Ugly/beautiful boys

They say that blood is thicker than water, but then again so is Scotch, and in my experience Scotch will quickly produce a more magnificent happiness and less enduring misery than any relation. Generally speaking, therefore, on any given day, except in an extreme situation, I would prefer an extra pint of Scotch in me than an extra pint of blood. But that is by the by.

Now if you have been paying close attention you would have noticed I have of late developed a mildly melodramatic and slightly gothic mindframe. This is partly the result of working in the old theatre, and hiding in the shadows (the velvet darkness), and constant exposure to the flickering silver light, and an ongoing conflict with a bottle of cheap Scotch, and Mother’s morbid influence, and lots of those sorts of things. My predominant influence however has been the Melbourne weather which flashes on and off, all throughout Spring, which I don’t mind, as it gives me a chance to wear Burberry trenches along St Kilda pier (it is like Brighton but with palm trees) til much later in the year than would otherwise be deemed socially acceptable.

Now I couldn’t help it (it was the weather & the Scotch & some picturesque influences) as I walked along the boardwalk developing that sort of “We Are The Mods We Are The Mods” rhythm you get when you wear high heeled boots, I felt very gloomy (it was the picturesque influences & the grey sea & the wind throwing water at me) and started thinking about certain things in a pensive manner, in particular all of the wasting, lactose-intolerant, skinny legged ugly-beautiful boys PROMISED TO ME by years and years of super-exposure to all of the Burberry ad Campaigns.

Mother (cont’d) & Shitsville wisdom.

“She died horribly,” said Mother, turning her face to hide her expression.

“How horribly?”

“Accident with a bear trap.”

“What was she doing with a bear trap?”

“What was she doing with a bear is the important question.”

I took a moment to picture the event.

“Well that’s a mercy!” said I at last. “I’ve always hated the woman.”

This seemed to put Mother in a good humour. Aunt Rosemary was, afterall, her own sister. They had once had a stage act called the Something Sisters & danced very well, but that of course was in younger days, before Rosemary developed her zoological interests and Mother developed no interests at all, but had a lot of husbands nevertheless.

After a time, while we sat in the dark, and Mother finished off the crossword, and won every sudoku, she said, “Forgive me for mentioning it, my sweet one,” and lit another cigarette. “This is perhaps not the thing a young girl wants to hear from her own mother. But I’ve got the impression lately that you have turned into a little bit of a shitkicker.”

“I cannot tell a lie, Mother.”

“Think of all the things you are good at.”

“That would take too long,” said I.

“Yet you sell popcorn for a living.”

“It is really first rate popcorn,” said I.

I tried to explain about the ennui, the weight of the centuries, the insidious creep of time, and self reflection in the dead of night, the velvet darkness, the void of silence, etc. etc. etc. “I am really suffering for the lack of a point,” said I at last. “I have all the diamonds & beauty & praise & brains, afterall. But it’s not enough.”

“Yes,” said Mother thoughtfully. “It is famously difficult to satisfy a Shitsville woman.”

“Is that an entendre, Mother? I like it.”

“I like it too. It is true anyway. It accounts for all of the junk I have got here.”

“That painting, for example.”

“Frank Sinatra gave it to me. Ava Gardner was the one who picked it out.”

“It’s awful.”

“I hate it. They were both drunks. ”

I see.”

“But really,” said Mother. “You must try to find an occupation that marries what you are good at and what you enjoy. Besides the obvious.”

(She didn’t want me to follow in her footsteps.)

I took some time to think.

“Well, Mother… I am very good at insulting people & offering unasked-for opinions on many subjects, and I enjoy it very much.”

“Oh!” said Mother. She looked distraught. “Are you a hipster?!”

“Oh, Mother!” said I. I was close to tears. “The things you say to me!”

Ohh, you meant you could be a sort of reviewer,” she said. “You really frightened me for a minute.”

“Generally reviewers are required to take some kind of interest in contemporary culture & modern life,” I sniffed. “So that is OUT.”

“Then you could be like Truman Capote & Dorothy Parker & all of those tits, and live off writing thinly veiled portraits of your friends and family.”

“Mother – Mother – Mother, that is something I would never ever, ever do*. It would be such an absolute betrayal of trust*. And I’m afraid they would not be very interesting or complimentary.”

“But they are your own friends?!”

“It is their one redeeming feature.”

“So that is OUT too, I guess. Maybe you should just forget about a career and do what every other woman does, which is try to give meaning to a meaningless life by pursuing meaningless & uninspired love affairs with unworthy gentlemen.”

“Oh, I’ve done all that, that’s all been done,” I said, waving my hand to get the smoke away.  “How do you think I got so bored in the first place?”

