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I put a classified ad online. A month later I called the police.

19 Jul

10pm, Wednesday

It’s taken two years of living in Chippendale but I finally have a stalker. It’s lucky, I’m moving to the suburbs in 3 days so I was really running out of time. Like almost everything in my life, it started on the internet.

About a month ago I put up an ad on Gumtree saying I was looking for a room in a sharehouse. You know, It had worked for me before, so I figured it was worth a try. In it, I mention I’m a writer and include a blurry profile pic. Every Ebay seller knows you need a photo to get replies.

Among a bunch of replies advertising shared rooms and lounge rooms with a “transformational curtain”, I got this:

Hi Eliza,

I have a large creative arts premises and welcome you and your writing to settle here as we grow into living dreams.

 I look forward to hearing from you…

Billy*

 I replied:

 Hi Billy,

Thanks, but I’m not interested in commercial space.

Cheers,

Eliza

 And it went on, until I eventually accused him of being a sex offender.

 Him: I know. I have a room / studio the size close to three standard garage lengths. Pls come check it out I know you will agree it is right. I’m in the business of growing people’s dreams……

 Me: That honestly sounds as though you’re luring me there so you can murder me.​

 Him: Oh god. Now imagine I say my business is freedom & self appointed as dream maker. But, self demoted recently to executive freedom fighter. Do I have your number? Perhaps we can talk other housemates are here

 Me: Sorry, what has freedom fighting got to do with house hunting?

 (I have to admit, by now I was intrigued.)

 Him: Just thought I’d let you know what my business is. Altogether your potential new home is part of a creative arts centre. Pls call & chat with us.

 Me: Thank you but that sounds like my personal hell. Can I suggest you take a copywriting course? You shouldn’t have to explain that you are not in the business of murdering people. Unless you’re running a Warhol-esque factory/murder house. If that’s the case then your marketing strategy is appropriate.

 Him: So do you want to call or come or just miss out on the best thing that will happen to you

 Me: Is it some kind of arts/murder/sex house?

 Him: Two out of three ain’t bad.

 Me: This is insane. Why are you pursuing me?

 Him: All jokes aside. Pls take a look I am sure you will find it suitable

 Me: no, never, under any circumstances.

For three weeks I heard nothing, then two nights ago he contacted me again urging me to check out his Art Sex Murder Factory. I called him a stalker. We’re in the midst of the Sydney housing crisis and this guy has been pursuing me as a housemate. This does not happen. I had deleted my ad from the internet and the creepy dude from my mind.

Until about 20 minutes ago.

I was walking home from dinner in Surry Hills to Chippendale (yes, Dad, I should have got a cab). I passed this old junk shop — the kind filled with 1980s high-cut bikinis and Huey Lewis cassettes. I paused for a moment and looked in. For the first time I saw someone in there: a blonde girl who looked about 19, just sitting in a chair. I shrugged and kept on walking. I got about 10 metres away before I heard a man call out “excuse me”. Of course, I didn’t turn around. That’d be nuts. I kept walking and heard him shout out again. And again, more insistent each time. I wondered if I was being too harsh and thought that maybe I’d just dropped my wallet or something. I stopped and turned around.

The man, with pirate long hair and black everything sidled right up close. He told me, “Sorry, but I just wanted to tell you you look really stunning. I had to come out and tell you.”

I said in the loud, confident voice I reserve for suspected rapists “Thank you. Fuck off.” I strode away. I got a few paces and heard my name.  He called it out three times. A chill ran through me as I put the pieces together. This is him, this is Billy. The junk shop is the “artists’ residence”. I walked like someone who’s not scared all the way to my front door where I collapsed in a gibbering heap in front of my male, drummer-armed flatmate.

I called Redfern Police and spoke to an incredibly helpful constable.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to pack some boxes. Can I also just mention, internet, that my boyfriend actually owns a gun? And that it’s totally fucked-up that I should have to fear for my safety walking home from dinner? I think I need a hug from that bullmastiff I’ve been training. He hates artist collectives even more than I do.

