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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

1/ That the sticky part faces down: when I first got my period, Mum handed me a pad without explanation, I took it out of the packet, looked at it a few times, wondered how it stayed “on” and proceeded to utilise it sticky side up…uncomfortable!

2/That airline workers are always more curious than the situation warrants: when my son was two, he and I did a lot of travelling around Australia. On one flight, he had been clambering over me, on my head for quite a bit of time. I was delirious with tiredness. As was my custom back then, due to his age, I would take him into the bathroom stall with me rather than leave him alone outside. So I’m sitting on the toilet, savouring a few moments to myself while my son rattled around the stall. It wasn’t a large space, and he was staggering around bouncing off the walls etc because he was still a little unsteady on his legs anyway, and the plane toilet floor was not a steady surface. Anyway, I’m finally feeling ready to leave and embrace motherhood again, and I stand up, attempt to balance, and reach down to pull up my pants. Right then, right in that split second of perfect vulnerability, when my pants are down and my “map of Tasmania” is facing the doorway, it is suddenly open, and there are five or six heads, all stacked up on top of one another as they all try to get a chance to peer in.

We all skip a rather large beat as I stare at them and they stare at me, and I finally, finally manage to make a noise of incomprehension. They say, “Oh, we heard rattling, we thought you fell!” They are STILL.THERE!!!

3/ The male penis; from whence it originates: So, I was a particularly naive teenager I think. No brothers, not from a naked family, never played ‘doctors and nurses’ or anything when I was a kid.

The extent of my knowledge of the penis was that when making out with a guy, there was something akin to a relay runners baton stuffed down the front of his pants. But (I know, it’s almost incomprehensible that I didn’t know this)…I didn’t know if it started at the bottom and went up, or started at the top and went down. I mean the damned things were always trapped inside a pair of jeans…how would I know? (This does make me wonder how on earth I thought people had sex if it started at the top and pointed down, but I dunno…I guess I didn’t think it through all that much.)  

So…this lack of knowledge was always going to out itself in a humiliating way. First year Uni, drama class, I’m seventeen, and no, still never seen a penis sans Levis. (And, looking back, I figure if I was this naive, I had no business trucking with a penis anyway!) So at seventeen I’m well getting into the University drama classes, I’m loving the stage, I’m over my nerves. Anyway, this one particular day, they say, “Right, you’re a guy. A young, working class guy. Walk for us.” I strut around, led by the groin, sniff a bit, do a bit of manly this and that. They’re LOVING it, they’re lapping it up, they’re eating out of my hands. I glance down from the stage and I see the drama teacher and two guys from class sitting and glowing with admiration.

Then they say…”Ok, pee up against the wall”… (you can already see this coming can’t you?) I unzip, I “flop it out”, I hold it as I start to pee (I figure you don’t wanna get pee everywhere), so I’m “holding it” somewhere just below my belly button. Nope. My belly button is not abnormally placed near my pubic bone, it’s in the regular spot.

The teacher calls out “Lower”. I shift it about an inch or so. He calls out “Lower” after a few moments silence, this time sounding a mixture of bemused and annoyed.  I shift it again. Is still, quite clearly not in the right spot. The resounding silence tells me this. I cave, and my face a picture of embarrasment, I look out at this group with a plea for help, as in “Please give me another task” and right then, right in that exchange of glances (maybe I could have gone further in drama, or at least the eyebrow acting variety) they get it. I watch as confusion and mild amusement begins to transform into comprehension…the teacher kind of goes “Ohh” and then looks as confused as before, one guy just kinda looks the same the whole way through this process, the middle guy, the “hot guy” in drama, goes kinda “Huh? What? Ohhh! OOOHHH! Heh heh”, goes through confusion, bemusement, comprehension, then what can only be described as some kind of pervy appreciation. I don’t know how many classes I went back to after that, but I do know I didn’t finish up the semester.

4/ To ask any other person in the room to dance: Also at around seventeen, my mum dragged me to a church dinner dance. I was hoping some of the kids I’d gone to the Youth Group with would be there and be my teenage sarcastic too-cool partners in crime. Nope. They had backbones and told their mums to stick the dinner dance. So, there I am, looking pretty fine, with no one my age to talk to and a good few hours of excrutiating boredom ahead of me. I was ANG.RY!

After about twenty minutes I figured I wasn’t getting out of it, I might as well try hard to enjoy it. I figured that despite how shit it was, if I was nice, and asked an old person to dance then the time might pass quicker. I’d feel like a Good Samaritan, and I might even have a giggle. So, knowing better than to ask old men to dance as a fairly voluptuous teenager with nice dress and a mane of red curls, I decided to ask one of the old women.

Like a person deciding to adopt a puppy from the pound, I stood back, made my choice, and made a beeline for a particularly sweet and lonely looking little old lady. I stride, smiling across the room to her and say “Would you like to dance?” (I’m scaring myself with my uber sweet and bouncy persona at this point). She says, “No, I couldn’t”. I mistake this for coyness, and say in my booming voice “OH! Come on, it’ll be fun!” She looks at me for a good long while, then says “I’d love to dear…but I only have one leg”

I make my apologies and bide the time left til I can leave without appearing freaked out…I have a photo of this moment, where I’ve come walking back to my family, and my uncle has raised the camera, and unable to hold it in I’ve let out a giant whoop of embarrassed laughter. You can see it all in my face, the energy, the embarrasment, the HUGE amount of amusement that of “all the churches in all the cities”, I had to come into this one, and ask that particular lady to dance..and the recognition that this was a story for years to come.

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