Hello! Come to Daddy…

In Australia we have a TV program called Rage, which just plays music videos. Rage also has guest programmers, usually famous musicians who are touring Australia and they pick a few hours worth of clips and film some face-to-camera stuff discussing their favourite tracks and/or videos. This is where I discovered a lot of music I was really into as a teenager.

One of the most frequently picked videos is Aphex Twin’s ‘Come to Daddy’, and without fail, it’s also one of the videos the guest programmers choose to give an introduction to and the introduction is always the same: this is the most fucked up music video in existence. Now don’t get me wrong, you’ll never forget the first time you saw ‘Come to Daddy’ and in its heyday, the guest programming section of Rage started around midnight, so you were usually drunk, and easily entranced, so yes, it was initially terrifying, even on the second or third viewing, but not every week.

My favourite intro to ‘Come to Daddy’ was by Trent Reznor, who was still defaulting on-camera to his overly earnest, King of the Goths persona, despite it being post-The Fragile. He glared moodily down the camera and chuckled and explained that he was about to show us the most fucked up music video of all time and all of Australia groaned and yelled ‘We know! We get it, we’re an island far, far away from America, but we too have seen ‘Come to Daddy’! In fact we have seen it one billion times now!’

Personally, I would argue that ‘Come to Daddy’ while no doubt warped, is less unsettling than ‘Windowlicker’ which I genuinely will avoid when inebriated and alone.

However, nothing Aphex Twin or any other artist has done, or will do in the future will ever hold a flame to the terror that I feel when I see what is actually the most fucked up music video of all time. Yes, I’m talking Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’:

He’s her teacher! She is blind! He is lurking in the dark singing ‘hello’ to her! She bastardises the art of clay by producing one of those slightly out of proportion portraits of him that was surely the precursor to the art of tattooing poorly proportioned portraits on oneself and housewives of the ’80s considered this to be a love song.

Jesus.

“What up Jel?” “Nothin’ but rent”.

It looks like I’m going to have to move out of my ‘hood at the end of the year, which really sucks. By then I will have lived in the same suburb, in fact, in the same three block radius of the same suburb for almost six years and I really love it.

I’ve seen the Vietnamese couple who own my closest vegetable store raise three little kids now, and I don’t even mind when they crash their trikes into me because they have parents who work long hours and they have nowhere to ride their trikes during the week but on the footpath.

Wow. That was a fond story that suddenly turned sad.

I will miss the Greek bakery where they are constantly displeased with my inability to read the Greek signage. I will miss the group of old Greek men who drink at the same café every morning. I will miss my elderly Greek neighbour who cheerfully pulls me aside to tell me things like ‘I see everyone who comes and goes from this building! You, you work very late!’ and ‘Something something something, new people in apartment two, something something, but we don’t care Julia, do we, unless it’s illegal, hahaha!’ Man I wish I knew what she’d said about those new people. For a few weeks I thought she was trying to tell me they were a gay couple, but since then I’ve seen them in the daylight and realised I had incorrectly identified them as two women.

I will miss my Vietnamese restaurant who have faithfully served me the same order for five years now without ever mentioning that maybe I should expand my diet.

I will miss the fellow commuters with whom I have silent, passive aggressive moments with every morning as we battle for the few remaining seats. I will miss Con, a local man who comes to the train station almost every morning to tell everyone when the next train is coming and sometimes hops on the train and yells the station name really loudly just before the train pulls in. I will miss the expressions on the faces of people who’ve never encountered Con and his loud voice and love of train stations before.

Sadly, I live in an awesome neighbourhood and people are moving here to bask in its awesomeness and the rents have crept up to the point where my jeans have a huge hole in the groin and I tried to pretend it was a fashion hole for as long as I could, but there’s really no escaping the fact that it’s just a hole in an old pair of jeans. I can pay my rent, or I can buy new jeans.