*His name isn’t really Billy, I just named him after my least favourite ‘Ally McBeal’ character.

If you’ve encountered similar incidences, online or off, the police would quite like to know about it.

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As good as I get

7 Sep

Helen Hunt as Jamie Buchman wearing a white shirt.What do you do at 5.30pm on weekdays? Nothing? Great, watch Mad About You. Seriously, you should. Beginning in 1992, it stars Helen Hunt (Jamie Buchman) and Paul Reiser (Paul Buchman) as a typical Manhattan couple. The whole premise of the show is how much Paul and Jamie love each other. It’s half an hour of pure sweetness, with self deprecating wisecracks.

Looking back on it, I’m pleased that I had early exposure to Jamie Buchman. A Yale and NYU graduate, she works as a campaign strategist for various progressive political groups around the city. She rocks a white business shirt and comes home to her film maker husband and their border collie, Murrey. I figure if I can emulate her, my adult life is going pretty well. All my white shirts have coffee stains and the last campaign I strategised was to encourage teenagers to wear broad-brimmed hats but still, let’s just say I’m on my way to achieving Buchman status.

In June I was somewhere in America, let’s say Ohio. John and I were in a hotel room watching hotel movies. As Good As It Gets came on. My parents watched it maybe eight times in the late nineties and I’m happy to say that it holds up.

Jack Nicholson plays an agoraphobic, OCD romance writer, Greg Kinear an artist recovering from a bashing and Helen Hunt the waitress/single mother who brings them together on a wacky adventure of a roadtrip. It’s one of the only movies I’ve seen recently that had actual, fully formed characters.

Helen is nurturing. She has a warm but self-mocking sense of humour. She has a way of being affectionate with those around her. But like Jamie Buchman, she has a toughness and a stridency which I admire. Twenty minutes into the movie, John told me she reminds him of me. I think of Jamie Buchman and take the compliment.

There’s a weird sexual tension between Helen and Jack that neither seem very comfortable with. Jack is impersonating a high-functioning Howard Hughes and Helen is too busy with her job and child to fuck around with someone with his kind of issues. But one night she has a reason to celebrate. She bounces into the room proclaiming to the agoraphobe and the guy on crutches “Take me out dancing!” Here John and I chuckle because I said that just a few days before.

Jack obliges and takes Helen out to dinner. She wears a red shirt-dress, a look I’ve always found flattering on my shape. She pretends to dance with the waiter, making fun of the slightly snooty restaurant. Before the lobster is even ordered, Jack accidentally says something insulting and a look appears on Helen’s face which a number of my ex-boyfriends have referred to as The Look of Fire. I can only assume I get it from the Irish side of the family. The eyes flash, the jaw tightens and, instead of looking down, I look my opponent straight in the eye. Friends, lovers and housemates are forced to buckle in its presence.

John slowly turns to look at me. He has spent many months studying my behaviour and I’d say he’s an expert by now. His eyes flick between me and Helen Hunt’s face. I stare back at her, as thought seeing my mother for the first time. So this is where I come from. We both know what’s happened. I was four years old when Mad About You first went to air. Over the next 20 years, while my personality took shape it had something to work off. Without noticing I had become, not Jamie Buchman, but Helen Hunt. Her tone, her mannerisms, everything. We watch the rest of the movie in silence, wondering if personality theft is a crime and when the feds were going to storm our room.

I sit on the bed slowly coming to terms with the fact that what I thought was Eliza-ness is actually Helen-ness. But if I must have someone else’s personality, I’m glad it’s someone who can at least achieve Jamie Buchman’s likeness.

If you’re interested here’s a video of the time Jack Nicholson came to my house .

The dijonnaise question

20 May
A man dressed as ketchup and a woman dressed as mustard holding hands.

They must be in love.

There’s a point in every relationship that people later recognise as the beginning of the end. Sometimes it’s when you see that their friends are a bit douchey or that, try as you may, you will never, ever care about what they do for a living.

One of my relationships gave its last spattering breath when it heard me say “do you like dijonnaise? I mean, I know you like mayonnaise and mustard. But do you appreciate them in combination?” It was two fifths question, three fifths contraception.

