exes, and anyone you had a bad date with, should be worried, huh?” he asked, before laughing and miming an attempt to flee from our table.

I assured him that he was safe. “My rule is, I either talk about someone respectfully, or I change their name. So I guess if you ever see a story that looks like it’s about you, but your name is different, you done fucked up!” He laughed again, but this time didn’t mime fleeing.

Our date had a time limit on it, as I had to go to work. I checked the clock to make sure I wasn’t running late, and he offered to walk me to my work building when it was time.

“That would be lovely,” I replied. “But if we’re going straight from here to there, at what point will we get to kiss?”

(Yes yes, I know, barf, but shut up.)

So we left the pub and walked indirectly toward my work, stopping at a secluded point along the way to have our first kiss. It was nice.

We stopped a couple more times, but those times were not kissing. They were definitely pashing. That was also nice.

We got to the street corner that my work building was situated on. We kissed goodbye, and I went inside.

By the time I’d finished work, I’d received a message from him on Grindr, describing in modest but direct terms the erection that our kissing had elicited, and the hindrance it caused to his walk home.

A message sent to me directly after our date? Not a pre-determined number of days later, but immediately after? Fuck “the rules”, that’s heavenly. My reply offered two things: sympathy for his tumescence, and my phone number.

jazzed

24 hours later, my phone number had gone unused. So, maybe not “fuck the rules” then? Had my phone number been a step too far? I figured tongue-sucking, butt-squeezing and dick-describing was the equivalent of a green light but hey, I’ve been wrong before.

By now it was a Friday, and I was going away with friends for the weekend. He was headed to Sydney for work for a few days. I figured it was not worth worrying about until the following week.

(JK, I worried all weekend, because have you met me?)

cordy

Early the next week I received a message. Via Grindr, not to my number. “How was your weekend?”

Okay, so we were ignoring the phone number thing for now, but all was not lost. That’s nice. I replied, and asked how his weekend was.

No reply.

I sent a casual follow up four days later.

No reply.

Because I’m a “leave no stone unturned” kinda guy, I sent an even more casual message ten days after that. It was my casual threshold. Any more casual and it’d just be a string of random letters.

No reply.

By the time three weeks had passed I still hadn’t gotten a message, but I had taken the hint.

Now it was time to salt the earth.

Don’t mistake me, I don’t mean this in a vindictive or psychopathic way.  Here’s the thing: I know myself. I am weak. And I know how 21st century app-based dating works: three weeks of silence is definitely a sign that things are not going well. But the thing about using apps to date/flirt/get a leg over (which I am in no way knocking, I’d be completely useless and entirely solitary without them) is that they kind of flatten time. Let’s say in another month, or two months, or three months, this guy messages me out of the blue, all “Oh heeeey?” Will I coolly but firmly say “Sorry buddy, you had your chance, I’m not falling for your shenanigans twice”? Heavens no. I will bat my eyelashes, run to a window, heave “MR DARCY” breathlessly, grasp my imaginary corset and fling myself onto my nearest fainting couch. From there I would write back “HEY!” without a moment’s hesitation, like a complete fucking idiot.

I wouldn’t even mention the prolonged radio silence for fear it would make him uncomfortable and want to stop talking to me again.

How can I know, with such specificity, how pathetically I would react? Because I have done this exact same thing before.

More than once.

ned

The only way to avoid this repugnant immolation of my dignity is to take preventative measures. You know how they burn off sections of bushfire-prone land as a precaution so that, if a bushfire does occur, it can’t spread uncontrollably? It’s called “backburning”, and it’s what I have to do with dudes. Interpersonal backburning.

So I sent one final message. I asked the rhetorical question why, if this wasn’t going to go anywhere, I was a) provided specific details about an erection, and b) invited to give a description of my weekend? I mean, I don’t need a guy for either of those things; that’s what I have Twitter for.

I added that this was at best impolite and at worst unnecessarily cruel, and that I deserve better than that.

He doesn’t need to know that that last bit isn’t true. But I hope he knows he’s definitely going to end up in my next fucking show.

