Saturday, September 17, 2005

You Can't Choose Your Parents...

I was summoned to lunch today by my mother. It happens once a month, usually scheduled to coincide with one of her shopping marathons. It's never a pleasant experience.

I'm sitting at a table in Harvey Nichols' top floor restaurant, idly picking at my fingernails because she's late, as ever, when I hear a voice trill, Sara! There you are!, like she's the one who's been waiting for me for the past half hour.

I look up from my scrutiny of my ragged cuticles and there she is, my mother, a vision in Jaegar, trotting over to me with the usual half-crazed look of elation in her eye following a morning of heavy Amex abuse. She puts down her shopping bags with the sort of care other people reserve for new-born babies, and goes, oh Sara! I can't tell you how exhausted I am! I have had such a hectic day! Then she air kisses me - keeping her make-up immaculate is one of my mother's primary concerns - and treats me to her infamous once-over. I'm obviously looking as disreputable as I normally do, because she purses her lips and goes, oh Sara, you could be such a pretty girl if only you tried a bit harder. Look at you! Shakes her immaculate highlighted bob, sighs, what kind of outfit do you call that?

I go, hi Mum.

My mother shakes her head with regret. Oh Sara, she says, a wealth of misery sounded with each syllable, as I've told you before, you are travelling on a one-way ticket to Nowhere Fast.

I'm like, oh God, here we go.

The great tragedy in my mother's life isn't my father leaving her for a younger, blonder and more malleable version (after all, my mother got the house and a whacking great divorce settlement, plus she doesn't have to put up with a man around making the house untidy anymore, kind of a win-win situation for her), the great tragedy is having me as her daughter. I am the complete opposite of what she had hoped for. The kind of daughter my mother dreams of is sweet, presentable, conventional, has tidy hair, and can make polite chit-chat at parties without getting drunk, offending anyone or being discovered half-naked in the downstairs loo with the vicar's nephew. To say that I am a major disapointment to her is an understatement.

So Sara, my mother ventures, toying with her (undressed) salad, what have you been up to? I'm like, oh you know, nothing much, same as usual. Are you still working at that she asks, the last word spoken as if she's just discovered something unhygenic on the sole of her shoe. I'm like, uhuh. Oh Sara, she says, you know I'd be more than happy to pay for you to do some kind of course, secretarial, maybe? Or maybe a nice cookery course? Prue Leith is very good. I make a non-commital grunt and she looks at me sharply. Surely you don't like working in that place? I mean, really Sara, it's hardly the kind of job with prospects, is it? Or the kind of place where you could meet a suitable man?

I groan. My mother is desperate to marry me off. I suspect that she thinks that I'm going through a special stage, a little rebellion that maybe has gone on a bit longer than is usual but that it will end as soon as she can wish me down the aisle. Obviously, marriage to a suitable man (definition of suitable: rich and halfwitted) will turn me into a shiny-haired, grinning fool with a censored vocabulary and sterilised mind. Ha! Fat chance, mommy dearest.

Considering my gene pool, it is possible that I am a complete and utter miracle.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Why Is It That When Shit Happens... Part Two

Thursday nights at the club are pretty dull. It’s hardcore night and the punters love it, which means they’re dancing not drinking. I usually spend a lot of time examining my fingernails and re-arranging the spirits bottles lined up along the back shelf of the bar. And since Don had found and appropriated my stash, I didn't even have the occasional trip to the loo to look forward to. Talk about being in dire need of a diversion.

I was so bored I almost felt grateful when Don and his posse turned up. Don is the owner of the joint and the only person alive who doesn’t get the full-on nasty treatment from the Fat Bastard. F.B. Mike knows which side his loaf of bread is buttered; you can guarantee that as soon as Don walks through the door Mike’s nose will be rammed so far up his arse as to necessitate surgical removal.

Don was checking me out from the moment he swaggered in; why I’m not sure as that night I looked like something the cat threw up. I went over to deliver yet another bottle of cut-price bubbly and before I knew it I was on his knee with his hands clamped firmly around my waist. Fortunately Don has the attention span of a two-year-old so I knew that as soon as a girl with a more flesh on show than me walked past I’ll be free, so I just resigned myself to the unpleasant experience and tried to avoid smelling Don's breath.

Don's like, looking even more gorgeous than usual, Sara. Why don’t you sit down and join us? I'm like, do I have a choice here? Don goes, no, what Don wants Don gets. I'm like, uhuh, is that right? He's like, sure is. Arse, I thought, but I drank up, my smile getting weaker by the second as Don attempted to look soulfully into my eyes. Seconds later a shiny blonde goddess in a tiny gold mini-dress wiggled her way past the table and I found myself on the floor. Lucky for me he's such a slag.

Don and his table were still in full-on party mode by the time the club closed. I was totally looking forward to getting home; no after-hours partying for me, I've been pushing it a bit lately and needed some r&r. I closed down my bar fast and headed over to the cloakroom to collect my stuff, stopping for a quick chat with Tara the cloakroom girl, a candidate for Prozac if I’ve ever seen one. Then I made for the loo.

The first thing I saw when I opened the door was Don’s hairy buttocks pumping into the shiny blonde goddess. I made a mental note to tell the cleaner to do an especially thorough job tomorrow and turned to go but I wasn’t fast enough. Don caught sight of me in the mirror. Sara! he goes, get your kit off and get stuck in! - the goddess giving me evils from her perch on the sink, Don looking more eager than I've ever seen him. I'm like, euwww, trying to tear my eyes away from the purple erection pointing at me, thinking, oh my God, this is the stuff of nightmares.