The problem is, in most relationships, you know, the ones that end rapidly, there is a finite number of things you want to know about each other. At the start you have a surplus of interesting things to tell one another. Then there’s a limited supply of things worth knowing, until eventually  you enter a deficit and either start talking absolute bollocks or stop talking altogether. My innocent condiment inquiry was the last stop before total silence.

The more desperate you are to hold on, the more pointless your discourse becomes. Sensible people should recognise the deficit, accept it and move on. I am not one of those people. The result is usually months of two people slowly moving towards hatred, talking complete shit to each other out of sheer determination. If it goes on long enough your self loathing and resentment become strong enough to be worthy of mention and you just start shouting. This is to be avoided.

I’m a few months in to a relationship. Of sorts. A long distance one with someone I barely know. But the Internet is a wonderful thing and over the past twelve months we’ve been able to gleam morsels of information from each other. For instance, he speaks a reasonable amount of Spanish and broke his finger when he was six years old by accidentally jamming it in a door. Emersed in infatuation, I hunger for more details. I want to absorb his memories, thoughts and feelings by osmosis. But I’m also hesitant. If the dijonnaise question is ever to be asked I want to delay it as long as possible. I want to delay it until we’re senile and can just start over from the beginning.

I think that’s when I’ll know I’ve found true love. When the dijonnaise question never comes. When every question is met with, if not fascination, then at least a warm smile, a pat on the head and an inquiry about my preference for vegemite over peanut butter.

It’s Dinosaur Day!

31 Mar

Oh, you didn’t know? Let me explain.

When I was four I was given Land Before Time on video for Christmas. I watched it compulsively, soaking everything about dinosaurs into my tiny child mind-sponge. What I took away from the film was this: dinosaurs are awesome and they can probably talk. My brother’s brontosaurus figurines were dusted off and I started constructing tiny dino societies in my doll’s house. My godmother started constructing my most treasured possession: the dinosaur patchwork quilt I got on my 6th birthday.

And then came Disney’s Fantasia. I can’t be the only adult still bearing scars from that movie. Despite the dancing mushrooms, the frolicking Pegasus, the tiny psychotic axes, what I took away from that movie was dinosaurs are awesome, they probably talk and they all died horrible deaths under a dust cloud the size of the Gulf of Mexico.

This distraught me. The adults of the house quickly learnt that upon hearing the music, they’d have to launch themselves at the VCR before I was traumatised further. I fixated on the injustice of it. The dinosaurs died and nobody told me! Why wasn’t it on the news? Why aren’t people talking about it? DOES NOBODY ELSE CARE? So, like good the charity PR I’d turn out to be, I decided something had to be done. My solution was Dinosaur Day.

The day chosen was the last day of daylight savings. As people prepare to turn back their clocks it seems appropriate that we take the time to remember our fallen, reptilian brethren. It quickly became a pivotal point in the Cussen family calendar.

We would get together for a commemorative family feast featuring a slather of prehistoric food. From memory, these included avocados, custard apples, artichokes and large green Easter eggs. We’d all sit at the table while I shared my tiny clusters of dino knowledge. I would list  all my favourite breeds, separated into carnivores, omnivores and herbivores. And all this with my heart heavy with grief about their untimely,suffocating dust death.

Sadly, over the years the campaign lost its focus as I broadened the parameters to include other extinct creatures. The concept never caught on. I was much more willing to mourn a pterodactyl than a dodo.

So, readers, today of all days please join me in reviving our forgotten national day. Take a moment to eat an avocado, crack open the scaly hide of a custard apple and remember what we’ve lost.

The terrifying incident of the dog at lunchtime

15 Feb

When my sister heard ferocious growling through the phone she wasn’t surprised. Even though I don’t own a dog. She once told me “sorry I can’t meet you for coffee, I’ve rescued a baby cormorant.” I answered the phone to her by saying “can’t talk now, saving frogs.” We’re just that kind of people. We take animal loving to the point of stupidity. I spent much of my childhood babysitting for a pair of magpies and recently offered sympathetic pats to an overly fluffy discarded jumper.