I’m fretting like an old woman. I have a place lined up to move into, but part of me thinks I need to suck it up and share house again to save money. Then I remember my years of share housing…

I remember the feisty South American housemate who got into bed with me on her first night in the house, lay down on my pillow, smiled and said ‘Tell me about the first time you had sex’. We’d only met that morning. In the ensuing months, her boyfriend would move in rent free, which caused her Centrelink payments to be cut, which caused her to scream at them on the phone, ‘We’re not in a relationship, we’re just having sex! Who is to say how many times you must have sex before you’re in a relationship?!’

Her most infamous moment came when she stormed through the house brandishing a razor yelling, ‘Who did use my razor?! Who did use my razor?!’ When a male housemate meekly admitted he’d used it to shave that morning, she waved it in his face and screamed ‘You use this? I shave my pussy with this!‘ which was followed by the sounds of the rest of us quietly closing our respective bedroom doors and laughing into our pillows, while he was left standing there, his face a mixture of shame and curiosity.

Then there was the housemate who would drunkenly come into the bedroom of any female housemate, pretending he’d lost his way trying to find his own bed, which led to me jumping out my bedroom window once and sleeping on the floor of a dorm room on campus.

There were couples breaking up, random overnight guests who would lead to couples breaking up, the inevitable task of mowing the lawn when it got to be about three feet tall, the seedy Sundays when everyone was too hungover to move, bills to split between housemates who pleaded ignorance about the three hour long midnight phone calls someone needed to pay for, food going missing, trying not to gag while eating a housemate’s attempt at soup, dealing with housemates who moved their beds into the lounge room to mourn a relationship in front of the TV, break-ins, the discovery that someone had been living in the garage and subsisting on cans of baked beans, cleaning a bathroom used by five people, one of whom liked to blow his nose in the shower…

Maybe share housing in my late 20s would be a really different experience, but since I last had to live with people I wasn’t dating, I’ve discovered that I don’t like wearing pants, I like leaving DVDs paused for hours, I like eating the same meal four nights in a row, singing in the shower, talking to my cat.

I would either be the overly strict housemate from hell, or the dark haired freak everyone would quietly avoid.

But I’d probably be able to buy new jeans.

93 days to go…

As of late last week, Trip USA USA is fully booked and Team USA USA are a teeny bit excited. Flying out in October shall be Fiona, her partner Marty, my best friend Kelly and me! 

The trip itself goes a little somethin’ like this: 

Day 1: Arrive in Los Angeles after a 14 hour flight, lots of in-flight booze and probably at least one adult tantrum, thrown most likely by this six-foot taller. 

Day 2: Drive to Las Vegas and spend three nights in The Venetian, where I plan to pass my time riding gondolas and finding me an American gentleman to marry so I don’t ever have to leave. Here we also plan to shoot guns and I want to see one of the Blue Man Group, so I can yell ‘You blued yourself!’ like it’s the first time some drunk jerk tourist has thought that would be funny. 

Day 5: Drive from Vegas to Death Valley, where we’re staying overnight to join a cult take photos at sunrise. 

Day 6: Drive to Phoenix. Somewhere between Death Valley and Phoenix is where I’m going to have my second adult tantrum and demand that on the first straight piece of desert road we find, we listen to Tori Amos’s ‘A Sorta Fairytale’. What? A girl’s allowed a misty/clichéd side. 

Day 7: Drive from Phoenix to Tuson where we are staying for two nights at a place called Hotel Congress where we will be celebrating Marty’s birthday! It’s here I plan to run out of money. 

Day 9: Drive from Phoenix to Verde Valley where we are visiting the vineyard of Maynard Keenan. This will tickle my mum’s fancy: the vineyard is called Merkin Vineyards. After, we shall spend the night in Sedona, unless I get invited to join Tool, which is obviously on the cards. 

Day 10: Grand Canyon. 

Day 11: Monument Valley 

Day 12: Bryce Canyon. At this stage I pretty much guarantee I’m going to be sick of looking into things, marvelling at their expansiveness. 

Day 13: We head from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park. At this stage we will have been in a control state for a few days. ‘Control state’ sounds much less awesome than ‘dry state’. I had to Wikipedia what that actually meant because we don’t have them in Australia. Turns out it probably doesn’t mean we’re going to have to smuggle booze into Utah, which is a shame, I had all kinds of fantasies where I played an Al Swearengen-esque character. 

