Ficklish Blog

Friday, May 16, 2008


(Or: 'Why Yes, I'm Still Single. Why Do You Ask?')

I’m a lurker. I derive many hours of enjoyment from the toil of others on the interweb without offering them anything in return. No thanks, no responses, no input – I simply read their words, nod to myself, and move along. I get so excited whenever anyone is kind enough to leave a comment on this blog and, I confess, a wee bit despondent when there are none, but I know I’ve no-one to blame but myself. If I was out there, putting in my two cents’ worth on other people’s pages, karma would reward me with feedback of my own.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I broke my lurkdom tonight for a meme. Madam Fox was chiding me gently earlier this evening about updating my blog, but I couldn’t think of anything to write about that would be sufficiently interesting. “Hi everyone, I’m happy and well but am really insanely busy at work at the moment and too brain-dead the rest of the time to string a sentence together.” “Great entry, jLo! Please, can we have some more of your amazing insight and hilarious perspective on this crazy, beautiful, mixed-up world of ours?” I think not.

Then I flicked through my blog feeds (85 at last count, I’m telling you, I’m a PROLIFIC lurker), and came across this entry by an Australian writer who goes by the name Ova Girl. I won’t go into how I found her blog in the first place (it’s a long and not particularly interesting story) but she’s a great writer and so I’ve been reading her site for a couple of years now. I’ve enjoyed her writing immensely but have never told her so.

What prompted me to respond this evening was the ‘TAKE PITY ON ME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD’ message to lurkers at the end of the piece. I thought, well, I need a blog entry, and she’s pretty much talking directly to me there. It’s like it was a SIGN. No excuses!

So I left a comment, and now I’m answering the meme.

Six Quirky Things About Me

The first thing I’ll say about this topic is that the word ‘quirky’ makes me feel self-conscious, like by describing some of my idiosyncracies I’m secretly telling you about how awesome I think I am. Oh my god, I’m so QUIRKY! Aren’t I ADORABLE?*

So, instead, I’m going to offer six signature jLo traits that are really just those things that appal, bewilder and/or annoy the crap out of everyone I meet.

* Please note, I think OG’s entry manages to avoid this entirely, I’m referring purely to my own reaction to the word.

Six Signature jLo Traits That Are Really Not At All Original Nor Unique but Definitely Appal, Bewilder And/Or Annoy the Crap Out Of Everyone I Meet.

1. Talking Between The Lines

(I have J,The to thank for this one, I had never noticed it myself until she helpfully pointed it out. I should add that she has had to do so on more than one occasion.)

I love roadtrips, and my favourite thing about roadtrips is the singing. A carefully constructed mix-CD of cheesy classics, the open highway, and a water bottle for a microphone and I’m as happy as it is possible to be. I sing very loudly and with great fervour.

I am also an enthusiastic conversationalist on occasion, as you may or may not have noticed. Road trips are an ideal opportunity for long-ranging discussions of topics both meaningful and shallow, and I enjoy both types and all those along the spectrum in between. You would think that this love for the chatter would interfere with the singalong. You would be wrong.

I was unaware until J,The brought it to my attention that I apparently undertake both activities at the same time without realising that this is what I am doing. I will carry on a conversation while the song is playing – but I will only offer my contribution in between the lyrics of the song. An illustration:

jLo and J,The On A Road Trip

J,The: The thing is, jLo, is that you overestimate the ability of conservative fiscal policy to significantly impact upon the well-being of truly endangered species such as the four-horned muskrat.”

[NB: It should be noted here that J,The would never utter such a sentence. For one thing, she would not have split that infinitive there].

jLo: Oh, the flaaaame treeeees will bliiiind a weeeeary driiiiver. “Well, since you mention it, I really do think that honeycomb and polka dots are the answer”. And theeeere’s nothing eeelse could set fiiire to this tooooown.

J,The: You’re doing it again.

2. Hypocritical Consumerism

A lot of my clothes are falling apart, I wear shoes of indifferent quality on a regular basis. I am not a great shopper, and the urge to visit Oxford Street visits me very, very rarely (given that it is the Mouth of Hell, this is actually a bonus). Most advertising bewilders me until I remember that I am (usually) not their target audience and therefore it makes sense that I don’t understand the message. I am mostly an indifferent consumer and (aside from the essentials of life, like a good computer and lots of books) don’t tend to buy a lot of things.

EXCEPT. I have an alarmingly extensive collection of the most horrifically cheesy, tacky and pointless decorative objects and souvenirs. I cannot resist the crap, I am helpless before its powers.

From where I’m sitting here on my bed, I can see on the top shelf of my bookcase a colourful seashell-mounted saint figurine that was the God of the Boat on our sailing trip in Croatia last year. There is a small gold pillbox in my handbag with a wee enamel inset on the lid depicting a cheery seaside scene and the words ‘Westward Ho!”. I keep my mints in it and enjoy watching people recoil at the ugliness when I offer them one. We have a unicorn hobby-horse in our lounge room that makes gallopy noises when you press its ear. Our dining table at the Pickle is less than a metre wide and yet I bought a cheap Ikea lazy susan for it which kept me entertained for many months (Frankie, would you like the salt? Here it comes!) until it fell apart and I am ashamed to confess that I shed actual tears as I threw it away.

