Thursday, September 18, 2008

Terms of Endearment

“I read your book
And I find it strange
The I know that girl and I know her world
A little too well
By giving my hand
That I would be written down, sliced around
Passed around among strangers hands….

…You carry a pen and a paper
And no time and no words you waste
You’re a voyeur
The worst kind of thief
To take down what happened to us
To write down everything then went on
Between you and me”

"The Book"
Sheryl Crow

The Fiction Friday prompt for this week is to recall a not-so-endearing trait from a current or past love and to then make it an endearing quality in your character.

To say that I’m challenged by this is an understatement.

The last boyfriend I had was full of weird and wonderful quirks – that began as charming idiosyncrasies but became over time less endearing and in retrospect down right annoying and some offensive. So I’m not short on ideas for the trait … but turning them into something appealing – you’ve got to be kidding. As a writer I can take endearing qualities and make them less appealing – perhaps that’s some sick part of human nature that we can easily twist the positive into something negative – but take the unpalatable and try make it something appetising and well, I’m stuck (even if I am generally an optimist, glass half full kind of girl)

So as I sit in my cosy corner of my favourite café in New Farm, trying to keep up my commitment to write three pages a day – here are a list of not-so-endearing traits from my short lived love affair with 'The Princess.'

I feel a little bit like a tattle tale for writing all of this down – thus the lyrics at the start, but if I want to solidify any of this in my head, I think I need to retell some of this skew-wiff romance, which I find humour in a twisted way now. And reminded that Mercury is retrograde again next Wednesday, I might go and dig out the story that I wrote about going to meet The Princess for the first time and serialise it through one week of the Mercury Rx phase. I still remember the delight of writing about offending the guide in the train seat beside me by eating a tuna sandwich at midnight!

“The Princess” was so named by my girl friends – because they believed he didn’t need to find a princess to ride off into the sunset with, he was enough of one himself. This softened the blow a little and made me look at him in a whole new light. The Princess brought into my life the following into my life:

A man who regularly and openly used lip balm and hand cream.
On the first morning we met, in the time it took to have breakfast together, he’d already applied lip balm at least three times and rubbed hand cream in once! He carried them around in his briefcase for just such an occasion. At that stage I am sure that I didn't own either - much less use them openly and often in public.

On the topic of personal hygiene/beauty products..
He had more hair care (even though he was going bald) and skin care products than I could ever imagine wanting, let alone needing. I know for sure that he spent more money that I did on named brand moisturisers etc.

And taking personal hygiene to a whole new level for me ..
He had a tongue scraper. Not even knowing what one was, I asked why he carried around teaspoon in his toiletries bag … only to discover that it was for scraping the creepy crawly stuff of your tongue – yuk!

Jeff Buckley
The Princess was obsessed with playing the late Jeff Buckley which was nice in the beginning, but since Buckley only released one album while he was alive, and another posthumously it didn’t give a wide variety of music. It was always playing. Even on at odd times when I would drop by his place – it would be on the stereo or he would have a live concert DVD playing. Thankfully I didn’t live next door to him (though about six months later I did move into the townhouses directly across the road from his. For both our sakes he’d moved on to a different location by then.)

Co-orindating outfits
Yes you did read correctly. The Princess would dress to coordinate with my outfit when we went out … which meant I would need to be dressed first and then he would fuss over a shirt that matched. Had we stayed together longer I would have gone out of my way to stop dressing in black and started finding clothes that were orange or bright green! Or we would have ended up looking like those middle aged tour group couples who wear matching coloured shirts and shorts. Urgh.

Apollo 13
Like Buckley – there is only so many times you can watch Hanks and his crew stuck out in space saving the day in the 11th hour. Granted The Princess was a pilot and maybe had secret dreams of wishing he was an astronaut (after all the first astronauts were pilots!) but even I don’t flog my favourite movie (Dirty Dancing) like a dead horse, nor inflict it on those who really would prefer to watch a new release.

Tight $$
I was a poor waitress when we first met – then an even poorer uni student. But making this man part with him money was like squeezing blood from a stone. As a pilot in Papua New Guinea (where he lived for a good slab of the week all expenses paid) and on what I thought was a really good wage, you’d think a little cash splashing would have been in order – but no.
I remember him sending me off to the airport carrying two huge suitcases, and an assortment of other small bags because he didn’t want to pay the fare on the private line out to the airport (I think it cost about $10 to get out there). I was without change for a trolley and had to drag 50kg of luggage from the bus stop (the train had been cancelled due to a storm) up into the terminal which was set a way back from the road. I was in such a bad way when I stumbled into the wonderfully air conditioned lounge at the Virgin terminal at Mascot, that a lovely bloke from behind the counter came to my assistance and carried one of the heavy suitcases in for me. I should have known after he did this TWICE to me that it was never going to work between us.
On this same train of thought – I remember him coming over to ‘visit’ me with a couple of Cascade Lights one night after we broke up. I think we must have drunk one each. When he left the next morning he took the left over beers with him! Goddess forbid he actually leave anything for me.

While we were closeted away in his parents A-Frame holiday house (which really was charming!) at Copacabana on the Central Coast of NSW he told me how I was his soul mate. It’s the sort of thing that sets all the right bells and whistles off when things are going great in those early days of falling in love. I realised all too soon that it was a toss away line, and have never liked the use of that word ever again. He destroyed that whole concept for me.

Just one more time
When we broke up I told him that was it – and I didn’t want to see him again. I was devastated by his admission that it wasn’t working – and the whole spiel about how it wasn’t me it was him (isn’t that always they way!) I was so caught up in the fantasy world we’d created that I didn’t even see that it wasn’t working – though I did want to be with someone who didn’t spend the majority of the week overseas. So devastated by what seemed to have come out of the blue, I told him I was walking out his bedroom door and he was never going to see me again. Was that what he wanted? Yes! So be it. I went and drowned my sorrows with my best friend and a few too many rounds of blue marguiritas -as you do.
That lasted a few weeks I guess – when the first of the phone calls came through. What was I up to? Was I busy tonight? Could he come over? After months of these out of the blue phone calls and invites, I finally put my foot down – no more lunches, dinners, movies, getting together when it was convenient for him – when he was lonely. Thankfully Dave came into my life not long after this and the yo-yo relationship ended.

So you my readers – what quality would you like woven into an alluring light:
Lip balm and hand cream
Personal hygiene and beauty products galore
scrapers (please don’t to this to me!)
Jeff Buckley
Apollo 13
Being tight with money
Just one more time

I leave it in your capable (cough …sorry that was a coughing fit – really!) hands. And I will try and do justice to your choice.

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