Day 14: We head to the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s a shame I’ve had to cut salt out of my life or I imagine this would be amazing. This will also be Halloween. Americans, you are not going to know what hit you. I’ve been wanting to Halloween since I was about about four (yes Henry, I did just use Halloween as a verb). 

Day 15: We’re still going to be in the heart of it, Salt Lake City itself. I’m going to go to that temple and I am going to stare at it and have my little godless mind boggled. Then we drive to Boise. I have no idea how to pronounce Boise. Boys? Pardon my ignorance. 

Day 16: We drive from Boise to Seattle. I don’t know what to expect of Seattle, but I’m excited. By this stage I will have been drinking a coffee for a few weeks (I don’t drink coffee, but it’s on my bucket list to start doing so in the US. Coffee drinkers keep telling me not to because it’s more addictive than crack and harder to give up than Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs), so I guess I’ll be quite the pro. I think this is going to be my sitting in bars, drinking quiet beers stage of the trip. 

Day 18: We’re heading to Portland, which I am majorly excited about. I have a list of bars and things I want to see and do that’s about a mile long (eh, eh *wink* see what I did there? Talkin’ like a local!). I guess this is the part of the trip where we might catch some bands too? You Americans have no idea how cheap your live music is. 

Day 21: Portand to Medford! I don’t know what’s in Medford. Wikipedia tells me it’s about 75,000 people. I’d be interested to know what constitutes “small town America”. Would this be considered small? In Australia it wouldn’t be, the second largest city in my state is less than 300,000 people. I once lived in a town that had about 1000 people though, so when I think small I think people-don’t-like-the-new-family-in-town small. 

Day 21: San Francisco! We’ve rented a house for four days in the Haight-Ashbury district and this is the chilled part of the trip for bike rides and walking along, holding hands, smiling into each other’s faces. Also, blowing obscene amounts of cash on everything I’ve always wanted because I’ve been saving for this trip so hard that my jeans have a huge hole in the groin area and I can’t buy new ones! 

Day 25: San Fran to LAX, where we fly out the next day and I cry and start saving to come back to do the other coast and the South. 

Before then, we have to figure out what the weather’s going to be like in the States at that time of year, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll be buying new reading glasses and changing my hair (which sounds suspiciously like I’m trying to make myself look unlike my passport photo), get us some bona fide American dollars, and make play lists for the road (this doesn’t extend to the music of one Bruce Springsteen, who we’re taking over on an iPod of his own, named ‘bossPod’). 

If anyone has any must sees, feel free to hit me up. 

 

All photos in this post are by the one-and-only Ryan Russell, and come from the author’s personal collection.

Living Alone: a Memoir Not as Salacious as Drew Barrymore’s.

Dom Knight‘s recent article about living alone gave me pause for thought. I moved out of home when I was 18 and until early last year, always lived with dorm mates (never again), flatmates (maybe so long as they didn’t have alcohol or drug issues/a British boyfriend who’d move in rent free/don’t sneak into my room in the middle of the night pretending they think it’s theirs/or move out after two weeks), or a partner.

I’d never lived alone and suddenly I had to. I was 27, couldn’t budget and was so afraid of the dark that I checked my cupboards every night. Yet I survived and grew to love it so much that my mum recently told me that I might want to consider not living alone for too much longer because I’ll inevitably ‘turn a bit weird’ and I was all ‘Pfft, it’s like we’ve never met. You’re 28 years late to that party, homeboy’.

On that note, here is my take on the realities of living alone as a single lady:

Get a pet. This isn’t for companionship. If you get a pet that lives outside of water (water-dwelling ones don’t count. In fact, nothing that lives in a tank counts as any kind of pet. You basically just bought something that stinks and is boring), you’re not getting companionship, you’re getting a hairy child that can’t speak but can surprise poop and/or vomit. So what’s the point? The point is if you have a pet, any noise you hear during the night can be blamed on them. That strange bump? The cat. The window sliding open? Cat. The sound of the TV being passed out the window? Cat. Sleep on sweet babe, there’s nothing to worry about! I am over-qualified to provide this advice, having lived through two share house burglaries, both of which happened when I was home, once alone.