Some of you have been kind enough to present me with gifts that fit into the ‘craptastic’ category, all of which bring me great joy but leave me no choice but to call you ENABLERS. You’re my friends, you’re supposed to make sure I have good taste and that I stop wasting my money on crap instead of feeding my obsession. Thanks a lot, you guys.

3. Freakish Memory

I have quite a good memory. It’s often a good thing: what academic success I managed to attain at school can be attributed directly to an ability to memorise vast quantities of information for exams. Recalling random facts is very helpful at quiz nights. I also like being able to remember people’s names and faces when meeting them for a second time.

What is less useful is the fact that I tend to hold onto random details about people - the things they say and the stories they tell me - much longer than I need to. In my experience, people find it somewhat unnerving when you meet them at a party and greet them with something like, ‘Oh, hi, Fred! Great to see you again! Wow, was it really a year ago that we met? That’s right, it was at Susie’s party, out on the balcony. You stole my beer and then we discussed utilitarianism and whether or not there is such a thing as Jewish porn. How’s your dad, by the way? I seem to remember he’d just had an operation when last we spoke.” Freak.

Thankfully, this particular trait is fading with age, it’s not quite such a problem as it once was. For one thing, I don’t retain as much of the minute detail as I used to. For another, when I do, I’m much better at keeping the knowledge of this to myself. However, my tendency to freak people out in this manner does rear its head at highly inconvenient moments.

An example: there’s this guy at my work who is really quite devastatingly attractive. I have harboured a helpless girly crush on him for six months now, and (as is the nature of such things) find new and improved ways to humiliate myself in his presence with each passing week. Just yesterday, I met him outside in the place we both go to smoke, and he complimented my shoes. Instead of thanking him and moving on with great composure and elegance to a suitably sophisticated topic of conversation, (all the better to showcase my blinding intellect and biting wit) I said the following:

‘Oh, you’ve seen these before! Remember when you were sitting out on that bench last year and I came to join you and my heels sank all the way into the grass and I got stuck and kind of fell over and you laughed at me?’

That there is a verbatim transcript, my friends. The stricken, fearful look on his (really very beautiful) face will haunt my dreams.

Moving right along…

4. Cold Leftovers

I know everyone agrees that cold leftover pizza is one of life’s greatest joys. I , however, enjoy ALL of my leftovers cold.

We don’t have a microwave at the Pickle, nor is there one at my place of work. Even if there was one in either place, however, I would very rarely use it and never to reheat leftovers. Pasta dishes, stirfries, mashed potato, rice – all of it is just as good, if not better, the next day. In fact, I usually cook more than I need to for each meal so that I can make sure there will be plenty of leftover goodness.

My workmates are frequently heard to say such things as ‘SOUP? You can’t possibly be eating cold soup for lunch?!’ To which I inevitably reply, ‘Not only am I doing just that, but it is very good. Would you like some?’ And then they slink away in fear. Especially if I add, ‘Come on, try some! You told me once that you loved spinach and garlic! Remember? That day I twisted my ankle and you were wearing your red scarf for the first time? Are you sure you don’t want some? What? Why are you looking at me like that?’ And so on.

5. The Perfect Bite

Whatever I’m eating, be it cold soup or an ice-cream cone or frozen peas (quirk #7! It didn’t make the cut!), I always have to save the best for last. I’m sure there is some deep-seated reason for this that relates to impossible expectations and delayed gratification or whatever, but the fact remains that I am absolutely compelled to finish every meal or snack with The Perfect Bite.

The Perfect Bite does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a perfectly calibrated combination of each of the ingredients/components of the dish, to ensure that the memory of the just-finished meal is preserved in that final moment. I will save small portions of each component as I eat for the Perfect Bite, and have had to learn over the years to guard particularly tasty morsels from the wandering forks of scavenging opportunists, also known as brothers.

My greatest Perfect Bite achievement occurred last year at a Wine and Cheese night at the Loft. Every attendee brought a different type of cheese, and given we had some giant water crackers handy it seemed appropriate to load one up with a small piece of each individual cheese. The result resembled one of those comedy sub sandwiches you see in cartoons – a towering pile of cheesy wonder atop a giant flaky biscuit. The photographs of my (really very unladylike) efforts to shove as much of the tower into my gob really have to be seen to be believed. The worst part is that I mostly succeeded.

6. Watching the Credits

I am unable to walk out of a movie until the credits have finished. It annoys the crap out of anyone who has to push past me to get out of the theatre, but I can’t bring myself to abandon this particular practice. The official (and utterly obnoxious) reason is that it’s an homage – I want to pay my respects to all the people who worked so hard to entertain me for two hours by reading their names. Mostly though, I want to (a) look through the names and see if there are any funny ones, (b) listen to the end-credits music, (c) have a few moments to myself to prepare my remarks about the movie so that I sound smart and/or funny and (d) feel secretly superior to all those who walked out because they were DISrespectful to the crew and cast.

I’m really not a very nice person, you know. I’ve got you all fooled but GOOD.

Anyway, so that’s the list for now. What have I forgotten?

(No seriously, tell me some others! What strange things do I do?)

Any of you would like to pick up this wee meme and run with it, please do, and let me know so I can come and read it and feel better ‘cos maybe I’m not as weird as YOU.