“Why? What happened with your last boyfriend?”

“He was largely a somnambulant boy. He only remembered we were dating when he was drunk, then would pass out before he had a chance to do anything about it.”

“Why don’t you try dating someone who is not an alcoholic?”

“Because then we would have nothing in common!”

Footnote:  *a lie.

Mother

I was of course lying when I said that my mother was one of the great doyennes of the theatre world. I do however maintain there can be a sort of truth even where there is a complete absence of facts. In any case it can hardly matter to you, as she is my mother and you will never be invited to meet her.

So I rolled over to my sweet mother’s house in A- Park. She has lived there for thirty years barricading herself up inside concentric circles of magnificent junk which I won’t care to sort through once she has passed, furniture and paintings and statuettes and vases and so on and so forth, room after room after room of it, every shelf stacked with two rows of books, and mirrors, mirrors everywhere, glinting in every dark corner, doubling, tripling, quadrupling the junk. At this point I should like to point out that what is “junk” to me is the ancestral silverware to you honey, but I digress. The old bird won’t part with a stick of it, for any reason or for no reason whatsoever, so there it sits and there it stays sheltering mice from the dust storms, but that just adds up to dollar signs in my eyes on the day I walk out of the solicitor’s office, newly made executor (or would that be executioner). I should like at this point to add that I had to take a break from recording my life’s adventures on a public blog because it was becoming less of a blog and more of a body count. But again I digress.

So I told you anyway that I had not seen mother for about five years. Even then there was a lengthy pause between the time she answered the intercom, (I said, “Hello Mother!” and she said, “Who is this?”) and the time she buzzed open the gate.

“Hello, Mother!” I exclaimed, at the threshold, with some quiet and unfounded desire to be clasped to the maternal bosom.

Now in regards to the lies I am occasionally forced to tell. Well nevermind. I will point them all out presently in a kind of postscript. Mother is approximately one hundred and sixty years old (or thereabouts) and has smoked like a cowboy for the best part of her life with no apparent consequences.

She was sitting in an armchair in the middle of the room, so still – she could have been dead (except that she’d answered the intercom.) Her arm was over the side of the chair with a cigarette pointing towards the floor, and the smoke from her cigarette went up and up and up while the cigarette ate itself down and down until it was an ash as long as the cigarette itself. Then the ash fell off. How I yearned for the vanilla scented days of my youth (tho not so long ago) when she appeared to have had some affection for me (at least I assume so).  A raven was perched on the back of the chair quothing “Nevermore”. (This is one of the lies I told you about. It is intended to produce a gothic effect. I suppose her slippers were grotesque enough, but she is quite an old lady and so such lapses in taste need to be politely overlooked.)

Well.  I moved towards her and bent my weary head on my sweet mother’s knee. She had a paper spread out on her lap and was finishing off the crossword puzzle. All of the 9+ letter words she had got, but none of the names of sportspersons. After a while (c-l-a-u-s-t-r-o-p-h-o-b-i-a) she noticed me there and said,

“Am I to suppose that is a posture of desperation – disappointments – perchance depression – at the state of affairs you find on your return from…”  and suddenly stopped.

“From where, Mother?”

“From – ”

“From where, Mother?” I was interested to know whether she had been reading my blog.

She blinked at me. Then she said, triumphantly: “A European tour! Goat-herding in Italy! ” Then her eyes went slitty. She looked back down at her paper. Now she was bored. “I mean counting staples at TIMR.”

“I was sacked from TIMR,” said I.

“Oh,” said Mother.  “…I was so sure it was staples.”

“It wasn’t staples.”

“But that’s what I’ve been telling everyone!”

“I was in Texas,” said I.

“Oh,” said Mother.

“Texas, US.”

“That’s nice.”

“I said I was just in Texas. I thought you might care.”

“To care,” she said ponderously. “—In the sense of concern for one’s welfare or to care as in to feel interest or liking?”

I decided the raven had been quite correct in the Nevermore thing. So I got up and went and sat in the armchair opposite & lit a cigarette.  Then I decided it would be prudent to change the subject. We don’t all, afterall, have the time to sit around reading our one and only daughter’s one and only blog. “It is nearly Christmas,” said I.

“I loathe Christmas,” said Mother. “I can’t stand the sight of children weeping.”

“But the weather has been nice. Sunny every day.”

“Sunshine brings out the worst in people. You can see their flaws quite clearly.”

“I suppose that is why you’re sitting in this dark room, Mother.”

“Cannot stand the light being on. It attracts all of the flies, and you know I don’t like being reminded of your father.”

“And how is aunt Rosemary?”

“Dead,” said Mother.