Don starts bellowing, don't be shy Sara, rumour has it you're no stranger to cock! I'm like, yeah, sorry Don, no can do, I've got a serious case of crabs. Doctor says I'm off fun and games for at least a month. Don's face falls and he starts to wilt. Anyway, I go, sorry to disturb you, I'd better be off. Then I got the hell out of there.

Working in a club really sucks sometimes.

Maybe it’s time I got a new job.

Why is it that when shit happens, it never arrives alone?: Part One

I've had a really shit night.

A really shit night. It was one of those nights destined to be shit. And the shit just kept on coming.

First of all, Helen and I got totally stoned yesterday afternoon. Not giggly stoned -zombie stoned. The kind of stoned where you just sit, because any more effort than sitting is impossible. So we just sat and stared at each other, and the walls, and the carpet, and occasionally, when we could summon up a spark of energy, we sat and stared at the telly.

At some point I managed to drag my eyes to my watch, and I'm like, oh fuck, I've got to be at work in twenty minutes and I'm still wearing my pyjamas.

By the time I'd managed to leave the house looking half-decent I was hideously late and I knew that Fat Bastard Mike was going to take huge amounts of pleasure in giving me a mega-bollocking. I was in for a real Mike Special. Imagine - banging headache, numbed brain, bad hair, raging PMS and the Fear Of Mike in me. I was not a happy unit.

The bus took as long as possible - old ladies paying for their bus tickets with two pence coins, the bus stopping to eject a pissed-up hoodie, and all the other crap that only happens when you're late for something important. I raced to the club, praying for Mike to have come down with a bad case of anything serious enough to prevent him from dragging his lardy arse into work tonight. As usual, my prayers went unanswered. I ran slap bang into Mike as soon as I got through the door. I swear he must have been lurking there, just waiting for me to arrive.

I got the hairy eyeball and a growled, where the fuck have you been? I'm like, sorry Mike, bus took ages, really sorry, won't happen again, I promise. And he's like, smirking, oh yeah? You're always fucking late so don't fucking start throwing bullshit at me. I'm like, sorry Mike, really sorry. I was about to turn to go down the stairs when Mike digs in his pocket and pulls out a baggie. As soon as I saw it my stomach started churning.

And another thing, he goes, this wouldn't happen to be yours would it? No Mike, I go, of course not, never seen it before. He's like, oh yeah? Then what the fuck was it doing hidden behind the Moet on your bar then? I'm like, face all innocent, I don't know Mike, I've never seen it before, I don't do that shit. He laughs his head off, oh yeah? I wasn't fucking born yesterday. Don't fuck with me, Sara, he goes, there's plenty of others ready to take your job, so don't fuck with me. You mess with me one more time and you're out on your arse, alright? I go, yeah Mike, as meek as I can, sorry Mike. And he goes, so what are you fucking waiting for? Fuck off downstairs and get to fucking work! So I fucked off downstairs to get to fucking work. And that's when it all really started going wrong.

That's part one. Part two comes later.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Beauty And The Beast

Nadia is an old friend of mine in the grip of a dangerous addiction. No, not drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, or any of the usual stuff that most of the people I know suffer from; Nadia only ever dates ugly men.

Now, before you all start posting in a frenzy, going God, Sara, you're so shallow and it's what's on the inside that counts, yada yada - just wait a minute and hear me out. This is not a cheap pop at people who have had the misfortune to have been hit with the ugly stick, so bear with me. There is a point.

Nadia is drop-dead gorgeous, kick-ass funny, scarily intelligent and inexplicably solvent. In fact, is she wasn't my friend, I'd probably hate her. She's perfect, such a shining example of womanhood that she's practically a goddess. She could take her pick. So why is it that Nadia can always be relied upon to leave a party with the worst-looking guy in the room?

One night Nadia turns up at one of our usual haunts with her latest conquest in tow. I'm like, wow, Nadia, you've really outdone yourself this time. She smiles and goes, yeah, I'm so happy. Isn't he just the cutest? I take another look to make sure I didn't miss anything on my first double-take, and I'm like, um, no. I mean, I don't want to offend you, but he's not exactly a looker, is he? Nadia looks over at her latest squeeze, purses her lips, and goes, I guess not. I go, so tell me, what's so great about him? Is he fantastic in bed? Nadia looks a bit coy and says, he's not bad. OK, I go, so has he got an amazing personality? She's like, well, I suppose he's quite funny. I go, so he's a millionaire or something, right? She shakes her head, not at all, I earn more than he does.

I've just about exhausted all the possibilities when Nadia turns to me and says, don't you get it, Sara? Ugly guys try so much harder. Think about it, she says, your average good-looking guy has to shoulder the weight of a huge ego. They're more concerned about themselves than about making you happy. And most good looking guys have so many girls throwing themselves at them it's more temptation than they can cope with. And who can be bothered with that?

She gets all dreamy and goes, ugly guys make me feel great.

I'm stunned.I mean, think about it. If Nadia needs a guy to make her feel good about herself, what hope is there for the rest of us mere mortals in the self-esteem stakes?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Definition Of A Backhanded Compliment

Helen and I were lounging about watching Trisha this morning when she turns to me and goes, Sara, you know what your problem is? You're a feminist trapped in the body of Jessica Rabbit, but you're harbouring the sad delusion that we live in a post-feminist world.

I'm like, huh?

I think that maybe Helen is taking her Cultural Studies degree a bit too seriously.