 

 

Retroactive Continuity

I wrote a blog called Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. You probably have because I talked about it for long enough. I spent four years writing it. Then I spent a year posting the stories week by week. Then I spent six months adapting it into a one-man show. Then I spent another six months performing that show at three different festivals. One seventh of my life has been spent telling the story of how incredibly fucked up the other six sevenths have been.

cdlha-quotes-2

It’s been so cathartic, as a process. Through that blog (and, now I think about it, this one too), I have worked through so much stuff: Moving house 60 times, attending 22 schools, having three different stepfathers—one of whom was violent towards my mother, getting scurvy, being molested, living with my grandparents (and taking twenty years to realise that they were horrible people to live with), fracturing my neck in a car accident, getting bullied, coming to terms with my sexuality, getting jobs, losing jobs, finding love, losing love

…and ultimately trying to find a way to fit all this mess into a man-shaped sack of functioning adult. It’s been difficult, but mostly successful.

I say mostly, because there have been kinks along the way. The show in particular has been a highly emotional experience; a joy to perform, and something of a successful venture as a comedian, but still, it made a bit of a mess of my head. At the end of the show’s debut at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2015, I had started seriously considering getting some therapy: an impartial expert who could help me empty all the crap out of my head, sort through it, and only put back what I need. Like that guy on that TV show who helps hoarders, only instead of dried cat poop and piles of old magazines I had shitty memories and self-destructive thoughts.

I finally took the plunge after something happened while I was performing the show a second time; this time at MELT, a queer arts festival in Brisbane.

During the ten days I was in Brisbane, I stayed with my Dad and his partner, Fran. If you’ve read the blog or seen the show, you’ll know that Dad doesn’t get mentioned in it much. This is not for any reason other than he wasn’t an active part of the tumult of my childhood.  He and I have forged a pretty good relationship since 2003, but there wasn’t a lot of face time before that. I mean, he’s always been my dad, but we just didn’t get to see each other very often.

There was a period between 1991 and 1993, when I was living with my grandparents in Tin Can Bay, that I did get to spend a fair few weekends with him down in Brisbane. He would drive up and take me to his place for a couple of nights. I always loved it, and not just because they had a Sega Mega Drive and an adorable dog. But then in 1993 I moved to Darwin, and those weekends stopped again.

As an adult I had occasionally wondered why living with Dad had never come up as an option during my childhood. Surely it would have been the more stable option? They’ve been in the same house since the late 1980s. In the time I’ve moved house 44 times, they’ve moved zero times. You know, like normal people.

But I was too much of a coward to ask about this, so the issue lay dormant.

It reared its head again in 2014 after I cut off communication with my grandparents. I’d finally galvanised in my head what a destructive presence they’d been in my life and the life of my family. As I processed this, I started thinking again about those two years between 1991 and 1993 when I lived with them, and how miserable I had been. I found myself again wondering why I’d never been saved from that situation by my Dad? It plagued my thoughts on and off for several months, until I came to the conclusion that there was no happy answer to that question: either my Dad tried to get me to live with him and was thwarted, or he never tried. What good could come of knowing either of those things? I tried to let the idea go.

Fast forward to February of this year. I was staying with my Dad while I performed my show at MELT. Naturally, given the entire reason for my being in town, on many occasions we discussed the trajectory of our respective lives both during and since my childhood. The director of my show, Daniel, was also staying at my Dad’s house, so with an outsider in the mix (though he knew my life story inside and out) the conversation between Dad, Fran, Daniel and me flowed quickly and freely. We reminisced and shared stories and helped fill the gaps in each other’s narratives.

In no time, the conversation had rolled onto the time I spent with living with my grandparents, and before I was even fully aware what was happening, the big reveal came tumbling out.

Dad and Fran had tried to get me to live with them.

They’d organised the whole thing; they even had the paperwork for the school they were going to enrol me in. They discussed it with my grandparents, and my grandparents immediately set about sabotaging the arrangement: I was sent to Darwin, under the pretext of “it’s time to go back to your mother”.

So when Dad called to organise a time to come and collect me, he was told “Oh, Christopher’s moving to Darwin tomorrow” and then I was gone. He was never told why or how it happened; for all he knew the decision could have come from me, in an attempt to get away from him.

But I had no idea about any of this. For 23 years I had no idea.

I have not fully been able to recover from this news yet. I’m glad I know now, but it is not easy to process. To think of all the things I could have avoided: the moving around, the instability, the poverty, living with my grandparents a second time less than a year later, a fractured neck, being pushed down a flight of stairs at a particularly shitty high school (fortunately this happened two years after the fractured neck, I’d had time to heal).