When I went to get the paper on Saturday morning I met a dog I will call Clunkhead. He was part Staffie, part pitbull, part breeze block and we was tied to a sign post looking sad. We became friends instantly.

Hours later I walked down the street again. Clunkhead was still there, still tied up and looking sadder. The girl who runs the corner shop told me he’d been there since early this morning and that she’d called the council. Council. Dog rangers. Pound. Don’t worry, Clunkhead, I won’t let the evil council men take you away!

So Clunkhead and I move into the shade of the corner shop’s verandah and wait. Clunkhead doesn’t look sad anymore. He begins to look happy. Soon he’s clambering over my lap, smiling and trying to lick me. He loves having his ears tickled and is a very good listener. I learn that he doesn’t know how to sit and that he has mild eczema and unclipped claws. His eyes tell me he hasn’t had the easiest time. I decide that there is no way Clunkhead will be taken to the pound on my watch.

When the dog rangers turn up they see Clunkhead laying on my lap getting his belly rubbed. I prepare to tell them that their services are no longer required. One ranger approaches, Clunkhead sits up, takes one look at him and charges. Like a bullet, Clunkhead flies through the air and latches onto the ranger’s leg. I scream “Clunkhead, no!” and pull him back. Reprimanded, he sits between my legs as I tell him that that’s not how nice puppies behave. The ranger surveys the damage. The dog had missed his flesh but nearly severed his leather wallet in half.

“I’m not going near that thing. That there is a dangerous dog,” said the ranger, looking at Clunkhead enjoying getting tickled behind the ear. Another ranger approaches. Clunkhead charges again but this time I know to pull him back quicker. This dog, this low-to-the-ground, muscular dog had been trained to attack men. I look into his eyes and wonder what kind of monster had created him.

Unable to come within five metres, the rangers pass the microchip scanner to the shop girl who passes it to me with an outstretched, shaking arm. I run the scanner over his fur until it beeps. Clunkhead, or Oscar, is registered to a man in the next suburb. Clunkhead does not respond to the name Oscar. I don’t like his chances of the owner coming to collect him. He doesn’t even answer his phone.

I call my sister and explain the situation. She agrees that no, Clunkhead must not go to the pound. Then she hears him charging at a man attempting to buy milk. Yes, Clunkhead must go to the pound. But he likes girls, I explain. Maybe there’s a convent or a colony of separatist lesbians he can move to? Clunkhead must go to the pound.

The rangers have devised a plan. They are to kit up in their padded gear, get out their Steve Irwin style crocodile catchers and stand 10 metres down the street. And me? Well, I have to get Clunkhead into the van.

That means walking Clunkhead past the shopkeeper and her elderly dad and a number of other bystanders. That means walking calmly so that the dog doesn’t get wise to our scheme. That means looking him in the eye and telling him to get excited. We oh-so-enthusiastically head on over to the waiting cage. Trying to stay calm and look normal, I stupidly, stupidly leave the lead long. At the first opportunity, Clunkhead launches at the exposed flesh of the shopkeeper’s dad. It turns out there was blood but I didn’t give myself time to register it. Less sympathetically, I lead Clunkhead to the cage, tell him “woo, yeah, psycho-killler, we’re going in the cage now!”

With only two paws in, the rangers gather. Clunkhead, tasting human blood, nashes his teeth through the bars of the cage. The rangers are all practically wearing chainmail but there’s nothing between me and this dog’s teeth but his sense of gallantry. “Push!” the rangers yell at me. Push!

Clunkhead, maybe smarter than he looks, hooks his back paw on the bottom of the gate. He stops his nashing just long enough to shoot me a look that says, “I thought we were friends.” He must read my look of pure desperation because he lifts his paw up and lets me slide him in. I slam the gate shut and the rangers descend with a cacophony of locks, bolts and the snapping of jaws on metal.

As they do paperwork and see that the shopkeeper gets to the doctor, Clunkhead and I take a moment to sit quietly, the scent of my betrayal thick in the air. Even when he’s being heaved into the doggie paddy wagon making eye contact with me keeps him calm.