It’s much better to have a pet to blame it on.

Don’t trust pizza delivery guys. When I last lived with someone, we had a really odd pizza delivery guy. I can’t do it justice, but somehow this guy managed to undress you, bend you over the couch and roger you stupid with his eyes all in the time it took him to hand you your pizza and combination of sides. After one order, I had accepted my pizza and sexual eye relations, gone to the kitchen and gotten plates and returned to the lounge room, when I realised I hadn’t heard the delivery guy exit the building. When I looked through the peep hole in the door, he was pressed up against it, looking back. I vowed never to order pizza again and didn’t, until six months after I’d moved into my current place and was living alone. I thought, why not? It’s been six months, I’ve moved, surely I’m not going to get the same delivery guy!

I did and when I opened the door he spoke for the first time: ‘Ah! This is where you moved to!’

I no longer eat pizza.

Be wary of neighbours. I have some excellent neighbours. There’s an old Greek couple who are amazed at everything I do, from going to the gym to working in the city and I proudly tell them stories about each. There’s a lovely couple across the hall who I laughed with once like best friends when the husband hid under the communal stairs and jumped out to scare me,  thinking I was his wife. However, I also have a psuedo gang member neighbour with neck tattoos, who tried to hit on one of my sisters and who got carried up the stairs by a large Tongan man on New Years Day and spent an hour giggling to himself in the hallway before he passed out.

All of the above are overshadowed by the presence of my downstairs neighbour who we’ll call Terrifying, because she is. Terrifying is obsessed with the details of my day-to-day life life. She sees me come and go, so I understand how she’d have gathered that I live alone and work during the week. I ill-advisedly lent her $2 once for cigarettes so she knows I’m good for cash and she knows how silky smooth my skin is because she once drunkenly kissed me after telling me she was going to put her cat down (the cat still lives). She was actually the last person I kissed in 2010 and I’m fairly sure she jinxed me.

However, none of this will ever top the first time I met Terrifying. I’d only been living alone for a few weeks and there was a knock at the door. When I opened it, I found Terrifying, drunk and holding an industrial-sized black garbage bag that was stuffed full of something.

‘Hello, I’m Terrifying from downstairs. I saw you hanging out your washing the other day and I noticed you have large breasts like my daughter. So I thought you might want these, they’re brand new, but my daughter doesn’t want them, she’s moving’.

Stunned, I found myself alone in my lounge room, clutching a giant black plastic bag I didn’t even remember taking from her. I opened it cautiously and found what must’ve been 30 bras, none of them anywhere near new, below them were some stockings and then further down, some undies. I slowly tied the bag in a knot, went into my bedroom, closed the door and freaked the fuck out. After the sun set, I crept down to the car park and hid the bag at the bottom of my bin.

Now when I hear her knock, I instinctively cover my chest and hide.

Don’t tell smug couples that you live alone. Once  I was out enjoying some beers with a close friend of mine and her partner and a male friend of theirs, whose girlfriend was elsewhere. We’ll call him British, because he is. After many, many beers and a lot of good chats and laughs, we were trying to plan our next move, which would involve finding the absent girlfriend and like anything involving couples and feelings, the decision was taking a long time to make. I turned to British and made a joke along the lines of ‘Couples hey? You guys and your feelings and decisions!’ and he smiled and said ‘Well yes, it’s true, relationships have their downsides, but I guess at the end of the night, I’m going home with someone I love, and you’re going home alone!’

He was right too.

Be careful food shopping. I’m not talking budgeting here kids, although that helps because food shopping for one is expensive. No, I’m talking about being careful about the combinations of things you buy if your local supermarket staff know you’re a live aloner. For example, if it’s late at night and I need cat food, I have to be careful what else I buy. Cat food and chocolate or cat food and a gossip magazine are complete no-gos. When you’re a live aloner, especially a woman, you want people to at least suspect you haven’t given up on having a sex life. However, it gets tricky. If you are a notorious local live aloner and you decide to be responsible and shop for condoms on the off chance you do have a sex life, you can’t be in the mood for cucumbers in the same shopping trip. Never should condoms and cucumbers grace your basket at the same time. Ever. Not even if you’re buying heaps of other stuff. Condoms and cucumbers symbolise you’ve given up on life and news of this will travel fast.

