Offer me a Pepsi Max, dammit or: Will I ever really grow up.
The doorbell rang and, like the title of my then favourite TV show, I was saved. Mum disappeared and my hand shot to my plate, snatched up the rearranged greens and shoved them in my paper towel lined pocket. A sigh of relief quickly segued into an innocent grin, as my mum returned to her seat. This daring routine helped me through many an offensive dinner, up until the day my mother stormed into my room, clasping the dismembered remains of a paper towel and spin-cycle ravaged vegetables. Despite this and many other absurd plots to avoid eating perfectly good food, I always felt that adulthood alone would simply mature my palette. That never really happened. I remain the bane of many waiters’ shifts, debating the legitimacy of the children’s menu policy, ordering a dessert in place of an entrée and discretely repositioning any uninvited guests on my plate. Much to my dismay, apart from vegetables and other essential consumables, I never adopted the coffee and tea drinking habits of my peers. Instead, I developed an unnatural inclination for Pepsi Max. When my colleagues do the rounds before a coffee run, I occasionally try my luck by yelling out ‘Pepsi Max’, with Max voiced two, irritating octaves higher. I liken this once-obliged behest to tossing a can of the stuff out a car window, pointless but nonetheless vaguely satisfying.
Here’s the clincher, my dad was once so utterly convinced I wouldn’t that he offered me a fifty to eat a handful of blueberries. He put his money on the wrong fruit. The common blueberry, while possessing flavour and texture no less appalling than its juicy comrades, is almost pill like in size. So you’re probably pondering what on earth does this girl actually eat? As my pal Nate eloquently put it I’m ‘what they call Skinny Fat’. My staple foods include the orange gold that is Butter Chicken, steak and ¾ plate mash, bacon & eggs, cashews, salami sandwiches, stir fry, marshmallows and cheese platters. I know that posting this on a public blog is stupidly ironic, but in the wise words of Lenny Leonard ‘don’t tell people how I live’.
When I saw Stanley Kubrick’s adaption of one of my favourite books, A Clockwork Orange, I had little to criticise save for the fact that he had completely abandoned the final chapter. I’m not usually one to give a damn about such minor discrepancies; however, to me that was the most important part. For those unfamiliar with the work, its main underlying theme is choice and the final chapter is where the absolute scoundrel protagonist realises he’s finally growing up and you see a glimmer of hope that one day in the not too distant future, he’ll become a decent member of society. I’m more of a scallywag than a scoundrel, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that, like many of us, I’m still waiting for my final chapter and I’m hoping it makes the cut.
Fiscal priorities and other frivolities.
The secret to bypassing the peak hour ticket queue is coins. As a perpetually late individual and firm believer in Darwinism, I had to figure this out pretty quick. Not to mention, the triumphant stride past a queue of thirty or so unprepared commuters is yet to lose its kick.
As we drew close to the station, I began the ritualistic rummaging for my little metallic VIP passes. Nothing. My hand dove in again, searching for the familiar leather. No wallet. My drama queen of a heart skipped a beat. Already pushing it for time, I gratefully accepted the meagre note my lift-giver had on them and practically flung myself out the car door. I felt like a real sucker, waiting in that line with the rest of them, watching precious minutes and trains fly by. Eventually, I arrived at work; a sweaty, puffing mess, sans the usual array of freshly bought snacks. Time lagged and I longed to venture across the road for a Pepsi Max or Milkybar. I tell you, like many a cheesy pop song or decrepit relative has before me, we all want what we can’t have and you really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone (or just plain inaccessible).
The vaguely redundant to the downright gratuitous suddenly seemed of immediate necessity. The elevator mirror insisted that my hair needed a fresh coat of purple dye, I just had to have another sketchbook and the aroma of my colleague’s lunches, once unappetising, sent me into a near frenzy. Even products that had never really crossed my mind were suddenly calling to me, all because I knew I couldn’t have them.
I didn’t end up buying lunch that day, instead I returned from my break, mildly delirious, with a new drawing pad, filled with bizarre sketches of, you guessed, it, food. After restoring food to my belly and, in turn, clarity to my mind, I had a long belated epiphany; my financial priorities were completely out of whack. From impulsive online purchases to lavish lunches, I’d been, unquestionably, squandering my hard earned cash. I know that if I ever want to own property, I’m going to have to adopt a more frugal lifestyle; the question is can I do it? In the wise words of my father, “people always learn from their mistakes, but you Hilary, you’re late almost every single morning. It makes me question everything”.
Well, it’s payday and I’m already contemplating buying a book or two that I’ve been eying off, nevertheless, I’m prepared to flex my atrophied muscles of self-control.
From harbouring an irrational fear of crustaceans to bombarding my peers with cute shrimp snaps: an inspirational journey
It was big, blue and barrelling towards us at high speed. An armoured monster, with its pincers held high and beady eyes, like infinite inkwells. I was practically eating my big sister’s sand as she high-tailed it off the beach, up to the safety of the grass. As youngsters, we were lucky enough for our grandparents to let us tag along on overseas trips. This cultivated in us an incurable travel bug, a healthy dose of world culture, an unhealthy proclivity for luxury travel and, naturally, an irrational fear of Crustaceans.
In my teen years, when staying up late was still a novelty and showing up with a nicked bottle of mum’s champagne was a lauded act, my friends & I would sometimes challenge each other about what our greatest fears were. My pals would respond with the justified likes of being buried alive or in a car accident, to which we would all nod empathetically. My response – waking up with a live king crab on me - was followed by frenzied laughter.
Just a couple of months ago, my boyfriend moved out of home and, faced with the devastating absence of his beloved cat, set his sights on a fish tank. The term delusions of grandeur have never been more apt than when applied to his vision for the tank. He envisioned a symbiotic fish community, with each fish possessing a purpose, such as cleaning, all encased in an extravagant glass form. Neither of us had considered shrimp, our only associations with them being the yucky pink things that you pluck out of fried rice.
Two weeks of water cycling later, we found ourselves at the local shops, excited to choose his new pets. We’d taken a surprising liking to the tiny cherry shrimp at the pet store on earlier visits and had assumed we could easily incorporate one into his fish utopia. As a matter of course, I approached one of the staff to reaffirm the notion that this would be fine, only to receive the mortifying response: ‘they will eat it, even if their mouths are too small, they will bite off its legs’. As I ambled over to give my boyfriend the unfortunate news, I glared at the many fish, unreasonably annoyed with them, the way you are at a friend who’s betrayed you in a dream. Despite his newfound fondness for the cherry shrimp, his earlier delusions & my insistence that we couldn’t leave the helpless shrimp in ‘this terrible place’, he settled for a Zebra Danio and Cloud Minnow.
Then and there, I resolved that I would get a shrimp, a whole bunch of them, at that. Undeterred by his half-joking objections to my usurping of his ‘fish day’ and raining on his parade, I went about buying a cylindrical masterpiece of a tank and pointing out the shrimpies I’d be returning for.
I’m now the proud owner of five cute, little shrimp. Everything they do seems kind of whimsical, from the way they soar through the water and perch upside down on plants, to the comical way that they eat. Occasionally, I come home to find all the shrimp convening under the filter, deviously rubbing their mitts together and send my friend an only half-joking text, claiming that they’re plotting against me and to send help. Notwithstanding, I consider these soft-centred critters an investment in happiness.