Monday, October 05, 2009

Staring Into The Headlights

This life, well it's slipping right through my hands.
These days turned out nothing like I had planned.
(Powderfinger: "These Days" - OdysseyNo5)

Planned? Who plans anything these days? Who has such control over the chaos of time so that planning would work anyway? Best to slide in easy each morning, go with flow of whatever pops up, ride out the bumps according to the Rule of 10. Will it matter in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 days? 10 weeks? 10 months [important during sex]? 10 years? Where am I to-day, tomorrow, next week, next month? Wherever you need me, I guess. You pay the airfare, the hotel, I'll rock up and say Hi to whomever you want me to say Hi to. Wherever I lay my hat, as they say. I'll even sit here and let them come to me on occasion, though I know they're only here for the shopping.

So the annual trip to freezing Chicago all of a sudden doesn't look so permanent after all. Done it twice now, so OK even though I was ill last year (food poisoning in the Windy City! Hooda thunk?) and I haven't yet seen Buddy Guy (a guitar hero since I was 14) jamming with Matt "Guitar" Murphy like some RSNA historicals, I've had a good time there once, no need to keep trying for it again. He's not playing hardly at all I hear. Might even be dead, everyone else is these days.

Instead, it looks like I will have to do a "3rd Man" rerun instead and hit the European Congress, which is held in Vienna in springtime. Ah Vienna! Never been there. Wonder if it will too late to go skiing as well?

SOoooo I haven't planned to stop blogging or anything, it's just that I don't seem to have had much in the way of free nights or days of late. When I was Ill I didn't really feel like writing much, and then back to work for some mega-catch-up and then the weekend off to the AF Grand Final.


When I first came to this island
That I called by own name
I was happy in this fortress,
In my exile I remained
But the hours grew so empty...
(Audioslave; "Out of Exile" - Out of Exile)

Not lately, not so empty, and not this Weekend certainly. Been busy as a one-armed man who is very busy.

Friday night, after enjoying some wine and several beers with Indy at Cuppage and that Scottish bar near Wheelock, and seeing him off for his connubial bliss, visiting blogger Skippy-san FORCED me to head to the 4FoW to see if anything had changed except the prices, but we just bought some pirate DVDs and left early (midnight). Skippy then skipped out (alone, and best wishes for the daughter's wedding). However, just drunk enough to commit the drunk's first degree error of judgement - thinking I wasn't drunk - I skipped on (also sans girl) to the PoW (Prince of Wales in Little India) to catch up with some other intellectual friends for more beers and for a deep discussion of Joyce's "Ulysses" as well as some competitive arm-wrestling to settle issues of etymological accuracy in certain passages of the Oxen Of The Sun episode.

We actually DID talk about "Ulysses"! - and I didn't bring it up, I swear. This guy was immensely impressed that I had read it, whereupon I pointed out that reading it is not quite the braniac accomplishment that the writing of it would have constituted. Finished there about 3:30 am with aching arms from the wrestling contests (won 1 - lost 1). I remember doing arm wrestles in Wanchai one night (early-morning actually in Devils Advocate) and the short-term memory wasn't working well at the time so three days later I was trying recall where the DOMS could possibly have come from - I hadn't been masturbating THAT furiously! Then the image of me and a buddy from Andover (near Boston) playing up for the waitresses slowly formed. Ouch.

Saturday was a re-run of the Grand Final with Aussie meat pies and Aussie beers at Indy's place and we invited Skippy to CARE - the "Compleat Aussie Rules Experience". Or the experience of watching me get excited by Aussie Rules, more to the point. Then, after Skippy skipped out again, gin and tonics were placed in hands and we watched Star Trek (why didn't everything collapse around the red-stuff if it was so gravitationally strong?) until I fell asleep on the couch. But I had to rise and push on as I had BBQ dinner later to attend - and copious beer and wine to be sure - at another buddy's place. Steaks form the Aussie Butcher - where-ever that is - joking - were brilliantly tender and flavorsome.

But man was I rooted last night! Apparently I could finish the end of words properly during the dinner-table conversation. Slurry words drunk, oh dear. Cormie Attaxy, ma'am!

The old body was having trouble coping with those two nights out when I eventually awoke this morning, so I politely avoided the invitation to margaritas at Iguana this afternoon. Those drunken yobbos you saw there, making fools of themselves probably, well the group did not include E@L.