I could have felt safe.

That’s not to say it was all bad: I had some great times with my family, made some great friends (occasionally), and experienced a lot. And of course, without everything happening exactly the way it happened, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am now.  The Butterfly Effect and all that. And I mostly like who I am and where I am now. There’s not much point delving too far into the possibilities of what-ifs. It’s all moot now anyway.

But there’s one niggling thought, and I guess that’s why I started seeing a therapist (and she’s the one who told me to write this, because writing about my stuff is clearly my first port of call for processing it and it’s stupid, in hindsight, to think that this hadn’t occurred to me yet). One horrible little question I can’t push away.

Would I be happier?

Spark

I wrote a post like this back in 2011. I wrote another one in 2013. I’d rather this not be a biennial tradition, but here we are.

I got dumped.

arrows

It’s funny (no it isn’t), it never occurred to me that I’d have more than one of these stories to tell. For a long time I didn’t think I’d ever find love, so I didn’t think I’d have even one of these stories. Then it happened, and I thought that was going to be my One Big Heartbreak Story. First and last. My second one turned out to be a much, much bigger Heartbreak Story. After that I downgraded to simply hoping it was my last.

This one is a bit different. The 2011 one was my first relationship. The 2013 one was my biggest. This one was small. Brief. We didn’t even get to the point of using the word “boyfriend”, to be honest. So it’s not really a Heartbreak Story, I guess. It’s just a Heartbruise Story. But it’s a bruise where there have been a couple of breakages in the past, so the whole area is quite tender.

Despite the relative brevity of the dalliance, it felt different to me. I thought I’d solved a puzzle. Cracked a code. The way we met was different. The way we dated was different. The way we had sex was different. Everything felt…different. Look, I’m not stupid; we were still only dating—was it even that? Were we still just at the “seeing each other” stage? Ugh, can someone draft up an official ascending order of terminology because the hardest part about 21st century courtship is knowing how to refer to someone in the grey area between “married to” and “fucked more than once”. But I digress.

Whatever we were, I was still being sensible, and pacing my emotions in an appropriate manner (one should wait at least until the fourth month before deciding in which order the hyphenated surname will appear on the marriage certificate) but I couldn’t help but acknowledge that feeling of “ahh. yes. this makes sense.”

But then it came. Suddenly. Just as I was reestablishing power to my love generator, thinking my heart was back in business, the break up conversation came: bursting through the cables of my naivety, desperate to tear me open.

RAPTOR2

“SO, UM, FIRSTLY, I WANT TO APOLOGISE FOR MY DISTANCE LATELY…”

(Sorry, I watched Jurassic Park just this morning. I think it’s affecting my metaphors.)

And then the relationship ended. With gentleness and regret, but not without pain. The relationship ended because he didn’t feel a “spark”. I mean, you can’t fight that, can you?

Here’s what well and truly sucks: I have never broken up with someone because we couldn’t stop fighting, or because one of us moved away, or because one party unforgivably wronged the other, or because of a fundamental difference in politics. I have only ever broken up with someone by being broken up with. All my relationships ended because the other person has decided they don’t want to be with me anymore. That sucks. I mean, I’m not saying I want to be unforgivably wronged, or have a fundamental difference in politics, or not be able to stop fighting, I just…it SUCKS.

So what the fuck exactly is a “spark”, anyway? And isn’t feeling a spark the reason you ask a person out in the first place? If I ask someone out, it’s because I have already felt something. If someone asks me out and I say yes, it’s because I have already felt something. I thought that’s what the spark was? I have never needed to spend three months figuring out if a spark is there. To me that’s like waiting until the third plate of food to decide you don’t like the restaurant you’re in. Like, didn’t you read the menu on the glass outside? I’m not exactly a mystery, as a person. My heart is on my sleeve; my menu is on the glass.

I think, maybe, there’s a chance I misunderstand the concept of “spark” at a fundamental level. Maybe I’ve never felt a spark, and have only thought I did, meaning the real thing is yet to come? This is a terrifying concept, because I already feel feelings on a pretty grand scale—somewhere between “pantomime” and “the transformation scene from Sailor Moon”.

sailor

Literally me. Like, on a regular Tuesday or whatever.

