Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mining The Quirk

Schmutzie, from the brilliant, if disturbingly monikered (and written), Milkmoney Or Not Here I Come has requested a meme from me me to be optimistically entitled:

Six Quirky Things About Me.

I sat down to write this last night and then stopped. Me? Quirk? What?

After a long long time of staring at the blank screen I decided to go to bed.

What’s something quirky about me? I asked my husband as I brushed my teeth.

Are you joking? he asked. He started saying something about how you never appreciate your own quirkiness because it’s only truly quirky to other people but I didn’t pay attention because I was too fascinated by the sight of myself in the mirror, brushing my teeth with the new electric toothbrush.

The new electric toothbrush is new in that, until the beginning of the year, we were a strictly hand brushing only family but then one day while waiting in line to buy a printer cartridge at Harvey Norman’s I saw a pile of Oral B electric toothbrushes, heavily discounted, and on impulse I grabbed one.

I find the new electric toothbrush a little intimidating, truthfully. I only use it once a week, preferring mostly to keep brushing with the humble non-electric. It actually took me a few goes before I stopped employing the regular old non-electric brushing movements with the new electric toothbrush and also stopped mashing it against my gums. For some reason, something deep inside me felt that my teeth could only be truly clean if I managed to remove the top layer of enamel.

Anyhoo, there I was, staring at myself brushing while C droned on about Quirk Ad Nauseum and all I could think was how ugly one looks when one brushes with the new electric toothbrush.

I saw the way it made my gaping mouth bulge and all the drooling and frothing and carry on and how it should really only be in the domain of the Truly Committed Couple because... erk... you could really go off someone if you saw that night after night. Anyway, it’s possible C threw out a few Quirks that I could have included in this damn meme but if he did I missed it over the roar of the toothbrush and the echo of my own profound thoughts.

But then, this morning I thought of a Quirk so I checked it with C on his way to drop Tricky at childcare and the boys at school and it was this:

1. I Never Finish Everything On My Plate.

Yes, he said, that’s true. Or your cup or your glass or your bowl. It’s like you have to leave at least a spoonful.

This is completely unlike C who likes to make fun of the fact that his parents were brought up in England during the war and are hence frugal non wasteful eat-the-mushy-bits-on-the banana people, yet both he and his brother clean their plates obsessively to the point that you can slip them straight back into the cupboard.

I, on the other hand, feel passionate about properly sorting the recycling but find it impossible to eat all the food on my plate.

C grabbed Tricky and wrenched the Naughty Nephews away from the downstairs tv and hustled them all into the car and I waved goodbye but inside I was thinking that this first Quirky Thing was pretty dull actually.

Well, said C, later in the afternoon when I brought it up again. What does she mean by Quirk, this person who so called “tagged” you. What does she consider to be Quirky?

OK, I said. Right off the bat she admits that she Cuts Her Own Hair.

We were walking by the beach and C was carrying Tricky on his shoulders. Tricky has this thing about wanting to see the stars lately, all the time, even during the day, and he gets very frustrated when he’s told there aren’t any stars, yet.

It’s sort of cute but when he’s frustrated he’ll try and hit you or if he’s on your shoulders he grabs your ears and yanks them and this is a bit painful. C was holding Tricky’s legs, bouncing him, and trying to distract him from the realization that although he could see the whole sky there were NO FRIGGING STARS, YET but I could see at the same time that he was a little taken aback by the cut your own hair thing.

Well yes, he said finally, that is pretty Quirky.

So I’m thinking the plate thing’s dull, not Quirky, I said. Can you think of anything else, please?

Hmmm, said C. There’s that Toot Nose thing.

Oh, I said slowly. Riiiight.

2. The Toot Nose Thing is something that only my very closest friends actually know about, so what the hell, have at it, y’all.

It goes thus: Sometimes, if I think I might have a little something in my nose and I wipe at it with a tissue and I’m still not sure if I’ve got it or not, I will turn to my husband/close friend in the know and say…Toot?

This is code for Is My Nose Clean? The answer to that if Yes, is: Toot, as in toot toot, clean as a whistle. If the nose is sadly, a little crowded say, than the husband/close friend says in a solemn voice: No Toot.

I have had two husbands and I’m proud to say that both were trained in the Toot Nose but I have to admit that this second one didn’t seem to get that the whole idea was that I was embarrassed by the snotty nose and the question and answer was meant to be a subtle sort of code and for many many years when asked Toot? he thought the Toot answer should be delivered as one yanks the horn on a Mac Truck and he would bellow HONK!

Are you sure that’s Quirky? I asked. Or just a bit disgusting?
It’s both, he said, comfortingly.

