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Dear Secret Footballer,

April 7, 2014

I’d like to congratulate you on your article, How the social media revolution ended the popularity of group sex in the AFL, published in the Age last week. It’s an example of great journalistic merit and intelligent insight, with an investigative edge – all qualities which are so often lacking in the Australian press. What an achievement, Secret Footballer! I’m sure the ‘testosterone-fuelled balls of muscle’ who are your footballing buddies are thrilled to have you as their group sex and technology spokesperson. I heartily commend you, SF! I truly, truly do.

It’s refreshing, you see, SF, to read something so candid and which has been written with such eloquence. Your piece really does evoke some very vivid imagery, as you explain to your reader how gang bangs (let’s call a spade a spade, SF) have become less popular as the risk of getting caught with your pants down (excuse the pun, SF) has become greater. And what a lucky reader, too, to be able to picture so clearly the scenes that you described, of footballers heading out to known pick-up joints where the group leader would lure in a woman before his sidekick(s), who’d be ‘lurking’ on the sidelines (again, excuse the pun, SF), would come into the picture. An ingenious, fail-safe set up that has been masterminded to entice women into a gang bang! Did the players’ committee have a roundtable to come up with this?? Job well done by them! They’ve managed to get this right! Now to getting fair wages for the boys!

I guess some might be inclined to think that the scenario you described sounds a little opportunistic, that you might have actually been very creepily preying on women, perhaps vulnerable, drunk women – but I don’t believe that to be true. As you say, SF, you were just out to ‘collect [your] loot’. (I’ve actually never heard this expression before, SF, moving in the circles that I do, but, correct me if I’m wrong, it does mean to take what’s yours, does it not?) And, let it be said, as it should be, that you’ve been gentlemanly enough to point out, on behalf of your female conquests, that ‘the women were always willing participants in the fun; no one was being coerced to do anything they didn’t want to. Sometimes they were even the instigators’. Sometimes they were even the instigators! Blimey! That does sound like jolly good fun, SF!

A darn shame you can’t partake in gang bangs anymore, what with the risk of getting caught being so high…

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how to avoid the post-coitus cold shoulder

March 26, 2014

A friend was recently reminiscing about that magnificent feeling of meeting someone new. I sat there with my lip curled. She’s been in a relationship for as long as I’ve been menstruating. ‘What?’ she said. ‘Oh nothing…’ And then, as you can imagine if you know me, I talked without pause for the next couple of hours.

I recently discovered/realised the five-step game play. And now that I know it, I assume everyone’s playing it. About a month ago I texted a guy and said something along the lines of: ‘If you’re giving me the post-coitus cold shoulder then it’s textbook!’ He said that he wasn’t, which, of course, meant that he was – he was already at Step 4, dammit!

The reason I now assume everyone’s playing the game is because I’ve been caught up in it more times than I’d like to admit. For a reasonably intelligent person, I can be an absolute twit. But not anymore. I’ve promised myself not to make it to Step 5 ever a-goddam-gain.

I present to you the five-step game play, which might vary from person to person but will loosely go like this:

1. They will charm and flatter you. They will tell you you’re lovely or that you have nice hair or that you’re funny (gets me every time). They might go on one exceptional date with you – and make a real fuss about it. They will text you nice things: ‘Wow, whirlwind.’ It will be hard to know if they are genuinely interested in you or just your sexual organs. Heavens, it might even be possible they’re interested in both! But at this point it won’t really matter. Besides, you’re not even sure what part of them you’re interested in.


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a master of self-doubt

March 25, 2014

Potosi, Bolivia, 2010

In one of my writing classes last year my teacher said, ‘You kind of write like Hemingway.’ I willed the corners of my mouth to stay down; I didn’t respond. He stared into space, musing. ‘Because nothing really happens in your stories… But I wouldn’t like you to think that I’ve compared you to Hemingway. Don’t think that.’ I nodded my head, earnestly.

I mastered the earnest head nod years ago, when I realised you could easily manipulate a teacher’s opinion of you if they believed you to be engaged on the highest level with everything they said. Sit towards the back of the class and give them a long-range head nod, with the occasional creased brow or frown – it works a treat. If you really want to up the ante, give a slow head shake, as if in wonder at what they’ve said, and then look down at your lap, still shaking your head, allowing you the opportunity to check your phone. The teacher will glow with pride, believing they have moved, and connected with, one of their students on a very deep level. This simple act of reassurance works because it appeals to the same vulnerability that, at one time or another, exists in us all: self-doubt.


