Let me start, first off, by apologising to you all for writing this blog. Some of my more robustly proletariat (in the Herald-Sun sense of the word) acquaintances recently pointed out to me that the voice of the female first person narrator is ‘irritating’. I was not aware of this hitherto. It had somehow slipped my notice that female narrators ranging from Sappho to Dorothy Porter, from Karen Blixen to Angela Carter, from the stoic Jane Eyre to the great Myra Breckinridge and through to the brittle and vulnerable Smilla Jasperson, were causing harm and distress to the world’s earthier readers – casting grit into the shells of their unopened, soft and untouched minds.
Apparently, it’s the repeated use of the word ‘I’ that does it. As everyone knows, women use the word ‘I’ quite a bit when we’re talking about our daily experiences. Men, however, only ever use the word ‘I’ when they’re talking about something that affects them personally. Meaning men only use the word ‘I’ when they’re talking about pretty much everything.
So as far as I can deduce, every blogger on the planet is using the word ‘I’ rather a lot and is thereby annoying the hell out of everyone else. Perhaps we should all apologise. Maybe the UN (or, if you believe in the non-specific Higher Power worshipped by Herald-Sun enthusiasts, The Ombudsman) can organise a world-wide Bloggers’ Sorry Day, in which each blogger of the Information Super Highway takes a minute to say: ‘Sorry for boring the fuck out of you. How are you, anyway?’
Or perhaps . . . Just perhaps . . . Those particular acquaintances are misogynistic Philistines who need to read more widely.
Either way. I’m proud to say, I’ve done my bit and apologised.
I should warn delicate readers, however, that I do plan to continue writing in the female first person for as long as I remain female. If this is likely to cause distress, may I suggest you watch a nice soothing episode of Top Gear instead. No doubt one is just starting on some channel or other. Masturbation is also a cheap way to cheer yourself up and fill some time, if you can’t work out how to use the remote.
As for the rest of us less sensitive plants . . . Shall we press on?
I thought I might write about how peculiar I’ve turned since returning to dear old Melbourne. It’s been a particularly strange homecoming. Circumstances have been doing very odd things with my life, and the usual buffers aren’t there to soften them.
Thanks to the recent diagnosis of a Crazy Hormone Lady Condition, aka Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, I am on an odd diet which involves lettuce leaves and the odd naughty piece of multigrain toast (no butter). So booze is out for the most part, and even take away coffee is difficult. The emergency Fry and Laurie box set has been gifted to a dear friend, who I felt needed it more than me at the time and who I hope didn’t privately groan in horror on opening the package (always a risk with a personal gift, as we all know from awkward Christmas celebrations). I am living in some style in the CBD, where ABC reception is wobbly and the Channels 10 don’t exist. So my lifelines to QI on one hand, and trashy TV on the other, have been severed.
I am down to the bare essentials – Embarrassing Bodies, which thank God is screened in Australia by Channel 9; the ongoing quest for the perfect drag name, a passion that consumes my friendship circle and plays itself out in midnight text message exchanges; and my cat, who has stoically followed me to 20 different houses, crossed the country twice, and still knows when it’s time to put a hyperactive human to bed. I am voyaging into weirdness without distractions.
I have become, in short, very odd.
As anyone who has ever lived alone for more than a year knows, solitude is a powerful drug. One taste, and you’re a life-long addict. You may go through periods of recovery, in which you live with partners or family or housemates like a normal person; you may love these people dearly; you might wholeheartedly throw yourself into cooking routines, evening glasses of wine and conversations about your day; you may even come to accept the wearing of clothes in communal areas as normal behaviour.
But always, tugging at your psyche from deep in the bowels of your soul, there is that longing for somewhere cold, silent and empty. For a room that is filled with nothing but your neuroses and fantasies, and where no one needs to know that while you pretend that you like reading the Great Russians and cyber punk novellas in your downtime, really you can’t wait til it’s 3 PM and time to watch Judge Judy while wearing nothing but Explorer socks and a beanie with a hole in it.
After three tumultuous but mostly happy years of living with friends, family, psycho Chinese nurses and affable nudists, I find myself living alone again. And I have dived straight back into my addiction with straws jammed firmly up each nostril.
I do not join groups of my peers for either carousing or wenching. I do not venture out of my home for gigs, parties, restaurant functions or misguided attempts at dancing – most of which have been rendered impractical, anyway, by problems of diet, dyspraxia and deafness. Occasionally I dart of the hermit’s cave for supplies and essentials – food, work, sex. Apart from that, I am happy to potter around in my own brain while going happily potty.