But you’ve given me a good idea, I said. I’m going to ring one of the Toot Nose friends and see if they can tell me any Quirks.

As we got into the car I rang George who is a long time pal and extremely good Toot Nose friend.

What are my Quirks George, I demanded.

He thought about it a bit and then he told me he didn’t want to offend me.

Ha ha ha I laughed gaily, no tell me I’ll be alright.

Well, he said. 3. You Annunciate Everything.

I was confused so he went on. You annunciate everything, everything you say is Very Clear and very…hmmm… precise. And I think I slur my words so when I’m talking with you I always remind myself to speak more clearly because you always go: Whaaaat?

What does George say, asked C.

He says I annunciate everything, I told him, and in my ear I heard George saying: and see you annunciated that.

But is that Quirky? I asked George, it sounds pedantic.
Or, I had a thought, is that why you think I have an English accent? I wonder if it’s because I’m actually a bit deaf?

George seemed to be laughing at me now so I stopped. But I do think I’m a bit deaf actually, I find it hard to make conversation in theatre foyers and I’m almost certain that’s why I’m such a crap networker and it’s like pushing shit uphill to get my plays on sometimes.

But again, that bit’s not Quirky, just a bit sort of…well, sad and not really anything to laugh at George, thanks very much.

The other thing I would say, said George, is that you um…well you’re very…

4. Drawn To Things That Are Child-like.

You know, added George, you wear rounded shoes and your clothing style is quite…

Mutton dressed as lamb? I prompted him, a little testily.

No no, he said. It’s not a fashion thing it’s more that you’re very comfortable in …

He seemed to be struggling here so I decided to help him out. Last week, I told him, a mutual friend I hadn’t seen in a while asked me if I was out of clean clothes and was forced to wear one of Tricky’s tee shirts.

Also, today I am wearing an old top and pair of pants cast off from my youngest sister. Also yesterday I bought a plastic bead necklace from a toyshop and I wore it all day until Tricky saw it and then we had a fight over who got to wear it.

Also I nearly bought a Jibbitz bracelet, but didn’t because it would take me too long to pick out what little plastic people things I wanted to decorate it with and that cop show episode I had waiting for me at home on the laptop wasn’t gonna write itself.

George was right. I thought about all the toys I still have, from my childhood, and the children’s books that I still read, regularly, especially if I’m down or depressed (most recently: fast read of Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes) even now, IN THE YEAR THAT I TURN FORTY.

Soon after that I ended the conversation. I felt a little down actually, I wasn’t feeling so much ‘quirky’ as ‘infantile’ and ‘purile’, although it was nothing a quick burl of Charlotte Sometimes couldn’t fix.

And also, I shouted to C triumphantly as we arrived home, I’ve just remembered, I LOVE SHOWBAGS AND GEORGE LOVES SHOWBAGS TOO– enough to actually fight with me, in a crowded train, over the contents of a Bananas In Pyjamas showbag after a hard day of ‘suit work’ at the Sydney Royal Easter Show (see book for full sorry take on this).
So who's "child-like" now, hey George? Hey?

I still have two more Quirks to go, I thought to myself mournfully, later in the evening, what am I going to write?

I’m messy? I regularly use the adjective “jolly”? Every year I write a Mother’s Day card to my dead mother? All true, but pfff so what? Even the card thing, while mildly interesting, could only be seen as Quirky if I actually addressed and posted it.

I do collect things like Batman cards and those pictures that move when you wriggle them but only if they’ve got characters from The Simpsons on them. That could be Quirky I guess but really, when it comes down to it, I know it’s only a Quirkal Subset, derived from Quirk Number Four which was the whole Child Thing.

5. Your Wedding Dress Was Bright Pink, C reminded me.

In some circles, he said, that would be seen as Quirky.
Yeah sure, I muttered, what “circles” are they?
Those ones where the bride wears a wedding dress that’s white, he said.

Even as I shook my head my fingers were itching to type it all down so I’d be just that much closer to the Sixth Quirk.

A little voice inside tried to suggest the pink dress business was just another deeply buried subset of Quirk Number Four but I was already annoyed with the scrubbing the enamel off the teeth so I kicked the little voice in its metaphorical face and it sank without trace.

It was late at night when I sent out the group email to all my Toot Friends and others who just gently let you know you if you get “a bat in the cave”.

Help, I said, What are my Quirks? Quickly.

PS Do not say Toot Nose, I have it already.

For the next ten minutes I pressed Send/Receive repeatedly as I made further probing phone calls in case any of them weren’t sitting in front of their computers and were actually having lives; sleeping perhaps, or picking up strange men, or watching theatre.