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a lesson on men, from my chiro

March 24, 2014

My chiro has met a man. He has floored her. Me too, for that matter. He has pursued her and romanced her in a way I’ve never heard of before. It’s a modern-day fairytale. I’m not kidding you. And it’s kind of seeming like it’s not all an act.

‘Are you waiting for it to all go wrong?’

‘No,’ she says, ‘I’m waiting to find out he’s not genuine.’

‘Yeah well. They rarely are,’ I reply. ‘Most times they’re only nice to you for as long as it takes

‘This might hurt a bit…’

‘Orrh… to get you into bed. And then once you’ve had sex, you never hear from them again.’

‘Mmm-hmm,’ she says.

‘That feels amazing.’

‘Yeah, bicep?’

‘Oh yeah. So good…’ I say. ‘All of a sudden they’re too busy. But they never seemed busy before that.’

‘That’s because they hadn’t been in your vagina yet.’

I laugh. It’s true. ‘Once you’ve exposed yourself as a human with feelings – which is always a massive surprise – then, suddenly, you’re entirely unattractive to them.’

I’m lying on my stomach, facing my chiro. She’s doing 360-degree head nods, hasn’t stopped nodding.

‘He’s not busy, Gabby,’ she says, ‘He just never wants to see you again. He was never – are you listening to me, never – going to see you again.’

‘I’m an idiot,’ I say.

‘Don’t worry, I’ve been there. I get asked on dates all the time. Don’t think I don’t get asked on dates. All the time. I’ve met all the creeps. I know all of them.’

‘That feels so good.’

‘A couple of weeks, I reckon, and then you should be right.’ She motions for me to get up.

‘Why can’t they just be straight with you?’ I ask.

She stands right in front of me and leans forward. ‘Because, Gabby, they have tiny little penises that are this big.’ She holds her thumb and pointer finger about a centimetre apart. ‘And they have tiny little balls that go with their tiny little penises.’ She moves her thumb and finger closer together.

I laugh.

‘This is why you have to figure out if they’re genuine before you sleep with them.’

‘But I always assume they’re genuine! I always think they must like me!’

‘Oh girl. You better stick with me. You’ve got a lot to learn.’

‘Oh I’m learning. It’s just taking a while.’

turning off to tune back in

March 23, 2014

The week just gone I was able to properly return to my yoga practice for the first time since I had my dance floor injury. I still can’t put any weight on my shoulder or move it freely but just doing some yoga has felt very grounding, awakening. It prompted me to have a week away from the noise, spend more quiet time by myself and really focus on what I’m doing. Yoga always does that. Whether I’ve lost sight during the day, the week, the month, whatever, I can get back to where I want to be going through yoga.

So I stepped away, from all the mindlessness, from doing the same shit every day and forgetting to feel something, from reprimanding myself when I do feel something, from clicking around the interwebs looking at and reading about people, from doing something and going out every night. I’m not a natural home-body; I’d almost always choose going out over staying in. I’m not good at being still either. But last week I stayed in and was quiet: I caught up on work, wrote, knitted, did my jigsaw puzzle (it’s got the upper hand; never get a puzzle that has snow), and cooked. Mid-week I had dinner with my friend and did a lot of loud laughing. It all felt really good. But my mind kept taking me back to a friend who I lost almost six years ago.

There are a lot of things I don’t talk about on this blog, because they’re too private and/or too difficult to articulate. There are places I just don’t go. I don’t care if you know I get anxiety – doesn’t everyone get anxiety these days? My ‘dating’ life isn’t private; it’s not love, it’s just fun. I could share most things here and it not matter: we’re all human, after all, and I’m sure you get that this blog is just one slice of the pie. But this, in many ways, is both too private and too difficult, perhaps impossible, to articulate; however, I’ve had such an overwhelming desire to write about my friend and think about her, to daydream about what it would be like to spend time with her now and what she would be doing…that I have to write about it and I want to share, at least some of it.

Peru, 2010

We met on our first day of college, back when we moved to Melbourne. I’ve always been drawn to individuals but I’ve never been so instantly attracted to someone like I was to her. She was effervescent. And the friendship was instant; it was kind of unexplainable. I just liked her a lot. I don’t know why we like some people and not others. Or why we like some people more than others. I don’t know. But once I’d ‘found’ her, honestly, I wasn’t really bothered about anybody else. I made many other friends, of course, but she was always the one I liked the most. We were young, too, so you could be like that: have favourites and not apologise for it or bother trying to hide it. I was enamoured with her.