So, if there’s a feeling yet to come; something bigger than what I’ve felt in the past, could my body even cope? There is a chance I could actually explode. Just pop right there on the spot, in a sickly cloud of blood, glitter and love-heart emojis.

The alternative theory is that I’m just a spark machine. That I’ve felt a spark with everyone I’ve dated so far. Maybe my heart is a piece of flint, and having a piece of flint for a heart means the opposite of what we think it means, because instead of being cold and hard it instead just makes sparks all the time. Maybe my heart is literally one of those sparklers they insist on poking into cakes at workplace birthday parties.

The mystery of love continues.

The thing that really gets me about the “spark”, though, is the walloping great spanner this throws into the works of that whole “before anyone can love you, you have to learn to love yourself” thing. Like. Seriously. That’s a thing I have fought with for many years, and in 2015 I finally started to win the fight. But suddenly the rules have changed?

Let me explain with this dramatic re-enactment.

Conventional Wisdom: Before anyone can love you, you have to learn to love yourself.
Me, 1980-2009: Ughhhhh.
2010: Here, have a boyfriend.
Me: OMG! Shows what you know, conventional wisdom.
Conventional Wisdom: lol ok.

2011: Say goodbye to your boyfriend!
Me: Wait what? Oh god, I’m the worst.
Conventional Wisdom: See? Before anyone can love you, you have to learn to love yourself.
Me: No, it’s not that, it’s just that I’m the worst.
Conventional Wisdom: Did I fucking stutter
2011: Nah it’s okay have another boyfriend.
Me: YAY. SUCK IT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
Conventional Wisdom: JFC you guys.

2013: CTRL+Z BOYFRIEND
Me: Ohhhh it happened again. I’m worse than the worst. I’m inherently unlovable.
Conventional Wisdom: Dude.
Me: WHAT?
Conventional Wisdom: *raises eyebrow* What have I been saying?
Me: IDK, some fucking RuPaul shit? I wasn’t paying attention, I just got DUMPED.
Conventional Wisdom: Before Anyone Can Love You, You Have To Love Yourself.
Me: Oh, for the love of—FIIIINE.

*ROCKY TRAINING MONTAGE, BUT WITH SELF ESTEEM INSTEAD OF A SKIPPING ROPE*

2015: What up
Me: Oh my god. I think it worked. I don’t hate myself? I have had a good year. I feel great. Is this what you meant, Conventional Wisdom? This feels amazing!
Conventional Wisdom: Finally. Thank you.
Me: I think I’m ready!
Conventional Wisdom: Let’s do this.
2015: Okay, date this guy!
Me: YESSSSSSSS
2015: JK
Me: Wait what?
Conventional Wisdom: Uh oh…
2015: New phone who dis
Me: WHAT JUST HAPPENED? I totally learnt to love myself?!
Conventional Wisdom: Okay, so all that stuff I said is TECHNICALLY true. But there’s, like, an extra bit I forgot to mention.
Me: The fuck?
Conventional Wisdom:  It’s just a tiny thing.
Me: Wow. Okay. No, okay. I can do this. I did the loving myself thing and that was a Herculean task. Anything else will be a doddle by comparison. Hit me.
Conventional Wisdom: Okay, so you also need a “spark”.
Me: What’s a spark?
Conventional Wisdom: Well, it’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like magic.
Me: Like Harry Potter?
Conventional Wisdom: FFS, you people and your need to tether everything to pop culture. Yes, I suppose it is “like Harry Potter”.
Me: So, how do I get this “spark”?
Conventional Wisdom: No no, you can’t get one, it just happens.
Me: Okay. How do I make it happen?
Conventional Wisdom: Um…
Me: What.
Conventional Wisdom: Okay, so, don’t be mad, but, like, you can’t do anything.
Me: YOU WOT M8
Conventional Wisdom: Look, it’s the nature of a “spark”. It’s intangible, illogical, and downright capricious. It’s kind of funny when you think about it. I bet we’ll all have a good laugh about this one day. HA HA HA—
Me: …
Conventional Wisdom: —ha?
Me: WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THIS BEFORE?
Conventional Wisdom: I…I was worried you wouldn’t bother doing the other thing. The love yourself thing? Like how Glinda didn’t tell Dorothy about the ruby slippers because she had to learn her own lessons? Oh shit, now I’m doing the pop culture thing. Ugh, you people.
Me: You’re a real cunt.
[SCENE]

So. Here we are. Single. Again. Still. But that’s not the worst of it. I mean, think about it: I did all that work on myself. Battling my demons, facing my worst insecurities, and for what? So I could become an emotionally healthier, happier person who doesn’t hate himself when he looks in the mirror?