Sex is part of that pottiness, perhaps. Or perhaps it’s the combination of solitude, weight loss, an increased attention to personal grooming, and out of whack hormones bubbling through the blood. Doctors have told me all about the risks of sudden weight gain, hair loss, infertility, and the possible onset of lady beards and Nicholas Cage proportions of body hair with this condition left unchecked – all the negative things, the truly horrible things that can go wrong for a girl with chaotic chemistry.
Is it normal, though, for women with this weird thing to suddenly want to eat every man on the planet alive? No one mentioned it. Surely if this were so, the planet’s male population would have bottled it to load onto planes and spray over convents when no one is looking.
Hormones are all-powerful, though, which you only realise when they suddenly go wrong. I don’t know much about science, despite taking Biology in Year 12 (my colour-blind friend and I were presented with a pile of dead flies and told to sort them by eye colour; we randomly chopped the pile in two with a ruler and got an A) and being the co-conceiver of a fantasy project called Science! The Musical. It seems quite possible to me that testosterone and oestrogen in an atypical ratio to each other could elevate a woman’s sex drive (or a man’s, for that matter). Of course, it’s equally possible that I am just weird.
Strapped into battle armour of corset, stockings and black dress, armed only with the peculiar feminine persona invented for my abortive experiment in heterosexuality – I like to think of her, for no real reason, as Olivia Lunchbox – I sally forth onto the internet and into the bar next door to pick up strangers and devour them.
This is easier to do with men than women. It is also a lot riskier. And so, I don’t tell them I’m smart. I don’t tell them where I work. And above all, I never tell them my name. I bring them home, confuse them and myself for an hour or two with a personal story ad libbed on the spot by someone with no skill for lying whatsoever – why the questions, honestly? – roll around on the floor with them for a while, and then eject them back onto the street. Happily alone once more, I go to bed with a book and pat the cat.
I don’t care what these men look like. I don’t even really care if they’re boring, or shy, or wearing appalling shoes. I do care if they’re arrogant, or cruel. And I am simply astounded – gobsmacked, one might say with a knowing wink – by the terrifyingly large number of men, across all professions, kinks and intelligence quotients, who want to have sex with a perfect stranger without using a condom.
‘You can tell if someone’s got a disease by looking at them,’ a very pleasant and otherwise intelligent man told me last night. ‘If someone seems nice, you know they don’t have anything.’
Is this the theory that these men are working on? That in spite of the country’s resurgent HIV infection rate, as well as that of often asymptomatic diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, the viruses and bacteria involved will wait for someone awful to infect? How does this account, then, for all the perfectly lovely, kind, generous people who occasionally have to pop off to the doctors for some penicillin, or who live with HIV/AIDS and manage it every day?
A good friend with reason to know once repeated to me a wise WWII saying: ‘A stiff prick has no conscience.’ He was absolutely right, but I would add that an erection also diminishes a man’s IQ by about sixty points. Exactly the same thing happens to women when we fall in love. It’s an oddly cruel trick of nature, but love makes men smarter and happier and women dumber and miserable. So men shouldn’t feel bad about the IQ plummeting as the penis ascends.
Men should, however, wear condoms. This is not negotiable. Those who fail to comply soon find themselves shivering on Collins Street, tram timetable shoved into one hand and pants held up in the other.
So, this is the nature of my current weirdness – an existence that’s in many ways Monk-like, from what I’ve heard up to and including opportunistic transactional sex with strange men. I seem to be perfectly happy in amongst it, munching on lettuce leaves by day and throwing non-compliant men out of the flat by night.
My tale peters out here, Gentle Reader, on that rather sad image of a man bereft of orgasmic completion, shivering alone and confused on the streets of Melbourne – A tale with no real end or point, involving a rather strange woman running around doing rather strange things in her spare time. You have kindly endured this elliptical, obtusely-themed piece, and have hopefully emerged from the experience unaffected mentally by its unsavoury topic matter.
With that, we return to the problem of the female first person narrator. Despite my earlier apology, over the course of this blog entry I have lapsed back into bad feminine habits. I have used ‘I’ in about 85% of all paragraphs. I have crapped on about sex and Lady Issues and things that many readers are not interested in. I have remained female for the entire duration of the post.
If life continues on its present course, however, all of these problems will soon be solved. Odds are, my next post will reek of testosterone. Hopefully this will be even more infuriating to bigots than a female narrator, and they’ll all run screaming to the library to do what they should have done years ago: read Jane Eyre.
Until then, dear reader . . .
Find support and information about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome at: http://www.whria.com.au/POSSA