It was the first time I’d ever met anyone who said, ‘Root my boot, Gabby.’ It was great! We spent all our free time together: hanging out in her room, talking on the phone (arguing about whose room to hang out in; she’d say things like ‘I don’t want your wafty box in my room’), walking down Lygon to buy goon bags. Every Thursday, when they served pork at dinner, we’d go to Pugg Mahones in Carlton, sit in the same corner booth and eat parmas. She’d get a raspberry, I’d get a lemon squash. Sometimes we’d have two. We were so young! We spent so much time laughing and talking, about everything and anything. She was, and probably still is, the only person I’ve ever met who could talk more than me. And if you needed to talk about something important she listened, seriously and with empathy. She shared your pain like no one I’ve ever met. Sometimes one of our friends would invite themselves along, to our Thursday night dates, and when we got back to college, to our separate rooms, we’d have to sit on the phone for a couple more hours because we hadn’t been able to talk about all the things we wanted to talk about. There was never enough time. Then or ever.

A few days ago, prompted by my return to yoga, I visited the YouTube and Instagram sites of a yoga teacher I ‘follow’. A week ago she lost her friend in a car accident. Her Instagram feed is an outpouring of grief. It’s very confronting to read, and I wish I hadn’t read it all but I couldn’t stop. It returned me to a lot of the feelings I had when my friend died. Wishing something undone doesn’t actually work – that is probably one of the most incomprehensible things I have ever learnt. And it doesn’t matter how hard you wish or for how long – it just doesn’t work! It never will. I still can’t believe this can’t be undone.

I still feel her absence in the world and I miss her friendship, always. There is still so much pain there. Sometimes it’s surprising. You think there’s not, that you’ve reached acceptance and peace, but it’s just well hidden, waiting for a time when you are brave enough to listen to it. I listened this week and I remembered her, our friendship and how life changed after she left us. How I changed. And I realised that if one of the greatest, most poignant memories of my life is of her teaching me how to properly make a cold Milo, then I need to be tuning in more to the small things. Because, though they don’t always make sense, they’re the things you will remember.

Brunswick’s abandonded TVs

March 19, 2014

When I saw the TV with the screen smashed, I thought, ‘Ha. The little people have escaped.’ And then I started noticing that there are abandoned big-box TVs everywhere around where I live in Brunswick, including the pair out the front of my apartment (I live where the pink pot lives). I went for a walk this morning and snapped a few on my phone. I found all of these within an hour, just by wondering the streets around my house. Regrettably I took the photos in a bit of a rush, but I thought I’d share them anyway.

This reminds me of the time, back in 2011, when a lady used to dump her leftovers on a nature strip in Footscray.

I’m going to be a bridesmaid…

March 17, 2014

My friend and I were sitting in the Melbourne Central food court, back in 2005, probably eating Maccas or a kebab, when she told me that she thought she had a boyfriend. We’d been living in Melbourne for only a short while, in residential colleges on different sides of the city. The year before, our last year of high school, we’d seen each other every day and talked on the phone most nights, that is, if I wasn’t tucked up in bed next to her. Our lives had diverged, however, and if we hadn’t been so mesmerised by all the change and new people in our environments, I’m sure this would have saddened us more. I said, ‘What do you mean you think you have a boyfriend?’

We’d become friends only a couple of years earlier, in 2003, when we both started at the Mildura Senior College, for years 11 and 12. I was a mouthy, wary thing who’d been told I wasn’t welcome back at the Catholic college that I’d attended for the four years previous – ‘Don’t worry,’ I’d said, ‘I won’t be coming back’. My friend, on the other hand, was a bright and open personality, who would have wept at the thought of raising her teacher’s blood pressure to near-death levels. At our new shared school, I hung out in the chem lab or the library, trading tutelage with my studious pals, uninterested in the hormonal soup outside; she was a roving member of all the ‘groups’, including a welcome guest in the library and chem lab, on 40-degree days or in inclement weather. She was also the principal’s daughter and our school captain. On weekends, I worked at Priceline, she a few doors down at Book City. There were many reasons why we shouldn’t have become friends, but many more reasons why we did.

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