What a gyp.

Hateverbing (Hate Verbing, not Hat Ever Bing)

When I worked in commercial radio as part of a breakfast show, ratings were very important to my survival. Obviously. The more people tuned in, the more secure my job was. My co-host and I employed a lot of tactics to chase bigger audience numbers: we tried to secure interviews with the biggest names around (we snagged Joan Rivers once, she called me an “asshole” because I was a man: fair enough); we gave away the biggest prizes we could wrangle from a sponsor (the biggest I think was a small car, which didn’t call me any names); we even performed flashy, attention grabbing stunts (I jumped off a high diving board, held a scorpion, and even got a tattoo in the studio while on air). Whatever it took to get those numbers.

chrisandsarah

Yep: a real photo that was really used for real promotion.

(SPOILER: I haven’t worked in breakfast radio since 2007, so it wasn’t  enough. I blame the car for not being a five-door.)

We needn’t have tried so hard, though. There really only two ways to ensure great ratings: get people to love you, or get them to hate you. (That second one is super easy, by the way. Just be an asshole. Ask Joan Rivers for more information.) I’m not being philosophical or employing a daft metaphor or anything: that was legitimately the advice handed down from the several shiny, self-aware humanoid grease piles in Wayne Cooper shirts and cowboy boots (known in the industry as “consultants”) who were employed to tell us how to rate better. “If they don’t love you, make them hate you. Either way, they’ll listen.”

Hey, look! The point I am trying to make. It took long enough for you to show up, dude.

Hate-reading. Hate-watching. Hate-listening (less common with us cool hip young folk). It’s all the—ahem—rage, and it’s doing us all a damage. I implore you to stop doing that.

stop doing that

Thanks for backing me up, Rach.

It doesn’t matter how many hundreds of infuriated tweets you write when you’re done reading Miranda’s column. You read her column. You added to her circulation. You gave her voice, and the things she has to say, so much clout that she gets asked to appear on an evening news program to repeat herself. More exposure. More outrage. More clout. The papers fly off the shelves, the pageclicks come in so fast it sounds like someone’s about to spin up Top Dollar, and the cycle continues.

always angry

Bruce even reads the comments.

The ratings don’t care if you hate-watch or hate-read. Numbers are numbers. Not only that, but the people in charge—the ones to whom the ratings matter—are absolutely aware that you may well be hate-verbing, and not only are they are totes okay with it, they are in fact chuffed as fuck about it.

give zero fucks

The main argument I face from my anti-hate-verbing platform is: “Ignoring the bullies doesn’t make them go away.” But that’s a false comparison. This isn’t ignoring the bully. This is ignoring the loudmouth two feet away from the bully who’s yelling “HEY LOOK AT THAT BULLY OVER THERE EVERYONE”. They might agree with the bully. They might love the bully. Hell, in Australian media they may well be employed by the bully. But they are not the bully. And to assume they are is to furnish them with even more power and credibility than they have ever earned. Not Miranda, not Andrew, not Alan, not Kyle. Their power is directly proportionate to the amount of attention we pay, and that’s something we control entirely.

We all want to stay informed. We all want to learn and expose ourselves to new ideas and grow as people and—nah, just kidding. We just want shit to read while we’re procrastinating doing actual work. And sometimes it’s good to be aware of all sides of any given argument. Sometimes it’s even handy to know what the “enemy” (excuse my dramatic flourish) is thinking.

But please. For the good of the world. For the good of our good. For the good of your very soul: next time you’re tempted to hate-verb, skip it. Go look up crazy Danish slow-motion TV shows on YouTube instead. The same seven minutes will pass, you’ll feel way less angry, and the idiots will be down a click. Plus you’re still watching people set fire to shit for no good reason, so win win!

slow motion

Not even kidding: I’ve already watched this video four times. It’s an even better way to spend time than reading things that are GOOD