Other than that, loving alone is pretty rad. For a start, there is no sharing, all the food is mine. Saturday morning is loud hip-hop dancing in pyjamas time and if I feel like doing the washing up just wearing undies, all I have to do is turn the kitchen light out to make sure no-one in the car park can’t see me. I also get to watch the bloopers reels of movies repeatedly and when I decided to rent Get Him to the Greek, I watched the scene where Jonah Hill imitates Cedric Bixler-Zavala about 850 times just because I could and it was the best part of the movie. I also regularly use my time in the shower to practise singing like Antony Hegarty and there’s no-one to mention the word ‘nutrition’ if I decide to eat a cookie while waiting for my toast to be ready.

I won’t lie, there are downsides. It’s really expensive to live alone in Sydney and there’s something inherently unfair about opening bills and having to pay them by yourself. When I find a way to get a cat to pay rent, I’m set though. Having to go to bed alone after reading a few chapters of Helter Skelter is possibly the worst thing I’ve had to do recently, although I’m not sure how much a housemate would really have appreciated me creeping into their bed in my weird combination of pyjamas and footballs socks, and I will also admit to spending one night lying alone in the dark inventing origin stories for myself and then Tweeting them.

Until it sends me either broke or bonkers (I have considered that maybe once upon a time, Terrifying was just like me and that perhaps I am Terrifying MKII), living alone is the way to go.

Monday – Friday Secrets: The Tattoo Secret

Hello there! We made it to Friday, presumably all of us alive! I hope our jobs, or studies, or holidays are treating us well and I trust we all have fun weekends planned? Good work team.

Today I would like to discuss tattoos, of which I have three. More specifically, I would like to discuss – drumroll please! – how I regret two of them! Yes, I am outing myself as a person who secretly regrets some of her tattoos. For the uninitiated, this is pretty much enough to get me kicked out of the religion. See, the tattoo dogma goes: you get yourself branded and you must stand behind your decision to get branded, no matter what. There are several reasons for this:

1 – admitting you have regrets might lead to other tattooed folk realising they too have regrets. No-one wants to be the person who makes someone else question the ink they got permanently drilled under their skin!

2 – it’s really hard to admit you did something dumb. Something dumb your parents probably actually warned you about. Yes, I did something dumb my parents warned me about and I regret it.

Let’s have a closer look at my situation (not too close, it gets ugly):

I got my first tattoo at age 18 and this is the one that I really didn’t want to tell you guys about, but I trust you and I know you won’t tell anyone. I was 18 and angsty. I had very attractive friends, who were very blonde and always pleasant and friendly and I didn’t feel like I fit that bill. I was the curmudgeonly one, seen here on the right:

When we were heavy into our Hole/Babes in Toyland/Bikini Kill skirt-over-pants wearing days, I was the only one who didn’t want the local iridologist to look deeply into my eyes and tell me I needed more salt. I thought he was creepy and old and attracted to girls far too young for him. I gritted my teeth through the fairy phase and all the talk of love and world peace and why couldn’t everyone else see it was just a ploy to get in each other’s pants?! I spent a lot of time drinking bourbon and having people tell me that my face looked angry.

Obviously I needed to rebel! And what better way that to…wait for it…get a tattoo on my lower back which apparently means “soul”. I can’t even begin to describe the look I’m giving myself right now. One eyebrow is raised, let me tell you. What about you? Have you gotten back up off the floor yet? Did we have a good laugh?

Here’s the clincher: I don’t believe humans have souls.

So why am I so stupid (and let’s face it, hypocritical. Who was I to tell these free spirits to wake up and smell capitalism’s giant fist, what with my “soul” tattoo?)? Well, I decided I wanted a tattoo without knowing what I wanted to get, so I went to the nearest bikie tattooist and picked a design off the wall and symbols were the smallest, cheapest option, and soul was one of the least insipid choices.