I swear that the joints are rusting, the pipes occluding, the flay-rod out askew on the treadle...


...But the hours grew so empty
And the ocean sent her waves
In the figure of a woman
And she pulled me out to sea.
(Audioslave; "Out of Exile" - Out of Exile)

An old friend sent me an email today offering to introduce me to a female friend of hers back in Geelong... What to do?

There was a time after my divorce when I was realizing how tough it was to survive with a kid in private school on only one (I once thought relatively good) income. The taxes were slogging me and the union's salary-packaging didn't work for me as my home loan was a private one. I started getting a bit mercenary and was consciously checking out the female medical imaging people at the meetings and conferences that constituted 100% of my social life in those days. Where else could I look? I couldn't go out bar-hopping at night as I had a kid at home there needing care and support ("NAT! Get off the computer and do your HOMEWORK!" - Now he is an ace computer programmer of course.)

I recall one night just talking innocently to a lady after a meeting in Melbourne - we were talking about the internal politics of sonography of course - and I remember gradually realizing how pleasantly attractive she was. I had seen her round for years, a nodding acquaintance. Tall, fair-haired, relatively slim (like I can be size-ist!), well-educated and sincere about her convictions, and with a soft, husky voice that rolled nicely off her tongue, giving it immense character. Then for some reason I had caught a chance view of the back of her hand - maybe she was holding a coffee-cup or something - but I noticed how it had started to show the increased crenelations of age, or rather exposure to the elements like the darkroom chemicals we still used in those days. Was she older than she appeared? No, she must be my age. My faint stirrings of interest suddenly dissipated. It was strange. So sudden, so shallow, my reactions.

Later that night, back at home in Geelong, I examined the back of my own hand, something I thought that, hey, I knew. My god, it was graining up too. Little cells of surface wrinkles much more around the knuckles; they had never been there. Even a small spot of melanin, a liver spot or two. I had never noticed these changes on myself before. I always considered the skin of my hands to look and feel young, indeed kept young by the ultrasound gel that I was awash in most hours of the day. Not a working-man's hands. How silly of me. We all grow old, I realized, for the millionth time. Show me a garden that doesn't have fading roses as well as blooming ones.

Next time, next meeting, I would make a real effort to get to know her. And I did get brave enough to invite her for a coffee (or was coffee the first time?), anyway we chatted again... where she excitedly told me how she and her fiance were moving to Queensland for the warm weather (it was winter in Melbourne I recollect) in a fortnight and how she had a great job at a well-paying clinic and how they were going to get married at Seaworld... I led her to her car and she drove away into dark night.

Then I met somebody else... (another novel there.)


And I met the lady with the husky voice in Sydney just the other week. She was exactly as pleasant and nice as she was twenty years ago. She was surprised at how I had remembered her name without having to look at her badge. We chatted, laughed, though we had nothing much to reminisce about really, just our contemporaneity - she WAS my age. And somehow, at some stage I managed a glance at her hands, (the instant I noticed her by the book display, the aging of skin came to my mind - as did her name) how young and supple the glowing skin seemed. There was a wedding band and other rings on her fingers.

- Yes we are the old fogies now, she laughed. You look exactly the same, she lied.

- Right, sure! No hair, twice the size, I said. But you, I said, you look like... (words failed me. She looked great!)

And I thought of what could have been.

And I think again tonight of what might yet be.


[Early readers, hey, sorry for the typos and the ellipses. Hope it reads better now.]


Skippy-san said...

I seem to recall that very little arm twisting was required to get you over to 4FoW.

Either way-I very much appreciate the hospitality on short notice and I have to say-view a new piece of Singapore from Indy's flat was the highlight of my trip. Those three hours looking out that window beat the hell out of anything I have seen in the last month or so-and that's the God's honest truth.

marke said...

E@L - you are on the correct path with your life-partner search. No wonder you are a wealthy man.

Oh, those gorgeous Asian girls, and their insatiable needs! (.... of cash and material things)

hmmm... I seem to be commenting a lot lately - you must be striking a chord here.

expat@large said...

Skip: you might be right there bout the arm-twisting. But hey, I thought you were watching the game!!!

Mark: how to save money? it's easy: don't have a car, don't have a girl, don't have a kid in private school, don't pay (much) tax.

Striking of chords, no extra charge.

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