After the doors are shut the rangers come and thank me. Trembling and sweating, I shake their hands. Thinking of how the professional attack dog would rest his head on my lap, I wonder if I’ve missed my calling as the world’s most gullible dog catcher.

Special note: I would like to thank the wonderful, totally not evil dog rangers of the City of Sydney who continue to have Clunkhead’s best interests at heart.

Update: one of the rangers called me to tell me that they took Clunkhead/Oscar back to his owner instead of the pound. The incident has been reported to the RSPCA.

Also, the shopkeeper’s leg is healing nicely.

How my parents convinced me the world was ending

28 Dec

I grew up in the Blue Mountains, a place two hours from Sydney famous for bush fires. Our family home sits in a valley, surrounded by flamable things. When my parents bought it in the summer of 1977 a massive fire stormed across the ridgeline eventually singing our fence posts. It hasn’t burnt since but every summer it comes close. Childhood summers to me were a bright red sun, ash falling from the sky and ABC radio constantly on to tell us if we had to evacuate.

You might think that this was scary, but really it was just exciting, mainly because nothing made my mother happier than imminent doom. One year a column of black smoke covered half the sky and evacuation seemed likely. My mother had been packed for days. There were photos in boxes, clothes in bags and, as an alternative to a cat box, poor Missy in a pillow case. For my mother this was the best Christmas ever.

So, at the beginning of 1999 when rumours of the millennium bug started to circulate my mother listened with interest. What’s that, you say? Planes falling from the sky? Techno apocalypse, I hear? As someone who feared technology as a concept, the idea of the toaster being scheduled to revolt against its human masters and kill us all made perfect sense. It was time to prepare.

Room was made in a cupboard in the kitchen. This was filled with dried grain, pulses, spam and seeds. Aware that the vats of water stored under the house would only go so far, my father was sent into the bush to find the nearest spring. I was told that I couldn’t tell anyone at school about the preparations because, come January 1st they’d all be banging down the door for their share of grain. I’d seen Mad Max. I knew the score.

Dad, usually a skeptical man, must have been caught up in the festivity of it all because soon he was preparing for the end of the world with the best of them. Such was their enthusiasm that I was totally convinced that the world could end a cruel week before my 12th birthday. At Easter, I found myself in hospital with a penicillin reaction. The nurse kindly enquired about me starting high school the following year. I replied casually “yes, bad timing, isn’t it?” she asked why and I told her “because of Y2K. Hasn’t anyone told you?” Had I been her I would have called Community Services.

We surely weren’t the only ones caught up in the thrill of Y2K fever. There were long specials about it on the ABC. Plane tickets for New Years Eve were sold at bargain prices. The Prime Minister went on TV to reassure the nation. But you can never trust a politician.

Not long after Easter Dad told me that my cubby house would be converted into a hutch and that I’d get to breed bunnies. Being slightly dim I didn’t connect all the dots. Days later, when my parents confessed what the baby bunnies were for I became hysterical. I can only assume that at that point my parents looked from the distressed child to each other and wondered if they hadn’t got a bit carried away with all this apocalypse business.

I woke on the first morning of the new millennium to the smell of spam being fried. The kettle was singing happily and the toaster seemed content. The air was filled with relief, but also, just a little, disappointment.

Tourette syndrome: an excuse to swear and hit people

21 Dec

So I have Tourette syndrome. Which is fun. Like lots of fun pastimes it involves dancing, loud noises and surprising people in public.

All it is my muscles, usually my arms or shoulders, spontaneously moving followed by pins and needles running through my nervous system. Sometimes I make noises but you would too if your muscles moved themselves around. It doesn’t make me swear or say inappropriately sexual phrases. I can do that all on my own.

What makes my own pet neurological disorder special is that, more often than not my tics resemble dance moves. I’ve been known to shimmy, twist and clap my hands like a flamenco dancer. Lately I’ve been doing a series of jazzy, sultry clicks with my right hand. I’ve also kicked lovers and smacked my head violently on bus windows. It took a while for a hand shaped bruise on my arm to fade because I kept refreshing it.

