Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Stud And His Stag

When I was around 14 years old I used to babysit the children of a family who lived just a couple of doors from us.

They were Polish and very fashionable sorts. Always having people over, always going to the movies and out to dinner. It was a great atmosphere when I went to visit.

This was the mid 1970's and their home was an architect designed suburban block that stood out like a sore thumb amongst the 1920's bungalows that nestled next to it. Archways, textured white bricks, cream shag pile carpet, orange laminex kitchen and velour covered couches were the style. The bedrooms were covered in geometric and bold wallpaper.

I thought they were fabulous. Her with her beautiful black wavy hair, large brown eyes and thick Polish accent. Him with his Burt Reynolds moustache and lazy gaze. He had a motorbike and took me for a ride around the park on the back. No helmet, him bare chested. I remember having to hang onto his waist as he drove over the grassy slopes around the park. It made me very self conscious but kind of thrilled as well.

Both of them always wore the latest fashion. Once they went ice skating and when I came over to babysit their son and daughter, I was amazed at their matching outfits. Denim, quilted jeans with red stitching and matching vest worn over a white t-shirt. In hindsight, it was really hideous, but at the time it sure looked pretty good to me.

One time I went over to say hello to them and they had lots of visitors. One of the visitors was a guy who probably thought he was rather handsome. I suppose he was, but at that age I just thought he was some old bloke. He had blonde curly hair, a matching moustache (it was the 70's) and on this particular day he was wearing a pair of black leather pants and a white shirt.

I recall very clearly that on that day I felt particularly attractive as my sister had given me a really nice dress that she no longer liked. It was a going out dress, but I decided to wear it anyway. It was black and a bit off the shoulder with a black ruffle along the hem. It was possibly a bit grown up, but I did not mind. When you are around 14, feeling grown up is nothing to do with feeling sexual, it is just about feeling pretty I suppose.

Anyway, this guy had bought himself a lovely, chocolate brown Triumph Stag. It was just gorgeous and as I was peering into the interior of the open top dream car, this guy came out, keys jingling in his pocket, and asked me if I wanted to go for a drive. I thought it would be fine. So I got in the passenger side and he jumped in, started the car and off we drove.

I can still remember the purring sound of that V8 engine as he accelerated off. The top was down and the wind slipped in and out of the car, pulling at my hair like a mini tornado. My black dress blew up from my lap and showed my legs. This guy was chatting to me as he drove. He said my dress was beautiful and then he put on a cassette and the sound of Dire Straits thumped out from the speakers in the doors and parcel shelf. It was so cool. I was so cool.

When we got back, I hopped out of the car and went home with a happy skip in my walk. What a cool car. My dress was beautiful. Dire Straits were the best band in the world.

The next day I was at home alone when the wife of this couple came over for a visit. I thought she wanted to see mum but it was me that she wanted to speak to.

We sat down at the kitchen table. I was wondering if I had done something wrong as she was looking rather serious.

Then she asked me if I knew the facts of life. I mumbled that I knew that you had to have sex to have babies. I mean to say, my older sister had gotten up the duff at 14 years old.

Well, this obviously was not a good enough answer from me as she started to go into more detail about it than I cared for. She talked about how a man's penis got engorged with blood as he became aroused and this would make it nice and hard for when engaging in sex. My face was engorged with blood by this stage, so much so that I swear the hair on my head lifted to escape from the heat on my scalp. I mean, she even had the hand gestures to match the description.

This conversation went on for around half an hour. She used words like "juices" and "orgasm" and "oral sex". It was so graphic I just wanted her to get out of the house. I mean, I wanted to watch fucking television, not talk about what old people did when they had a bonk. How revolting. It was Saturday afternoon movie time not "sex education" time.

Instead I nodded politely and kept my beetroot coloured face as passive as I could.

After a while she figured that she had gotten the message across. Whatever message that was I did not exactly know. After she left, I tried to settle into watching a movie, but felt so put out by the unwelcome visit that I just put on a record and lay around listening to music instead.

