Oh, my god, MY STEP-FATHER MAILED ME A WOODEN SPOON.
I have never, in our 25-odd year relationship, had a conversation with him about football, least of all about the Raiders, and EVEN HE HAS GOT WIND OF HOW FUCKED UP THEY ARE. My god.
This is bad. This means that word of their abject awfulness has crept beyond the mainstream and penetrated the cracks and crevices of polite society. Like mildew! Or thrush!
I know it’s only round 15 and I know the Eels have some catching up and clawing back to do but he is probably right about the spoon. Richie really doesn’t engage with popular culture at all. He has no tolerance for movies, or music, or even television aside from early evening viewing on the ABC. One time I was watching The Biggest Loser in his presence and he became very excited by the big mansion they were living in – that rude white edifice – and bet me twenty dollars that it was Rose Porteous’ pile. I said no, I said I was fairly certain the show was filmed in Sydney and not on the banks of the Swan River in Perth; I said silence, fool, but he insisted, and the bet was lodged. He’s out of touch, in other words, and of an often uniquely illogical bent.
But perhaps not this time. Perhaps Richie is ahead of the pack this time.
In any case, it’s a beautiful spoon, an artisan affair, all off-kilter and irregular. I will use it to administer beatings to my assorted cats, and any future children; step, birth or other.
After I arrived home from overseas last month our very first exchange involved Richie telling me that he had fixed the interior light in my car and that I must be very careful to keep it on the ‘off’ setting so as it didn’t activate itself every time the door is opened and drain the battery. He bought this final point home repeatedly, with a quiet potency. This is actually exactly the conversation you want to have after two turbulent flights and the nerve-shattering trauma of an overstayed visa incident at Kathmandu airport. It is very grounding. Truly. There is nothing like a conversation about car maintenance while you struggle with overstuffed luggage, in a train station parking lot, after midnight, to really bring home the fact that you are suddenly far, far away from the sweeping majesty of the Himalayas. As it happened it was really pretty much the perfect home coming. I’d had a fucking gut-full of those stinking mountains.
Later on, in the early hours of that same morning, as I was preparing for the long drive to my home, he appeared with a baggie of Australian Defence Force supply rations – tubes of condensed milk, and jam, and bars of chocolate all tersely wrapped in khaki green, Soviet-style packaging - and said “You like this stuff don’t you? It all tastes like shit but it’ll keep you going on your drive” as if I was striking out into the rolling vastness of the Antarctic instead of, you know, driving down the Hume…
As a footnote; that stuff really did taste like shit, and, because I have cheap and trashy tastes I really did like it. But more than that, I liked the sweet absurdity behind the giving of it. After all, it’s not every day that you are plied with military rations to ensure your gastro-intestinal satisfaction while in charge of two-tonnes of speeding metal atop one of Australia’s most heavily used highways. I can’t help thinking now that it should be.