But there were no answers, and no texts and nothing but stilted voicemail messages.

So I thought, what the hell, I would treat my last Quirk as a sort of …resolution if you will, a test of emotional strength and fortitude.

Some may see it even as a sort of dare, which would annoy me because frankly that just takes me right back to Quirk Number Four, the Child Thing again, and I’ve already got the shits with George about that and I’m taking him OFF the Toot Nose list, although he won’t know that until one day in the future when I need a tissue and instead of happily Tooting at him, I’ll make a big song and dance about needing to Go To The Bathroom.

And then finally, hopefully he’ll learn a little something about people’s feelings and that round shoes are comfortable shoes not childish shoes and he won’t feel the need to ask me what I'm thinking and why I have suddenly started to:

6. Cut My Own Hair.

And now the rule is I have to nominate six bloggers, and link to them. But people, dear sweet people, I'm spent. Those six quirky fucking things have sucked the life out of me. So I'm going to ask for THE FIRST SIX PEOPLE TO COMMENT to accept this as their commission. If you do, I'll come back and write your names in here. And if your number 7 or something and desparate to do it, just say it in the comments and I'll put you on.

And if you're just lurking? And there are only like one or two comments FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TAKE PITY ON ME.


Anonymous said...

this cracked me up! Those are some excellent quirks.
The Toot thing reminded me of a code developed by some of my coworkers in my former life. If one of our bosses was rounding the corner we would casually say, "Would you like a 7-up?" (I know, random.) The system worked great for nearly 2 years then some brilliant person decided that the interns should be schooled as well in the code, only they didn't get that it was meant to be covert- so we started getting shouts of, "7-UP!! 7-UP!!!!" & that was the end of the sad.

& I love you and all your quirks, but please don't consider this comment as a 'tag'. pretty please. I suffer from extreme blog meme issues (we'll count that as quirk 1-6!)


Mima said...

As ever I love your writing, and your quirks just add to the wonderful sense of yourself that you give to it! I have just ordered myself a pair of red Mary Jane's - the lovely round toed shoes with a little strap over the top, so I can go with the comfy shoes thing!!

Things are a little pear shaped here right now, and I am seriously behind in "things that I should be doing", so please don't count me as a comment either, as no memes for me right now, as I am struggling. (Couldn't resist my trip over to your blog though!)

jLo said...

Hey, OvaGirl! I'm a long-time lurker saying hello (and thanks for the blog!) for the first time. Your tag came just at the right moment, and I now have an entry for my sadly neglected blog, so thank you.

If a lifetime commitment to re-reading favourite children's books is a quirk, then I'm right there with you.

Nico said...

You know, every time I come and visit your blog I think to myself how much I enjoy your writing. You had me from "toot nose".

Unlike the first two lame-o commenters, I will consider myself tagged. It may take me a few days to come up with my quirks (I see some friend polls in my future too), but I will do it!

(p.s. I mean lame-o in the nicest possible way, of course ;-)

OvaGirl said...

jlo and nic you completely Rock and have officially joined the ranks of the Toot Nose Friends. Mima and cal sort of shake a bit maybe. But I love you regardless and would still turn to you in times of potential nasal embarrassment...

Lindsey said...

It seems I'm commenter number 5, not because I want to be nominated, but because I just flat out wanted to tell you that I think your quirks are lovely, hilarious, loveable ones.

Wish I had the confidence to have rocked out a bright pink wedding dress, though technically mine was nearly yellow since it was true vintage. Does that count?

Grit said...

there is nothing quirky about me whatsoever. and there are already six comments above, and please don't point out that one of them is you, so anyway, that exonerates me, and the next person just got lucky. or unlucky.

Drew said...

You are a cracker Ovagirl. Can't wait for your next book. I am re-reading your book again at the moment.

Em said...

I wish I had worn a pink wedding dress.

I don't think I'm very quirky, but I will try to come up with my own list. Might take a couple of days.

Betty F said...

Love your blog today! I have no quirks... but just to be safe, I won't ask my loved ones about it! :)
Thanks for your blog!

Betty F said...

P.S. I Always love your blog.. not just today. Was that a quirk?

lucky #2 said...

I would say you are eccentric and unique, not quirky! I LOVE you my quirky friend.

Penelope Farmer said...

Ah good - couldn't comment before - no desire to think up let alone reveal quirks. But I love yours.

Thalia said...

the childrens book thing is one of mine. I've reread both ballet shoes and charlotte sometimes in the last year, along with a lot of diana wynne jones (have you read her? She's MARVELLOUS). Although I was a little distrait when your friend who wrote charlotte sometimes didn't reply to my adoring fan letter. Oh well.

Quirky indeed.