I’ve been getting several tics a day since I was about nine. Some things that appear to trigger them are:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Being slightly chilly
  • Sickness
  • Being over caffeinated
  • Being under caffeinated
  • PMS
  • Needing to pee
  • A random weather event happening in a nearby city (or something like that)

So being in an overly air conditioned late night session of a tedious movie where I’ve drunk one of those giant cokes after I’ve had a fight with my mother while I have the flu is basically my idea of hell. If you manage to engage me in interesting conversation on a warm day when I’m feeling chipper you’ll probably never notice.

There’s nothing I can do to stop a tic from happening. I feel one coming as a kind of pressure building up in my limbs. Then the tic happens and there’s a feeling of relief. Over the years I’ve learnt to redirect the movement. For instance, if I have hot coffee in my left hand I’ll be able to force the tic down my right arm to avoid disaster. For all I know my jazzy clicks could be an alternative to me shouting “I prefer to Cherry Ripes to hairy scrotum” at my boss.

As neurological disorders go it really isn’t so bad. It’s actually quite surprising how little impact it’s had on my life. I manage to get quite a bit done between dance moves. Tourette syndrome is incredibly varied in its symptoms and severity, ranging from imperceptible to almost debilitating. This could explain why I only got a formal diagnosis* at 23, long after the point they’d told me I’d grow out of my strange little habit.

The only thing it’s really ever stopped me doing is driving. I’m told that it takes quite a bit of concentration so I expect I’d be fine, I just haven’t quite worked up the courage yet. I guess I learnt early on that I got to decide how much it would affect me. I opted for “very little” so I developed a sense of humour about it.

When I was 16, during a particularly dance-a-riffic stage, I was in history class. I hadn’t yet learnt how to redirect my tics so I kept making this little “OOOP!” noise and moving my hands around. An angry looking chick turned around and said “What, do you have Tourette’s or something?!”

“Yes,” I said, with a deadpan expression. The angry chick, who is now one of my best friends, looked mortified, folded herself in half and sunk into her chair. I don’t think she ever quite recovered. That was a turning point from which I decided that the problem wasn’t with me, it was with society’s lack of accommodation for spontaneous dance.

So in summary, if I swear at you or approach you with out of context sexual innuendo, chances are I mean it.

*Can I get some kind of certificate for that? I’m not asking for much, just like a merit award or something. I’d also like a badge.

There are a number of groups that support people with Tourette syndrome. Try the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia.

The UK based campaign, Tourette’s Hero uses the humour approach quite well.

This post was republished on Mamamia.com.au and ABC RampUp where readers have written many encouraging comments and have shared their Tourette’s experiences.

