I’m sure we have all received snippets of advice off our parents as we grew up…some of it sound, some not. For some reason they think they are the font of all knowledge – but I beg to differ. How much donyou relate tonthe “sound advice” demonstrated bellow?
As the years start to go by with increasing haste – the first thing she told me; she said they went fast, but didn’t indicate exactly how fast! I have time to occasionally reflect upon the fact that neither my mother or father really prepared me in any way for life. Now I am sure they were well intentioned, thinking in fact that they may have been, in some naïve way, protecting me. Now I find it’s not what they took the time to tell me, but what they left out. Seeing as how I spent more of my youth with my mother than with my father, I have to assume that this repository of misinformation is mainly her fault.
‘There are only two forms of take-away,’ she profoundly announced one Friday, as we tucked into the fish, chips and potato scallops that were a family tradition on this day. It didn’t matter that we weren’t Catholic – my father was, but didn’t practice – and that both mother and myself had been raised through the simplicity of Protestantism. You always had fish on Friday. Now this was one form of take-away. The other was – to the uninformed who were not raised during the 50’s – Chinese. Yep, that was it. Fish and chips and Chinese. None of your Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian or Modern Australian rubbish. No siree! None of that foreign muck. It took me nearly 18 years to realise what a lie this had been, though to my knowledge neither my mother or father ever ate outside those guidelines, and my mother is now in her 80’s.
‘You’ll be grey, part bald and wrinkly yourself, one day my boy,’ was another lie she told me with intent regularity. I am now 60, and despite a few creeping grey hairs, I still have a full head of dark hair. I can also still get away with being in my late thirties – oh all right my 40s! No mean feat…though perhaps good tenetics, mum! Just because my old man was bald and wrinkly by the time he was 45, what made her think that hereditary had it in for me as well?
Perhaps not having two kids may have assisted me, as she also constantly reminded me that ‘there was no greater thing you could do with your life than get married and have children.’ Mmm where can I go with this one! She was so impressed with the whole process that she fled home when I was a mere 11 years old, and my brother a whole 7. She then proceeded to give birth to my half sister 18 years later – at a time of her life when she should, by all rights, have been sitting back and lounging on Queensland islands, or spending her days lost in a pokie euphoria at the local RSL. I hope she doesn’t hold me responsible for any of that.
‘You must have a trade to get by on in life,’ was probably one of my favourites. I had been having gay fantasies since I was 9 years old, and here she is thinking I’m going to be a bricklayer, carpenter, electrician or plumber. Not likely, thinks I! I hide all my art works away, and only allow them to be viewed by one spinster aunt, who sort of understands what it is all about. Apart from anything else, it never really explains why she buys me dolls when I request them – and I’m not talking Ken-type dolls here. I like to dress them up. Perhaps she thinks I’m going to be a fashion designer, and hides the fact from my father for fear that he will disown me? Well, he did that anyway, and it was a long while before I actually ‘came out’ that I found myself disinherited.
So, I managed to avoid any of the butch trades, and even managed not to end up an accountant or anything else remotely embarrassing. Instead, I wasted 30 years of my bloody life in retail, hating every day of it, and wishing to God I had become a builder, even if it was just for the perving that I could do on the job. Now, I’ve sort of gone full circle. Though not a fashion designer, or an artist, I am a writer (and to make it worse – a poet!), and have finally found that not only is it a pleasure to be getting older, it is an even greater pleasure to be doing what I have always wanted to do.
‘Choose your furniture carefully. If you do, it can last you for most of your life,’ she would say as she wiped over the teak laminex sideboard and dining table. Now don’t tell me you haven’t copped this one! She might enjoy living with the same tacky furniture for 50 years, but I’ll be damned if I will. I still cringe at the recollections of going to visit her and my step-father at Toongabbie. It was like reliving my life at Sylvania in a time warp. Neither the style, nor the laminex had changed. And the lounge was a Harvey Norman spectacular, undoubtedly bought at a 40-hour sale. I breathe a sigh of relief as I bring an image of the ‘Freedom’ and ‘Ikea’ logos into my mind. I’ll change my furniture every five years, thank you all the same mum! Besides, nobody has an orange kitchen or teak laminex furniture anymore – or do they?
‘Go ask your father’ or ‘ Go ask your mother’ were the words of wisdom handed out to je by both if the disgusting subject of sex was ever brought up. I may have bern running around with a constant boner, and wanking like there was no tomorrow, but no gems of wordly wisdom to inform me if what was going on were forthcoming! Well, they did make one attempt by sneaking onto my room one night and leaving me some delightful pamphlets published by our local Congregational Church. Oh what a joy to find them the next morning! Having spent some time trying to decipher what the anatomical diagrams were about, I happily came to the conclusion that I had both a penis….AND a vagina. So much for that effort! I ended up letting nature sort it, though not before totally stressing mum out with a lot of very stiff sheets, and underwear. Fair retribution, I call that!
Despite all this, I have ended up a fairly well-balanced adult. I know! A bloody miracle isn’t it! I have aged well, live in a tastefully decorated Queenslander, eat in a large variety of restaurants serving many different cuisines, am a writer with a respectfully popular blog…and I’m gay! Now there is something they could never have advised me on, though perhaps my curiosity as to who these ‘bloody poofters’ were, that my father was always muttering on about, may have had something to do with it. Credit where credit is due! I found I had heaps of fun with the poofters, and still continue to!
Mum and Dad! Thanks for the advice…but I’ll leave it, all the same!