A couple of weeks later I was babysitting one evening again. Whilst I was at their house, the phone rang. It was the Stag guy. I told him that his friends were out and that I was babysitting. He asked me if I wanted him to come over to keep me company. I recalled the sex education discussion that had taken place not so long ago and made some sort of hideous association. I declined his offer and hung up the phone.

Looking back, I think she must have realised I was quite naive and that Mr Stag would have seen me as a juicy piece to tackle. She had a duty to educate me with the cold, hard facts.

She probably did me a favour.

But still I associate the Triumph Stag with some sort of delicious freedom and groovy sexuality.


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Enemy Within

Over the past two and a half years I have posted on my blog I have made mention of the various relationships I have with my son, my husband, my work, my digestive system, my mind, the world around me, my house, my studio and even the odd one about my garden.

I don't really think I have ever gone into much detail about the relationship that I have with my body.

I am not talking about the internal workings of my body, but the size and shape of my body. Like most females it is an antagonistic relationship.

Many years ago I had eating disorders that ranged from bulimic to anorexic. I suppose it started when I was about 17 and continued until I was around 22 with intermittent bouts of other eating issues in my twenties. I have a very well developed gag reflex and can still bring up a full meal without shedding a tear. Not that I do these days. However, I am still inclined to become very controlling with food when I am overly anxious.

I put on a lot of weight after I became pregnant at 33. Going on IVF dumped on one load of unwanted weight, the pregnancy alone was another stack and being on anti depressants for 7 years really was the icing on the cake. I spent my late 30's being totally disgusted with my body. I could not even look in the mirror without feeling a most intense hatred for what I saw. Which was not that bad when reflecting back. But I certainly would not ever want to go back there.

When I went off the anti depressants at the end of 2004, my weight started to drop off. I ended up 30kgs lighter which resulted in me being severely underweight. In fact, I lost so much weight that even the fat covering the sheaths of my nerves was lost, leaving me with residual nerve damage. However, eventually the body (and me) sorted itself out and I put back on what was needed to keep me from looking like I was suffering from a life threatening illness.

Last night I was reading a diary I kept for a number of years whilst I was depressed. Apart from the usual entries about what was going on, there were constant referrals to how fat I was, how I hated my body, how disgusted I was with myself. It was so negative and it showed how tied in I am with the whole body issue. Whilst I accept my body as it is now, it is only because I am able to exert a level of control over the overall look of it.

This year I have put on unwanted weight. Not that much, but enough that I am aware of it and my clothes have become tighter. It is not so much food related as I keep a diary of everything I eat, but after my overseas trip I dropped back on the exercise whilst nursing an injury.

Unfortunately, it appears that I am never really okay with putting on any weight. I can feel that level of self loathing step in and motivate me to make moves to get the weight off. It would be very easy to just vomit up what I am eating but fortunately I have enough sense to know that such action would lead to a bad frame of mind and poor body health. It would be impossible for me to be a good mother, a good wife and a useful employee if I were to jeopardise my health by depriving myself of good nutrition.

I would not be lying if I did not say that I think of what goes in my mouth every single day. I know the calorie value of everything. I know how much my clothes and shoes weigh. When I become obsessive about my weight I will step on the scales ten times a day, it is so compulsive.

When people say that they think size zero is too thin, well I secretly think that level of thin is beautiful. I have a couple of friends who are of the same ilk as me and we confess to each other how beautiful we think Posh Beckham is with her narrow, child like legs and thin arms. When we saw pictures of Angelina Jolie at her thinnest, we all commented on her waif like beauty, thin arms and hollowed cheek bones.

It would not matter if you said my body looked good for there is some sort of inbuilt revulsion of my physical self that has always been there. Besides, I most likely don't see myself the way others do. Perhaps it stems back to the childhood years of my father always telling myself and my sisters how fat we were. In fact, I remember when my younger sister was severely anorexic and my dad commented how lovely she looked. My older sister is at the other end of the spectrum and has issues with overeating.

These days I go with the feeling I have for to deny it just denies what is part of who I am. I treat it all like a project that has to be constantly worked on and assessed.

It all must sound so pathetic. A middle aged woman who seems to be unable to just be happy with who she is. In a way, I am very happy with most aspects of my personal self, but my body will always be my worst enemy.

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