The bikie was rude, impatient and obviously much prefered to spend his time inking gang insignia on the skulls of men, but I had my tattoo and as any tattooed person will tell you, the adreneline was great.

My next one came a few years later, and this time I knew what I wanted. A creepy little silhouette of a monkey, also on my back. I don’t regret the design of this one at all. Well…I don’t regret how the design used to look like. See, this time I went to a different bikie tattooist, one with a worse reputation and and even more terrible chairside manner. This guy actually was gang-affiliated, a story for another day perhaps and I don’t think he even really spoke to me and he branded me in a shop above the main street of a country town.

So what happened, you ask? Well, he did a terrible job and it was patchy and scarred and when I went to get it fixed by bikie number one (I know. I clearly have issues with good judgement) he was all ‘Erm…who did that?’ Awkwardly it turned out they were friends, but it got fixed as much as you can fix something that was badly done in the first place.

I regret them insomuch as I now know that more thought needs to go both into what you want and who does it and it’s worth paying to have someone do it well. I don’t regret it enough that I’m particularly ashamed and I’m a vaguely okay person so I try not to be too hard on myself. Plus, if I ever have kids and they want to get tattooed, I can be like ‘Come here Tylersonblake and look at Mama’s back!’

To be honest, I don’t even know if I can be bothered getting them covered, although I am a huge fan of what Sydney writer Elmo Keep did to own her first tattoo, the story of which is here.

Last year I got my third tattoo, a song lyric in shorthand, which I wrote about here. Again, it was monkey-based and reading back over what I posted at the time, I have to laugh. I can’t believe I thought getting a song lyric in shorthand would stop people asking what it said/meant. So far I have no good answer and I tend to squeak ‘It’s in shorthand!’ which answers nothing for no-one. The short answer is I like the melancholia, I guess.

Will I get another one? I imagine so. I’ve also discovered it’s really, really fun to take photos of other people getting their tattoos done so if anyone ever needs a tattoo hand-holder/photographer, let me know!

And that brings me to the end of sharing some secrets. I have some more I’m not sure I’m ready to share yet, like the one about my underpants, but I’ll let you know when I am/my parents have written me back into the will and it’s safe to overshare once again.

Monday – Friday: The Heterosexual Secret

I am heterosexual female. That’s not to say I have issues with the other sexual preferences, it’s just my lot in life.

I have had many a heterosexual crush over the years, most of them odd celebrity crushes which I have inexplicably shared with my younger sister. There’s been David Attenborough, DCI Frank Burnside from The Bill…Pascoe from Dalziel and Pascoe. Sometimes I question whether or not I was raised in a weird UK TV cult, the other members of which were of a more middle-aged demographic…

Then there’s my long-held thing for John Goodman, but if we start talking about that, we may never leave.

Anyway, at some point in recent years I was trying to pin-point when I realised I was heterosexual and I came to a startling and unexpected conclusion: I realised I was a heterosexual when I first saw the music video for Poison’s ‘Unskinny Bop’.

Yes, today’s secret is that I realised my heterosexuality by looking at men who looked distinctly like women, dancing with CGI outlines of women who were clearly based on the men dressed like women:

Even more specifically, I realised I was heterosexual during a few split seconds of the video in which CC DeVille appeared. Because of the wonders of the Internet and computers, I have managed to catch the exact moments in which my sexuality was realised:

Well hello there yourself, sir.

Like many music videos of the ’80s and early ’90s, I failed to understand the significance of a lot of the imagery. I mean, I knew Bret was being sexy with the mic, but at the end when CC gets pulled into a bathroom (?) by two non-CGI girls, who hang a ‘Private Session’ sign on the door? I thought they were going in there to hug and laugh. No. What the video was trying to tell me was that they were sexing in there. Totally missed it until later in life.

I also missed every single thing in Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ clip. This bit?

Totally thought it was just hardcore Christian imagery. In fact, I thought this clip was so awesome I distinctly remember running to get my mum to show it to her. She must’ve been so proud.