Door bitch

12 Dec
The coalface of contemporary gender politics isn’t actually the earning gap or reproductive rights. The real battle, the one I rage daily, is a door. Specifically, the door of the lift in my office building. If I get in the lift first I stand towards the back and other people, including men, get in the lift and stand towards the front. Normal so far. I ride to the top floor, and if a man happens to be standing in front of me he will stand, somewhat awkwardly to the side and look at me expectantly.
I stand there awkwardly back.
He looks at me like I’ve forgotten something.
I stand there awkwardly still.
He gestures towards the door as though I might have misplaced it.
I smile sweetly and say something condescending like “out you go.”
The poor man will then either smile sheepishly and leave or continue to stand there with his arm half raised like a vaguely chauvinistic muppet.
If that happens I will then drop my voice an octave and tell him “we’ll be here all day.”
Given the choice between a speedy exit and being trapped in a lift for eight hours with an increasingly threatening woman they tend to choose the exit.
Taking gender out of the equation for a moment, I think the idea of people holding doors open for one another is quite nice. It’s also terribly inefficient. The time I spend each day saying things like “oh no, you go first” could be better spent staring out the window while my coffee kicks in or reading Jezebel. I’m a busy person and time is precious.
I have, on occasion, tried to instil a people-hold-doors-open-for-people regime by holding a door open for a man. This causes great confusion, much oh-no-you-go-first-ing and eventually I give up and just get the hell out of there. Less efficient still.
So back to the gender thing. I realise these men are just being nice. They’re just trying to do what society tells them. Problem is, society hasn’t updated its quote book since 1903. You can call it gentlemanliness, you can call it curtesy but as my very smart sister pointed out, if you hold doors open for me my arms will get weaker.
The polite gesture I meet every morning acts as a reminder that my presence in the building as anything but a secretary is something very new. It reminds me that women are treated in so many ways as special or unique or delicate or in some way worthy of men’s special care. It implies that I am either too important or too fragile to open a door myself. However well meaning, this is always patronising. Especially when you’re just planning on staring at my arse anyway.
I know not everyone thinks this way. I know that the graphic designer on Level 7 gets huffy if someone doesn’t open a door for her. I know that there are probably more of her than there are of me. I know that she and I probably both call ourselves feminists and that we don’t wear badges explaining how much we feminise and how often. I realise that the daily door dilemma is a minefield for us all. How about tomorrow we do this: who ever is nearest the door leaves first. And if the graphic designer from Level 7 gets huffy just smile politely and threaten to take away her right to vote.
Update: just after writing this my feminist door stance nearly got a man killed. I just had to use the sentence “I’m sorry my feminism nearly got you crushed between the doors of a closing lift. That really wasn’t my intention! I appreciate your efforts to be polite. Can I please buy you jellybeans or something?” Now I can see why the Republicans say feminism is so dangerous.

A long time in politics

8 Dec

I dated Marcus for a week, from the Saturday we met to the Saturday morning I spent sitting on his balcony trying to delay the moment when I’d crush his spirit. Spirit crushing is something to which I should probably grow accustomed.

Thing is, I go for the quiet, understated gentleman. Really, if you have boyish features and tell me at a bar “I know I’ve only spoken a few words to you, but I have been listening intently and am now thinking dirty thoughts” then you’re basically my ideal man. My dad once told me that I’m destined to be murdered by my husband since it’s the quiet ones that always have the axes.

So I was chatting to Marcus, who at that point was not carrying an axe. He was saying a few words every so often but was otherwise just looking at me adoringly. When he did speak it was usually about left wing politics, indie music or food. He was good looking and interesting, yes, but that wasn’t why I was interested. I think what made me want to jump his bones was the fact that he was quite obviously scared of me.

Don’t let the fact that I spend all my time alone in my room on the Internet fool you, I’m actually a very self assured person. I also like to provoke people at parties which I guess gives me a brazenness that offers a welcome change from girls who don’t smack people. That, combined with a large bust and talent for hair flicking is all a bit much for a nerdy boy to handle. And, like a female hyena, I seek out the ones waiting at the back of the waterhole and then pounce on them while they’re drinking.

I told him straight up that I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. Then for a week I acted like his girlfriend. I’ve never been good at the dating thing. I tend to just decide whether or not to marry them sometime after breakfast. By my standards I was going slow. So there were dinners, long nights and lazy mornings. Questions asked and jokes made. And Marcus,like all my hapless victims, was suckered into it.

I’m not sure how much he liked me, but he definitely liked the idea of me. He wanted the home cooked meals, the arguments over who puts the bins out, someone to sit next to at Christmas. I wanted all those things too, but with someone on the other side of the world. I watched him getting his hopes up, like I watch an egg rolling off a bench – regretfully but without going to too much effort to stop it. When, at the end of our second Saturday, he asked if he had a chance with me all I could do was apologise.

My friend tentatively raised the point that maybe, just maybe these boys were not the hapless victims I’d always portrayed them to be. Maybe they’re actually very capable young men who know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. Maybe they think they’re the hyena.

Look, that’s always a possibility, I replied, thinking it over. Maybe I just assume they’re terrified and vulnerable because, in a not completely healthy way, I’d rather be the hyena than the prey. Maybe I should give them and myself a little more credit.Or maybe I’ll just have to wait until I get my axe wielding politics geek and we can both sit, terrified and happy, well into old age.