Oddly, I would quickly turn off the TV every time Roxette’s ‘The Look’ would come on became, shame of all shames, Marie Fredriksson was pictured playing the guitar while she sat on a closed toilet.

A toilet. Imagine if my mum saw that. How shameful.

Today as I watched the video again, I wondered, if I was ashamed of a closed toilet, what the hell did I think was going on here?:

Apparently although I’d realised I was heterosexual, I’d yet to learn what the hell it was I was meant to do with this. Here I was thinking people hugged in empty bathrooms, kissed the feet of Jesus and tore each other’s clothes off in bed, all in the name of friendship.

Apologies to any friends I had between ages of say, six and 14.

Monday – Friday Secrets: The Boss Groping Secret

When I was studying at university, I worked at a large chain of hardware warehouses. You know the one, the jumpers are red, the aprons are green.

I really liked working there. Sure it was stressful and the shifts were long, but I worked with a really fun group of people and learnt some of my dirtiest jokes from them during smoke-o. Want me to share one? Okay, this is my favourite one and it gets bonus points for being hardware related: work decided to run a get fit program and the big boss, a big guy who was a very heavy smoker, was going around hassling us all to join up. I was sitting out the back with my favourite smoking buddies, a group of middle-aged, fairly coarse, married men. I loved them because all the jokes were loaded with innuendo, but it was all very good natured and they wouldn’t tone it down much if I was there (or if they did, then it must have been really revolting when I wasn’t around). It was a really warm day and no-one particularly felt like going back inside and when the boss came over and lit up, I think we all felt like it was licence to stay a while longer. He looked each of us over and his eyes fell on B, one of my particular favourites, a mulleted, weather-beaten guy with twinkling blue eyes and a well cultivated beer belly.

‘B! You should definitely sign up, you could use losing a few kilos around the waist’, he said dryly. B looked up, grinned at me and said to our boss: ‘Don’t think so mate, can’t drive a nine-inch nail with a tack hammer’.

You have no idea how many times I’ve wished for a penis so I could use that joke. So many times.

One day I was hanging around behind the service desk, not a customer in sight and I was drinking a bottle of Coke, which technically wasn’t allowed, but seeing as though the warehouse was so cold that some of us had gotten frostbite, a lot of rules for checkout chicks had gone by the wayside. As I pondered my next escapades, I noticed one of my bosses, K, limping towards me. As I screwed the lid back on the Coke bottle, I smiled to myself. I really liked K, he was always grumpy and easy to aggravate, but also easy to make laugh and we got along just fine. Today he looked like he was in just the mood to be aggravated.

As he came closer, the lid of my Coke sprang out of my hand and bounced along the floor, coming to rest in the path of K, who bore down on it like an angry man-truck. I quickly realised that where it fell was exactly where his next footstep was going to land, so I dove for the floor to try and rescue it, crying ‘K, noooooo!’

I snatched at the lid and put my hand up to stop him from treading on it and as I looked up, I realised, with great horror, that my hand had landed on the upper, upper part of his leg. The almost groin part, the part that you would grab just before you grabbed the groin part, if you were his wife. My hand involuntarily clamped. Time stopped. I was now kneeling on the floor groping my boss.

He limped off, not even seeming to notice I was there.

I was bewildered. Where was short-tempered, shouting K? Why had he not stopped to yell at me, or at least mock me, if not make a formal sexual harassment claim against me?

As soon as someone came to cover me, I went and sought sanctity in the smoking shed, with my coarse friends.

‘Excuse me. I just groped K. I groped him and he didn’t even seem to notice. I groped him way, way up his leg and he didn’t even flinch. I almost touched the groin of K!’

They looked at me. Finally someone spoke. ‘Julia. How long have you worked here? A long time, yes? Yes. Haven’t you noticed that K always walks with a limp? You have? Why do you think that is? You don’t know? It’s because he only has one leg. He lost it in a motorbike accident. You groped his plastic leg’.

So today’s secret is: once I groped the plastic leg of my boss.

I never told him about it.